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RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:10:54 PM   
elab49


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Partly, that. And because I was thinking carefully about the, for want of a better word, existential side of noir. The idea of the characters and who they were. I think the clearest Hitchcock on the noir side of the line is Strangers on a Train, but rather than blur boundaries I decided to do a separate top 5 of Hitchcock 'noirs' and rely on the '' to save any argument on that score. Hopefully.

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RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:42:27 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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Which of Hitch films are noir? Does Vertigo qualify? Rear Window?

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RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:50:40 PM   
elab49


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Vertigo has all the trappings, but I don't like the film so it wouldn't make my list anyway. Rear Window, not really IMO. Straight on thriller.

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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 123
RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:52:33 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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You don't like Vertigo? You seem to have an allergy for TSPDT top 10
What Hitch film would you theoretically include then? Your favourite, SOAD?


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jamesbondguy:
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Post #: 124
RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:55:04 PM   
elab49


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It isn't much of a list to come if I just list them now, now is it?

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 125
RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:56:30 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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But you said you are not including Hitch?

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Post #: 126
RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 5:57:55 PM   
elab49


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The list I'm doing just now is classic noir - that's US, 1940-59. But the thread will also have other top noir lists - non-US, British, proto, etc. Hitchcock will be one of those

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 127
RE: My Top Film Noir - 23/3/2009 6:02:23 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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OK, list all Hitch films which would be qualified then, please.

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Post #: 128
RE: My Top Film Noir - 24/3/2009 12:56:43 AM   
TRM


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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

The list I'm doing just now is classic noir - that's US, 1940-59. But the thread will also have other top noir lists - non-US, British, proto, etc. Hitchcock will be one of those


If we ever get around to seeing them

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Post #: 129
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 2:58:25 PM   
elab49


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No. 33



This Gun For Hire (1942)

d. Frank Tuttle
Scr. Albert Maltz/WR Burnett, Novel – Graham Greene

Spoiler-Free Summary

Greene’s tale of an assassination in 30s England is translated to a propaganda piece in California following the fate of hitman Raven as he trails a client who swindled him out of his fee.



There are 2 stars of this early adaptation of Graham Greene’s A Gun for Sale, but if you guess Ladd and Lake you’d be wrong. In truth I’m not a particular fan of either. Ladd is neither a particularly good actor (his emotional scene remembering the abuse from his aunt makes that clear) nor does he have enough star quality to surpass that, and Lake made a career out of being pretty and having the facility to make effective wise-cracks, smeared out the side of her mouth. But this is their most effective double act – Ladd graduating from bit parts to a generally impressive lead that uses his reserve as a character trait and it works perfectly and Lake as watchable in the lead as she was in Sullivan's Travels (but clearly the tiniest woman on the planet).



Not that it matters – neither is the real star of the show and the first reason this makes the list and other equally enjoyable films – like their next, The Glass Key, with the excellent Brian Donlevy – don't. 2 words – Laird Cregar. This hugely charismatic actor (who in his 20s received plaudits for Monty Woolley’s role in The Man Who Came to Dinner) died far too young trying to lose weight. But his memorable turns in Heaven Can Wait, The Lodger, Hangover Square, I Wake Up Screaming (another film that didn't quite make the list), etc., will ensure his brand of suave menace won't be forgotten. Although many reviews highlight how distasteful he finds violence (and there are many great moments in the film when his droll chauffeur Tommy plays heavily on this), it is also clear from his performance that he feels a form of excitement when contemplating it. Asking Raven outright what it feels like to kill, wanting not to look yet unable to look away as Tommy discusses the detail of how to dispose of Ellen. Given the later manner of his death it must have been a pretty painful film as repeated jibes about his weight are made. But the deliciously sensual tenor of his voice makes clear why he thought he could have a future as a leading man.


This is the second film in a row from one of the Hollywood 10 – screenwriter Maltz is probably best known in noir for The Naked City. But it is hard to shake the thought that co-writer WR Burnett – the second reason the film makes the list and the author who wrote Little Caesar, Asphalt Jungle and High Sierra - didn’t have the greater hand in adapting Greene's novel for his film. Graham Greene’s relationship to catholicism pervaded his writing and his recurring themes of salvation and damnation matched up with persistent themes in WR Burnett’s own work. The fascination here is with Raven’s inevitable downfall. He is branded a killer from childhood – we have another lead with a presumably violent father (although we aren’t told what he was hanged for), and an evil aunt who beat him until he retaliated, leaving him with the physical defect that allows them to track him through the film. He acts as his ‘own police’. But he does like cats – showing little emotion in the film, 2 of the only reactions are cat related. The other real reaction is when he kills. But when Ellen is kind to him, he forms an attachment to her. Using the very badly dated patriotic subplot (which I’d guess works a lot better than the anti-Semitism in the original work), his final question is basically to ask if he done right – a small act of contrition, an attempt at salvation. Lake acts as one of those odd femme fatales – like Joan Bennett in Reckless Moment – who doesn’t show the stereotypical traits but matches up to the literal translation.






