Noir Films

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RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

I also recommend both Cain thrillers, but if you choose only one, go with "Postman." If anything, MILDRED PIERCE may be better than either of them. But that's a different kind of novel.
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Thanks for the info, I still haven't gotten to the library yet.
Western Guy
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Re: Noir Films

Post by Western Guy »

. . . And I'm getting dreamy over that photo of Cathy O' . . .
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

That really is one of the great crime dramas. It's so un-Hollywood it's often left out of the discussion of noir classics. Ironic, as that's what makes it so good!
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

With his fifth feature film, STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944), Anthony Mann dipped his toe into film noir.

Johnny gets a back injury during WWII and is being sent home. He wants to stop in Monteflores, California, to meet the female pen pal, Rosemary Blake, who has been keeping his spirit high. Meanwhile, back in Monteflores, Hilda Blake, Rosemary's mother, is talking to a large portrait of her beautiful daughter and expressing her joy that Johnny is coming to see her. Hilda's friend, companion and Gal Friday, Ivy, has concerns. The new doctor in town, the lovely Leslie Ross ("With all of the men being taken off, we women have to learn to get along."), pays Hilda an unannounced visit and is tersely sent on her way.

Meanwhile, back on the train to Monteflores, Johnny and Leslie meet by chance. As he's about to tell her about Rosemary, the train derails. Johnny sees Leslie in action tending to the injured and is mightily impressed. They're given a ride to Monteflores.

Johnny is greatly disappointed to that Rosemary is not at home, and both Hilda and Ivy are vague as to her expected arrival. Johnny is impressed by the portrait and thinks he recognizes the painter's technique (he, don't you know, studied painting in San Francisco before going overseas). He tells Hilda that he's fallen in love with Leslie, but wants to tell that to Rosemary. Suddenly realizing that the portrait painter is someone he studied with, Johnny goes off to San Francisco to see if the painter can tell him about her and where she may be. Hilda is angry. Ivy is visibly shaken. Ivy puts a letter to Leslie in the mailbox explaining the circumstances, but Hilda intercepts the letter. Now she's really angry...and poisons Ivy.

Leslie and Johnny come to the house. At the end of the driveway, Johnny almost falls down the cliff. The guard rail has been cut! Hilda is staring at Rosemary's portrait. She hears a scream. She calmly calls the police to report a horrible accident. Johnny and Leslie walk in...and now they know -- Rosemary is a figment of Hilda's demented mind! Hilda created her out of grief for being unable to bear a child. Hilda looks at the portrait...it falls onto her...she's dead. And Johnny and Leslie stare at the back of the portrait. THE END

Mann packs quite a bit into 56 minutes and, as a result, quite a bit is also left out. No time for serious exposition...gotta keep moving. There are moments of the Mann to come, especially in the poisoning scene. Very dark, shadows in the background, shot from the floor through the posts on the bed's footboard. But it will take another 3 years (1947) for Mann to start to hit his noir stride - DESPERATE, RAILROADED! and T-MEN (the latter with his partner-in-noir-arms, John Alton).

And no man in agony (unless Johnny's grimace when examined for his back injury counts).
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Who's in it, ChiO? Is this a B picture?
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

56 minutes + Republic Studio = B-movie

Johnny - William Terry
Leslie - Virginia Grey
Hilda - Helene Thimig
Ivy - Edith Barrett

If one looks at the "Cast" on IMDb, nary a one has a photograph to go with a name.

That's B!

The cinematography was Reggie Lanning (I take some pride in knowing cinematographers, but when I saw his name, I thought "Who?"). About 120 feature film credits and they all look like Bs with a couple of non-Bs that screamed out: THE CAMERAMAN (1928) - his first cinematographer's credit - and SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949).
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Post by kingrat »

Guess I didn't get around to posting about NIGHTFALL before leaving on vacation, although what I mostly wanted to say was "Wow!" and "Thank you, ChiO, for urging us to see this stylish film." Early on there's a gaping plot hole, as there's no reason why the bad guys would need to use Anne Bancroft to trap our hero (or how they met her or what she thought she was doing, etc.), but that doesn't seem to matter compared with the great shot where we see the two thugs moving in on our hapless and unaware hero. "Run, your noir nightmare is about to enter a new phase!"
clore
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New York Confidential

Post by clore »

The credits come on and one is really set up for something good. Broderick Crawford, Richard Conte, Anne Bancroft, Onslow Stevens, Marilyn Maxwell, J. Carroll Naish, Barry Kelley, Tom Powers, Mike Mazurki, Celia Lovsky...

