by Amanda Garrett over at Old Hollywood Films
The Great Flamarion (1945), about a troubled sharpshooter (Erich von Stroheim, pictured above with costar Mary Beth Hughes) who becomes infatuated with a young dancer, is a superb early noir from legendary director Anthony Mann.
The Great Flamarion begins with shots ringing out during a vaudeville performance in a Mexican theater. After a few moments of chaos, the body of a performer (Hughes) is found lying next to her drunken husband (Stephen Barclay). The police initially believe the man killed his wife until one of the performers finds a man (von Stroheim) dying from a gunshot wound who confesses to the crime and unravels a strange tale of lust, deceit, and revenge.
The Great Flamarion was one of two low-budget noirs -- the other is Strange Impersonation (1946) -- that Mann made for Republic Pictures and producer W. Lee Wilder, who was the older brother of famed writer/director Billy Wilder. In fact, astute viewers will notice striking similarities between The Great Flamarion and Billy's classic noir, Double Indemnity (1944): Both films have a flashback structure that is built around the narration of a dying character and both films have a plot about a desperate femme fatale who uses the protagonist to murder her loutish husband.