It is no surprise the film looks wonderful – both cinematographer John Seitz and art director Hans Dreier worked with Billy Wilder on Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Raven is repeatedly shot with an odd fevered light on his face – we know from the start this man is going to die. Seitz combines this with some key genre staples – hiding out in the industrial workspace, the run through the railway yards, and the sumptuous rooms of the powerful and corrupt, along with some excellent location work. In an odd coincidence, Frank Tuttle directed the first The Glass Key, the second film featuring the stars in 1942. Best known now, possibly, for Cary Grant's first film and also a Philo Vance series with William Powell although IMO Michael Curtiz directed the best of them. Unless, like me, every time you see his name you think Tahiti!



This Gun For Hire was a hugely popular noir in France, but if you read through the essays for the Criterion release of Le Samourai you get all the usual stuff about how influential the film itself is but only Melville himself acknowledges the nod to This Gun For Hire – both Tuttle’s film and Greene’s original work. There are many striking similarities between the 2 films – the look, the animals, some of the actual scenes themselves. But Melville decided to internalise much of the nature of the original source.





This Gun For Hire remains a great watch, with a superb supporting performance.

Trivia – remade a decade later as James Cagney’s only directorial outing, Short Cut to Hell (1957). Oh, and if you don’t think you know of the least known legendary noir writer WR Burnett I bet you do – he co-wrote The Great Escape!

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 130
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 3:13:39 PM   
TRM


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I thought i had seen this one, but i dont recognise any of those pictures or anything in the review  

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Post #: 131
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 3:17:55 PM   
elab49


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I've noticed I seem to be talking less and less about the actual narrative as I go through, which I think is a good thing. But it can make the story difficult to spot!

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 132
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 3:25:53 PM   
TRM


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I think its a good thing as well. It makes for interesting reading with your added input on the background of the film, instead of just reading about the plot. I had a look through my old film diaries and it appears i havent watched this at all, so i will give it a viewing soon (I said the same about the stranger, but still havent watched it ). I have to agree about Lake. She really is a poor actress who just seems to have got really lucky with her film choices.

< Message edited by TRM -- 29/3/2009 3:27:39 PM >


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Post #: 133
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 3:33:51 PM   
TheManWithNoShame


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Elab, I noticed you had The Stranger in your list so I was wondering what you thought of The Lady of Shanghai and Mr Arkadin? I saw the former at the BFI a few days ago whilst half drunk and (needless to say) it was an entirely bizarre experience. I'm still not too sure what to think of it, but I think the main difference between it and The Stranger is that its flaws are far more interesting (the non-sequitur camera shots, the weird music cues, even Welles ridiculous accent). Plus it has some outstanding elements that rank up there with the best of Welles' films. I haven't seen Mr Arkadin but I hear it is even more odd. Have you seen it?

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RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 3:58:10 PM   
TheDudeAbides


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I love This Gun For Hire! It's one of my favourite noirs, and probably in my Top Ten of the decade. I'll have to disagree about Ladd, who I accept was usually pretty one-dimensional, but somehow here he turns in one of the best performances of the 1940s. He encapsulates the pulp magazine hero of the 30s and 40s absolutely perfectly, oddly much more of a Dashiell Hammett flavour to him here than in The Glass Key, which was actually a Hammett novel.

Laird Cregar is a very memorable support and Lake is perfectly adequate throughout, her best moments being the magic acts. As you said, it looks brilliant too. I hear Scorsese's a big fan, and what more do you need than that?

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RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 4:11:05 PM   
barkers101


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The last picture looks incredibly like Le Samourai, maybe it was homage?

