Noir Films

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kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Post by kingrat »

You couldn’t ask for a greater difference in period style than between The Burglar (1955, Paul Wendkos) and The Burglars (1971, Henri Verneuil), both based on the same David Goodis novel, the first with a script by Goodis. They are as far apart in tone and intent as The Maltese Falcon (1931 or 1941) and Satan Met a Lady (1936) or The Letter (1940) and The Unfaithful (1947). Paul Wendkos was an ambitious young director who wanted to make films like Orson Welles and John Huston (The Asphalt Jungle) and various other top directors; his film may be arty and over the top on occasion, but it is passionately meant, with much attention to characterization and to the performances as well as to the unusual camera shots. Dan Duryea carries the film admirably as the man who’s been raised to be a criminal; Martha Vickers makes a welcome appearance; and Jayne Mansfield is pretty darned good as Duryea’s not quite sister. This time there's not much of Jayne's breathless Marilyn imitation, but some real digging into her character. The Philadelphia locals in the supporting roles are good, too.

Henri Verneuil’s The Burglars keeps most of the plot and versions of most of the characters, but I don’t see one thing about it that is noir. Verneuil wants to be a competent craftsman, not Orson Welles, and he certainly is that. This is a caper film, and it has been Bondified. Bright colors, thanks to cinematographer Claude Renoir; lots of gleeful, and occasional leering, references to the greater sexual freedom of the times; the plot is a string on which to set action setpieces; there’s a casualness about the whole notion of plot and meaning; and with the exception of the corrupt cop (Omar Sharif) and the glamorous woman (Dyan Cannon), there is almost no attempt at characterization. Belmondo’s thief is characterized by being played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, and his work as stuntman is more demanding than his work as actor. The not quite fraternal relationship between the thief and the younger woman (Nicole Calfan) is only sketchily mentioned quite late in the game. The film opens with a nearly silent heist sequence (cue the references to The Asphalt Jungle and Rififi) and not long afterward offers up an extended car chase (cue references to Bullitt) through the scenic streets of Athens. We don’t need no stinkin’ characterization.

Make no mistake, The Burglars is well-made popcorn entertainment. Verneuil has a good eye, and there are very few American thrillers of the time as ably crafted as this one. Seeing such films as Juggernaut, Scorpio, Billion Dollar Brain, Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle has led me to believe that the late 60s/early 70s were a bad time for English-language thrillers, with only a few exceptions. Verneuil and Claude Renoir spare us the sludgy browns that usually mark this period of American films. It’s only fair to point out that Omar Sharif is quite entertaining, Dyan Cannon’s sense of irony is as welcome as her good looks, and those like countessdelave’s friend Cheryl who appreciate that men in the 70s wore their pants really tight will appreciate Belmondo’s scenes on the ladder in the grain silo.

Given a choice of which film to watch again, however, it would be the brooding noir of Wendkos and The Burglar.
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movieman1957
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Re: Noir Films

Post by movieman1957 »

Since I couldn't catch up with "The Burglar" I got one that turns up on a list or two from ChiO. "The Lineup" stars Eli Wallach as a man involved in smuggling heroin and this is the story that covers a day of picking up his merchandise.

The first half is a solid if dry kind of docudrama. A cab driver steals a suitcase and runs down a police officer before crashing and killing himself and this sets off the procedural part of the film. Plenty of story in how its investigated alternating between Wallach and his partner making their pick ups. As the day goes on things don't go as planned. This doesn't make Wallach very happy. As things get more out of control he loses his. This builds to a pretty exciting last 30 minutes.

Next to "Vertigo" I imagine very few, if any other, films used San Francisco so well. Plenty of familiar sites from that film help make this one a travelogue. Familiar looking if unremarkable supporting cast also do good work with special work by the little girl who was very good at her part. But it's Wallach that pushes the film. Some interesting camera shots help it along the way.

Oddball highlights include clever exclamation point at the end of the film and that all auto manufacturers are well represented. (There's a new one for you.) Well, in a film world that later had nothing but Fords or Chevys depending on who supplied them in a film it is nice to see all the different kinds of cars.

This is from a Criterion collection. With this month on TCM highlighting noir films host Eddie Muller also provides the commentary on the disc.

Finally, something I enjoyed. It may not be great but it is pretty good and worth checking out. (Sure beat the hell out of "Murder By Contract" for me.) Enjoy.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
clore
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Re: Noir Films

Post by clore »

The director of The Lineup, Don Siegel, would return to San Francisco for Dirty Harry. Apparently on the second film, he ran into a beat cop who wasn't too impressed by the Hollywood crowd. They had words while Siegel was shooting The Lineup, and when they ran into each other again over a decade later, the cop commented that "I knew you weren't going to go far" or words to that effect.

I love the goof that is made when Wallach is given an address as "9020 Jackson" while on the phone and then he walks to the car and tells the driver to take him to "2090 Jackson." He's supposed to be a guy who never makes a mistake.

As for you comments about the cars used in films, it always get me while I'm watching the series Naked City on Me-TV. Everybody, including the police and cabbies, drives a Pontiac. I've lived in NYC for all of my 61 years and have never seen a Pontiac used by the police or in a taxi fleet.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

I wonder who sponsored the show. Pontiac?
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Rita Hayworth »

Tonight on TCM

July 21st ...

11:15 PM
All Times are Eastern ...

Double Indemnity (1944)

An insurance salesman gets seduced into plotting a client's death.
Dir: Billy Wilder Cast: Fred MacMurray , Barbara Stanwyck , Edward G. Robinson.

