My Top Film Noir - Classic No 24 17th Feb (Full Version)

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elab49 -> My Top Film Noir - Classic No 24 17th Feb (7/7/2008 10:46:48 PM)

Still deciding on format but my current split is

Top 40 Classic Noir - that means US 40s/50s - a period starting with Stranger on The Third Floor (an unusual start because people often assume downbeat endings with noir but not always the case).

Top 10 Proto noir - how arbitrary was the the start date of the classic period? These 10 films will include some to support an argument for 1940 being a little late

Top 10 Modern Noir - (Or possibly a bit more depending on how difficult whittling down is!).

Top 10 Non US Noir 40s/50s

And depending on how confident I feel about the range maybe a Top 10 Foreign, to free up some space in the latter 3 categories.

A few will likely be familiar from the excellent reviews on Pile's crime thread but this narrows the focus to a period in film that married the hard-boiled detective fiction of the 30s with the style and fatalism of the German Expressionists. I grew up with these and westerns - the black and whites on BBC2 on weekend afternoons. It has been a pleasure rewatching them, some of them for the first time in years.

40. The Stranger (Welles, 1946)
39. Moontide (Mayo, 1942)
38. Stranger on the Third Floor (Ingster, 1940)
37. The Unsuspected (Curtiz, 1947)
36. Sorry, Wrong Number (Litvak, 1948)
35. The Reckless Moment (Ophuls, 1949)
34. The Sniper (Dymytryk, 1952)
33. This Gun For Hire (Tuttle, 1942)
32. Kansas City Confidential (Karlson, 1952)
31. Road House (Negulesco, 1948)
30. Phantom Lady (Siodmak, 1944)
29. Odds Against Tomorrow (Wise, 1959)
28. Pitfall (DeToth, 1948)
27. The Devil Thumbs a Ride (Feist, 1947)
26. The Racket (Cromwell, 1951)
25. Scarlet Street (Lang, 1945) 
24. The Sound of Fury (Endfield, 1950)
23. Laura (Preminger, 1944)




homersimpson_esq -> RE: My Top Film Noir (7/7/2008 10:53:59 PM)

Ahh, here it is! [;)]

Don't forget tech noir - the genre that is, not the forumite... [:D]




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (7/7/2008 11:05:00 PM)

That'll probably be one of the factors in working out how to do modern noir - will I just include modern films or split neo noir and other categories - like future noir. I think I'm probably going to have to subdivide again to be fair!

Slightly nervous now I've posted the thing - it's making a commitment!




TRM -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 1:02:45 AM)

Im quite excited about this thread. Good luck Elab.




Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 3:57:33 AM)

This should be a grand thread!

Noir is a very hit and miss affair for me. It's rarely pulled off well, and all too often I find that the hardboiled dialogue comes across as unnatural and offputting, usually accompanied by melodramatic overacting. Even the genre greats leave me wanting more. 

All the best with this thread!




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 11:54:22 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gimli The Dwarf

Noir is a very hit and miss affair for me. It's rarely pulled off well, and all too often I find that the hardboiled dialogue comes across as unnatural and offputting, usually accompanied by melodramatic overacting. Even the genre greats leave me wanting more. 


Two things. First, absolutely - I thought about this, whether to list the noir that really is uber film noir and give some a by for sometimes shoddy acting because they are perfect examples of the genre. Ultimately I decided not to. My list are the ones I think are the best films in the category.

That said, although there are an awful lot that clearly threw together a bunch of archetypes and called them a film, they tended to be later. A lot in the 40s didn't really see themselves as any particular category. But in the 50s, after the Cahiers bunch called it a genre, you can see some that feel far more forced and it does detract from the quality of a film. Rather than seeing some nice lighting or enjoying Chandler's books and letting that influence your work, some felt like a checklist of accepted noir attributes (certainly the case nowadays - hellllo Mr De Palma!).




Piles -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 12:01:47 PM)

Good stuff. I look forward to this thread, and it looks like a very innovative format too!

Although, if the Third Man isn't included, I won't be best pleased.




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 12:09:31 PM)

Did I mention what I finally went for in the Hall of Fame poll.......[:D]




DaveNewman18 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 12:15:34 PM)

Well we all wait in anticipation elab49, your audience have taken their seats and it's time for you to step up to the mic.




jamesbondguy -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 5:46:56 PM)

Really looking forward to this. I love Noir films. Anyway, just out of interest, have you seen Lift To The Scaffold (Louis Malle's film), elab?




Professor Moriarty -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 6:39:06 PM)

Not much thinking beyond the obvious choices here...

Come on Maltese Falcon, you can be the best!




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 7:33:15 PM)

I'm not even guaranteeing that's in my 25 (I spent a lot of years not really liking the film but I came round when I rewatched it a year or so ago when they released it with the original).