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RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 4:36:53 PM   
elab49


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Lady From Shanghai. Definitely flawed but lots to recommend it. But the personal element puts Edward G’s dogged chaser ahead, along with The Stranger’s place, I think, in the defining visuals of Welles later noir. The blending of the voiceover and the dialogue (setting aside the dodgy accent!) is immediately noteworthy.  You can see the links back to stage setting too – when Hayworth drives off in the car, e,g., and the characters criss-crossing the line of vision, is pure theatre. I’d also guess Lederer had more to do with the dialogue than the lack of credit implies – the pacing eg. Although the mirror scene is amazing to look at, my favourite stuff is on the yacht – the wonderful Glenn Anders first appearance, the talks in the dark on and off the yacht with the camera panning over the players and the overlapping conversations. Much more than The Stranger I think this is the one you just wish the studio had kept their ignorant nose out. I tell you what though – half drunk is not the way you try and follow that storyline – it almost has the Big Sleep beat!

I have this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orson-Welles-Mr-Arkadin-DVD/dp/B000189KB6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1238339905&sr=8-1

which is a really poor version of Mr Arkadin and I’m not entirely sure which version it is! I’d love to get the Criterion but just haven’t got round to it
The film feels like a rather odd 50s TV show. The titles, the initials scenes at the docks. Bound up with that is Welles being in the middle of all those Shakespeare adaptations, can’t really shake them for this (just look at Redgrave in the titles!). But the rushed voice over and the quick almost disjointed cuts between scenes reminded me at times of Journey into Fear. It is, though, a mess. An interesting mess as Welles always is – and probably a better mess in better versions – but then the key problems are the lead and the script, I’m not sure how a different edit could solve that. And do the penitenties there really dress like black clad members of the KKK?

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 137
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 4:40:22 PM   
elab49


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And maybe watching a bit too much Bergman, too




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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 138
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 5:01:57 PM   
Harry Lime


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I made my parents sit down and watch The Lady From Shanghai a couple of weeks ago. Dad had had a few whiskeys and it spun him out completely. They absolutely loved it though. Dad then promptly passed out so I added The Spiral Staircase to the bill just for mum. Imagine my jubilation when she noticed that Hitchcock had homaged this film to death when he made Psycho. Er. Not much point to that story really.

Anyway. Great to see The Reckless Moment on the list. It's a huge favourite of mine. Although I'd still rate Ophüls' Madame De... and Le Plaisir even more highly.

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Post #: 139
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 5:05:53 PM   
elab49


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I love The Spiral Staircase. Ethel Barrymore standing there, looking down, like doom personified. Just wonderful stuff. Not enough Dorothy McGuire available on DVD either. I really want a proper version of Enchanted Cottage - a guilty pleasure

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 140
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 5:11:29 PM   
TheManWithNoShame


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quote:

I tell you what though – half drunk is not the way you try and follow that storyline – it almost has the Big Sleep beat!


I know! I can't tell you how utterly disorientated I was during the screening.

I actually thought that apart from Welles, the film was very well cast. Hayworth obviously, but Anders and Sloane as the two scorpion lawyers are sweaty, greedy corruption personified. I thought the scenes with them were the most entertaining - especially Welles monologue on the sharks and their indifferent reaction to it: "No-one's ever thought that much of you to call you a shark before!". It certainly got the biggest belly laugh of the night.

Interestingly enough, the notes that came with it conjectured that the film was mutilated not just because of it's impenetrability but because Sloane and Anders' characters were based on Harry Cohn and one of his lackeys and their stranglehold over Hayworth. Perhaps the script was a bit too close to the bone? The notes also asserted the film was a deliberate parody of film-noir and some of the more kitsch shots were actually Welles self-mutilating the film. I'm not too sure what to think of the last bit, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Also, every time I see a shot from Arkadin I just have to get my hands on a copy of the film. It just looks so...ridiculous, but in the best way possible. I think it may be the way Welles' beard and hair makes his head look like a big rectangle block

< Message edited by TheManWithNoShame -- 29/3/2009 5:14:19 PM >


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RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 5:16:06 PM   
elab49


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I don't have a great deal of time for Hayworth as an actress, but Anders, certainly, is amazing. I know he was another of Welles old Vaudeville nods, but I'm astonished that performance didn't get him more film work.

Edit - I had a look at my Tesco rental, and Lovefilm seems to have the version I do.

< Message edited by elab49 -- 29/3/2009 5:17:25 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 142
RE: My Top Film Noir - 29/3/2009 5:33:19 PM   
Harry Lime


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Hayworth was never the best but she was totally on the money in both The Lady From Shanghai and Gilda. I agree that Anders and Sloane are the standouts in the Welles film though.

