The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

Plundering the Genre: Film Noir

Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

From the dawn of cinema, it took about 40+ years for what came to be known as film noir (or "black film") to appear on the scene. In the U.S. these types of crime films were not purposely made and it took some French film critics in the mid 1940s to first identify and define their collective traits. Countless essays, books, lectures, academic and online courses, Facebook chat-rooms and even noir festivals devoted to the subject, not to mention the more contemporary films that have emulated their style, have failed to stymie the countless individuals, scholarly or otherwise, who still ask, debate and ponder, exactly what film noir really is!  

 

 

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

My approach to the question is somewhat different from those who have defined certain pronounced characteristics or a combination thereof, as definitive examples of films noir i.e. expressionistic lighting, abstract imagery, flash-back narratives, a predominant use of darkness and shadows, cold urban surroundings, and duplicitous or corrupt characters including femme-fatales. Other hallmarks frequently mentioned are protagonists who are wrongly accused or involved in circumstances they don’t fully recall or comprehend, alienation, crime novels used as source material, the ending of the war and a return to an unfamiliar peace time environment and economy. Finally there are traits of life's existential uncertainty, an overriding sense of cynicism and bleak futuristic outlook. These are all factors that make strong contributions to this genre but no single element previously mentioned (or combination thereof) is necessary to fulfill its precise definition. Therefore, I would propose that these ingredients only subordinate a greater truth about what really lies at the heart of noir: The focus on the psychology of its principal characters. It's this exploration of the thought processes of criminals or the criminally minded, individuals wrongly accused or those tasked to investigate the perpetration of wrongdoing that is noir’s key defining feature and common denominator. It supplies or at the very least, greatly enhances motive and transcends the story's setting. Noir's deeper psychological exploration constitutes the primary difference from the predominate crime films of the 30's where a character’s simple, fearless quest for money and power would be more than enough reason for their criminal pursuits. Even a U.S. film produced in the classic noir timeline from 1940 to 1960 having many of the factors previously mentioned, might be noirish but wouldn’t be noir if its primary focus is not on the psychologies of its subjects planning or involved in some sort of nefarious activity.

 

 

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

In films noir we are practically bombarded with how the characters are thinking and responding. Their plans, aspirations, especially the ‘why’ behind it all, fills in the best of these noir stories with a more human fallibility, and compulsory nature, providing its subject’s unique dimension, that transfixes us, making it impossible to turn away. These added insights into the thoughts and feelings of those typically caught up in extraordinary circumstances give these films their magnetic drawing power, and keep them vivid in our memory long after their stories have concluded.

 

 

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Though the situations may be far fetched compared to our own lives, the characters’ emotional responses are easily identifiable since they are extrapolated from basic, perhaps less dramatic, feelings, thoughts and experiences that may be unwanted, but are all too familiar. Noir stories are fascinatingly complex, full of real people responding to difficult, often life threatening situations. Compared to the previous decades of crime or gangster films where the drama tends to confine itself within established parameters, internal conflicts are constantly arising within noir’s greater dramatic premise, resulting in their characters’ multi-layered complexity, giving their behaviour added personality and making it less predictable.

 

 

Out of the Past (1947)

Out of the Past (1947)

In many of the 30’s gangster films we’re routinely reminded of who’s good versus bad, but noir acts like sulfuric acid on lines that separate right from wrong making its narrative more impactful, urgent and compelling. Noir’s populace may have brought these undesirable conditions upon themselves with dreams of a better life or less dismal future, or they may respond to occurrences in an unconventionally immoral way. Nevertheless, the arts have a duty to explore all forms of human endeavour even the “left-handed” ones, to probe deeper into the human psyche including the darker, less-conscious areas. Besides, dreams and those who live them are what great storytelling is about and what makes noir so damn exciting and special.

 

 

 

 

Too Late for Tears (1949)

Too Late for Tears (1949)

I have prepared a list featuring films noir made in the U.S. in the 1940’s. It is intended to be all inclusive meaning that if any so called “expert” in the field has identified a film as noir that I’m aware of, it will be listed regardless if I agree. This will be a work in progress. Examples where noir has successfully infiltrated other genres have been included plus additional entries will be added as they are discovered. Some outstanding examples from other countries will be listed separately in time. Noir aficionados and students may wish to bookmark this page for future reference and please feel free to e-mail me (arthur@thecinemacafe.com) with any suggestions for additional titles I may have missed. I will also be providing a list of noir films made in the 1950’s here to complete noir's classic timeline, so if you’re a fan please check back often.

