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Tiki Central Forums Beyond Tiki The Film Noir Thread
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The Film Noir Thread
JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-19 1:41 pm   Permalink

So what else do you like besides Tiki?

For me it's Film Noir. (Also first and second generation Punk Rock, 1976-1984, but that's another post).

Like Tiki, Film Noir is a post-WWII American cultural style that I take great interest in. Film Noir is also synonymous with my home of Los Angeles where many of the classics take place. These films are also a visual record of places and neighborhoods which have long since been demolished (that's LA for you).

I like to separate Film Noir into two categories, classic (mid-1940's through late 1950's) and neo-noir (1970's+).

CLASSIC

To me Film Noir arguably begins and ends with Billy Wilder. He defined the genre with "Double Indemnity" (1944).

"Sunset Blvd" (1950) is his 2nd classic although purists would argue its more of a gothic satire than noir. I disagree, any movie that's told in flashback by the dead protagonist floating face down in a swimming pool is noir enough for me.

Wilder's 3rd contribution is "Ace in the Hole" (1951) which stars Kirk Douglas as an opportunistic newspaper reporter. This little known gem lacks the urban setting of typical Film Noir but is a dark and cynical (as well as prophetic) tale of ambition. Highly recommended.

I have a lot of favorites, but these are at the top of my list. Here are the well-known films.

- Asphalt Jungle (1950) - Classic heist movie told in prospective from the crooks' side. Lots of great character acting (like noir tough guy Sterling Hayden) and it includes Marilyn Monroe in one of her first roles. The setting is supposed to be back East but I can identify downtown LA in some shots.

- The Killing (1956) - Stanley Kubrick's docu-noir which might be a sequel to "Asphalt Jungle" if Sterling Hayden hadn't died in that one. Also you can see where Quentin Tarantino got his non-linear storytelling inspiration from.

- Night and the City (1950) - It takes place in London and has one of the most haunting endings in Film Noir history. It stars the late great Richard Widmark.

- The Killers (1946) - Burt Lancaster plays the doomed protagonist in a film based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway.

- Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - A violent and whirl-wind tour through mid-1950's LA. This film was a major influence on the French New Wave of cinema. Check out the great shots of downtown's Bunker Hill neighborhood (which was razed in the 1960's). Also the first use of the iconic "what's in the briefcase?"

- Sweet Smell of Success (1957) - This film has the snappiest dialogue of any movie I've ever seen. Fans of "Mad Men" should check out Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis playing the original dog-eat-dog Manhattanites.

- Touch of Evil (1958) - I have mixed feelings about this one. Pluses - Story, classic opening tracking shot, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich, and vintage location shots of Venice, CA. Minuses - Charlton Heston in "brown face".

Here's some lesser-known favorites.

- Criss Cross (1949) - Burt Lancaster as another doomed character. Directed by Robert Siodmak (who also did "The Killers"). Lilly Munster plays the femme fatale and lots of great location shots of 1940's downtown LA.

- Crime Wave (1954) - Sterling Hayden again. This film shows what Glendale looked like in the 1950's. It's available on DVD and has an entertaining commentary by noir expert Eddie Muller and the "Demon Dog of American Fiction" James Ellroy.

I actually met James Ellroy once who gave me his definition of Noir - "We're all fucked".

- Quicksand (1950) - I like this movie because it takes place in my neighborhood of Ocean Park, Santa Monica. It stars Mickey Rooney and has been aptly described as "Andy Hardy goes to Hell". Check out the long demolished Ocean Park Pier and what the current Santa Monica Pier used to look like (where the film dramatically ends).

- The Sniper (1952) - I recently saw this at the New Beverly (revival) Theater, it's not yet available on DVD. Think Travis Bickle was cinema's first "God's lonely man" in Taxi Driver? This film was ahead of it's time by portraying a character so alienated from society that he snipes off innocent people to feel any emotion. He's portrayed as sympathetic since the viewer is made to feel his pain and he knows he's crazy and must be stopped. I was floored.


I'll follow up with my neo-noir favorites in a later post.

Please feel free to share your comments.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-09-30 22:31 ]


 
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TikiGoddess
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 424
From: Penna
Posted: 2009-09-19 2:03 pm   Permalink

I too am a film noir fan. I recommend Pick Up on South Street (Richard Widmark at his sleazy nasty best), Where the Sidewalk Ends, Kiss of Death (Widmark goes wild!), The Big Heat (Glenn Ford is on a "hate binge" and Lee Marvin knocks over a Moai in a fight in a swank 50s penthouse), Gun Crazy, I Wake Up Screaming, Double Indemnity (of course!), He Walked by Night, This Gun for Hire (!!!!!), White Heat , Night and the City, the Naked City. The Blue Gardenia(contains polynesian cocktails scene in Chinese restaurant, they drink a cocktail called a pearl diver), I could go on and on. Nothing warms my heart more than angry double-crossed men in fedoras and trenchcoats pistol-whipping someone in a dark alley while a neon sign flickers nearby.

