Favorite Noir

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ken123
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Favorite Noir

Post by ken123 »

What is your favorite Film Noir ? :wink:
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

I always want to answer with Laura but so many tell me it's not a "true" noir. So my back-up answer would be On Dangerous Ground.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

If we're limiting it to just one noir film, then for me it would be:
OUT OF THE PAST featuring a brilliant visual style courtesy of director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, a dense and compelling screenplay by Daniel Manwaring (aka Geoffrey Homes; who also, incidentally, wrote the screenplay for Don Siegel's original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) and, of course, seminal performances by Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. It's a film that improves with each successive viewing. I'm presently up to about 120. (give or take a dozen).
Memo to MissGoddess: LAURA is definitely a film noir and you shouldn't let the self-proclaimed trivia experts on the other site tell you otherwise. ON DANGEROUS GROUND is definitely in my personal Top Ten.
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You say tomato...

Post by benwhowell »

I'm with you MissGoddess. Although I love a good gritty noir ("Kiss Of Death" and "Kiss Me Deadly")-my favorites tend to lean towards a more polished romantic(?) noir..."Double Indemnity," "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Notorious," "High Siera," "Laura" et al...

"How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?"
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

My personal favorite would be Force of Evil (1948).
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

Dewey1960 wrote:If we're limiting it to just one noir film, then for me it would be:
OUT OF THE PAST featuring a brilliant visual style courtesy of director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, a dense and compelling screenplay by Daniel Manwaring (aka Geoffrey Homes; who also, incidentally, wrote the screenplay for Don Siegel's original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) and, of course, seminal performances by Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. It's a film that improves with each successive viewing. I'm presently up to about 120. (give or take a dozen).
Memo to MissGoddess: LAURA is definitely a film noir and you shouldn't let the self-proclaimed trivia experts on the other site tell you otherwise. ON DANGEROUS GROUND is definitely in my personal Top Ten.
Thank you for the reassurance, Dewey----I certainly respect yours and Benny's opinions on these things! Laura it is!
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

Mr. Arkadin wrote:My personal favorite would be Force of Evil (1948).
I had an ex boyfriend who really loved old gangster movies and he'd never seen this one--I told him he had to see it because Garfield's "Joe" reminded me so much of him. I gave him a copy and he's watched it many times, he's actually flattered by the comparison except for how it relfects on his business tactics. Hee!

It's dialogue pacing makes it one of the most unusual and pleasant noirs to listen to.....Garfield, especially, almost recites his lines like poetry....
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Post by MissGoddess »

Dewey---I wanted to add that though I am just too wretched at the end of Out of the Past, each time I see the movie I admire it more and more. I don't know when a role ever fitted Mitchum so well, or when he had better lines.

I just really wish he could have returned to the girl who loved him---I can only recall one other film with her, in a slightly less sympathetic role: Flamingo Road. Would you consider that a film noir?
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

MissGoddess wrote:
Mr. Arkadin wrote:My personal favorite would be Force of Evil (1948).
I had an ex boyfriend who really loved old gangster movies and he'd never seen this one--I told him he had to see it because Garfield's "Joe" reminded me so much of him. I gave him a copy and he's watched it many times, he's actually flattered by the comparison except for how it relfects on his business tactics. Hee!

It's dialogue pacing makes it one of the most unusual and pleasant noirs to listen to.....Garfield, especially, almost recites his lines like poetry....
Yes, I love the music as well. It's a very unique picture.
raftfan
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Post by raftfan »

New member here. Enjoy this site very much.

I'd have to go with "Kiss of Death" and "The Big Combo". Both feature suspenseful, compelling storylines along with tarnished heroes and ruthless villains. True noir. On top of that, I find I can watch both pictures repeatedly without losing interest.

But other goodies are "Cry of the City", "Born to Kill" (was anyone ever as menacing - onscreen and off - as Lawrence Tierney?) and "The Asphalt Jungle".
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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

My favorite has become Gun Crazy, which I watched five times in December and probably another five times earlier in the year. In some respects, it seems odd to like it so much in that some of the typical film noir elements are missing or relatively minor. Most of the action occurs during the day. It is not in the big, dark, scary city. The sets do not scream "I feel claustrophic."

