Customer Reviews: Road House (Fox Film Noir)
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on December 28, 1999
Jean Negulesco was an also-ran among golden-age directors, but he fired on all cylinders in this late-forties piney-woods noir. Richard Widmark is a giggling psycho who owns, what else, a Road House somewhere near the Canadian Border; Cornel Wilde is his all-American man Friday. Into the mix comes Lupino, a tough "shantoozie" who becomes the apex of a sick triangle. The talk is hard-boiled and freighted with innuendo (in the style of the times). Worth the price of admission is Lupino singing "One more for my baby (and one more for the road)" in her burnt-toast voice, while sitting at a white piano gouged with burns from her smouldering cigarettes. This movie was made for viewing on the late, late show.
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on June 29, 2001
ROAD HOUSE sets a dark mood with plenty of night scenes. I'm usually turned away from a film having too many night scenes. Half the time you can't tell who's who and what's they doing. Nothing unclear in ROAD HOUSE. Director, Jean Negulesco, deserves a gold star for handling the lighting in those scenes. I give another gold star to Celeste Holm, the girl that you want for a "friend." The plot gets down to the simply fact of the mating season. I was a little concerned that Widmark's evil propensity wasn't foreshadowed during the earlier stages of the film, but it was acceptable to believe that he just flipped his cork. The best part of the movie was perky Ida Lupino's torch song singing effort beginning with "Set 'em up Joe," and "Again." The soundtrack was marvelous.
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on March 2, 2000
As a noir collector, I have to tell you that this one is a must. Buy it for Ida Lupino's performance alone! The star of the show for me, though, is Widmark. While his role is no Tommy Udo (Kiss of Death - 1947 - DON'T MISS IT!), he sizzles, as always. Let's face it, aside from being a great actor, when he was young, the guy was a major hotty!
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VINE VOICEon December 27, 2004
The plot is basically a triangle -- Cornel Wilde and Richard Widmark are both in love with lounge singer Ida Lupino. Widmark's character is well-off and owns the road house that his old pal Cornel Wilde manages for him. If Widmark can't win Lupino's heart, he's going to make sure Wilde doesn't get to have her. Just to add to the complications, another road house employee yearns for Wilde, but unlike Widmark, she's basically a good person.

Somehow black and white is the right medium for this film -- I think color would have detracted from the brooding atmosphere.

All in all, this movie stands the test of time well. Widmark puts in a great performance.
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on January 6, 2009
Ida Lupino's acting and singing is a major reason that Road House is among the best of film noir. She has that character (Lily Stevens) DOWN and she is the perfect woman to play that character, who as one lounge patron said "She reminds me of the first woman that ever slapped my face!!".

She had the appearance of a person who had drank for years. She had seemingly aged prematurely and had a hard looking face (yet very attractive) - perfect for the brassy, world weary, very confident bar lounge singer she plays.

She is brought from Chicago to this far away club to perform for a week or so, and gets involved in a love triangle with the Cornel Wilde and Richard Widmark characters.