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[ This Message was edited by: TikiGoddess 2009-09-19 14:05 ]


 
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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1759
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2009-09-20 07:50 am   Permalink

Not sure if this is in the genre. Here is a great movie poster that was a b-day gift from my wife that I think has a great feel to it. In my humble opinion. I believe the poster is from 1958. There is a trailer for the film on Youtube. Thanks for the post.


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atomictonytiki
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: May 14, 2002
Posts: 1277
From: Bangkok
Posted: 2009-09-20 08:03 am   Permalink

My favourite Neo-Noir film is "Brick", all the feel and style of a classic noir but set in modern day high school.




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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-20 11:55 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-09-20 07:50, uncle trav wrote:
Not sure if this is in the genre. Here is a great movie poster that was a b-day gift from my wife that I think has a great feel to it. In my humble opinion. I believe the poster is from 1958. There is a trailer for the film on Youtube. Thanks for the post.




Actually O.S.S. 117 was a series of films that was France's answer to James Bond. A few years ago they came out with a parody of it (not quite Austin Powers) that I saw at the Nuart Theater in West L.A.

Not so much Film Noir as it was spy genre. Your poster is very cool though. It does have all of the standard Film Noir iconography in it



 
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drgoat456
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2008
Posts: 484
From: Tucson
Posted: 2009-09-20 3:44 pm   Permalink

JO,
I have always liked films by Nicholas Ray. They Live by Night and SideStreet, Great films. Also In a Lonely Place with Humphrey B.


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-20 9:23 pm   Permalink

Yup, "In a Lonely Place" was certainly Nicholas Ray's masterpiece. Actually I think this film transcends Film Noir as it doesn't have the standard noir iconography. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart (playing his real-life nasty self ?) as well as one of the leading ladies of Noir, Gloria Grahame.

Grahame was married to Nicholas Ray and their story is one which would make a great Noir. Grahame winds up seducing Ray's 13-year-old son from a previous marriage. Ten years later (after having divorced Nicholas Ray) she marries her former step-son !!

Here's a picture of Gloria in Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat". I love her line "You know, Bertha, we're sisters under the mink" as she plugs the blackmailing wife of a dead corrupt cop. Her face gets scalded with hot coffee earlier in the film by gangster Lee Marvin (in one of his first major roles).





[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-09-20 21:50 ]


 
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TikiG
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 17, 2008
Posts: 1532
From: Riverside, California
Posted: 2009-09-21 08:50 am   Permalink

John-O -

I learned of a Columbia Pictures film years ago that featured a chase scene aboard a wooden roller-coaster as its climax. After years of attempts to secure a copy for my collection and failing each attempt - I began to doubt such a film existed. No VHS release. No DVD release either.

My prayers were finally realized in 2003 although the movie remains un-available for home viewing.

It is the film noir classic "Man In The Dark" directed by Lew Landers.

Released in 1953 for 3D presentation, the film stars Edmond O'Brian as an ex-con who receives an experimental brain operation in prison designed to wipe out his memories and killer instincts. Problem is that after leaving prison he can't remember where a stash of money from a prior heist was hidden.

The reason the film holds a special place in my psyche is because of all the footage taken on the Ocean Park, CA amusement pier - pre P.O.P.

The film surpassed all my expectations as to what glimpses it might contain of the old amusement pier. Put simply? Astounding. And in 3D?...My God!

The World 3D Film Festival of 2003 held at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood featured a showing of "Man In The Dark" in glorious 3D as intended upon release in '53. I attended and so did many other enthusiasts. The morning viewing (a weekday) was sold-out. The majority in attendance probably played hooky from work...





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[ This Message was edited by: TikiG 2009-09-21 08:53 ]


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-21 12:43 pm   Permalink

Poor Edmond O'Brien, not only does he get slipped an iridium mickey in "D.O.A." but they experiment on his brain as well (a la "Clockwork Orange").

Oh well at least he gets to hang out at cool places like the Bradbury Bldg and Ocean Park Pier.

Nice find TikiG, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

I'm an American Cinematheque member but I guess I missed that one. The fun thing about the Egyptian (and the Aero in Santa Monica) is the guest speakers they have between films. I got to see Coleen Grey talk about classics she appeared in like "The Killing", "Nightmare Alley", and "Kiss of Death". She's funny. In response to some noir-geek questions from the audience she responds "I can't remember that, it was 60 years ago".

On another occasion I was actually sitting next to Gaby Rodger (Gabrielle who opens up the "Pandora's Box") at a screening of "Kiss Me Deadly". Her adult son shouted "Hey Mom, you just got blown up". Maxine Cooper, who played Mike Hammer's secretary Velda, was also in the audience. Sadly her health looked to be very poor (she passed away earlier this year).

There are other cool stories regarding Noir screenings at American Cinematheque (which regrettably I didn't attend). I understand that at a screening of Edgar Ulmer's "Detour", the discussion panel mentioned that Ann Savage's whereabouts were unknown. She then yelled from her seat "I'm right here". Sadly Ann Savage passed away last December.

