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The World of Film Noir.

 
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The World of Film Noir. - 6/4/2006 7:54:00 PM   
directorscut


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 "I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money... and I didn't get the woman."


I'm shocked! Shocked to find no existing Film Noir thread.


Who doesn't love film noir? The morally ambiguous, complex leading men. The mysterious femme fatales. The stark visual style. The hard-boiled dialogue. One of the great cinematic movements – films that came from pulp sensibilities and plot and were usually made by foreign directors who wanted to subvert the Hollywood of the time, while still keeping within the confines of the censors. It's influence is still alive and breathing all over cinema today.


To get the ball rolling here's a couple of mini-reviews of the big ones (all five star crackers). I hope to write more comprehensive write-ups about film noir, its important stars and specific films in the near future. This is only the beginning!


The Maltese Falcon (1941): Often considered to be the first film-noir. It is the film that launched Bogart's most remembered screen persona. His performance as Sam Spade, a P.I. On the search for the item of the title, is the template by which all other private detectives are measured. Supporting him is the exuberant cast including fellow Casablanca cast members Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Perhaps the only miscast is Mary Astor who never quite convinces as the femme fatale. In the same year as Citizen Kane John Huston also rattled cinematic cages with his debut.


Double Indemnity (1944): Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck plan the perfect murder in Billy Wilder's noir masterpiece. An ingenious plotting structure, cracker-jack dialogue and sizzling chemistry between MacMurray and Stanwyck help lay the foundations for this masterpiece. But it is Edward G. Robinson who steals the show in his magnificent turn as MacMurray's boss who unwittingly tears their perfect plan to pieces. Perfect, exciting entertainment!


The Big Sleep (1946): Sexually charged adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel. Perhaps the most star-driven film noir – the story was rewritten significantly to turn it into a Bogart and Bacall vehicle. Regardless the film is still a towering work of the genre with a typically labyrinth Chandler plot, carefully cast support and slick dialogue including Bacall's famous race horse analogy.


Out of the Past (1947): The prototype noir. It's all here; the hard-boiled voice-over, the jumbled structure, the femme fatale, the crime boss, the hero with a secret pass, the social subversion, the masterful use of mise en scène, a down-beat ending. Mitchum is at his best here - commanding the screen with his towering presence and masterful portrayal of a complex character. Top range support from Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer too as the crime boss and femme fatale. Horror movie maestro Tourneur over sees proceedings with flawless skill. The script is filled with cracking, memorable dialogue including the much-beloved one-two of “I don't want to die.” “Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I'm going to die last.”

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 6/4/2006 7:57:17 PM   
doctorolorinbats1975


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Double Indemnity is definitely the best of the lot. Would Casablanca count as one though?

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 6/4/2006 8:14:05 PM   
directorscut


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Here are a couple of film noir DVD packs to get the interested started. I have linked the cheapest place for each. Will update when I find more.
 
Film Noir 10 Pack
3 Pack (Postman Always Rings Twice, Dark Passage/Bad and the Beautiful)
Warner Film Noir Vol. 1
Warner Film Noir Vol. 2

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 6/4/2006 8:45:52 PM   
directorscut


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quote:

ORIGINAL: doctorolorinbats1975

Double Indemnity is definitely the best of the lot. Would Casablanca count as one though?


Not really. There are a few noirish elements but it's true blue  Hollywood entertainment at heart.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 6/4/2006 9:19:15 PM   
piano man


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Double Indemnity is awesome as it Kiss Me Deadly. One of my favourite genres!

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 1:47:55 PM   
directorscut


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Great news! Double Indemnity is scheduled for a 2-Disc Region 1 release on August 29th. No details yet. 

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 2:40:41 PM   
R.J.MacReady


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Joined: 30/9/2005
Great news about Indemnity.