A.G.  

 

      

13 Rue Madeleine 1947
Abandoned (Abandoned Woman) 1949
Accomplice 1946
The Accused 1948
*Act of Violence 1949
Alias Nick Beal (The Contact Man) 1949
All My Sons 1948
*All the King’s Men 1949
The Amazing Mr X (The Spiritualist) 1948
Among the Living 1941
Angels Over Broadway 1940
Apology for Murder 1945
Arch of Triumph 1948
The Arnelo Affair 1947
*Arsenic and Old Lace 1944
Arson, Inc. 1949
Assigned to Danger 1948
Backlash 1947
The Beast with Five Fingers 1946
Bedlam 1946
Behind Green Lights 1946
Behind Locked Doors 1948
Below the Deadline 1946
*Berlin Express 1948
Betrayal from the East 1945  
*Betrayed (When Strangers Marry) 1944
Bewitched 1945
Beyond the Forest 1949
*The Big Clock 1948
The Big Shot 1942
*The Big Sleep 1946
*The Big Steal 1949
Big Town 1947
*Black Angel 1946
Black Magic 1949
Black Market Babies 1945
*The Black Book (Reign of Terror) 1949
Blackmail 1947
Blind Spot 1947
Blonde Alibi 1946
Blonde Ice 1948
*Blood on the Moon 1948
*The Blue Dahlia 1946
Bluebeard 1944
Blues in the Night 1941
*Body and Soul 1947
The Body Snatcher 1945
*Bodyguard 1948
Boomerang! 1947
*Border Incident 1949
*Born to Kill 1947
The Brasher Doubloon 1947
*The Bribe 1949
*Brute Force 1947
The Brute Man 1946
Bury Me Dead 1947
C-Man 1949
Calcutta 1947
Call Northside 777 1948
Calling Dr. Death 1943
Canon City 1948
*Cat People 1942
*Caught 1949
*Champion 1949
*The Chase 1946
Chicago Deadline 1949
Chinatown at Midnight 1949
*Christmas Holiday 1944
Circumstantial Evidence 1945
City Across the River 1949
City for Conquest 1941
City of Chance 1940
*The Clay Pigeon 1949
Cloak and Dagger 1946
*Colorado Territory 1948
Confidential Agent 1945
*Conflict 1945
The Conspirators 1944
*Cornered 1945
Coroner Creek 1948
*Crack-Up 1946
Criminal Court 1946
*Criss Cross 1949
The Crooked Way 1949
*Crossfire 1947
Crossroads 1942
*Cry of the City 1948
*Cry Wolf 1947
Danger Signal 1945
Dangerous Intruder 1945
Dangerous Passage 1944
A Dangerous Profession 1949
*The Dark Corner 1946
The Dark Mirror 1946
*Dark Passage 1947
The Dark Past 1948
Dark Waters 1944
*Dead Reckoning 1947
*Deadline at Dawn 1946
*Deception 1946
*Decoy 1946
Deep Valley 1947
*Desert Fury 1947
*Desperate 1947
Destiny 1944
*Detour 1945
*The Devil Thumbs a Ride 1947
The Devil’s Sleep 1949
*Dillinger 1945
Dishonored Lady 1947
Don’t Gamble with Strangers 1946
*Double Indemnity 1944
*A Double Life 1948
*Dragonwyck 1946
Duel in the Sun 1946
End of the Road 1944
Escape 1948
Escape in the Fog 1945
Experiment Perilous 1944
Fall Guy 1947
*Fallen Angel 1946
The Fallen Sparrow 1943
The Fatal Witness 1945
Fear 1946
*Fear in the Night 1947
Fingers at the Window 1942
The Flame 1947
*Flamingo Road 1949
Flaxy Martin 1949
Fly-By-Night 1942
*Follow Me Quietly 1949
For You I Die 1948
*Force of Evil 1948
*Framed 1947
The Fugitive 1947
*The Gangster 1947
*Gaslight 1944
The Get-Away 1941
*Gilda 1946
Girl in 313 1940
The Glass Alibi 1946