This is the first movie in which we hear Ida's real singing voice. In previous movies her voice had been dubbed over by another singer. She does two songs: "Again" (which made it to number 2 on the charts shortly thereafter) and "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)". That latter one is IMO one of the great singing performances in any movie, ever. Her appearance as a chain smoker and of a person who drank, together with her capturing a Bogart-like world-weariness make her absolutely perfect for this song. She sings it (and plays piano) with a sultry, smoky air, and in fact it's more almost like talking than singing. But it works. Her whole persona totally fits the jaded lyrics of that sad song. That performance is the highlight of the movie, IMO. The Celeste Holm character said it perfectly at the end of that performance: "She does more without a voice than anybody I ever heard!!"
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on September 30, 2008
The two new additions to the Fox Film Noir series are really fun and interesting. Neither could be called strictly noir, but with lots of noirish elements, both films will reward with a first or second viewing. Road House (1948) was dubbed a "sordid slashing melodrama," by one critic, and has Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde and Richard Widmark in a love triangle dripping with lust, betrayal and violence, as well as Celeste Holm along for the ride. Widmark continues his slightly-off, mostly insane characterizations that started with Kiss Of Death, and Lupino plays a bar canary who warbles Mercer's "One for My Baby" with B-girl authority. Moontide (1942) also stars Lupino and is illuminated by the performance of the great French actor Jean Gabin. Deeply moody and atmospheric, with a sense of doom and fate playing over all of the action, the film, set on the docks of a Pacific seaside town, seems like a dream half remembered. Co-starring Jerome Cowan, Claude Rains and Thomas Mitchell, it's a strange---but very compelling---movie.
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on November 5, 2011
I watched this a few times, but never managed to finish it. The trouble is that I just can't get past that part in the middle where Ms. Lupino sings a few numbers in a smoky cocktail lounge...OH YEA!! It ALWAYS entrances me - that's why I haven't gotten to the rest yet! I'll finish it one day...but that part in the middle where she sings is worth the entire cost of the dvd alone!!
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on September 18, 2008
Not to be confused with the trashy 1989 Patrick Swayze mullet fest that shares the same title, this was the fourth and final genre pic from director Jean Nugulesco, who had previously helmed The Mask of Dimitrios, Nobody Lives Forever and Johnny Belinda.

Noir icon Richard Widmark stars as the mercurial Jefty Robbins, who owns a road house called (wait for it...) "Jefty's". He has hired his longtime pal Pete Morgan (noir beefcake Cornel Wilde) to help with day-to-day management. The fussy, protective Pete feels that his main function is to be the voice of reason and steer the frequently impulsive Jefty away from making potentially reckless business decisions. When Pete is dispatched to the train station to pick up Jefty's "new equipment" Lily Stevens (Lupino), a hardened chanteuse who starts cracking wise from the moment they meet, he becomes convinced that this is one of Jefty's potentially reckless business decisions. The tough, self-assured Lily laughs off his attempt to offer up the advance money "for her trouble" and then steer her onto the next train heading back to Chicago. Now, you and I know that these two are obviously destined to rip each other's clothes off at some point; the fun is in getting there.

Although the setup may give the impression that this is going to be a standard romantic triangle melodrama, the film segues into noir territory from the moment that the Widmark Stare first appears. Suffice it to say-when you see the Widmark Stare, it is very likely that trouble lies ahead. As his character becomes more and more unhinged, Widmark eventually employs all his "greatest hits" (including, of course, The Demented Cackle). His performance builds to an operatic crescendo of sociopathic bat$#!+ craziness in the film's final act that plays like a precursor to Ben Kingsley's raging, sexual jealously-fueled meltdown in Sexy Beast.

Widmark and Lupino are both in top form here. Wilde is overshadowed a bit, but then again his "boy toy" role isn't as showy as the others. Celeste Holm is wonderfully droll as one of Jefty's long-suffering employees. Lupino insisted on doing her own singing in the film; while she was not a technically accomplished crooner, she actually wasn't half bad in a husky-voiced "song stylist" vein (she really tears it up on "One For My Baby"). The film sports an excellent DVD transfer and amusing commentary from noir experts.
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on March 1, 2014
In the 1940s, 20th Century Fox produced a splendid array of well-produced noirs, of which this is a fine example. In an offbeat angle, tough-girl Ida Lupino is actually not fatale at all, and it turns out she's a fine singer for someone who can't really sing. Richard Widmark gives his third and final portrayal of a deeply creepy villain, after which he graduated to leading man.
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on June 18, 2013
Ida Lupino absolutely shines in this film as the fem-fatale with heart. I love her singing. The songs are great and her scratchy sultry voice is a stunner. Widmark was at the start of his career and continued to do his evil gurgly laugh, which is comical to me.
This film starts out rather slow and makes you wonder when it is going to show the plot, but when it does it rev's up and delivers a suspenseful climax. It doesn't disappoint. The title of the film doesn't really match the heart of the film as most noir films did not, but I continue to watch it about once a month for the yle, content and her singing. A1 film
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