director Allen Baron
Recommended by a friend a few years back, Blast of Silence wasn’t a film that I actually knew much about going in, which is rare enough nowadays, mainly because the internet make such things pretty available and I tend to read up a fair amount on films. It came out in 1961, and depending on your definition of film noir, either comes just after the end of the prime period or just at the beginning of a transition to a post-noir period. I’m no expert but I might choose the latter.
Director Allen Brown hit the trifecta here, writing, directing, and starring in his debut film. And a most remarkable film it is.
Shot on the streets of New York City and narrated in a poignant voiceover, the film oozes a gritty flavor of the Big Apple that is vibrant and unique. There are things that the film seems to echo or presage, like John Cassavetes or Martin Scorsese, a naturalism of style, language, and acting that is pervasively New York. But it also echoes in sorts of the French New Wave at times as well.
Unlike the French New Wave, the film is a rather straightforward and naturalistic, some suggest documentary-like, crime film, following a hitman in town for a job, making the rounds. The voiceover gives clarity to the film’s world view, as pessimistic and bleak as they come, but not at all ironic or above the genre. It just has a bent for a realism of the city and its denizen not nearly so glossy as even a low budget Hollywood affair. And then there are those New York streets that can’t be replicated on a sound stage anywhere.
Damn fine film.