The many musical performances, both in-world and integrated, are good (particularly a tightly coordinated split screen number) and the music itself is even better. Director/producer Val Guest, for all his potshots taken at the coffee shop “rebellion” of the youth set, does a formidable of depicting the budding scene and the neon-y, urban and modernized world surrounding it. The film is never better than when the kids get to groovin’ on the dance floor. It’s the newfangled widescreen frame a-hoppin’ and a-boppin’. Clearly, the espresso- or, er, “expresso”- is freely flowing!
This time, we have two films from studio utilitarian director Joseph Pevney (who’d go on to direct some of the great classic Star Trek episodes), and one by sci-fi/horror favorite director Jack Arnold. How do these titles rate as bona fide Film Noir?
It’s both Air Force propaganda and a failed Howard Hughes vanity piece. It’s the final released film of legendary fallen director Josef von Sternberg. It began at one major studio and ended up at another. It’s got a redressed, drab, muddy Western set doubling for Russia in the film’s second half. It might be silly at times, but it’s never dull. There’s so, so, so much red meat here for a film historian to chew on.