But, for me, those missing elements are overcome by the moral (and sexual) ambiguity of John Dall...and the predatory gleam in Peggy Cummins' eyes. And, I must admit, that not having a major star, director, or studio behind it and that it took years to find an audience enhances its attraction. I enjoy many Joseph H. Lewis movies, but Gun Crazy (and The Big Combo) far surpasses his other work.
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Post by moira finnie »

Welcome raftfan and ChiO! I recently saw Gun Crazy for the first time and now regard it as Lewis' best, even better than The Big Combo (though I've a soft spot for any Richard Conte movie, even that one where he's in the French Foreign Legion, for pity's sake).

One of the many exceptional qualities of Gun Crazy are the performances that Joseph Lewis drew out of John Dall and Peggy Cummins, neither of whom ever matched it. The intensity of their need for each other, the mixture of improvisational scenes such as the bank robbery filmed from the back seat of the car, and the perfect casting of the rest of the movie makes it extraordinary. I think it's the carefully shot, almost stylized scenes (such as the opener with Russ Tamblyn in the rain in front of a pawn shop window and the climax in the swamp), mixed with the seemingly off-the-cuff scenes that also give the movie its verve.

Btw, ChiO, the only scene when I truly had a claustrophobic feeling, as you mentioned, so typical of noir, was when Dall & Cummins are hiding out in the shed during the snowstorm and Dall is starting to come unraveled...until Peggy has her way with him.

Also, though it's not on the same level of work at all, among the repeats of The Rifleman that are currently being shown on The Encore Western Channel are several beautifully done 24 minute stories told with a minimum of production values, but with good actors and finely rendered, believable psychological situations. The best of these are directed by Joseph Lewis.
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raftfan
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Post by raftfan »

Thanks for the welcome, Moira. Again, it is a pleasure to be here.

I forgot about "Gun Crazy", which is inexcusable since I own the DVD. And, yes, I would rank it with "The Big Combo" as a favorite noir. I enjoy those doomed "young fugitives on the run" films that include George Raft and Helen Mack in "All of Me", J. Carrol Naish and Patriucia Morison in "Persons in Hiding", Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney ("You Only Live Once"), Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell (is it just me or did she get cuter as the film progressed?) in "They Live by Night", etc. But for overall atmosphere and one of the the screen's deadliest femme fatales, "Gun Crazy" tops the list.
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Hey there, ChiO, it's great to see you here! I've found your comments on the TCM boards to be most informative and enlightenting; glad you're here! You too, ratfan!
I'd like to echo those sentiments regarding Joseph H. Lewis, an important figure in the history of film noir and B films in particular. Even the films he made for povery row studios (a few East Side Kids films, the classic Lugosi shocker THE INVISIBLE GHOST as well as dozens of westerns and mysteries) bore a certain mark of distinction otherwise not on display from lesser directors. His critical breakout film was MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS, a 1945 Columbia B picture which garnered strong reviews (unusual for a B production in those days) and went on to become a sleeper hit, playing the top slot in many theaters across the country. But of course, it has been GUN CRAZY and THE BIG COMBO, two of the finest noir films ever produced, that have cemented his reputation among cineastes. And for good reason: they've burned themselves into the memory in ways that more "reputable" films could ever hope to. When he was at the top of his game, working with interesting scripts, quality cinematographers and capable performers, he was as good as any of his better known contemporaries. Which says a lot.
Again, welcome ChiO and ratfan; I look forward to chatting up film noir with you!
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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

Thank you for the gracious welcome, Moiria and Dewey. Always happy to watch and read about film noir.

Joseph H. Lewis is an interesting problem for auteurists -- the films are distinctive, but I have some difficulty comparing SECRETS OF A CO-ED with TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN. There probably is a common thematic thread, but I may not have the patience to analyze it. I end up tending to think of him -- probably inaccurately -- as the Michael Curtiz of Poverty Row.

Will MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS ever be available? That's the biggest hole in my Lewis viewing that I want to plug, but there are several others.

I should watch The Rifleman episodes again. The TV episode that I really want to rewatch is the second episode of Branded -- Lewis directed and, of course, Larry Cohen wrote it. I'm confident that it would look differently to me now than it did in 1965.

I am seriously considering spending a week in the Bay Area, say around January 25 - February 3. I'll be the one in a fedora, trenchcoat collar up, humming Good Rockin' Tonight (Roy Brown version).
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