ChiO wrote:Did a little digging relating to the German emigre/German Expressionism impact on American film noir by taking the movies in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, since it is the generally acknowledged standard reference, listed for 1940, 1941, and 1942, the start of the Classic Age, and checking out where the directors and cinematographers were born and where they worked.
The hero’s self-inquisition and nightmare seems more like belated expressionism than film noir; compare this with Michael Redgrave’s putting himself on trial in Secret Beyond the Door (1947), where a similar idea seems less directly a product of German expressionist angst.
RedRiver wrote:..."Movies are about faces. Not scenery." This is no more evident than in Lewis Milestone's RAIN, with Joan Crawford. My thoughts on that visual poem are on another thread!
JackFavell - 7/11/10 wrote:I was trying to think of other nice girls in noir films, but in most noir films, even the nice girls turn out to be not quite so...The victims aren't exactly sweet and lovely either - in Born to Kill .... Isabel Jewell and the wonderful Esther Howard are about as nice as ...well...you fill in the blank. The sister in BTK, played by Audrey Long, is supposed to be sweet and rich, but she comes off a little worse for being in contact with all the sleazy people she is around. I feel the same way about Jeanne Crain in Leave Her to Heaven. Something seems not quite right about her, no matter how good and kind she is supposed to be. They are all tainted by the milieu....
CINEMAVEN: “Escorts were scarce during the war years.”
T-MAVE: “This is 1947.”
kingrat wrote:It’s fascinating to watch the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon (dir. Roy Del Ruth), which lacks the perfection of John Huston’s classic version, but is an enjoyable film in its own right with many points of interest. The 1931 version is both somewhat abbreviated and not quite so well paced. Ricardo Cortez is more of a ladies’ man than Bogart, and the anonymous dame who adjusts her stocking as she exits his office will help you like the way this film opens. Una Merkel is a doll as Effie, Sam Spade’s secretary, smart and sassy, and he’s a dolt for not seeing that she’s the one for him. Thelma Todd is sexier than Gladys George as Iva Archer, and you have to love her line “What’s that dame doing in my kimono?” The way Bebe Daniels takes off the robe and throws it aside is pretty funny, too. No doubts in this pre-Code version that Spade is having an affair with her. Bebe Daniels is prettier and sexier than Mary Astor as Miss Wonderly, but Huston’s version develops the character much more, and Mary Astor gives a marvelous performance. 1931 may have Bebe in the bathtub, but it omits all mention of Brigid O’Shaugnessy.
If you’re wondering how any supporting cast could compete with Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr.—for once, the word “iconic” seems justified--the answer is that the 1931 actors are pretty darn good. Dudley Digges lacks the girth of Greenstreet, but otherwise he’s just right as Gutman. Dwight Frye doesn’t have much screen time as Wilmer, but he’s perfectly cast. His eyes show that the soul within is deeply disturbed. Spade doesn’t taunt Wilmer in this version, but it’s abundantly clear that Gutman and Wilmer are having a sexual relationship. When Gutman says, “I love him like a son,” this is obviously, and amusingly, not the case. Otto Matieson is a fine Joel Cairo, and his appearance in Spade’s office is the scene least changed in Huston’s film. Here Miss Wonderly doesn’t taunt Cairo about the boy in Istanbul, but he’s rather obviously gay. Three gay villains, and none of them exactly stereotyped.
Bogart’s Sam Spade seems less amoral than Cortez but more hard-bitten, a nastier customer but one we care about more. Huston is the better director, but Del Ruth has many nice touches, like Miss Wonderly cheating at solitaire as they wait for the falcon to be delivered.
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