Johnny O'Clock (Dick Powell) is a junior partner in a posh casino with Guido Marchettis (Thomas Gomez), but is senior in the eyes of Nelle (Ellen Drew)—Guido's wife and Johnny's ex. This love triangle leads to a web of complications, leaving Police Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb) to unravel the threads of deceit and a murdered casino employee's sister (Evelyn Keyes) to tug on Johnny's heartstrings before it's too late.
Three years after song-and-dance man Dick Powell reshaped his nice-guy image by playing hard-boiled gumshoe Phillip Marlowe in Murder My Sweet, he returned to film noir with this crime-based thriller. Johnny O'Clock (Dick Powell) and his partner Pete Marchettis (Thomas Gomez) operate a gambling casino that has seen better days. Chuck Blayden (Jim Bannon), a cop on the take, wants in on the casino, and he makes friends with Pete while trying to convince him that Johnny, the smarter of the two, should go. When Chuck's girlfriend Harriet (Nina Foch) is found dead, a supposed suicide, his sister Nancy (Evelyn Keyes) smells a rat, especially after Chuck skips town. Nancy is convinced that her sister was murdered, and she asks Johnny to help her prove it. Johnny, who already has a number of women in his life – including Nelle (Ellen Drew), Pete's wife – figures that one more can't hurt and agrees to help her. But Police Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb), convinced that Johnny and Pete were behind Harriet's death, is making it hard for Johnny to do much investigating, and matters get worse when Chuck's body is found floating in the river. Screenwriter Robert Rossen made his directorial debut with this film, 14 years later, he would return to this film's tough, gritty style for his best picture.
Two years ago, Nick Millevoi released Desertion, a record which found him diving into an old-school blues aesthetic, mutating it with his forward-thinking and experimental outlook. This quest for transforming standardised forms of blues, country and surf rock is now expanded, with Kevin Shea and Johnny Deblase joining Millevoi and forming the Desertion Trio. The band’s first record carries down the same path that Desertion explored, seeing the trio taking on jazz notions, desert rock passages, noise rock aggression and free-rock improv tactics. All these elements are passed through the band’s kaleidoscopic vision of rock music, presenting an extravagant result in their debut album, Midtown Tilt.
Combining sessions that blues pianist Sunnyland Slim and blues guitarist Johnny Shines recorded separately on the same day in Chicago in 1968 for the Blue Horizon imprint, this interesting little set shows two blues veterans doing what it was they did, which was, in part, to push and pull the Delta blues one small step closer to being in the modern urban world. The Slim sides, several of which are new to digital disc, are a bit more interesting than the Shines sides, but only by degree. Slim's songs can appear on the surface to be tossed-off exercises in the usual blues clichés, but they were actually carefully written, while Shines worked similar territory, giving old blues figures a slightly ironic twist. Since both played at one time or another with Robert Johnson, and both straddle the old and new worlds of the blues as it transfigured into an electric and urban form, it makes perfect sense to stick these two sessions together in one package.
By 1928 and '29 jazz was beginning to mature and recording technology was growing up along with it. Even taking into account his remarkable accomplishments on phonograph records from 1923 through early 1928, the exciting material gathered together on this disc represents - without question - some of the very best jazz ever recorded by New Orleans/Chicago clarinet archetype Johnny Dodds. On the first 11 selections, Natty Dominique blows one tough little cornet, and Bill Johnson's bull fiddle comes across more clearly and dramatically than ever before. Throughout the 1920s, many bands relied on the tuba to provide the bassline on their recordings…
For those who wish to develop a strong relationship with early jazz, there are certain records that may help the listener to cultivate an inner understanding, the kind of vital personal connection that reams of critical description can only hint at. Once you become accustomed to the sound of Johnny Dodds' clarinet, for example, the old-fashioned funkiness of South Side Chicago jazz from the 1920s might well become an essential element in your personal musical universe. Put everything post-modern aside for a few minutes and surrender to these remarkable historic recordings. It is January 1927, and the band, fortified with Freddie Keppard and Tiny Parham, is calling itself Jasper Taylor & His State Street Boys…
Dodds was one of the very finest New Orleans clarinetists, and the only non-Creole among them. The peak experiences here, and some of the finest small-group recordings ever made, are the New Orleans Wanderers sessions - Armstrong's Hot Five with George Mitchell instead of Armstrong. Also present are Freddie Keppard's only two recordings and a bunch of marginally lesser cuts that Dodds transmutes into gold.