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Blast of Silence (1961) Online

Blast of Silence (1961) Online
Original Title :
Blast of Silence
Genre :
Movie / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Year :
Directror :
Allen Baron
Cast :
Allen Baron,Molly McCarthy,Larry Tucker
Writer :
Allen Baron,Waldo Salt
Type :
Time :
1h 17min
Rating :
Blast of Silence (1961) Online

Having been 'away' for some time, professional killer Frankie Bono returns to New York to do another job: assassinate some mid-level mobster. Although intending to avoid unnecessary 'contact' while carefully stalking his victim, Bono is recognized by an old fellow from the orphanage, whose calm and unambitious citizen's life and happy marriage contrast heavily with Bono's solitary and haunted existence. Exhausted and distracted, Bono makes another mistake, but his contract is not one to back out of.
Cast overview:
Allen Baron Allen Baron - Frank Bono
Molly McCarthy Molly McCarthy - Lori
Larry Tucker Larry Tucker - Big Ralph
Peter Clune Peter Clune - Troiano (as Peter H. Clune)
Danny Meehan Danny Meehan - Petey
Howard Mann Howard Mann - Body Guard
Charles Creasap Charles Creasap - Contact Man
Bill DePrato Bill DePrato - Joe Boniface (as Bill Da Prado)
Milda Memenas Milda Memenas - Troiano's Girl Freind [sic]
Joe Bubbico Joe Bubbico - Body Guard
Ruth Kaner Ruth Kaner - Cleaning Woman
Gil Rogers Gil Rogers - Gangster
Jerry Douglas Jerry Douglas - Gangster
Don Saroyan Don Saroyan - Lori's Boy Friend
Dean Sheldon Dean Sheldon - Night Club Singer

Part of the movie was shot during the middle of a real hurricane - the wind seen during the fistfight is not artificial. It was filmed on Long Island during Hurricane Donna (September 10-12, 1960), the only hurricane of the 20th Century to strike the entire East Coast from south Florida to Maine.

Allen Baron originally offered the role of Frank Bono to Peter Falk as a friend for no pay. Falk seriously considered it, but declined when he was offered a paying gig.

The beginning, which shows a train emerging from a tunnel, is what would have been seen in a train *leaving* New York. The train, with its magnificent GG1 electric locomotive, emerges from the tunnel and is seen in Newark's Penn Station. Trains do not burst into the light (an important metaphor in the film) entering New York City, but arrive at dark, underground platforms. However the now-demolished sky lighted departure hall of New York's Penn Station is seen. Trains between Cleveland and New York generally traveled over the New York Central line and arrived at Grand Central Terminal.

Frank is staying at the Valencia Hotel on St Mark's Place in the Bowery on the lower East Side of New York City.

User reviews



Saw this one a few weeks back on the big screen at the American Cinematheque and it has stayed w/ me. Baron was about as short and homely as leading men get but somehow in this bleak and uncompromising piece he's effective (particularly in voice-over). Some striking cinematography (especially the wonderful opening train sequence) and a few long takes (Baron walking an entire rundown city block of a sidewalk with no other business, the stirring snowy pier finale) are memorable. Also good is the sleazy fat bearded character actor whose name escapes me (he also appeared in Fuller's SHOCK CORRIDOR around the same time).

There isn't a lot of humanity in BOS though, and the one moment when Baron opens up to the girl he has befriended, he gets slapped hard with cold reality. A well done scene but it only piles on to the disaffection and malaise already permeating this movie. Don't expect to laugh much or take a date; the proceedings rarely stray from deadly serious. This is a movie full of lapsed morals and betrayal but you can take heart that the system remains firmly in control at the chilling end of this downbeat but solid late entry in the noir cycle.


Someone resurrect this 'lost classic' hardboiled noir! Director/Writer/Lead Actor Allen Baron (whose subsequent career took him into TV-land with the likes of CHARLIE'S ANGELS) turned out this bleak film noir in 1961, and it must surely rate as one of the all-time genre downers (and that's intended as a compliment!). Similar in tone to Irving Lerner's earlier MURDER BY CONTRACT (another must-see!), this features a protracted, yet stunningly appropriate, opening tracking shot through a railway tunnel as an early morning train spits Ohio-based contract assassin Frankie Bono (Baron) out into a wintry New York to carry out a Christmas holiday hit on a second-tier racketeer but, as in MURDER BY CONTRACT, all the meticulous planning and methodical preparation becomes unravelled as fate and his malevolent (and often unseen) criminal fraternity deal Frankie a crueller hand than the one he'd planned for his unsuspecting quarry. OK, nothing new here, but the tone, something like a cross between the cruel randomness of a Cornell Woolrich story (read this guy!) mated with an existentialist and angst-ridden take on the 'We're born in pain, We die alone' school of genre filmmaking, means that you'd need to take in a couple of Abel Ferrara movies like THE DRILLER KILLER and BAD LIEUTENANT to get your jollies after watching this one. Oh yeah, and it's topped off by a pitiless world-weary hardboiled third-person narration which ratchets up the ominous atmospherics that all the doomy foreshadowing brings to this dance of death (example - when Bono tracks his would-be victim to The Village Gate, the jazzy soundtrack switches to a beatnik vocalist/conga-drummer whose set consists solely of death-themed numbers). Atmospheric lengthy takes, often featuring a behatted and raincoated (or alternately dark-suited) Bono stalking the mean streets of the Big Apple dwarfed by the concrete jungle cityscape evoke and prefigure both Marvin in POINT BLANK and Delon in Melville's LE SAMOURAI, and his ruthlessly downbeat demeanour also recalls Henry Silva in the similarly ruthless (and elusive) JOHNNY COOL (see my IMDB review for more on this one - shameless plug!). This may be (by now) an oft-told tale, but what we have here is a true low-budget one-off for fans of the lower depths, and there's even a sweaty, weighty (excuse the pun) and telling cameo from Larry Tucker (Pagliacci in Fuller's 'SHOCK CORRIDOR') for cultists to take in amongst the no-name cast. A must-see - if you get a chance to see it.