I'm leaving the foriegn ones till later to catch up on some French ones Jamesbondguy, but not Elevator to the Gallows. It's one I rewatched not so long ago. It really is beautifully shot, by Melville's regular cameraman (and I think he also did 400 Blows?). I will only say that the only guaranteed foreign director in that list will be Melville - but I guess anyone reading my suggestions on the films I should see thread could have guessed that!




Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: My Top Film Noir (8/7/2008 8:04:05 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

I'm not even guaranteeing that's in my 25 (I spent a lot of years not really liking the film but I came round when I rewatched it a year or so ago when they released it with the original).



The Maltese Falcon is one I don't like that much. I prefer Key Largo, but I don't think that's noir.




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (9/7/2008 9:37:57 PM)

Up tomorrow - what I think film noir is and, depending on state of coursework completion, a couple of the also rans (so I can try out graphics - needless to say Piles's stuff makes me green with envy!)




Piles -> RE: My Top Film Noir (9/7/2008 9:43:40 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Up tomorrow - what I think film noir is and, depending on state of coursework completion, a couple of the also rans (so I can try out graphics - needless to say Piles's stuff makes me green with envy!)


I'm a novice really [;)].

Can't wait for this thread to kick off. Although I love noir, with the Third Man being my favourite film of all time (have I mentioned that?!), I just haven't seen enough of it. I have a feeling this is going  to be my source bible for film-viewing over the holidays.




siegfried -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 10:53:40 AM)

If the only guaranteed foreign director in the list is likely to be Melville - and of course he should be there - I can see myself being somewhat pissed off, because that will mean no Clouzot.




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 10:56:27 AM)

It doesn't mean the only foreign director - just that the list hasn't been finalised. I will say Les Diabolique won't be there. But I'm sure a lot of people will find gaps because it'll be the area where I've probably seen fewer of the films.

Essay finished and sent by 1pm so the first also ran should turn up today.




TRM -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 11:27:41 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

It doesn't mean the only foreign director - just that the list hasn't been finalised. I will say Les Diabolique won't be there.


[:(] I only watched this a couple of days ago and thought it was excellent. I felt sure that if you had seen it, then it would be included.




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 8:13:47 PM)

Ok. Format kind of stolen from Homer, still kind of in progress. Also - now 40 [:)]

No. 40
[image]http://img295.imageshack.us/img295/6050/stranger1in6.gif[/image]
 
The Stranger (1946)

d. Orson Welles, w. Anthony Veiller (Screenplay), Victor Trivias/Decla Dunning (Adaptation) from a story by Victor Trivias. Uncredited contributions from Welles and John Huston.

Spoiler-free synopsis – Edward G Robinson tracks down a high-ranking Nazi responsible for concentration camps to small-town America. In order to confirm his identity he insinuates himself into his suspect's life.

An Orson Welles film, but not as you know it. Originally just the lead he took over directing duties as John Huston was still serving in the armed forces. This was Welles's attempt to show the industry he was reliable – that he could bring in a film on time and under budget. Which he did – but he also ceded final cut. In later years Welles regularly derided the film – his most commercially successful.

This doesn't mean there isn't anything of Welles in the film. Although it is impossible to work out who wrote what it is likely he contributed heavily to the anti-Nazi speechifying – his own writings at the time dwelt regularly on his belief that the world was not yet free of Nazism and there was still a strong risk of another war. He also managed some casting of his own – droll draughts hustler and town hub Potter was an old vaudevillian, one of Welles's perennial loves (Vaudeville, not Billy House).

A relatively unusual noir entry, it still fits comfortably under that description. The lighting – particularly in the first part of the film as the escaping Meinike tries to track down his former boss – is an indicator of what was to come from Russell Metty (who had worked with Welles before and would be used again on the superior Touch of Evil, and also behind the camera in Robert Montgomery's beautifully shot "Ride a Pink Horse”). The use of reflection and shadows roots it in the genre, even if it prefers curtains to blinds.

[image]http://img174.imageshack.us/img174/3706/stranger2hu0.gif[/image]

Our 'hero' is no black and white protagonist - although Wilson is clearly the good guy he shows little compunction against using an innocent and putting them in danger to achieve his ends. We've seen the footage of the concentration camps – the first to appear on film– and we understand his motivation. But do the means justify the ends?

Once Meinike turns up on his doorstep, Rankin's life gradually falls apart. He notes himself how one thing leads to another then another – he can't break the chain and escape, his downfall is inevitable. Wilson quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson to emphasise the implacability of the pursuit – there is nowhere to hide.

Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew

Overall not a bad film but not Welles's best. Here he is overly twitchy, the music jars with what is on screen (he tried for Herrman but couldn't get him) and straitlaced Loretta doesn't really have the chops for the angst.