*The Glass Key 1942
The Great Flamarion 1945
Grand Central Murder 1942
Guest in the House 1944
The Guilty 1947
Hail the Conquering Hero 1944
*Hangmen Also Die! 1943
*Hangover Square 1945
Hard Boiled Mahoney 1947
*He Walked by Night 1948
Her Kind of Man 1946
*High Sierra 1941
High Tide 1947
*High Wall 1947
*Hollow Triumph (The Scar) 1948
Homicide 1949
The House Across the Bay 1940
*House of Strangers 1949
The House on 92nd Street 1945
Humoresque 1947
*The Hunted 1948
I, Jane Doe 1948
I Love Trouble 1948
I Shot Jesse James 1949
*I Wake Up Screaming 1941
*I Walk Alone 1948
I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes 1948
Illegal Entry 1949
*Impact 1949
Incident 1948
Inner Sanctum 1948
Inside Job 1946
Intrigue 1947
The Invisible Wall 1947
*Ivy 1947
Jealousy 1945
Jigsaw 1949
Johnny Allegro 1949
*Johnny Angel 1945
*Johnny Apollo 1940
*Johnny Eager 1942
*Johnny O’Clock 1947
Johnny Stool Pigeon 1949
*Journey Into Fear 1943
*Key Largo 1948
*Key Witness 1947
*Kid Glove Killer 1942
*Kiss of Death 1947
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands 1948
Knock on Any Door 1949
Ladies in Retirement 1941
The Lady Confesses 1945
*The Lady from Shanghai 1948
Lady in the Death House (Satin in Skirts) 1944
Lady in the Lake 1947
Lady on a Train 1945
Larceny 1948
The Last Crooked Mile 1946
*Laura 1944
*Leave Her To Heaven 1945
The Leopard Man 1943
*The Letter 1940
*Lifeboat 1944
*The Locket 1947
*The Lodger 1944
The Long Night 1947
The Lost Moment 1947
*The Lost Weekend 1945
Love from a Stranger 1947
The Lucky Stiff 1949
Lured (Personal Column) 1947
Lust for Gold 1949
*The Macomber Affair 1947
*The Maltese Falcon 1941
*The Man from Colorado 1948
The Man I Love 1946
Man of Courage 1943
Manhandled 1949
Mantrap 1943
*The Mark of the Whistler 1944
The Mask of Diljon 1946
The Mask of Dimitrios 1944
*Mildred Pierce 1945
Ministry of Fear 1944
*The Miracle of Morgan's Creek 1944
The Missing Juror 1944
Money Madness 1948
Monsieur Verdoux 1947
*Moonrise 1948
Moontide 1942
Moss Rose 1947
Murder, He Says 1945
*Murder, My Sweet (Farewell My Lovely) 1944
*My Darling Clementine 1946
My Favorite Brunette 1947
*My Name is Julia Ross 1945
Mysterious Intruder 1946
The Mysterious Mr Valentine 1946
Mystery in Mexico 1948
*The Naked City 1948
*Night Editor 1946
*The Night Has a Thousand Eyes 1948
*Nightmare Alley 1947
*Nobody Lives Forever 1946
Nocturne 1946
*Nora Prentiss 1947
*Notorious 1946
Open Secret 1948
Out of the Fog 1941
*Out of the Past (Build My Gallows High)1947
*The Ox-Bow Incident 1943
The Paradine Case 1947
Parole Inc. 1948
Phantom Lady 1944
The Picture of Dorian Gray 1945
*Pitfall 1948
Port of New York 1949
Portrait of Jenny 1948
*Possessed 1947
*The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946
The Power of the Whistler 1945
The Pretender 1947
*Pursued 1947
Race Street 1948
Rage in Heaven 1941
Railroaded 1947
*Ramrod 1947
Raw Deal 1948