A hard-boiled, uncompromising study of a professional hit-man, "Baby Boy" Frankie Bono. The beginning of the film is menacing; a pitch-black screen and pounding percussion driving a cynically vicious narrative, "remembering, out of the black silence you were born in pain . . . born with hate and anger built in . . . a slap on the backside to blast out a scream!" A small light becomes visible amidst the black like a moving bulls eye on a target and all of a sudden amidst a crescendo of noise you realize you've been on a train in a tunnel and are now being "blasted" out into the world. But it's like being born into a sewer because this world is seen through the eyes of our killer. Frankie Bono is played by Allen Baron (the director himself) who's appearance and acting style are vintage Robert DeNiro. Frankie has the misfortune to run into a girl for whom he once had affection, and for the first time in his career, he's having 2nd thoughts about his profession, but a killer who doesn't kill gets killed. Frankie's on a one way street that cannot go on forever. Unforgettable film.


Yeah, rememberin' da time when you was a kid and saw this movie on late night TV. Even then you was wise that it was a shabby-lookin' lowdown no-budget job and the cast was not so good lookin' -- but that's OK, you liked it that way. These was the kinda people you could see all around you, every day in da neighborhood, downtown, on the street corner, in the subway. Yeah, this looked like life in the city, but wit' a special kinda danger, a certain mystery. You ain't never forgot this movie, didja? Oh, you didn't remember what it was called or who was in it, but it stuck wit' ya and bounced around yer brain like the beatin' of a conga drum in a Greenwich Village beatnik club. Didn't think it would ever catch up with ya, didja?

Ya seen it again tonight, huh? The actin' still ain't so great and the people still ain't so good-lookin'. But that's OK, 'cause it's still the coolest damn thing ya ever seen. Ahh, Hollywood is for saps. You want somethin' gritty and dark, don't ya? 'Cause that's the way you like it.



The strongest impression left by director/star Allen Baron's 1961 Blast of Silence is that the fabulous postwar years are gone, fini, kaput. The gritty 60s have arrived, and Manhattan is grimy, garish and awash in human as well as inanimate litter -- the 60s in which transvestite hookers started knifing U.N. diplomats in Times Square. Into this nascent cesspool travels tired hitman Frankie Bono; he comes by train, through a dark and endless tunnel which seems to symbolize either the birth canal or the human condition -- or both. He's a full-time loner (like Vince Edwards in the somewhat similar Murder by Contract) out to do a job, collect and move on. But he happens upon some old acquaintances from his childhood in an orphanage and succumbs, clumsily, to some human contact. This proves his undoing. The ending takes place in a desolate shore not unlike the Staten Island locations of Sorry, Wrong Number. Blast of Silence is amateurish and "personal," in the style of the John Cassavettes films that would soon follow -- products of that edgy, verbal New York culture of jazz boites and improvisational theater. It's no masterpiece, but it's worth seeing for anyone tracking the turns the noir cycle took in its last, dying years.


This B& W film, set in New York uses its locations and actors with great skill. The sound editing is very effective and adds moments of tension to the atypically dark contrasty lighting. One shot of an exterior street is enormously powerful without any action beside the cityscape. The director has a great eye - not as good at acting as directing though. If you like film noir - this low budget film is worthy of your viewing.


Blast of Silence is a short tense jewel of the genre. The story of a lonesome hitter coming back to NY on Christmas Eve to perform yet another job. Except this time, with NY, there comes back a whole lot of personal moments too. I won't unveil the plot, it's actually very simple and straightforward, and that's precisely why I'm amazed the whole thing just works so smoothly -indeed chillingly. No need for double crossing, double minded gangsters: those unnecessary decoys uninspired directors use to try to spice up their movie and gain 5 minutes!! Here you know the guys are going to play by the rules i.e. bad and simple!

And the suspense is kept at an incredible level just by the sheer darkness of the atmosphere and obviously by the decadent streets of NY which is shown in a very tough manner.