The film starts with location footage and the stentorian tones of a narrator so you figure you're going to get something along the lines of one of those De Rochemont docudramas or at least a cheapie along the lines of Conte's The Sleeping City which was shot on location here in NYC.

No, soon we're on the Goldwyn lot which wouldn't be bad if there were some creative angles or lighting. But no, individual scenes are all harshly lit except for a fist fight when they needed to hide the stunt men (not very well either). Also, there are no dissolves, all scenes end with a fade to black and you half expect to see a commercial.

The story structure is no better - two major characters are just written out with no drama to punctuate the exits. The story in itself is promising enough, with hit man Conte imported from Chicago and recruited to remain with Crawford's mob after he neatly disposes of some upstart who causes headlines which "the syndicate" would prefer to avoid.

Crawford's daughter Bancroft seems to be falling for Conte, but that goes nowhere. Crawford's girl Marilyn Maxwell is definitely falling for Conte, but that goes nowhere, but hey, at least now the subtext folks have something to read into it. All I saw there was poor writing.

Conte's character is fairly bright it seems, then Bancroft uses the word "penchant" and he seems dumbfounded. That reversal happens again at the end of the film, but I won't reveal in what manner. Crawford keeps telling Conte he's brighter than all the other "pigs" he has in his employ who can't even spell their own names. So then, how has Crawford managed to head the East Coast mob and hold off trouble for 20 years if everyone working for him is an idiot? By the way, you will never hear the word "pigs" used so often in 87 minutes unless you're at a hog-calling contest.

Worth watching to see so many familiar faces in one film, but as to whether it's worth watching again is another matter. If I do, it won't be soon.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

NIGHTFALL is a thrilling drama by the great Jacques Tourneur. There's another thread where the book is mentioned. It's one of David Goodis' dark crime stories.
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

I like Nightfall, I think it's terribly underrated. Gotta love a noir film with a fashion show!
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

Oh, this could go in the "Sci-fi and Horror" category, but given its similarity to THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL (Stuart Heisler 1941) shown this year by Dewey at the Roxie, DR. RENAULT'S SECRET (Harry Lachman 1942) gets placed here, too.

Dr. Forbes (Shepperd Strudwick) is stuck at an inn...at night...during a storm...while on his way to visit his fiancee, Madelon Renault (Lynne Roberts). He is met there by Noel (J. Carrol Naish), the ape-like manservant of Dr. Renault (George Zucco), with whom Madelon lives. Also on hand is Dr. Renault's ape-like gardener, an ex-con, Rogell (Mike Mazurki). Noel gets into a fight relating to a perceived insult toward Madelon made by a drunk. Just before going to bed, Dr. Forbes flashes some money, which catches Rogell's eyes. When Dr. Forbes goes to his room, he finds the drunk passed out in it, so he goes to what was to be the drunk's room. During the night, the drunk is strangled...but his money was not taken. Was he the intended victim? Or, was it Dr. Forbes? Did Rogell do it (after all he's an ex-con)? Or, was it....

Off the next morning to the Renault house where Dr. Renault conducts experiments involving apes. Can you guess where this is going? Let's just say that there's a medical reason that Noel has such ape-like features. After displays of strength and anger by both Noel and Rogell, Rogell decides to kidnap Madelon for a ransom. Noel follows and there's a battle in an old mill. Noel is able to strangle Rogell and toss him into the river...saving Madelon...just before he succumbs to the fatal bullet fired by Rogell.

Complain about the lack of originality in today's movies all you want -- here 20th Century Fox borrowed heavily one year after Paramount made nearly the same movie (but for the ape-to-man vs. man-to-ape distinction) and tosses in the obvious FRANKENSTEIN, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, KING KONG and goodness-knows-what-else references. But, be that as it may, it is still entertaining, especially the performances of Naish and Mazurki (who is, amazingly, uncredited).
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Sounds great, ChiO! But I am still trying to figure out how it's possible for J. Carrol Naish to pick up Mike Mazurki and throw him over a cliff.
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

Leverage, Grasshopper, leverage.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

"A judo...chop-chop!"
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