Rebecca 1940
*The Reckless Moment 1949
Red, Hot and Blue 1949
The Red House 1947
*Red Light 1949
Red Menace 1949
Repeat Performance 1947
The Return of the Whistler 1948
*Ride the Pink Horse 1947
*Riffraff 1947
Rimfire 1949
*Road House 1948
Rope 1948
Rope of Sand 1949
Roughshod 1949
*Ruthless 1948
Saigon 1948
*San Quentin 1946
*Scarlet Street 1945
Scene of the Crime 1949
Sealed Lips 1942
Secret Behind the Door 1948
The Secret of the Whistler 1946
*The Set-Up 1949
*The Seventh Victim 1943
*Shadow of a Doubt 1943
Shadow of a Woman 1946
Shadowed 1946
The Shanghai Gesture 1941
Shed No Tears 1948
Shock 1946
*Shockproof 1949
Shoot to Kill 1947
The Sign of the Ram 1948
Singapore 1947
Sleep, My Love 1948
Smart Girls Don’t Talk 1948
Smash-Up, The Story of a Woman 1947
So Dark the Night 1946
So Evil My Love 1949
*Somewhere in the Night 1946
*Sorry, Wrong Number 1948
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 1947
Specter of the Rose 1946
Spellbound 1945
The Spider 1945
The Spiral Staircase 1946
*Station West 1948
Step by Step 1946
The Story of Molly X 1949
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry 1945
Strange Bargain 1949
Strange Illusion (Out of the Night) 1945
*Strange Impersonation 1946
*The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946
Strange Triangle 1946
The Strange Woman 1946
*The Stranger 1946
*Stranger on the Third Floor 1940
Strangers in the Night 1944
Street of Chance 1942
*The Street With No Name 1948
The Suspect 1945
*Suspense 1946
Suspicion 1941
*T-Men 1948
Take One False Step 1949
Temptation 1946
They Drive by Night 1940
*They Live by Night 1949
They Made Me a Killer 1946
*They Won’t Believe Me 1947
*Thieves’ Highway 1949
The Thirteenth Hour 1947
*This Gun For Hire 1942
*The Threat 1949
*Three Strangers 1946
To Have and Have Not 1944
To the Ends of the Earth 1948
Tomorrow is Forever 1946
*Too Late For Tears (Killer Bait)1949
Tough Assignment 1949
Trapped 1949
*The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948
Truck Busters 1943
The Two Mrs. Carrolls 1947
Two O’Clock Courage 1945
Two Smart People 1946
The Undercover Man 1949
*Undercurrent 1946
Undertow 1949
*The Unfaithful 1947
Unfaithfully Yours 1948
The Unseen 1945
*The Unsuspected 1947
The Velvet Touch 1948
*The Verdict 1946
Violence 1947
Voice in the Wind 1944
Voice of the Whistler 1945
Walk a Crooked Mile 1948
The Walking Hills 1949
The Walls Came Tumbling Down 1946
The Web 1947
Whiplash 1948
*Whirlpool 1949
Whispering City 1947
Whispering Footsteps 1943
Whispering Smith 1948
*The Whistler 1944
Whistle Stop 1946
Whistling in the Dark 1941
*White Heat 1949
The Window 1949
Without Honor 1949
Woman in Hiding 1949
*The Woman in the Window 1944
The Woman in White 1948
The Woman on Pier 13 (I Married a Communist!)1949
The Woman on the Beach 1947
*A Woman’s Face 1941
A Woman’s Secret 1949
A Woman’s Vengeance 1948
Wonder Man 1945
*Yellow Sky 1949
        