Baron plays Bono and although not an actor, he gives a credible performance. Maybe because he doesn't really have to talk so much. Most of his thoughts are narrated by a great voice over (Lionel Stander -he was cut off from the cast due to McCcarthysm). Note Larry Tucker's cool performance who would go on to win a Golden Globe for Shock Corridor.

Just for the quote because it hit me as an instant cult quote: "Baby Boy Frankie Bono". I'll admit nothing incredible in that, but listen to Standler say it and you'll understand!!


I thought the movie used the voice-over very well. I like the idea of a character allowing us into his mind and/or thought process while he goes about his daily business, especially an interesting profession such as being a hitman. Overall I thought the movie was suspenseful as well, with me cheering on Bono in the last scenes. I recommend this movie for anyone interested film in general.


The opening of this film is really explosive. The screen is completely dark; a new-born baby cries. Then a tiny light is to see. While the narrator tells what is going on with the boy, the light is getting bigger and finally it seems to have the shape of a baby-carriage (it's a question whether this is intentional). A few seconds later one realizes that the light is the end of a railway tunnel. The tracks lead to Manhattan. Frankie Bono, who has become a professional killer, is on the way to do a job.

Truly extraordinary is the narrator. Hard-hearted words, spoken in an aggressive tone, reveal what orphan Frankie thinks about this world. That he is a loner, that he hates the necessary contacts (for example a 38 special with a silencer has to be organized), that the 25th of December means nothing to him, except a delay of his observations.

I like BLAST OF SILENCE very much, because it presents a noir atmosphere in an unusual way. A low-budget film that surpasses many other titles of this genre.


Blast of Silence is a late noir and a pretty good flick and maybe somewhat of a sleeper since it was a blind Criterion buy. It is the story of a hit man. The circumstances which comprise the plight of the average noir hero (or anti-hero) are probably many and varied. A guy might be living an ordinary life and suddenly be hurled into the mire by fate. Or another maybe a guy who has a dangerous life style but finally makes the mistake that begins the nightmare. In this case, however, the hero has apparently and seemingly been so afflicted since the womb. This is wonderfully depicted in an opening sequence that should go down as a classic, in my view. I shall not reveal it but it is immensely satisfying and an excellent way to begin the show.

This movie made me appreciate the professionalism of what it might be like to be hit man. Not that it would appeal to me, personally, but this guy knows what he's doing. We follow the planning leading up to thing itself but the movie is less about the situation and much more the man, his mental state. To that degree that he is good at what he does, to that same degree perhaps, he is not so good at feeling good and being happy. This is dramatized by a rare second-person narration, which (as a reminder) goes something like this: You open your eyes and it's a new day and the same feeling comes over you just like yesterday, that clammy feeling, and that feeling of hatred, for your old man, for yesterday, for today, for tomorrow, for Christmas, for just about everything, and you wonder will this ever end ...

This voice-over that work quites well and is mercifully not overdone or too overbearing. It works because it tells the viewer what's going through the guy's head and how he is experiencing it, an economical way time-wise of letting us know this guy.

I had never heard of any of the players, and I found that refreshing, no hearkening back to any prior roles. The lead is not a veteran actor and his performance perhaps shows as he comes off rather stiff, even a little dull. The good news is that it works for the character, who is a loner and socially inept with women as well as with prior male buddy acquaintances he comes across, all serving to accentuate his obvious isolation. Some of his lines seem awkward, but as I say, it works. That's just the way Frankie Bono is.

There is a greasy gun dealer that is played by a soft-spoken fat man, a small but juicy role. There is also a sweet girl who is sympathetic to Frankie but to only to a point, she is way too far on the right side of the tracks. I really liked her, both the character and the actress. There are no femmes fatales. Frankie is messed up enough, he doesn't need one of those to do him in.

There is a neo-realistic element. The camera takes to the street of NYC, mostly Manhattan; Rockefeller Center at Christmas time (where everyone seems happy except Frankie), Staten Island (the Ferry) and elsewhere.

I won't say much about the story except that given Frankie Bono's character, the norm for him would probably entail going the job site (if you will, whatever city) and carry out his dastardly task in the time allotted, spending most of his time in a hotel alone. But here, a chance encounter with a old friend from the orphanage leads to involvement with still others including the previously mentioned girl and this drives the story. New conflicts arise in the already troubled mind of Frankie Bono and he considers the possibility of change. Can he do it? This one probably doesn't rise to highest level of the noir genre (or maybe I'm not giving enough credit) but it's certainly a good watch, and again, the opening sequence is superb.


First time director Allen Baron's Blast of Silence begins with a smart visual metaphor for birth, where utter blackness gives way to a pinhole of light that ultimately grows into an entrance into NYC via the opening of a train tunnel. This birth symbolizes the harshness of the world we're entering, a nasty departure from the warm tranquility within the womb (or wherever it is we've come from). From frame #1 we are bombarded by a tough as nails narration written by blacklisted great Waldo Salt. The narration not only establishes we are in a cold and brutal world where thugs like our protagonist, Frankie Bono, prowl, it thrusts us into the goings on in Bono's head.

