Saturday, February 20, 2010

Forgotten Film (The movie you have to see) The Public Eye

I'm a mystery writer and photographer who reviews crime fiction. But I also enjoy classic crime movies, and one of my favorite movies combines photography and a crime story in a first rate film noir setting.

It's titled The Public Eye and stars Joe Pesci & Barbara Hershey. Based on the life of the famous tabloid photographer Arthur Fellig, the film is set in 1940's wartime New York City. Leo Bernstein, who makes a living taking photos of other people's misery, stumbles upon a consiracy involving the mob, black market gasoline and a gourgeous femme fatale who owns a popular night club. Throw in some romance, corrupt cops and couple of FBI agents who'll do anything to prevent the public from learning about a scandal that hurts the war effort, and you've got the makings of a first rate noir film.

Unfortunately, the movie isn't well known. Made in 1992, it was available on VHS but never made it to DVD until 2011, which may explain it's descent into obscurity. And that's a shame, because it's a classic. Joe Pesci gives a great performance, as does Barbara Hershey as the love interest. Richard Riehle, Jerry Adler, and Tim Gamble contribute solid acting.

The suspenseful music score was written by Mark Isham, and features several tunes with sizzling vocals by Kevin Dorsey. Universal has finally issued the film on DVD, 19 years after it was made. Better late than never.

Check out the trailer to get some idea of what makes this movie so great.