The most perverse and most powerful of pulp noir writers, Jim Thompson worked on the scripts of Kubrick's The Killing and Paths of Glory, but it wasn't until censorship broke down in the 1970s that his novels started reaching the screen: The Getaway and The Kill-Off, among others. It's a pity that his belated popularity with film-makers coincides with the fashion for retro-noir chic and all things ironic. That said, this Thompson adaptation begins with a bang: Fourth of July fireworks, adultery, murder and incest, all in the first two minutes. It doesn't leave the film anywhere to go. Twins Marty and Carol grow up despising everyone but each other. She's a hooker, he's a con-man. Such harmless diversions turn nasty as their incestuous love gets out of hand. Director Oblowitz tries to keep faith with the material with a distorting wide-angle lens, lurid, theatrical lighting and a chopped, staccato rhythm. The movie is the spit of a '50s dime store paperback cover, not brought to life, but preserved in amber. Even the actors resemble old B-movie icons. Throw screenwriter Larry Gross's voice-over into the mix, simmer with cod-blues sax and banjo, and the stylisation is complete. Too bad they forgot to put over the story.
This World, Then the Fireworks
Cast and crew