Despite being a prototypical film noir, BOS also has a documentary feel to it as we spend every minute of the film following every move the hired gun Bono makes, from the mundane to his moment of truth. Bono doesn't say much, he doesn't have to, since the narration relentlessly dictates every thought going through his troubled mind. When watching BOS you can't help but wonder if it would have been more interesting to have not known what Bono was thinking, since the second-person narration leaves nothing to the imagination. Despite being smartly written and sharply delivered by Lionel Stander, the narration fills in too many blanks and ends up smothering the visual merits of BOS. With stark and visceral documentary style authenticity, BOS hints at being a great noir, but it falls well short of the mark. BOS may be referenced as an obscure favorite of certain noir fans angling for street cred, but the truth is it ain't all its cracked up to be. My suggestion to aspiring cineaste hipsters would be to reference the more familiar but far superior Sam Fuller masterpiece Pickup on South Street or even Murder, Inc. the movie Peter Falk chose over BOS despite being cast as Bono.



Apparently Martin Scorcese had called this his "favourite New York film." Whether that kind of auspicious praise will ever result in Blast of Silence rising from the shroud of obscurity is doubtful. Director and star Allen Baron ends his commentary by voicing his support for auteur-ism, and Blast of Silence is the kind of singular, ugly vision that's destined to remain cult. I'd assume that Scorcese's love of the film largely comes from its cinematography. The fact that this movie even got made is largely because of its threadbare budget. Studios allowed Noirs with little mainstream appeal to be made because they were generally cheap and their dark thrills appealed to enough people that they made money. Blast's budget was so tiny, they simply went around New York stealing shots, with actually late 50s New York streets populated by actual late 50s New York people. Baron chose to only shoot on overcast days, so that the film had a uniformly grim look. The result is incredible, and the dingyness of the Greenwich Village or waterfront locations only add to the mood of the film. But what Scorcese might really be saying is that Blast is a key influence for a film like Taxi Driver. For a film this steeped in misanthropy and undiluted hate to be released in 1961 is amazing, and the fact that almost no one saw it and Baron gained little acclaim for it is not a surprise. The lead actor pulled out at the last minute after being offered a paying role, so Baron screen tested for the role himself, and ended up giving himself the part. The voice-over says it all: Baby Boy Frankie Bono was born in pain and raised in an orphanage. He hates almost everyone and is only comfortable when alone. In fact, he dreads having to interact with anyone. Fortunately, he's found an ideal profession as a contract killer. When he bumps into some of his fellow orphans, fully grown and living in New York, Bono's feelings throw him off his game. Lorrie sees his loneliness and, through her compassion, makes Bono see that he could have a better life. But Blast of Silence is pure Noir, and we all know what fate has in store for Bono. By the time he realizes her kindness stems from pity rather than romance, he's already given his employers the impression that he's cracking up, and guaranteed that this job would be his last. The seam of vicious ugliness that runs through this film remains visceral to this day. Seeing as Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia was skewered upon release in 1974 for its bleak vision, Blast of Silence didn't stand a chance in 1961. Blessed with an abundance of compelling visuals and a single-minded plot far ahead of its time, it's truly a lost gem. Baron ultimately retired from films and is probably best known for directing episodes of Charlie's Angels, but, if you ask me, he's got one masterpiece in his resume. And what a cold, dark masterpiece it is.


Loner hit-man comes to New York City for a job at Christmas and things begin to happen.

One of the last films made during the heyday of film noir this is a really good little crime drama now out on DVD thanks to Criterion. The tale is told in stark black and white images with such a stunning sense of place-it was filmed all over the city-that you actually feel you're pounding the streets and back alleys of Manhattan.The sense of place is gets the film many points in my book Adding greatly to the film is what should be an odd second person narration, but instead fills in details that the visuals lack. Its a perfect marriage of word and image. Its like listening to really good Chandler and Hammett narrating a story. The film itself is not perfect, there are some technical issues with the sound making it seem dubbed at times, the cast is uneven with some characters coming off as stiff as a result, and one or two twists seem more contrived then natural. Still this is definitely worth a look since its mostly a very real film.


Blast of Silence is a bargain bin noir with a lot of heart. It's sloppy in spots and paced poorly at times but writer, director, actor Alan Baron establishes a dark sinister atmosphere with effective imagery and an impressive stoic performance as Cleveland hit man Frankie Bono.

Bono has come to New York to perform a contract killing on a mobster. It shouldn't be any different from any other whack but matters both professional and of the heart complicate matters. Things get ugly with an ex-girlfriend and he's double crossed by a gun runner who keeps rats for pets. Things only get bleaker for Bono whose life and outlook on it (narrated in gravelly detail by Lionel Stander) seems to be one of self fulfilling prophecy.