I will be definitely be watching this classic again ...
clore
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Re: Noir Films

Post by clore »

RedRiver wrote:I wonder who sponsored the show. Pontiac?
I only saw a few of them when it originally aired, but as we owned a Pontiac, I would have noticed if they were the sponsor. Probably just a case of "promotional consideration provided by..."

I do recall Pontiac sponsoring Our Man Higgins and the Victor Borge specials during the same period on the same network - ABC.

I did consider the possibility that Pontiac was requested to supply the cars just so the cars would not be confused with real police vehicles as they were filming on NYC streets. Car 54 supposedly had to use a different color scheme than the green-black-white coloring of police cars in the early 60s.

Here's a vintage NYC patrol car which was black up front, the rest of the body other than the roof and the trunk (which were white) was green:

Image
Western Guy
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Western Guy »

Erik, I'm with you all the way! Even though I own the DVD, DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of those few films I'll watch every time it's broadcast. They play it frequently on our Encore channel, and rarely do I miss a showing. Simply a film I never tire of.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

It's one of the very, very best. As much as I like OUT OF THE PAST and MALTESE FALCON, this is our great crime drama. "And that was when you came in, Keyes."
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Vienna
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Vienna »

I too love Double indemnity. It really is perfect.
I was never a Fred MacMurray fan but he was so good as Walter Neff. But I wonder if he was first choice - he had never done anything like this before. Inspired casting.
Of course Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G Robinson were terrific. And Billy Wilder at the helm.
clore
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Re: Noir Films

Post by clore »

Vienna wrote:I too love Double indemnity. It really is perfect.
I was never a Fred MacMurray fan but he was so good as Walter Neff. But I wonder if he was first choice - he had never done anything like this before. Inspired casting.
Dick Powell lobbied for the part, but couldn't convince the powers-that-be that he was up to it. Later that same year, he would show it, but he had to move to RKO for Murder, My Sweet.

Wilder was trying to convince George Raft to do it, but when Raft wanted to change the script to have him flash a badge, showing that Neff was an undercover man out to trap Phyllis, Wilder knew that he was dealing with a clueless actor.
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Rita Hayworth »

Vienna wrote:I too love Double indemnity. It really is perfect.
I was never a Fred MacMurray fan but he was so good as Walter Neff. But I wonder if he was first choice - he had never done anything like this before. Inspired casting.
Of course Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G Robinson were terrific. And Billy Wilder at the helm.
Man, you said it just right on the nose Vienna!
Western Guy wrote:Erik, I'm with you all the way! Even though I own the DVD, DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of those few films I'll watch every time it's broadcast. They play it frequently on our Encore channel, and rarely do I miss a showing. Simply a film I never tire of.
Same Here, and a different meaning each time I watch it ... it is that good of a film ... the trio of MacMurray, Robinson, and Stanwyck is hard to beat.
RedRiver wrote:It's one of the very, very best. As much as I like OUT OF THE PAST and MALTESE FALCON, this is our great crime drama. "And that was when you came in, Keyes."
You got that right Red River!!!
clore wrote:
Dick Powell lobbied for the part, but couldn't convince the powers-that-be that he was up to it. Later that same year, he would show it, but he had to move to RKO for Murder, My Sweet.

Wilder was trying to convince George Raft to do it, but when Raft wanted to change the script to have him flash a badge, showing that Neff was an undercover man out to trap Phyllis, Wilder knew that he was dealing with a clueless actor.
I did not know this at all ... thanks for the heads up Clore!




From Erik aka Rita Hayworth ...

I never, ever get tired of this film and its one of the best film noirs that ever came out ... the trio of these three superstars here is hard to beat and I just loved the pace of the film and its a real popcorn eater ... I just wanted to share this to all of you here. I just ordered a DVD from TCM.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

Raft wanted to change the script to have him flash a badge, showing that Neff was an undercover man

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Can you imagine what James M. Cain would have thought of that?
The Ingenue
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Re: Noir Films

Post by The Ingenue »

Maybe I'm showing off my ignorance, but... Why is it dumb? It would have changed the story, sure. But Raft just wanted to be liked.

Maybe I should have had my name changed to The Bleeding Heart.
Western Guy
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Western Guy »

Well, as we all know George Raft was tired of playing hoods and baddies and once he left Warners (finishing his work at the studio as a G-man in BACKGROUND TO DANGER) he pretty much made it clear he wanted to play on the side of the law in future film outings, which he pretty much did until ROGUE COP. Some of his characters had shades of gray, such as in RACE STREET, but overall he was playing the hero. He actually believed that Walter Neff would reveal himself to be an undercover detective in DOUBLE INDEMNITY (obviously not being familiar with the source material). BTW: He had Billy Wilder read him the script. Apparently he was growing impatient listening to the story, waiting for the "big reveal". As Wilder later stated after Raft vetoed the role because Neff was a "heel", "That was when I knew we had a good film."

Anyhoo, animosity was still fresh between Raft and Eddie Robinson following their fisticuffs on the set of MANPOWER. Don't know if Eddie had been cast at the time Wilder presented the role to Raft - or, if he had, if George knew it - but I think that one or the other would have bowed out of the film knowing of the other's involvement in the project. They remained distant from each other until A BULLET FOR JOEY 14 years later. Tony Curtis later said that the reason Eddie rejected the role of Little Bonaparte in SOME LIKE IT HOT was because Raft was in the movie, but the two men had mended their rift by then and actually became quite friendly.

Another btw: Fred MacMurray reciprocated the "favor" when he turned down the lead role of Tony Angelo in NOB HILL, which then went to Raft. Not exactly an equal favor since, outside of the fact that NOB HILL was George's first Technicolor picture, it is a pretty colorless movie - which Fred obviously must have recognized.
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Rita Hayworth »

Interesting Reading Material ... Westen Guy!
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