Dick Jones’ short A NICE TOUCH is a film that embodies the darker traits of film noir. It tells the story of Larry Preston, a 1950s film actor in Hollywood, who convinces his lover Miriam in New York to kill her abusive husband. Dougray Scott is appropriately sinister as Preston, sitting alone in the dark, inciting his lover to murder as she sobs on the other end of the phone.
Paloma Faith is a pleasant surprise as Scott’s co-star, both in the opening mise-en-abîme and later on. Her natural lack of guile contrasts well with Scott’s amoral antihero, although he is more compelling to watch, even when he is doing nothing more than smoking a cigarette in silence. Preston is the dominant character of the film, appearing for most of it alone in a darkened room, skirting the line between unsettling and frightening with ease. Faith’s American accent is a little haphazard but she remains convincing as a starlet.
The film is set in the stylish 1950s, firmly within the film noir era. Following convention it is set in the city, in this case Los Angeles (although we don’t see any of it beyond Preston’s apartment). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Faith is visually perfect for the role, and Scott seems to suit the era as well. A great deal of attention has obviously been paid to costuming and set design which helps identify it as paying tribute to the genre.
A NICE TOUCH is a surprising film, embracing the influence of film noir whilst eschewing some typical features of the genre: Larry Preston isn’t the flawed hero you might expect to find in classic noir, but an entirely unscrupulous character; Paloma Faith isn’t a femme fatale; and the story is about the act of committing a crime, rather than the solving of a puzzle…
A NICE TOUCH is based on an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series – watch it below.