Blast's uncompromising grim viewpoint, amoral take and style evoke comparison to Sam Fuller and the French new wave of the times (Breathless before, Shoot the Piano Player after). Substitute Stander's thick pulp with a French narrator and you have a Jean Pierre Melville and all the praise to go along with it. In its own uneven way Blast earns it. It may not be a classic but it is interesting to look at and imaginatively strung together by auteur Baron who does an admirable job of wearing many hats at once.
Billy Granson

Billy Granson

I recall finding exactly one book on film in the big university bookstore in 1960, a collection of reviews from Newsweek's movie critic. My point is for younger folks who may not know that movies were not considered an art form until the late '60's. Before then, film was deemed a popular entertainment not worthy of serious study. Since Hollywood monopolized the industry and measured success in terms of box office, reducing the medium to little more than a commercial enterprise was not entirely misplaced.

This is the landscape in which a nervy little indie like Blast of Silence tried to find some footing. Much of the early over-praise, I think, came from a growing number of folks who wanted film-making to declare greater independence from the Hollywood behemoth- certainly a praiseworthy desire. And, no doubt, the look and feel of the movie is unlike anything Hollywood turned out at the time. Fifty years later, what impresses me most is how competently the film is made, even considering the shoestring budget. The technical aspects, especially the cinematography, are as good as those found in contemporary studio products. The cross-cutting and editing of the night club sequence also show that Baron and crew could handle complex scenes as well as the many long master shots.

At the same time, I'm curious as to where the film was shown since Universal did release it. The commercial appeal would, it seems, be limited by several important factors--- short length, over-narration, and unrelenting emphasis on alienation. There are no sympathetic characters; even the promising Lori (McCarthy) proves unreliably devious. Then too, the comparison with controversial Italian director Antonioni is not inapt considering the generally despairing mood and theme. Baron's one-man- effort thus appears neither art film nor commercial product, but something in-between, and where such a hybrid would be shown in those days is intriguingly unclear to me.

Despite the rather esoteric character, I think the film has a continuing appeal, maybe not so much as entertainment, but as an object of aesthetic interest. Sure, the plot plus the character of Frank Bono owe a lot to Irving Lerner's similarly themed Murder by Contract of two years before. But the results here carry the whole notion of the outsider to an unusual degree. Even the claustrophobic streets amid towering skyscrapers project a crushing impersonality. At the same time, Bono kills, not only to succeed as a professional killer, but also, -if the narration is to be believed-, to relieve the victim (beneficiary) of the hopeless burden of life. Thus Bono eases into his own death when it comes. At a time when Ike was in the White House and Ozzie and Harriet were on TV, a darker counterpoint is hardly imaginable. As Vietnam would unfortunately demonstrate, it was indeed a film ahead of its time.


Blast of Silence (1961)

In some ways, the filming and the cool grey timbre of this film are so singular and evocative, you really have to watch it. In this way it reminded me of a gritty, New York version of the 1958 Elevator to the Gallows (set in Paris). They both have some of the most beautiful, evocative scenes of people just walking the streets of the city, day and night. In "Blast of Silence" you get taken to several parts of New York, unedited, shot with a simple but elegant intuition for the place. This is a movie by New Yorkers about New York.

But the plot, about a lone killer on his last dubious assignment, is a strain. Beyond the convincing despondency and isolation of the leading actor (Allen Baron, from Brooklyn, who is also the director), the cast struggles to be relevant. The one other shining performance is the gun dealing and rat lover, played by Larry Tucker with a kind of relish for the unsavory dirty aspects of his part. Great stuff.

If you accept that the story isn't much, by itself, and watch it for the scenes of the city, for the impressions of ordinary New Yorkers at the time of Kennedy's election, you will be really wowed. Right from the first shot, the low budget hand held camera on a train in a tunnel, going on and on until finally finding the light of day, to the last scenes in a a light, windy, driven snow in the Meadowlands, it's a thrilling, original ride. The filming has a gritty, everyman quality that seems to come right from art school without the affectation. It really is worth it just for the scenes, and the urban scenery.


Until very recently, Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" was generally accepted to have been the last significant film noir to have been made in the classical mode. "Blast of Silence" revises that milestone.

Opening with the symbolic tracking shot of a train emerging from a tunnel, "Blast of Silence" works its way from birth to death, as hit man Frank Bono walks around New York at Christmas time, trying to work up the hatred to kill his latest target.

The film plays like a low budget version of Melville's "Le Samouraï", the audience essentially watching Bono for an hour as he roams the streets of New York. But despite the thin plot, the film maintains a rich atmosphere, director Allen Baron capturing the loneliness of city life, the dank streets and heartless skyscrapers, and contrasting them all with the romantic glow of Christmas lights, warm shop fronts and happy homes.

"Blast of Silence" is essentially a silent movie, though it's arguably also the first film in history to boast an accusative voice over in the second person. The film's narrator is constantly taunting Bono, like an unseen trickster or self-hating conscience. The narrator's voice is Hell itself, delivered like a devil on the shoulder, taunting Bono, insulting his ambitions and scoffing at his petty existential musings.