Warner are re-packaging four Bogie-Bacall flicks on R1 this month. Included are:

The Big Sleep
To Have And Have Not (not film noir?)
Dark Passage
Key Largo

Not seen any of these and the price is a steal. Link:

Amazon.com

< Message edited by R.J.MacReady -- 14/4/2006 2:44:54 PM >


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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 4:17:50 PM   
Koolbreeze


Posts: 33
Joined: 28/10/2005
Love Film Noir! Thanks for opening thread.
Maltese Falcon is def one of my favourites as is Farewell my lovely. The pacing, dialogue, twisting plots and occasional air of some dumb lug fighting the inevitable all make for fabulous entertainment.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 4:47:58 PM   
Koolbreeze


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Forgot to mention The Big Heat. Wonderful film.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 6:52:20 PM   
adambatman82

 

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LAURA??

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 7:47:31 PM   
TheDudeAbides


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The original Farewell My Lovely? With Dick Powell? I love that film...

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/4/2006 10:45:12 PM   
spicebrain

 

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Everything about the _noir_ style suggests that I should love the films it's most associated with, but my experiences thus far have left me somewhat disappointed. Of the few that I've seen, only _The Big Sleep_ (bloody entertaining) and _Out of the Past_ (dark... so dark...) have left me really enthused. I still need to get to a LOT more though: _Laura_ , the Hollywood Langs etc.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 15/4/2006 9:02:14 PM   
King_Wah


Posts: 2348
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From: Halesowen
Double Indemnity the best I have seen. The dailogue is just so perfect and Stanwyck is the definitive Femme Fatale and Robinson lends the right qudos to his pivotal role. I love the line 'Always thought you were smarter than most the guys round here Walter, turns out you're just taller.'

I would also nominate

Sunset Boulevard -  The fact that the narrator starts the film dead in a pool sets the scene perfectly. Gloria Swanson is a great fatale and the whole film is really dark  with little details like Buster Keaton (slightly tragic figure by this time in his life) playing cards. It has a realy seedy heart with Holden getting drawn in to Swanson's web.

The Grifters - I think this counts as noirish. Repeating myself but great fatales in Benning and Huston (especially Huston) and a good sucker in Cusack. With a great downbeat ending.

I would be interested if anybody would include

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang - Has noirish element of charcter being drawn in to awful situation by bad luck and then not being able to escape it and ending up with a down beat ending and in my opinion the best last line of a film ever.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 23/4/2006 8:04:41 PM   
doncopey1


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From: Liverpool: Age 25
I love Noirs and Double Indemity and The Maltese Falcon are certainly the best i've seen, but if you want to go deeper neo noir films like L.A. Confindetial and Chinatown are masterpieces as is the sci fi neo noir blade runner.

< Message edited by doncopey1 -- 23/4/2006 8:05:30 PM >

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 23/4/2006 8:32:00 PM   
Harry Lime


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Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:


Out of the Past (1947): The prototype noir. It's all here; the hard-boiled voice-over, the jumbled structure, the femme fatale, the crime boss, the hero with a secret pass, the social subversion, the masterful use of mise en scène, a down-beat ending. Mitchum is at his best here - commanding the screen with his towering presence and masterful portrayal of a complex character. Top range support from Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer too as the crime boss and femme fatale. Horror movie maestro Tourneur over sees proceedings with flawless skill. The script is filled with cracking, memorable dialogue including the much-beloved one-two of “I don't want to die.” “Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I'm going to die last.”

The ultimate film noir!
 


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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 24/4/2006 10:59:35 PM   
rick_7


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Out of the Past is my favourite, but a mention too for Preminger's sublime Noir trinity of Laura, Fallen Angel and Where the Sidewalk Ends.  The first is glossy Hollywood Noir - witty and lushly romantic, with Clifton Webb's man-breasts poking out from beneath a towel.  The second is seamy, seedy, bleak and brilliant - the dime novel breathtakingly, dizzyingly transformed into cinematic gold.  Dana Andrews was never better, Preminger never so in control of his mammoth talent.  The last wipes the slate clean then does it again - tougher, tenser, crueller.

Dick Powell starred in a bunch of barely-known genre masterpieces.  Pitfall is a devastating look at the American Dream turned to dust, with Lizabeth Scott sparkling in support.  Cry Danger is sour, downbeat and unique.  Station West is a Western Noir with hints of Destry Rides Again, spliced with Out of the PastMurder, My Sweet is the best Marlowe pic by a street.