The one person I really would have loved to see speak was Richard Widmark. He was just too frail to make the trip out from New York and in March of last year, Noir's "Last man standing" passed away at the age of 93.

The whole block around the Egyptian is rich with LA-Noir history. For those of you who aren't aware, Raymond Chandler wrote the "Big Sleep" at Musso and Frank across the street. Also Boardner's Bar around the corner was reputedly frequented by Elizabeth Short aka the "Black Dahlia".

(Sorry, I got off track there).

Thanks TikiG, the great thing about Film Noir is, all of these undiscovered treasures keep popping up.



 
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drgoat456
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2008
Posts: 484
From: Tucson
Posted: 2009-09-21 3:19 pm   Permalink

JO,
Yeah, I love The Big Heat. Marvin is great to watch in that one. I also like Brodrick Crawford movies, Scandal Sheet, The Mob etc. and one I can't remember the name of in which he plays a private eye....he has some great lines in that one which he delivers in that wonderful Brodrick Crawford way. Gonna watch Fritz Langs "M" tonite, haven't seen it for a long time. Peter Lorre is another of my favorite actors.


 
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Cammo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2006
Posts: 1951
From: San Diego
Posted: 2009-09-23 7:48 pm   Permalink

Love this thread, John-O. I've been to the Noir fests at the Egyptian put on by Eddie Mueller too - here's his website, under the imaginative name;

www.eddiemuller.com

His book "Dark City", about the history of Film Noir is an amazing read, especially as the entire thing is written in tough-guy-speak.

Don't forget the whole birth of Gangster/Noir/Anti-Hero movies in the 1920's and 30's. The movement was German ....

"The Joyless Street" with Greta Garbo 1925
"Docks of New York" 1928, Joseph Von Sternberg
"Spies" 1928
"Pandora's Box", "Diary of a Lost Girl" 1929
"Blue Angel" 1930
"Dishonored" 1931
"Public Enemy" 1931
"M" 1931 Fritz Lang
"G-Men" 1935
"Fury" 1936

etc.

Most of these early films are still hard hitting and much more deeply psychological than the later stuff. My favorite early director was Sternberg, his almost never seen "Dishonored" has some of the most astounding camera and staging experiments I've ever seen, the ending of the film is an incredibly shocking short speech against violence of any form....


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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-23 11:43 pm   Permalink

Yes "Dark City" is my noir bible and roadmap. That's the book that really spiked my interest into seeking out all of the films on my list. It's a great book on many levels. I also like his book "Dark City Dames" but it's been out of print for quite some time. I'm always tempted to steal it from the library (how's that for an appropriately Noir dilemma?) I ran into Eddie Muller once at the Egyptian but he kind of blew me off. That's OK, I still donate to his Noir society.

You're choice of films is very interesting. Film Noir led to my interest into the pre-code films of the early 1930's. That's how I really became a fan of Barbara Stanwyck. I first knew of her as the matriarch on the 1960's TV western "The Big Valley". Then I discovered her as the definitive femme fatale in "Double Indemnity". Then I found out she was really at her peak in pre-code classics like "Night Nurse", "Forbidden", and "Baby Face".

Thanks for the feedback.


 
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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 5860
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2009-09-24 01:37 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-09-19 20:36, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
John-O, your on the Mark there, Billy Wilder was a driving force, Ace in the Hole is at the top of my list
Great, great movie, I do consider it Noir because of the Narrative, dialog & subject matter, Chuck Tatum was Kirk's best role
in my opinion, although "Detective Story" is very close.

[ This Message was edited by: Atomic Tiki Punk 2009-09-19 20:43 ]



I thought I would move this post to your thread


 
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TikiGoddess
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 424
From: Penna
Posted: 2009-09-24 3:02 pm   Permalink

I have to say the original movie DRAGNET with Jack Webb (not the stupid remake, and not the TV show)is an excellent example of "newer" noir. Its in color so it lacks the shadow element, but its hard boiled and has great dialogue.
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2680
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-09-24 10:23 pm   Permalink

It's funny both "Detective Story" (1951) and "Dragnet" (1954) are mentioned. Those are films I really want to see but I don't think they're available on DVD.

Here's the rest of my wish list:

1. Phantom Lady (1944)
2. The Blue Dahlia (1945) - Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake together again !
3. The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) - Lawrence Tierney !
4. Moonrise (1948)
5. Pitfall (1948)
6. The City that Never Sleeps (1952)
7. Hell's Half Acre (1954) - Hawaii Noir + Marie Windsor ! (And according to TC posts, the Hawaii DTBC).
8. Naked Alibi (1954) - Sterling Hayden + Gloria Grahame !
9. Shield for Murder (1954)

As far as I know these aren't on DVD either. (Rats, I missed "Phantom Lady" tonight at the New Bev)

Anyone seen these ?



[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-09-25 07:54 ]


 
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