But what's striking, especially to modern audiences, is "Blast of Silence's" eerie similarity to Scorsese's "Taxi Driver". Frank Bono strongly resembles (and talks like) Robert DeNiro in Scorsese's film, and several scenes - one in which Frank courts and then awkwardly loses a girl, another where he buys a gun from a dealer, another where he matter-of-factly kills a man, and another where he prepares himself for a killing - are eerily similar to Scorsese's film.

But despite these superficial similarities, "Blast of Silence" has more in common with the cinema of Antonioni. It's about a man wandering through vast, empty spaces and a meditation upon the malaise one feels when Space and Self disconnect. Like many of Antonioni's "heroes", Bono is acutely aware of his own mortality, place and being, and sees everything as a facade, a glossy gift wrapping paper pulled taunt over the festering rot of existence. Civilization's pretty Christmas lights are mere glitzy decorations over the truth of his own personal hell.

And so we watch Bono as he navigates his lonely landscape. There are the loners, there are the masses and there are the dead, all equally anonymous. Bono's dilemma is that finds no solace in either group.

The only meaningful relationship in the film seems to belong to a fat man (who sells Bono a gun) and his pet rabbits. Watch how the director lingers on this scene long after Bono has left. The rabbits are caged, locked in, and the fat man, too big for his tiny apartment, is likewise an animal trapped in a box. And yet, in their tiny space, there exists a sad sort of love story. The odd couple care for one another...yet the fat man is quick to turn his back on his only friend for a wad of easy money.

7.9/10 - Yes, everything the film does has been done better elsewhere, but what makes "Blast of Silence" interesting is its place in film history, being both the last "real noir" and also one of the first true neo-realist American independents of the 60s.

Worth one viewing. Makes a good companion piece to Cassavetes "Shadows" (1959), Kubrick's "Killer's Kiss" (1955) and Ulmer's "Detour" (1945), all films made under similar conditions. First time directors could gain a lot of inspiration and ideas from these flicks.


Blast of Silence is interesting in many ways. There is a narrator telling the story of Frank Bono whom we see arriving at Manhattan Station. It is Christmas and Frank's job is to kill a drug dealer. The narrator tells us about Frank's birth (visiualized by the train rushing through a tunnel) and that Frank never had a father. The voice-over is not used - as in other movies - to tell a story without dialogs, it has it's own function. The voice-over, spoken by the nearly 60 year old Lionel Stander, is not Frank himself (around 30 years old), it is the father he never had and who only exists in his mind.

Frank is preparing for the job, observing the dealer ("You have to be careful, Frank" says the man in his head). There are problems with the gun (Big Ralphie wants more money) and Frank has to kill him. This is not the main problem, Frank meets a former girlfriend and is thinking for a moment he could make a new start in life. But the woman was just friendly because he looked so depressed. Bono makes a mistake and tries to cancel the job ...

The movie has a very realistic atmosphere, some public scenes in New York are shot with a hidden camera. The audience does not have feelings for Frank, but it understands that he is fighting with himself. He wants to be a better man and wants to lead a better life. It is just too late. When the movie starts with Frank arriving at Manhattan Station it is already too late.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about hard-core pornography that he could not define it, but he knew it when he saw it. I feel the same way about film noir--I cannot define it, but I know it when I see it. And, in my estimation, this movie is quintessential noir. It is the story of a self-described loner, Frank Bono, who has been hired to kill a small-time mob operative in New York City.

The filming, in black and white, is in a style that perfectly matches the seedy story being told. The movie has the look of a low budget effort, which indeed it is, and this creates an ideal atmosphere for the downbeat tale that is being told. It would be hard to fake the authenticity conferred by the low production values and the use of relatively unknown actors. The filming effectively uses contrast and shadows, a hallmark of film noir. There are no self-consciously arty shots. Much of the movie is filmed against a backdrop of New York locations. The New York settings play such an import role in establishing time and place that there is an extra of the DVD presenting details on the locations with a lot of before (1960) and after (1996 and 2006) shots.

The unusual second person narrative, delivered in a suitably gravely voice, allows for getting to know Frank at a depth uncommon for this type of movie. We see how Frank drifted into his profession, how he had yearnings (or fantasies) about how he could have turned out differently, such as an architect or engineer. He sees a bridge and says to himself that he could have designed that. Frank prides himself on being a loner, a quality that he feels is essential to his job; he makes comments to himself like, "If you want a woman, buy one. In the dark, so she won't remember your face." However, during the course of the movie he is challenged to examine his isolated lifestyle.

The sharp, cynical dialog raises this movie several cuts above a typical B movie. The opening scene gives you an immediate insight into how Frank views the world and alerts you to memorable dialog that is to come: "Remembering, out of the black silence you were born in pain. ... You were born with hate and anger built in. Took a slap on the backside to blast out the scream, and then you knew you were alive. Later you learned to hold back the scream and let out the hate and anger another way."

The jazz score is effective.

This is worth viewing and is not just for lovers of film noir.


A hit-man sent to New York to eliminate a mobster during the Yuletide season begins to have second thoughts...