*Highly recommended as noteworthy contributions to noir including those films that simply represent great cinematic storytelling.

"Now Listen To Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

 

There are 6 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:

 

The first is the 1945 British horror classic Dead of Night. An architect, Walter Craig, drives down a country road and suddenly comes upon the estate where he has been appointed to oversee some renovations. Looking at the house in bewilderment, he shakes his head. Why, we wonder? Well, we're about to find out in a group of chilling events that all form part of Craig's recurring dream including, astonishingly enough, the appointment itself. As he is being welcomed by the owner, Craig senses familiarity with certain details not only of the residential layout, but the visiting guests, who he will increasingly involve in his own ominous premonitions. Each of the guests in turn will describe their own supernatural experiences which will all dovetail adroitly in the film's surreal and frightening conclusion.

 

The strange experiences described by the guests make this film a portmanteau; each are individually based on stories by different writers like John Baines and Angus MacPhail, and directed by a host of Ealing Studios' finest, including Alberto Cavalcanti and Robert Hamer. The stories within the story are all fascinatingly eerie and strongly contribute to the film's cumulative effect of impending doom.

 

 

"The golfing story" is probably the weakest, due to its light-comedic tone. The most startlingly potent is saved for last: "The Ventriloquist's Dummy." This extraordinary tale of encroaching madness is so unique and inspired its influence can be seen in subsequent treatments e.g. "The Dummy" episode of the original Twilight Zone series and the William Goldman novel adapted into the film Magic. In addition, Dead of Night's last experience related by a skeptical psychiatrist has a flashback of its own, making it a dream within a dream. What imagination! As an added bonus it contains a tour de force performance by Michael Redgrave, and will spill over into the film's most terrifying scene at the country house, ingeniously mixing illusion with reality until it's impossible to discern which is which.

 

When the architect is finally safe and "out of the woods", palpably relieved that the ordeal is over, the filmmakers have still another surprise up their sleeve, making this one of the genre's most memorable and noteworthy achievements. The nightmare begins on TCM Thursday July 9 at 8:30 am PST (11:30 am EST). 

 

 

 

 

 

My next recommendation is 1950’s D.O.A. This has to be one of the most dynamic films noir ever made just for its brilliant premise alone, thrown at us right in the opening: A nondescript accountant, Frank Bigelow, (played with all of his considerable might by Edmond O’Brien) walks into a police station to report a murder. The captain asks who was murdered. “I was” Bigelow says. Due to the fact he was given a slow acting poison in a bar while on vacation, and that it wasn’t discovered until the next day, he’s a dead man and there’s not a thing anyone can do to save him. As Bigelow elaborates, the story flashes back to the events leading up to that fateful night, his later disbelief when confronted by the doctor’s report resulting in a desperate but extraordinary run through the streets of San Francisco, and his vigorous one-man pursuit of the person who killed him. During his attempts to unveil and punish the culprit, we witness a man singularly focused, unafraid and driven. His investigation will take him into noir’s nightmarish underbelly filled with some of the most despicable characters ever seen on the screen (vividly portrayed by the likes of Neville Brand, William Ching and Luther Adler), who ironically want him deader than he already is! If you’re intent on figuring out its complicated plot, you’ll have to stay on your toes with all of the backtracking and red herrings that present themselves along this existential journey. It’s a terrific journey though, full of exciting locales, photographed in true noir fashion. Watching Bigelow’s one-man quest during his final hours is riveting. He may have started off as an average “Joe” unaccustomed to life’s harsh reality of avarice, criminal enterprise, and murder, but by the time he’s concluded his mission, he’ll look quite at home in these newly discovered sordid surroundings and transform into a kind of noir superhero, who’s self-determined purpose is to meet out justice with a vengeance. In addition, there’s an emotional subtext in an unconditional love held by Bigelow’s secretary that makes his demise deeply heartfelt and tragic. 

It arrives on TCM Friday July 10 at 12:15 pm PST (3:15 EST) and is part of the network’s ongoing Summer of Darkness series featuring a plethora of iconic films noir Fridays through the end of July. The schedule can be explored by clicking on the "TCM Summer of Darkness" image. Keep in mind this special program lists all showings at Eastern Standard Time.

 

 

 

 

 

