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the Video Vault

From the Vault: ‘Blast of Silence’ (1961)

IMDb profile for 'Blast of Silence'Though he worked almost exclusively in television, Allen Baron made a name for himself writing, directing, and starring in the Blast of Silence, an obscure indie gem made during the brief gap between the film noir cycle of American post-war cinema and the French New Wave. A de facto hybrid of the two, it is a haunting meditation on fate.

Baron is Frankie Bono, a withdrawn hitman (is there any other kind?) sent from New York to his home town of Cleveland to rub out a low-level mobster. While stalking his prey, he crosses paths with old friends and an ex-lover who leave him feeling conflicted, vulnerable, and even more alone than he did to begin with.

Produced outside the heavy-handed studio system, it’s a disarmingly gritty film with a heavy layer of fatalism. It finds physical and emotional violence around every mundane corner, as described by the trippy second-person narration by Lionel Stander (Max on Hart to Hart). Baron used the movie’s miniscule budget to his advantage, using found locations to create a desolate urban landscape that mirrors its tormented protagonist.

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About Gary Dowell

Professional film critic, journalist, Byronic hero.

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