So why is it here? The Stranger is a tale of what might have been. Welles own cut was more than 20 minutes longer than currently exists and around an hour was cut from the original screenplay. His vision – as discovered by a Welles obsessive called Bret Wood – was more of a nightmarish and highly expressionistic warning on the still present dangers of the Nazis with a dreamlike narrative that would have mirrored and paid homage to Spellbound (explaining some of the structural quirks in the current version including the final line - Wilson speaking to Mary (and America) is told to go home to sleep). And some intriguing casting ideas - much as I love Edward G – as this list will probably show! – the idea of Agnes Moorhead as a female FBI agent in pursuit makes me salivate.

Removing much of the conflict/angst and fear being symbolically portrayed while relying on a few tics and disorderliness was the price of a film delivered on budget (even if he basically build a Connecticut town on the lot along with that fantastically eye-catching tower). The music is discordant with the subject matter and more suited to melodrama and while the early scenes show cameraman Metty at his best small town America generally defeats him. The final confrontation, however, is beautifully put together with the Angel of Death featuring in a really quite gruesome ending and Rankin giving himself away at dinner is neatly done.

[image]http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/91/stranger7cy5.jpg[/image]

Trivia: Franz Kindler became Rankin – allegedly as a pop at the HUAC chair

Highly Amusing moment - aide memoire for a killer!!! Gotta get that timing right.

[image]http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/4255/stranger6ha6.gif[/image]

Verdict - a highly watchable film on many levels right up to the small people of America rising up and taking the losses to bring the evil of Nazism down.




Piles -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 8:46:02 PM)

Recommendation number one! Thanks. I'll tell you what I thought in a couple of days.




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 9:16:58 PM)

That's a serious weight of expectation!

I hope you get something from it[:)]




siegfried -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 9:29:16 PM)

Caught it for the first time on the Classic Movie Channel just a couple of weeks ago.
A worthy inclusion. Can't wait to see what's next.




TRM -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 9:42:06 PM)

Like Piles, i will watch it over the next few days and tell you what i think about it.




Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: My Top Film Noir (11/7/2008 10:32:26 PM)

I may have seen this one. Even after reading the your review I'm not sure. It rings a vague bell, but nothing jumps out and hits me. That can't be good [:D]




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (12/7/2008 12:05:45 AM)

Indeed not! I did try to avoid chunks of the narrative but there should be enough to act as a memory jog.




Professor Moriarty -> RE: My Top Film Noir (12/7/2008 3:15:33 PM)

Now, I knew this thread was going to be a bit special and a wonderful start.  But a film I've not seen.  I can't seem to find a copy, so if someone knows of a location a PM would be very much appreciated as I'm in a bit of a Welles mood, having watched F for Fake this morning. 

How many of his films did survive without studio interfering cuts?  Having said that The Lady from Shanghai still nearly made my 40s list.  To say that film is flawed is a bit like someone on the Titanic saying there's a bit of a hole in the side of the ship.  But I'd forgive almost anything (chopping Hayworth's hair, Welles's Irish accent, choppy movie, etc.) for that final scene in the hall of mirrors.

I'm also hoping to reappraise Touch of Evil.  A film that is so amazingly shot and so damn raw.  Welles is brilliant (he's a charismatic old devil isn't he, I think he could have played Noah Cross and I'd still want to be pals with him), but Heston fair ruins it for me I'm afraid. 

Anyway talked too much about other films now, sorry Elab, but I love Welles and I'll make sure this is on the list to get a copy when I can.




TRM -> RE: My Top Film Noir (12/7/2008 3:52:47 PM)

just sent you a pm professor.




doncopey1 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (12/7/2008 7:27:52 PM)

MMM i love the stranger but i dont class it as Film Noir myself, more use of German Expressionism on the part of Welles which he utilies well. For Noir is not just about visuals, the mood and characters etc all have to be cohesive to achieve the true element of noir. But good choice and well argued in your own right!




elab49 -> RE: My Top Film Noir (12/7/2008 8:57:33 PM)

I do agree - but German expressionism is so key to noir - both in visuals and also, and perhaps more importantly, the concept of Fate (eg the Waldo Emerson quote and Rankin almost desperate speech to Mary about one thing leading to another and not being able to break out) - not to mention the characters with noir aesthetics displaying a healthy dose of moral ambiguity. All of those are why I'd put it in the noir category.

But I think, as you say, there will be a few where you can argue the toss - whether you feel it is a full-on film noir or a film with strong noir characteristics. Hitchcock, I think, is a common arguing ground in this regard.




Jasiri -> RE: My Top Film Noir (13/7/2008 9:00:08 AM)

Hope Elab isn't going to have to put up with questioning after almost every choice.[:D] Anyway I liked The Stranger,despite it's flaws it's entertaining and visually interesting.Sure this will be an interesting thread and hope to pick up a few recommendations.




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