My third TCM recommendation is Hidden Gem #29: Wanda (1970, U.S.A). This ultra realistic and low budget cinéma-vérité character study concerns a drifter on the skids in rural Pennsylvania, who’s inability to cope with harsh circumstances caused her to abandon her husband and children. She wanders aimlessly from bar to bar with little intelligence or common sense. Searching for some kind of guidance or relationship she winds up with a callous criminal, Mr. Dennis (vividly portrayed by Michael Higgins) who treats her like dirt and involves her in the most dangerous of criminal pursuits. Using this kind of despairing material to secure an audience’s interest is extremely risky, but the filmmakers here succeed because of their consummate dedication, attention to detail and highly perceptive exploration of their characters. Although the imagery is gritty, (the film was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm) it’s absorbing and insightful due to its unflinching honesty. The contrast of Wanda dressed in white with her little girlish hairdo against a backdrop of cold, emotionless reality, represented by an environment as dirty as the coal it produces, is mesmerizing. It was written and directed by actress Barbara Loden (Wild River, Splendor in the Grass) who also stars as Wanda. Sadly, it proved to be a “one off” feature-length directorial effort. The actress died of cancer in 1980 at the age of only 48. This is a must see masterpiece and one of the art form's greatest achievements. Wanda will arrive on TCM Wednesday July 15 at 11:15pm PST.

 

 

 

My last three recommendations are all films noir taken from the ‘Summer of Darkness’ series.

After World War II many returning servicemen were disillusioned to find jobs were scarce and their wives’ (or girlfriends’) faithfulness even scarcer. The Best Years of Our Lives addresses this reality head on when the Dana Andrews character finds it impossible to please either his previous employer or trophy wife upon his return to civilian life. The film portrays no crime, the focus is not on Andrews’ experiences alone, and he comes out better off at the end with both a true love and a promising new job, which collectively place this film well outside of noir’s dark and gloomy world.

The 40’s post-war experiences of those struggling to adjust were also a concern of many noir writers and filmmakers. If a noir film was to address the subject of a wife’s infidelity, the storytellers would most likely zero in on the husband’s anguished thoughts and feelings of betrayal, with the resulting drama ramped way up often leading to murder, exemplified in the films The Blue Dahlia, Black Angel and 99 River Street. Typically, but not always, the betrayer’s self-centred, hardened attitude would be gleefully flaunted e.g. “With all my heart, I’m still in love with the man I killed!” as Bette Davis finally admits to husband Herbert Marshall in The Letter.

 

This brings us to my fourth TCM recommendation, 1949’s film noir Tension. Warren Quimby (played to perfection by Richard Basehart) works as a pharmacist which might as well read ‘masochist’ as far as his brutally punishing relationship with wife Claire goes. Claire Quimby is played with relish by one of noir’s greatest femme-fatales, Audrey Totter. Warren, who gives new meaning to the term cuckolded, is tortured so relentlessly by his uncaring and unfaithful wife that when his thoughts turn to the perfect murder, one can’t help but become his cheerleader. This noir pocket-rocket contains explosive twists, enjoyable casting surprises, and is one of the genre’s best kept secrets. Tension can be ‘felt’ on TCM Friday (early morning) July 17 at 4:45 am PST.

 

 

 

 

Then there’s another kind of tale involving a headstrong female, The Narrow Margin. A gangster’s widow is being transported from Chicago to L.A. to testify against the mob who would prefer she arrive dead if at all. Almost all of the action will take place on board a train and contains a whale of story twist that even when you know it’s coming, still surprises big time! Another noir stalwart, actress Marie Windsor, seems so pessimistic it’s as if she doesn’t mind being killed as long as everyone else on board has to finish listening to her whinge about it first. Her choice barbs hurled toward noir veteran Charles McGraw, playing her police escort, are relentless with both characters consistently out doing one another in cynical contempt, much to our delight. The mobsters that want her "silenced" are mostly shrewd and formidable, intensifying the suspense. Director Richard Fleischer (Armored Car Robbery, The Clay Pigeon, Follow Me Quietly) excels in these short and punchy thrill rides and leaves us marveling at his economic, controlled storytelling. This practically perfect noir pulls into the TCM station Friday July 24 at 5pm PST.

 

 

 

Finally there’s Yvonne De Carlo’s Anna Dundee in Robert Siodmak’s brilliant noir 1949’s Criss Cross. The film’s title, which appropriately refers to the plot mechanics, might as well pertain to De Carlo’s character as well because, unlike the previously mentioned noir women, her fidelity seems ambivalent throughout relying perhaps on who she thinks will come out on top. The trouble is ex-husband Steve Thompson (played appropriately weary but resilient by Burt Lancaster) is still carrying the torch and will take some tremendous chances to help her stay safe from her tempestuous new husband Slim (noir’s always reliably slimy Dan Duryea). Steve will go so far as to suggest to Slim’s gang, and participate in, a daring robbery at his workplace simply to excuse his being with Anna when Slim was out of town. This noir bears much similarity in plot and style to another Siodmak triumph with Lancaster, The Killers, made a few years earlier and is similarly abetted by an emotionally infused score by Miklos Rozsa. It will wind its way onto TCM Friday July 31 at 5pm PST.  


