This week’s mystery movie was the 1965 film “Once a Thief,” written by Zekial Marko (our mystery man for Tuesday) and directed by Ralph Nelson, with longtime Alfred Hitchcock cinematographer Robert Burks (“North by Northwest” and “Vertigo” among many others).
The jazz score was by Lalo Schifrin in one of his first pictures, with editing by Fredric Steinkamp (“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”). The art direction was by George W. Davis and Paul Groesse (both of whom had worked on the TV show “Twilight Zone”) ; and set decoration by Henry Grace, another “Twilight Zone” veteran, and Jack Mills (“Attack of the Puppet People” and “One Step Beyond”).
“Once a Thief” appears to have been heavily influenced by foreign films of the era. All the dialogue is obviously and sometimes crudely dubbed (rather like “The Loved One”), which gives the film an air of unreality and artificiality. Perhaps that’s what Nelson was going for.
The opening credits were filmed in a small club, and this shot made me wonder. This would have been an ideal Steadicam shot, but it was long before the Steadicam was invented. Instead, we have a handheld camera following the actors through a crowd.
The frame has a little bounce. But in this case, it fits the gritty, downbeat story.
Here’s our mysterious chap for Monday.
And for Tuesday, another enigmatic gent. You will go to Google. It will be of no help.
Please congratulate Dewey Webb for identifying Monday’s mystery fellow.
And for Wednesday, we have “Oh. Him.”
Please congratulate William and Dewey Webb for identifying our mystery movie and cast.
The lighting in this scene is interesting. It’s supposed to be an office with flat lighting from overhead fluorescent fixtures, but there are sharp highlights and deep shadows in some of the shots, which makes me think it’s a set with studio lighting rather than an actual office. Unfortunately, I can’t show you how the scene is lit without revealing one of our stars, but it’s worth revisiting later.
Here’s the scene I was talking about on Wednesday.
The setting is an office with flat, fluorescent lighting. But look at this:
Inspector Mike Vido (Van Heflin) is in deep shadow while the background characters are lit more normally.
The deep shadows certainly contribute to the mood of the picture, much of which either occurs at night or in dimly lit places. But it’s a curious effect.
Some of Robert Burks’ cinematography for “Once a Thief.” Eddie Pedak (Alain Delon) drives through San Francisco at night in his Model A roadster. I’m guessing this was a post-production effect.
And this is obviously a process shot.
Walter Pedak (Jack Palance) and James Arthur Sargatanas (John Davis Chandler). You really don’t want these guys after you.
Here’s our leading man, but because this is a crime picture, he’s behind bars. Just to make it a bit more challenging.
Please congratulate Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/wrong movie), Julie Merholz (mystery movie and cast), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie and cast), Don Danard (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Jenny M (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Benito (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/second vote for the wrong movie), Dewey Webb (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Rick (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), David Inman (mystery movie and cast), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and cast), LC (mystery movie and cast), Roget-L.A. (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/third vote for the wrong movie), Rick Scott (Wednesday’s mystery fellow) and Barbara Klein (Wednesday’s mystery fellow).
If you would like a hint, email me.
And for Friday, Trixie Friganza.
Please congratulate Michael Ryerson (Thursday’s mystery fellow), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and cast), Jenny M (mystery movie and cast), Benito (mystery movie and cast) and Rick Scott (mystery movie and cast).