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Post #: 143
RE: My Top Film Noir - 30/3/2009 7:11:14 PM   
Jasiri


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This Gun For Hire,another solid choice but then I'm a sucker for anything with Veronica Lake.I'm guessing since it doesn't even get a mention that The Blue Dhalia isn't going to be on the list.I know some people have a problem with it but I don't mind it too much,honestly think it's a far more interesting film than The Glass Key.
Finally watched The Stranger on the Third Floor at the weekend and enjoyed it.The fantasy sequence with the great,stylised visuals is the obvious highlight.

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Post #: 144
RE: My Top Film Noir - 30/3/2009 7:38:23 PM   
elab49


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Excellent. It is just such a treat of a film.

I think Blue Dahlia had the potential to be better than The Glass Key, but bottling the bad guy was, I think, a bad mistake. Given how quickly returning serviceman, unable to handle the violence they'd seen, became key characters in the genre, it would have made Dahlia a much more interesting and consistent watch. Well, without Lake and Ladd

As I mentioned before, Glass Key has the funniest Ladd moment in film, I think. At the start, at the table - the flunkey comes over and tells him there are visitors (flunkey very short or Ladd on box). Ladd hops off box and floats across the room to get to the stairs before the visitors, carefully up a couple to give him height. So smothly done - and so funny when you can see why!

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 145
RE: My Top Film Noir - 31/3/2009 12:36:06 PM   
rick_7


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I never spot that stuff, nor Claudette Colbert being photographed from the right, etc etc.
 
Great review of This Gun For Hire. I'm really enjoying this thread: the stills work really well (as I keep saying) and the writing is excellent. This is positively poetic: "[Lake had] the facility to make effective wise-cracks, smeared out the side of her mouth".
 
The Glass Key is my favourite of the three Ladd-Lake noirs I've seen (is Saigon a noir? I haven't managed to track that one down). I was a little underwhelmed by This Gun For Hire when I first saw it, but I think I'll have to dig out the DVD and give it another look as you make it sound very interesting. I really admire Le Samourai too and hadn't made that connection. As for the stars themselves, I said earlier in the thread that I'll have to see more of Cregar (I think I've only watched three of his movies), but Ladd and Lake are very much in my good books. Particularly the latter. Critics are notoriously harsh on her, and she was pretty scathing about her own abilities, but Lake had one of the great movie voices and exuded a certain warmth and attraction that's never referenced by reviewers. Despite being a recurring femme fatale. I rather like that. Ladd was hit and miss, but charismatic, and effective as a leading man. Just don't ask him to act, as they used to say about Gary Cooper.

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Post #: 146
RE: My Top Film Noir - 31/3/2009 12:45:28 PM   
elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rick_7

I never spot that stuff, nor Claudette Colbert being photographed from the right, etc etc.


Thank you I'm not particularly good at the bit above myself, but the lighting really does make him look almost unwell so I noticed it more than I might.

I've not seen Saigon either but I've also not seen it pop up, I think, in even lists of the most generously wide definitions of the genre, so I'd guess possibly not. I really do like The Glass Key. And I also like Brian Donlevy.But Cregar and Burnett trumped it.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: My Top Film Noir - 31/3/2009 8:27:30 PM   
TheDudeAbides


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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49


quote:

ORIGINAL: rick_7

I never spot that stuff, nor Claudette Colbert being photographed from the right, etc etc.


Thank you I'm not particularly good at the bit above myself, but the lighting really does make him look almost unwell so I noticed it more than I might.

I've not seen Saigon either but I've also not seen it pop up, I think, in even lists of the most generously wide definitions of the genre, so I'd guess possibly not. I really do like The Glass Key. And I also like Brian Donlevy.But Cregar and Burnett trumped it.



Ah, but The Glass Key has William Bendix as the most uncomfortably homoerotic thug you could ever imagine being held prisoner by :D

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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 148
RE: My Top Film Noir - 31/3/2009 8:35:58 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54583
Joined: 1/10/2005
It really pains me that Bendix isn't going to make my list. But one of my personal faves though he is, Cregar trumps him.

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to TheDudeAbides)
Post #: 149
RE: My Top Film Noir - 31/3/2009 9:44:46 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54583
Joined: 1/10/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jasiri

Veronica Lake aside William Bendix is the best thing about both The Glass Key and The Blue Dhalia.



Leaving Lake aside , absolutely in Blue Dahlia. Yeeeessss in Glass Key, fair to pip Donlevy if I think about it.

_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome
Post #: 150
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