Some critics of various noir films have complained about the stories’ lack of realism. To me, the more fantastic narrative developments are often the most enjoyable part! For one thing, it offers the viewer a chance to feel a little better about their own not so sunny circumstances perhaps knowing that someone behind the scenes is aware of their personal hardships and feels some empathy. Plus, many of noir’s more unusual or extremely rare situations make their characters’ journeys so much more engrossing. With an equally heightened attentiveness to match the creative imagination given to these characters’ motives and emotional responses, we watch these noir gems enraptured with an added alertness as to what will happen next. For noir, these often far fetched scenarios their protagonists find themselves in, are so commonplace, they’re practically a prerequisite for the dramatically intense narratives we've come to expect and appreciate in this genre.  

 

TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above film images. For those who live in parts of the U.S. other than the western region, the time zone can be adjusted in the upper right hand corner of the schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

The soundtrack recommendation for July is a newly released compilation of film music taken from a concert held in the Canary Islands, most of which was making its world premiere live performance. Fimucité 6 - Universal Pictures 100th Anniversary Gala is a limited release 2 CD set spanning 81 years of film music created for Universal Studios. This offers a great “one-stop” way to hear a wide variety of various film composers’ most inspired creations and is available at a bargain price to boot. Additionally one will hear over 20 minutes of the late composer James Horner’s fabulous musical contributions. It is available directly from the manufacturer Varese Sarabande who ship internationally. All of the information about this exciting release and ordering information can be seen by clicking on the accompanying image. 

 

 

 

 

 

nancy olson 2.jpg

A Happy Birthday shout out to the lovely and talented actress Nancy Olson, who turns 87 on July 14th. She is probably best known for her portrayal of Betty Schaefer, William Holden’s off-hours writing partner in Sunset Boulevard. Nancy also had important roles (all opposite Holden) in Union Station, Force of Arms, and Submarine Command. She gave additional inspired performances in So Big, Battle Cry, and Pollyanna amongst others.

 

I’ve included a fascinating video from an appearance she made last year in Los Angeles to talk about her career especially her admiration for Sunset Boulevard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My DVD recommendation this month is unusual since it concerns an exclusive Australian release of an American film, which up until a few years ago was thought lost, until being restored and shown at 2012’s Noir City Film Festival. It is 1949’s The Great Gatsby. I have to say that I really enjoy and admire this version. Alan Ladd is perfect as Jay Gatsby in every way, effectively communicating the mystery, ambition and singular romantic obsession the role requires. Less demonstrative in the romance department is Betty Field’s Daisy Buchanan, but her character traits of outspoken self assurance are a refreshing surprise for this interpretation. For golden age film lovers there are additional surprises in the casting of some superb character actors. The screenplay, in part by Richard Maibaum of early James Bond fame, is well written, giving a welcome depth to Gatsby in the flashback scenes. It makes for a fascinating comparison to the 1974 Redford/Farrow, 2001 Stephens/Sorvino and 2013 DiCaprio/Mulligan versions, but for myself this 1949 take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic is the 'greatest' Gatsby of them all. The DVD from Universal/Madman is fully licensed and taken from the recently restored print. Australians so far are the lucky recipients! Information on the DVD can be seen by clicking on the film’s image.

 

A.G.

 

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Images Part 6 (#51 - 60)

I'll continue with some of Cinema's most treasured images bound to invoke a strong emotional response. Like the previous selections, these will be listed in ascending order with #51 as the most iconic. The narratives' indelible moments are the primary reason these captures were selected. 

Read More

Time Out

This orchestra is incredible. I wrote a review of a different concert they did in October of 2013, (See: Treasured Appearances #3) The gorgeously romantic piece performed below is from That Hamilton Woman composed by Miklos Rozsa.