More to follow.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 24/4/2006 11:23:03 PM   
Mr E


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Film Noir is so cool.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 26/4/2006 12:28:09 AM   
Harry Lime


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quote:

But a mention too for Preminger's sublime Noir trinity of Laura, Fallen Angel and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Laura is a marvellous film, as is Fallen Angel. If I was to pick a favourite out of the two, I would probably go for Laura, but that might be because I've seen it far more times.
 
I'm not sure if you remember, but I actually picked up Where The Sidewalk Ends on your recommendation when we went to NFT last year. A fine choice!
 
Where The Sidewalk Ends (1950)


 
A seminal and hard-hitting drama from Otto Preminger.

Dana Andrews plays a tough no-nonsense detective whose brutal methods and reckless determination to bring down a local gang boss (Gary Merill) leads him accidentally kill a murder suspect. Already in trouble with his superiors, he covers up the killing but as he slowly begins to fall in love with the victims beautiful estranged wife (Gene Tierney). When the body is finally found and Tierneys father finds himself arrested for the murder, Andrews’ guilt drives him on to take drastic measures in order to both get his man and find ultimate redemption.

A brutal and superior little thriller full of lurid characterisation and hardboiled dialogue that packs a punch as powerful as Andrews' troubled cop. 4/5


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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 11/5/2006 11:37:05 PM   
directorscut


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The Set-Up (1949)

The Set-Up is a lean, mean fighting machine. The film is flawlessly constructed and edited at a thin seventy-two minutes and manages to exude more character, more drama and more tension in that runtime than most films that run twice its length do. Robert Ryan, the film's lead (who was himself a boxer in his youth) carries the film with great conviction. He helps Robert Wise create a convincing portrayal of the boxing back rooms and the psychology of a boxer as he prepares for his fight. Ryan's character, Stoker, is an experienced fighter and through he wise eyes we see the broken dreams of old fighters and the energy and naiveté of the young fighters.

The film's main set-piece is the boxing scene between Stoker and a young star in the making. It is a powerful scene made so not only by the skill at which it is executed but because of what leads up to it. The film has a shroud of doom over it. Stoker is not given a chance and it is made clear on several occasions that this fight may kill him. Even his wife fears the worst and can not stand by him. But we also get a ray of light through Stoker's confidence that he can win this fight.

Stoker's wife story is equally as powerful. Her main moment is when she rips up a ticket for the match Stoker gave her and that moment has all the dramatic weight of a knock out punch. A powerful moment excellently played and skillfully constructed. Seeing the challenge Stoker faces one can fully understand her not being able to be there even if she wants to stand by him. Her fear and love drives her away from the fight but brings her back as she sees Stoker stumble out of the alleyway at the end of the film.

The film is technically far beyond it's low budget roots. The camera work is unobtrusive and carefully composed. The lighting is naturalistic. The dust, smoke and sweat of the boxing arena smoothers the frame. The boxing scene is brutal and real. The close and concise camera work and the powerful sound effects let you feel every punch. Understand every move. It's an exhausting experience. When it ends you feel as fatigued as you are relieved.

The film is available as part of Warner's excellent Film Noir Collection. The print and transfer are lovely and it comes with an interesting, if sparse, commentary by Robert Wise and Martin Scorsese (recorded separately).

 


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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 28/5/2006 11:51:25 AM   
heatherhere

 

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About time as well! And can we include Mildred Pierce, which is half-noir, half-melodrama? Also Coen Brothers' Blood Simple?

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/6/2006 3:20:47 AM   
bobbydee


Posts: 256
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From: London
yeh, what about Post-Noir, if that's the correct term. LA Confidential, Chinatown. Two ace films that are so well made and really capture the essence of film noir. also thought that Brick was quality and a really interesting spin on the conventions of film noir. clashing it with modern day teen culture was a stroke of genius.

In the same vein: Blade Runner (Sci-Fi Noir), Taxi Driver  has elements of noir in it, as pointed out in a recent article in empire. there are many i'm sure, which are worth a mention if we are discussing the beautiful lady that is Film Noir!