The typical Film Noir anti-hero usually has his world turned upside down by a momentary moral lapse but in BLAST OF SILENCE this convention is cleverly inverted to present one of the darkest world views in the canon. Frankie Bono, the solitary hit-man who's known only hate his entire life is an expert at what he does for that very reason and the beginning of his end comes when he starts to feel his disconnect from humanity. The combination of Christmas and a chance encounter with a childhood friend from the orphanage he grew up in causes this life-long loner to question his existence but any attempt to remedy the way things are prove fatal in a Nietzschian universe where God may very well be dead. The semi-sadistic, omniscient second person narration, stark black and white cinematography, and New York City locations all reinforce humanity once removed, symbolized by a cold (literally as well as figuratively), unfeeling metropolis. Sympathy for the killer's existential crisis eventually comes "through a glass darkly" and that's as it should be considering it's the way of this world.

The film is near-perfect but a few technical deficits, mostly thespic, prevented me from going through the roof. I was momentarily tempted to say "If only Melville had made it" but that may sound like a complaint when I reely have none; the movie could very well become an annual Christmas tradition for me along with BLACK Christmas and FEMALE TROUBLE. Allen Baron, the film's writer/director/star, hadn't heard of "New Wave" at the time so the similarities between Frankie's meditative urban prowls and Jeanne Moreau's in ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS -along with the same overall ambiance Godard achieved in BREATHLESS- would seem to indicate a universal "noir" transmogrification -especially so when one takes Japan's PALE FLOWER into consideration.



Gee, after the reviews I read, and knowing that Criterion usually points out pretty good material, I expected this late entry in the film noir genre to be a good one, or at least better than how it turned out.

It took 45 minutes before anything of note happened! "Blast Of Silence" is the story of a hit-man assigned to knock off a mob boss on Christmas Day. At first, this 1961 movie has late '40s/early '50s written all over it, which is good news to film noir fans like myself. We get narration right off the bat, too, and a gloomy black-and-white look at New York City. I've read where narrator/killer's voice is too nasal and New York sounding for some people but, hey, it was realistic to me.

Feel-wise, the only thing different from the '40s noirs were the cars. We see those long big-finned Caddies and the like that were the rage of the day: the late '50s and early '60s. Otherwise, this low-budget movie has a good noir atmosphere..

Anyway, while I kept waiting something dramatic to happen, we just follow the killer "Frank Bono" (Allen Baron) around town on Christmas eve, watch as he gets talked into a going to a party with old pal he doesn't like (actually, the lead guy likes nobody), and then gets involved with this girl. We watch him dance and then listen to his horrible singer go on for almost five minutes. This guy was terrible. He must have been related to the man making the movie to get all that air time.

Finally, we get a cool scene involving "Frank" and "Big Ralphie," a very fat guy who we had seen earlier in the story. Ralph was going to make arrangements to get a pistol for the killer. The big boy got mouthy and greedy and Frank puts an end to him in dramatic form.

Then it's "Dullsville" again until the very end. I've read where Baron, who not only starred in the movie but directed and wrote it, as well, wanted Peter Falk to play the lead but Falk committed to "Murder, Inc." That was a good move on Falk's part, as it turned out. Meanwhile, if you look at Baron's resume, you discover he wound up a better director than actor or writer.


Frank Bono "Hitman" is back on the streets after some time away, he's in New York for his first job, here he will find out his target is a local mobster named Troiano. Bono duly does his reconnaissance work on Troiano's home, office, all his hangouts, right down to where his mistress lives. Bono's modus operandi is to keep a low profile at all times, with as little human contact as possible, to veer from this, would lead to mistakes and the compromise of his mission. Bono is though, a little rusty and breaks his own rules, a chance meeting with an old friend in a bar, leads him to a party where he meets an old flame, his lust for her is instantly rekindled. The fact that he also needs to find a specific gun for the hit, leads his supplier and low life Big Ralph to the conclusion that his target is one of note and he duly tries to blackmail Bono out of some more cash. Bono's head is suitably in a mess and he tells those who hired him he wants out of the hit, he doesn't get the answer he wanted. Can Bono get his head straight before the hit, will he get the girl and will those who hired him take umbrage to his change of heart.

"Remember out of the black silence…you were born in pain… you were born with hate and anger built in…took a slap on the backside to blast out the scream and then you knew you were alive. Eight pounds five ounces, baby boy Frankie Bono, Father doing well. Later you learned to hold back the scream and let out the hate and anger another way… "

