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Film / Blast of Silence

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Blast of Silence is a 1961 Neo-Noir thriller. Written, directed, and starring Allen Baron as the main "hero", the film tells the story of a hitman named Frankie Bono, who comes to New York City during Christmas time in order to carry out a contract on a low-tier mobster.

Of course, this being a noir, nothing goes quite as smoothly as planned. Frankie finds himself having to contend not only with taking out his target, but also his reemerging feelings for a girl he knew as a child. Will he be able to accomplish his goals, or will the New York chill swallow him up as well?

Created on the tail end of the Film Noir craze and being an independent production, Blast of Silence remained relatively obscure to anybody besides hardcore film aficionados who saw it at some film festivals. However, it gained some traction again when it was re-released on DVD by The Criterion Collection in 2008, and some critics consider it to be one of the finer independent productions of the 1960s.

Blast of Silence contains examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Frankie Bono kills people for a living. However, he does seem to regret his life choice and never endangers anyone other than criminals.
  • Assassins Are Always Betrayed: Frankie gets this treatment by the end of the film.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: No matter how you look at it, Frankie's employers gain everything. Not only have they managed to bump off the (supposedly) ambitious Troinano, but they also kill Frankie so that he can never rat them out.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Averted. Most of New York City is not portrayed as sleazy or poverty-stricken; in fact, a good chunk of the film shows the nice Christmastime decorations around the city and people being in relatively good spirit.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Big Ralph becomes guilty of this halfway through the film. Despite knowing full well that Frankie is a dangerous hitman, he still tries to blackmail him for a few hundred dollars. On top of that, he even goes as far to taunt Frankie by saying he's nothing without a gun. Surprise, surprise, the hitman kills him rather than pay a higher fee, and without a gun no less.
  • Chiaroscuro: Being a Noir, this visual style was a given.
  • Contract on the Hitman: Frank's employers are guilty of this.
  • The Cynic: Frankie rarely waxes a positive thought, and seems to always see the worst in everyone around him. Justified given that this thought process makes it easier for him to off other people.
  • Dance of Romance: Subverted in a rather terrifying way. During his visit with Lori, Lori tries to cheer Frankie up by suggesting they slow-dance to a song on the radio. The mood is romantic, but then Frankie gets too aggressive, forcing a kiss on Lori and then getting a hair away from raping her before she's able to escape his grip. Needless to say, Lori asks Frankie to leave and distances herself from him for the rest of the film.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Frankie tries to start a relationship with Lori, but finds out that she is with another man and only sees Frankie as a friend.
  • Downer Ending: Not only does Frankie not get to be with Lori, but he's also betrayed by his employers and shot dead in a river. The only thing he really accomplished was killing Troinano, but it was something he wanted to back out of and really brought him no pleasure. He starts off miserable and ends up dead.
  • Everybody Smokes: It's the 1960s; what else would people be doing?
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: On the one hand, Troinano is a member of a very dirty group and likely has hurt enough people to be considered a threat by his fellow mobsters. On the other, Frankie is a hitman who'll kill whomever for the right price and (usually) without a second thought.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Frank is this after Lori rejects him for another man. He initially grovels, but then flawlessly kills Troinano.
  • The Hero Dies: "Well, what did you expect in a Noir — a happy ending?"
  • Hitman with a Heart: Frank may be a rough man, but he is shown to have a softness toward orphans and women.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Frank gets to hold this when his employers plan a trap for him. Despite being an experienced hitman, he never considers the fact that they are Mafia bigwigs and they want to meet him at a largely deserted area as a warning sign. This is what ends up killing him.
    • Big Ralph is also guilty of this. After threatening Frankie (a well-known and very successful hitman) with blackmail, he decides to immediately go out and get totally hammered. This really bites him in the ass when, shock of all shocks, the hitman kills him rather than pay a larger fee for his piece.
  • Jerkass: Frank's unnamed contact is definitely this. He verbally insults and threatens Frank when they first meet, threatens to kill him if he doesn't follow through with the job, and even still kills him when Frank carries out the hit.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Frankie may be abrasive, but he genuinely seems to care for Lori and seems to have a soft spot for orphans.
  • Love Redeems: Subverted. Frankie thinks being with Lori might make him happier, but his anti-social behavior and Lori's already being taken crash his plans.
  • Lured into a Trap: Frankie is drawn into one by his employers, with the aim to kill him. They succeed.
  • The Mafia: Frankie's target Troinano is a member of the Organization.
  • The Mistress: Troinano has one, and her apartment is where Frank plans to (and succeeds) in killing Troinano.
  • Narrator: Voiced by Lionel Stander, perhaps best known for his later role as Max on Hart to Hart.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: What Frank's reconciliation with Lori turns out to be.
  • Professional Killer: Frankie is this.
  • Second-Person Narration: An unseen narrator relates Frankie's story this way, speaking as though Frankie was the one listening to the story as he's experiencing it.
  • The '60s: Even though it looks and feels like a Noir from the 1950s, the movie was filmed and takes place during the early 1960s.
  • Sunshine Noir: The story takes place during 1960s New York City during Christmastime. Almost everywhere one looks, lively decorations light up the streets and skyline. Subverted in the final scene, where the weather turns stormy.
  • Twisted Christmas: This tale of loneliness, crime, betrayal, and murder is set during the holidays.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The likely reason for the attack on Frankie at the end of the film.
  • You're Nothing Without Your Phlebotinum: Big Ralph makes this taunt toward Frankie when he tries to blackmail him, saying he's nothing without a gun. Frankie soon proves him wrong by killing Ralph by strangulation with an electrical cord.