Hard Boiled Noir in the Rose City
Recently, I had a friend who was looking for a cool film noir poster for his entertainment room and he came across the poster for Portland Expose. I spent much of my growing up in the Portland Metro Area, and plan to move back there as soon as I graduate from the UO. I think it’s a fantastic place, I could go on and on about it. I snapped this beauty up off Ebay for only $29.00, plus $6.00 shipping. I usually don’t like to buy things off Ebay, because I think doing so takes a lot of the fun out of collecting, since I think the thrill of collecting is in the hunt, but this poster was just too awesome and personal not to buy.
As for the film itself, Portland Expose, I will sadly admit, is nothing too special. It focuses on a family who runs a tavern and is hustled into using gambling pinball machines. The result is a story of the tavern owning father trying to save his business and family from the gambling vice and the sins that accompany it. The film stars character actor Ed Binns in the role of the father and tavern owner, Carolyn Craigg who starred in William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill, and Frank Gorshin, known for his 1960s Riddler in the Adam West version of Batman, also stars, albeit a rather small role.
The movie is obviously filmed in Portland with various shots that are noticeable and obvious, including the opening and closing shots which over look the city. Several shots of various Portland locations are shown in the opening monologue, including the Rose Garden, the First Presbyterian Church and other sites. The Simmons Hillvilla, is also shown, it, however, no longer exists as a restaurant, the building itself still exists as the Chart House. The Portland Tower Apartments, which still function as apartments today. The Portland Airport, and Union Station are also used as there is a scene in which the Steel Bridge is show in the background.
As for the aspect of pinball gambling, it was a very big thing in Portland, and is detailed greatly in Phil Stanford’s book Portland Confidential. The poster for Portland Expose eludes to Life magazine doing a story on the situation presented in the film, however no such story is mentioned in Portland Confidential.
UPDATE: As my senior seminar, I wrote a research paper on the true events that inspired this film. It is available on my About page.
Like I said, the film itself isn’t that great, like so many other noir flicks that came out in this period. However, I do think it is a great time-capsule for Portlanders.The opening and close monologues are brilliant and include many noir cliches while also bringing in many elements of the Rose City. If you haven’t seen it, and would like to purchase it, it is available on Amazon. If you’re interested in renting it, it is available via Netflix.
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