JESS FRANCO MONTH: Death Whistles the Blues (1962)

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read Sean Mitus’ article about this movie here.

Jess Franco remade this in 1977 as Kiss Me Killer, but before that, this black and white slice of noir feels like an altogether different director. Sure, there’s jazz — Franco himself is playing saxophone in one scene — but this looks and feels different to me. Sure, the easy difference is the black and white, but it feels like a different kind of sexy, if that makes sense. Both this and Rififi in the City have a certain look that I’d like to have seen more often.

Years ago, a guns for money deal went wrong. Trumpet player Julius Smith (Manuel Alexandre) thought he got away with it and then one night he’s spotted by Lina (Perla Cristal), whose husband Castro was killed when it all went wrong. Now, she’s married to another man of loose morals, Paul Vogel (Georges Rollin), who knows way more about hos Julius died than he lets on. The cops decide to find out just how much and have a new singer named Maria Santos (Danik Patisson) join the club and get close to him. Then, Castro (Conrado San Martin) comes back, the final member of the old smuggling operation, stinging from a decade in prison.

This movie looks great, way better than its budget and I get it, it’s not New Orleans, but who cares? I also love that this is an early shared universe for Jess, as The Stardust nightclub also appears in Rififi in the City. All that’s missing is a jewel thief, Dr. Orloff, Lina Romay in a blonde wig (that said, she was eight when this was made), vampire women and a mist that makes women enraptured.

You can buy this from Severin as part of their Franco Noir set or watch it on Tubi.

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