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/6/2006 10:48:15 AM   
Monkeyshaver

 

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From: La Planete Des Singe
Otto Preminger's Angel Face is a worthy addition to the film noir genre. Robert Mitchum plays an ambulance driver who ends up as a chauffer for scheming rich girl Diane (a wonderful Jean Simmons playing against type as the femme fatale.) Needless to say things don't end well for all concerned.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 14/6/2006 11:58:18 AM   
Livvie


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From: Ireland
What about Gilda? Does that qualify? I love that film so much!! Rita Hayworth was amazing! I loved the 'Put the blame on Mame' striptease.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 16/6/2006 2:16:41 PM   
Monkeyshaver

 

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From: La Planete Des Singe
Article from today's guardian on Kiss Me Deadly by Alex Cox.http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1798247,00.html

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 8/7/2006 1:45:24 PM   
Joe


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Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice would be favourites. Though if Sunset Boulevard is conidered a noir too then it's up there also.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 25/8/2008 8:52:05 PM   
Professor Moriarty

 

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From: the waters of Casablanca
Time to relaunch this thread as I'm about to watch the wonderful Charles Laughton in The Big Clock.

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 26/8/2008 12:32:28 AM   
Acho


Posts: 3907
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From: Dublin, Co. Ireland
Great thread! Double Indemnity is one of my all time favourite films. I've seen it twice on the big screen in recent years too, as one of my local arthouse cinemas tends to give it a whirl now and again. Likewise with Kiss Me Deadly, which I'd never seen until the same cinema showed it a few years ago and I decided to check it out - was very glad that I did!

Big props to Chinatown too. What would that be, technically? Post-noir (as mentioned above)? Neo-noir? Even just reading this thread makes me want to re-watch so many films! Will try to do so and then post a proper review.


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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 26/8/2008 9:48:46 AM   
Professor Moriarty

 

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From: the waters of Casablanca
The Big Clock (1948)
Dir: John Farrow



George Stroud (Ray Milland) is a workaholic crime reporter at Earl Janoth's (Charles Laughton) publishing empire a building dominated by the big clock in the foyer.  When a blonde Stroud has spent a night with turns up dead he must hide the evidence of his own involvement from the team while trying to find the real killer.

It's all good fun, but there are better noirs out there.  If you've ever seen Costner's No Way Out, that was a rough remake of this story (except in The Big Clock no-one makes love to Sean Young on the back seat of a limo).  Laughton is on top form as the time-obsessed hardline boss, even if he does have an odd furry creature living on his top lip.

3/5

< Message edited by Professor Moriarty -- 26/8/2008 11:25:37 AM >

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 26/8/2008 9:59:20 AM   
Professor Moriarty

 

Posts: 10469
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: the waters of Casablanca
The Glass Key (1942)
Dir: Stuart Heisler



Based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett, Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) is a political boss who is supporting a reform candidate to better appeal to the candidate's daughter, Janet Henry (Veronica Lake).  When Janet's wastrel brother is found dead, Paul's friend and chief operative Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd) is on hand to sort out the case and ensure Madvig isn't framed.

Tough and brutal in parts The Glass Key is good noir, even if it is given a happy ending. 

3/5

< Message edited by Professor Moriarty -- 26/8/2008 11:05:59 PM >

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RE: The World of Film Noir. - 26/8/2008 10:12:42 AM   
Professor Moriarty

 

Posts: 10469
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: the waters of Casablanca
Suspicion (1941)
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock



When handsome Johnnie Asygarth (Cary Grant) comes to town, shy Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) falls for him.  After Johnny's friend and business partner Beaky (Nigel Bruce) is killed Lina becomes suspicious about what line of business Johnny is really in, why he's so interested in poisons and whether she might be the next victim.

As you'd expect this film is wonderfully shot by Hitchcock, but I find it all a bit obvious and the only time I can really take Nigel Bruce bumbling around is as Dr Watson.

3/5

< Message edited by Professor Moriarty -- 26/8/2008 11:27:51 AM >

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