Edited by Solomon on 8/24/2015, 6:38 am
Author: msroz from United States
23 August 2015
"Violated" (1953) aka "New York Photographer" is an independent low-budget production with New York City locations, unknown actors and an unknown production team. I recognized only the guitarist who did the jazz score, Tony Mottola.
This is an engaging and watchable movie of its type. It shows that in some sense, if it is done in a certain instinctively honest and artistic way that has scope for intuition and good creative instincts, amateurishness can create a convincing movie-reality.
This type is a picture that shows mainly pedestrian people, people none too prosperous but with their niches, non-professionals without much education, people on the fringes, people on the opposite side of the spectrum from high society, and shows all these people as they are. The actors seem like amateurs, and this makes them seem like they actually do the jobs they are shown to be doing. In one case, this is true. The exotic dancer in the film is played by Lili Dawn, who was actually a dancing strip queen. The detectives grill suspects as crudely as one might imagine police might carry on who have the upper hand over street people. The suspects look like weak and harried saps, perverts and losers. The killer panics and finds his way down a fire escape in a jumbled, sliding, writhing way that's very unlike a Hollywood treatment but how an actual person might carry on. The psychiatrist is just as superficial and laden with gobbledy-gook as one might imagine psychiatrists then and probably now too. The young lady trying to break into modeling by getting photos taken of herself is as naive and bubbly as any Hollywood stereotype and yet her very amateurishness seems more real. The photographer and his cheap studio seem real, and when he fixates on Lili, his clumsiness also seems real. When he fails to come through with some money for her, a quid pro quo, and she lays her cards on the table, her cutting remarks seem quite real. And when he threatens her and she dissolves into fear, that too seems quite real.
Really skilled professional actors might take all of these parts and add layers designed to make them seem like real people. But the actors in this cast don't employ such artifice, and strangely they come off as more real. When placed into sets that are totally lacking in glamour, that in fact often look bare or unkempt, the effect is as if some tabloid newspaper has come to life. Call it tabloid noir.
After writing the above, I was looking for information about a movie with Jack Lord titled "The Name of the Game is Kill". That accidentally led me to the blogs of one of our number. He has some interesting comments on this kind of movie. First, that it's not neo-realism, and American regional products in this era didn't go in that direction for some reason. This is true. They're not neo-realism. Second, that the low budget and location shooting help determine the nature of the resulting output. I doubt this because I suspect that we might be able to find a host of other kinds of films that look and feel very different than these cheap noirs. But, on the other hand, noirs may be especially easy to make when budgets are tight. Third, that the location shooting imparts a documentary character to the films. Yes, I agree. Italian neo-realism is often rooted in such documentaries or movies with that character too (see some of Rossellini). So there is indeed something of an overlap here.
I'm suggesting that amateurishness under certain conditions (honesty, some instinctive and intuitive artistic chops) produces engaging results.