Golden State Pops Orchestra, conducted by Steven Allen Fox. Paul Henning - violin. Varèse Sarabande 35th Anniversary Gala - May 11, 2013. Warner Grand Theatre - San Pedro, California. http://www.GSPO.com

Sterling Silver Dialogue #17

 

Sterling Silver Dialogue From The Movies:  

Do you know where they're from? Answers coming soon.

 

"How tall are you, Yolanda?"
(reply) "With heels or without?"
(response) "With anyone. Me, for instance."
 

 

“Young lady! Are you trying to show contempt for this court?”
(response) “No. I’m doin’ my best to hide it.”

 

(about to gamble at cards) "Is this a game of chance?"
(response) "Not the way I play it, no."

 

 

“I didn’t make disparaging remarks about your steak.  I merely said that I hadn’t seen that old horse you use to keep outside around here lately.”

 

 

“You know I’ve been mad about you from the first time I laid eyes on you. Why, you’re my whole world! What do you want to do, drive me to the mad house?!”
(response) “No. I’ll call you a taxi.”

 

(announcing to several men at a bar) “It’s better to be looked over than overlooked”

 

“Great town St. Louis. You were born there?”
(reply) “Yes”
(response) “What part?”
(reply) “Why, all of me.”

 

"Ruby, I must have you... your golden hair, your fascinating eyes, your alluring smile, and lovely arms..."
(response) "Wait a minute. Is this a proposal, or are ya takin' inventory?"

 

“Are you in town for good?”
(reply) “I expect to be in town but not for good.”

 

 

"What if she's right - he didn't do it, and they give him the chair?"
(response) "Suppose they do? What difference does it make? There's too many people in the world anyway."
(reply) "What's the use of talking to you? You think everything's a joke."
(response) "My son, it is. If it weren't, life wouldn't be worth living."

 

 

(a substitute teacher announcing to his students) "It's gonna be a really tough project. You're gonna have to use your head, your brain, and your mind, too."

 

(to his “fellow” teachers during a meeting) “Those that cannot do, teach. Those that cannot teach, teach gym.”

 

(to his students) "Ok, here's the deal. I have a hangover. Who knows what that means?"
Frankie: "Doesn't that mean you're drunk?"
(teacher's response) "No. It means I was drunk yes-ter-day."

 

 

"What’s your nationality?"
(reply) "I’m a drunkard."

 

 

"Don't talk to me about self-respect. Self-respect is something you tell yourself you've got when you've got nothing else."

 

 

"Well, don't you even say 'Good night'?"
(response) "It's good-bye, and it's tough to say good-bye."
(reply) "Why is it? You've never seen me before tonight."
(response) "Every guy's seen you before somewhere. The trick is to find you."

 

 

"You see, if you make believe hard enough that something is true, then it is true for you."

Exploring the Artifacts #7: Slavko Vorkapich's Golden Lessons Part 3

Slavoljub "Slavko" Vorkapić (March 17, 1894 – October 20, 1976)

Slavko Vorkapich arrived in Hollywood in 1921. He was an actor, painter, film artist, editor and director, but most importantly to movie lovers and students who knew him, a Film Educator.

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End Credits #29: Cinema's 2015 Lost Treasures

I asked guest blogger Bob DiMucci if he would be so kind as to provide another of his informative and entertaining tributes to Lizabeth Scott and her cinematic accomplishments and he's come through like a champ. My sincerest thanks. (A.G.)

Born Emma Matzo in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Scott attended the Alvienne School of the Theatre. There she studied for 18 months, where she resisted attempts by the teachers to pitch her voice higher. During this time, Scott read Maxwell Anderson's "Mary of Scotland," a play about Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, from which she derived the stage name "Elizabeth Scott." She would later drop the "E" from Elizabeth.

Scott appeared in road companies of several productions before, in 1942, landing the position of understudy for Tallulah Bankhead in Thornton Wilder's then new play, "The Skin of Our Teeth." A rivalry developed between Bankhead and Scott, and Scott left the production when Miriam Hopkins was signed to replace Bankhead.

The Films of Lizabeth Scott

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