This is a 1945 film noir set in 1936, and is about an ace marksman who entertains with his pinpoint accuracy in shows along with his two assistants.
The story is told in flashback after the moider of a woman in a stage show, and the admission by the mortally-wounded murderer to a performer of why he done it.
Back in time we are introduced to The Great Flamarion and his two assistants, a husband and wife team who The Great Flamarion hired after seeing them in a dance act they did together (they were pretty down and out at the point). Their act basically involved The Great Flamarion (TGF) showing off his skills by shooting stuff on stage such as the strap on the wife’s dress, lots of light bulbs, or a cigarette in the wife’s mouth. It is all choreographed perfectly as TGF is a bit of a stickler, and quite strict. The crowd loves it though, so their act brings in the dough.
The wife though was tired of her husband so schemed to get TGF to accidentally shoot the constantly drunk husband during a show. She does this by pretending to fall in love with TGF who up to this point had been a bit of a grump and not interested in women at all after a woman duped him 15 years prior. She also got a whole lot of dough out of him, them scrammed, promising to meet him three months later after things had cooled down a little after the police investigation into her husband’s death. She of course did not turn up and had instead gone off with another stage performer, a bicycle-trick rider.
The story returns to present day where after searching for months for her, and losing all his money doing so as well as turning to the bottle, he finds her in Mexico. He confronts her and after an argument she gets his sharpshooter and plugs him a couple of times. He manages to strangle her dead then goes up into the light rigging to escape detection. After the police arrive, do their investigating and leave, TGF falls down from his hiding place where he begins his flashback story to the performer in a now empty theatre.
It sounds all rather thrilling, but this is a low budget film with just average acting and few thrills, apart from the sharpshooting. While they couldn’t have actually been using actual slugs during filming, instead using some kind of explosive, it still looked very dodgy for the actors. The wine bottle exploding in the woman’s hand for example looked very risky, she was lucky she didn’t get something in her eye.
TGF was played by Erich von Stroheim, a big name in directing back the day and his 1924 film “Greed” is considered one the greatest films ever made. He lost his directing gig after the film bosses banned him from directing after his films went over budget and due to workers rights violations. He then went on to acting and had great success in France, where he died in 1957.
The other actors in the film were not as well known but did go on to have moderate careers.
At one hour and seventeen minutes it was not too much to sit through. There were no real surprises in the plot and not many thrills, but it was watchable. There one or two nifty camera shots, especially the opening shot. Overall though this is only recommended to those who like to watch old films and don’t expect too much from them.
Film count 2019: 31