by Peter Cates
Hangmen Also Die
starring Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Anna Lee, Gene Lockhart, etc.; directed by Fritz Lang; United Artists; 1943; 135 minutes.
Hangmen Also Die was produced to depict the June, 1942, assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Protector of Czechoslovakia, a major architect of the Final Solution and, in general, a rather loathsome villain of the World War II years.
Due to the timing of its completion, the production team did not have available the full story of the actual assassins and the reprisals carried out against the village of Lidice; instead it tacked a fictitious hero for the main thrust of the story in that Brian Donlevy portrays a Czech doctor who is Heydrich’s assassin and working with an underground resistance of good citizens, most of whom will be betrayed, arrested and shot by the end of the film. Meanwhile, the doctor and a few good friends set up a treacherous Nazi informer in a spider web of intrigue.
Even though I watched the entire movie through Youtube with cheap headphones, I was riveted – by the ominous black and white sets, the stark cinematography, Hans Eisler’s atmospheric soundtrack and director Lang’s astute pacing and phenomenal ability to draw out one great ensemble performance from the actors/actresses, right down to the bit parts. Highly recommended film noir!
He’s Sure the Boy I Love; Walkin’ Along (La La La)
Philles Records 109; seven-inch vinyl 45 record; recorded 1962.
Even though this record was produced under Phil Spector’s supervision, the women are not the same group that was releasing hit 45s for him between 1960 and ’62. In one of his more devious moments, he hired Darlene Love and the Blossoms to replace the original group while using their name. Whatever the ethics of his switch, this is a very good example of the symphonic Wall of Sound he had been utilizing in recording sessions since the mid-’50s, quite often with unprecedented commercial and artistic success.
He’s Sure the Boy I Love is a charmer by the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil team, who has written more top quality songs than one can possibly count; a couple of examples – We Gotta Get Out of this Place and Somewhere Out There. The inspiring combination of the ladies’ heartfelt singing and the roaring Wall arrangement are, of, course, top notch, while the more sparingly arranged instrumental has a guitar solo worth careful discerning listening.
Since 2009, the 77-year-old Spector has been serving an 18-year prison sentence for second degree murder and his health has been deteriorating since a 2015 hospital stay.
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