With such colourful words Blast of Silence begins, on a dark screen, with but the faintest white dot at its centre, as Mel Davenport's hardboiled Noirspeak enlivens our aural senses, the screen is suddenly a blaze of white light as for the first time the viewer realises we are on a train exiting a tunnel, a succinctly simple and effective metaphor for the birth of the films antihero Frankie Bono. Blast of Silence is foremost a film about alienation, Bono's plight to wander the big cities of America, avoiding contact with real people, emphasises the isolation of a hit-man. The films mood is constantly set by the doom laden voice-over, which is done in the second person, an oddity in itself, the voice may sound familiar even if the name doesn't, its godlike omniscience is that of the then blacklisted actor Lionel Stander, under the alias of Mel Davenport, another blacklistee Waldo Salt provided the script. The look and tone of the film constantly reminded me of French Noir films, its documentary like almost Verite style being reminiscent of the work of Godard, Bono's lonely night time stroll through dimly lit backstreets also echoes that of Jeanne Moreau's, in Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (1958). The Christmas time setting also adds oodles of pathos and sentiment to the proceedings, in an otherwise bleak New York, the New York night scenes are visually powerful and compound the loneliness of Bono. If there is a flaw with this film it's the acting, for the most part they are all nobodies, Baron himself standing in as the lead when Peter Falk pulled out to film Murder Inc instead. Its not a real issue though as there is very little dialogue in the film and it does feel like a documentary and its the narration is what drives the film on. There's also a memorable bombastic and swinging, jazzy score to add to the atmosphere of the time. Forgotten for many years, Blast of Silence is surely a film that will be on many lists of genre favourites in years to come.


Due to poor publicity when first released, Blast of Silence, ended up a largely forgotten film until film festivals rediscovered it. It also recently got a nice release to DVD by the Criterion collection. No stranger to the film is Martin Scorsese who was studying film at NYU when it was released and calls it "a key New York movie". The director, Allen Baron, is also the star. He plays Frankie Bono, of Cleveland, a hit-man asked to carry out a hit in his former residence of New York City. With the distractions of being Christmas time and bumping into some old friends, he finds it hard to focus. He deals with issues of loneliness throughout the movie but the voice in his head is quick to tell him to just "keep focus, Frankie". The voice in his head is uncredited narration by blacklisted actor Lionel Stander who I remembered from the old show, Hart to Hart, as the butler. The narration runs throughout the movie as kind of a Greek chorus and really works. The cinematic camera work of New York City by Merrill Brody, the DP, add to the realistic feel. Larry Tucker as Big Ralph and Molly McCarthy as a former love interest of Frankie, both give great performances. Good Stuff!


**SPOILERS** Coming to New York during the Christmas Holidays from his home town Cleveland hit-man Frank Bono played by a Robert De Niro looking Allen Baron has a job to do and has just three days to do it. Bono is to knock off Harlem numbers and drug kingpin Trolano.

Going through the motions in getting the equipment necessary needed to do his job Frank through his contact in the city gets to see Big Ralph, a 350 pound soft-spoken gorilla-like man, whom he did business with before about getting him a .38 caliber revolver and silencer. Ralph directs Frank, after he gave him $350.00, to see gun-dealer Boniface at the local docks for his piece. Frank first cases out Trolanos movements to find out just when he's most vulnerable for getting hit and decides that the best time to whack him is when he's alone waiting for his girlfriend Milda in their secret love-nest: Trolano's East Harlem apartment.

Going by the books in following Trolano to get a feel of just what his habits are, for the hit-job he has planned for him, Frank goes to a night-club where Trolano and his girlfriend Milda are at. Shocked to see Ralph there at the club, who immediately spots him, Frank indistinctly knows that his cover as an unknown hit-man has been blown! Ralph Sensing that he's got Frank over a barrel later in the night-club mens-room attempts to shake him down for more money. It's now a whole new ball game Big Ralph tells Frank in trying to shake him down for extra cash which leads later in the movie to a ferocious encounter in Ralph's apartment. Frank, with a fire ax,catches Ralph off guard and slugs it out with the big gorilla ending up strangling, after he whacked him a few times, him to death.

With the news of Ralph's murder hitting the papers and his cover being blown, in being seen together with Ralph in the night-club, Frank who's steel-like nerves are starting to break tries to have the hit on Trolano called off in his feeling that he's not up to doing the job. Frank is told in no uncertain terms by his New York contact Creasap that if he doesn't go through with the hit he'll end up the one being hit!

The rest of the film "Blast of Silence" has Frank go into a deep depression in both realizing that this, the Trolano hit, may very well be his last job and at the same time realizing that, with him planning to retire from the hit-man/assassination business, he has nothing to look forward to. Frank's shadowy and lonely job as a Mafia hit-man kept him from having developed any relationships or make any real friends over the years because of the dirty business that he was in.

Dark and moody film noir drama with a biting narration by Lional Stander that was overlooked all these years by the movie-going public. The fact that the film hasn't been shown on TV for over 30 years and has never been released on video or DVD has now become, due to word of mouth, one of the most sought after films, through bootleg videos or DVDs, around.

Frank forced to go through with the hit on Trolano is in fact signing his own death warrant not in getting whacked by Trolano's hoods, who are totally unaware of him, but those who hired him. Frank employers know that he's become a liability to them in his now being connected with Ralph's murder that, with Ralph having some connection to Trolano's mob, can connect them to it, as well as Trolanos, if Frank is arrested and forced to talk.

Like narrator Lional Standler says were all born alone and we all die alone and that was the fate that awaited Frank Bono who subconsciously knew what it was going to happen but still like a moth being drawn to a flame allowed it to happen to him at the conclusion of the movie "Blast of Silence".