Film Noir

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Postby Hydebound » Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:15 am

You've got a point there, Slade. It is easier to be drawn into the world of Noir when there are not a lot of overly familiar faces reminding you that they are just pretending to be lonely, desperate, doomed, etc.. An exception occurs for me when a familiar star plays against type, like Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Dick Powell in MURDER, MY SWEET, and one example we haven't discussed yet: Irving Pichel's somewhat obscure 1947 THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME!, starring Robert (Marcus Welby) Young as a murderer on trial for a murder he DIDN'T commit. The "twist" ending is easily anticipated but logical, heavily ironic and very satisfying. See it if you can find it.
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Postby Judy » Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:40 pm

Hydebound wrote:You've got a point there, Slade. It is easier to be drawn into the world of Noir when there are not a lot of overly familiar faces reminding you that they are just pretending to be lonely, desperate, doomed, etc.. An exception occurs for me when a familiar star plays against type, like Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Dick Powell in MURDER, MY SWEET, and one example we haven't discussed yet: Irving Pichel's somewhat obscure 1947 THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME!, starring Robert (Marcus Welby) Young as a murderer on trial for a murder he DIDN'T commit. The "twist" ending is easily anticipated but logical, heavily ironic and very satisfying. See it if you can find it.


I don't necessarily agree with that idea HB . . . one of my favorite movies that I consider "film noir" was CHINATOWN with Jack Nicholson - he was also in the remake of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" playing the part done by John Garfield in the 1946 version. And I didn't have any trouble getting into the storyline . . .
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Postby Hydebound » Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:27 am

Judy, I can't argue with you; CHINATOWN is definitely Noir and unquestionably one of the greats. The ASPHALT JUNGLE is a great film too. Any film must overcome the familiarity of its stars to draw the viewer into its "reality", and people can still be devastated by the end of CHINATOWN even if they are well aware that one particular star is still alive in the real world. I just meant that it's easier to suspend disbelief when the characters are not familiar outside the film in which they appear. That's just my own perspective; I think Slade was talking about the passion and personal vision that comes through in low-budget, non-studio work.
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Postby Hydebound » Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:13 am

A WOMAN'S FACE. This 1941 George Cukor near-masterpiece is a sort of Noir/Women's Picture hybrid, starring Joan Crawford in one of her greatest roles as a bitter, scarred blackmailer who struggles to reform after compassionate doctor Melvyn Douglas repairs her face. Most of the film is told in flashback, related by testimony at Joan's murder trial after an impeccably sinister Conrad Veidt (one of my all-time favorite screen villains in this) embroils her in a plot to kill his four-year-old cousin for an inheritance. If that isn't Noir, I don't know what is.

Potent melodrama and gripping suspense are blended here, along with a rousing nail-biter of a sleigh chase (not something you see every day) to save the child's life. This is just great stuff; see it if you can. Here's the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqdJ-MixyoU
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Postby Slade » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:27 am

Hydebound,

It might be hard to find, but you must - I repeat, must - track down the British PI show VINCENT. It's definitely Film Noir, with all the elements in spades.

There were eight episodes in 2005, 2006. I've seen the first four, and was hooked right from the start. Read the reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Vincent-TV-Ray-Wi ... B000PC6YQ2

Ray Winstone is one of those guys who's been around forever, check out the list...

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935653/

...but you never know his name. Man, is he ever good. A tough, sarcastic street fighter, who can also really emote.

The writing is terrific. One of his female operatives has a thing for him. She and a male operative are doing back-up, watching, as Vincent goes undercover with a femme fatale.

She: "Do you think he'll sleep with the suspect?"

He (shrugs).

She, bitter at both the set-up and the double standard: "If I did that, what would that make me?"

He, pausing: "A lesbian?"

You have to see the delivery, but you get the idea.

Slade
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Postby Hydebound » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:42 am

I just looked up Winstone the other day; it seems like everybody's suddenly talking about him after all this time. if VINCENT is on DVD I can probably get it. Portland is home to Movie Madness, the best video store I have found anywhere. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have a lot of British TV to catch up on.
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Postby Judy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:30 pm

No fair you guys . . . Slade - you're doing it again . . . I'll have to check this out with Netflix now :wink: and I have such a backlog of books to read . . . I really have to organize my time . . . just to get caught up with all these movies and TV shows you keep telling me about . . . :shock: :lol:
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Postby Hydebound » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:20 pm

Judy, have you read Anthony Boucher's Fergus O'Breen mysteries? Seriously, loading you down with books is not the purpose of this thread. Movies, on the other hand... Let me know if you find A WOMAN'S FACE.
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Postby Hydebound » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:53 am

Hey, what's going on here? This topic is far from exhausted, so where did everybody go? We haven't even discussed THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS! It's B/W cinematography and razor-edged dialogue have never been topped.

You can watch the whole film on Youtube, starting here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr2BYWHSoU4
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Postby Brad Smith » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:23 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr_Moto

I just spent all last week watching all of eight of the Peter Lorre Mr. Moto films; many of these films I haven't seen two decades or so and only one of them--Mr. Moto's Last Warning--was released on DVD (it's the only film in the series in public domain).

However, Fox digitally restored all of the Moto films, along with the Charlie Chan films, a few years ago. It's amazing to watch these movies again, after all this time.

The Moto films were quite different that the Chan series, due to Moto's nature. Moto Kentaro was a morally gray character and a very dangerous foe, if necessary. In a number of films, if Moto fought someone with a knife, he would viciously stab his opponent several times; he wasn't above threats or blackmail. Moto could be genial and polite one minute, dark and menacing the next.

Chan he wasn't.

He was a martial artist, adept at jiu-jitsu and a crack shot. A master of disguise.

Whereas Charlie Chan dispensed wisdom and did a lot of detective work, the Moto films are filled with fights, chases and Moto playing mind games with friend and foe alike.

Everyone knew Chan and his brood.

Moto was always a mystery.

If you haven't seen the Moto films, check them out.
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Postby Slade » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:08 am

Brad,

I remember Mr. Moto, too. Peter Lorre was such a strange looking fellow:

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4155544064/tt0029660

http://www.eviltwin.velvetsofa.com/Lorre/peter.html
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Postby Brad Smith » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:51 am

Which was one of the reasons why Lorre had been cast in the role. His past screen roles as sinister characters--including his role in M--was perfect for the decision to make Moto a somewhat shadowy protagonist. And, Lorre was perfect for the role.

Lorre's ability to seamlessly make Moto genial and timid one moment then threatening and frightening the next . . . I love watching a genius at work.

Of course, Lorre wasn't fond of the pictures, even though they made him a star. He was always in pain, due to various ailments, and battling his morphine addiction at the same time; he'd sustained a number of injuries during the series' course. He also felt that the Moto films weren't serious and that films should focus more on Hitler and the rise of Nazism.

The films are fun to watch, if only for Lorre's performance. A few of them were originally Charlie Chan films--notably, Mr. Moto's Gamble--but rewritten to fit the Moto formula.

Along with Basil Rathbourne's first two Holmes films, the Moto films are my favorites from that Hollywood era. I hope some of you will check them out.

One more thing:

In the 1960s, British filmmakers tried to bring back Moto, with Henry Silva in the title role. The Return of Mr. Moto is included in Volume 2. I watched it, because i do like Silva and his commentary track is fun to hear.

Beyond that, the movie's a James Bond wannabe.
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Postby Hydebound » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:09 am

Brad, thanks for the info on Moto and especially the personal stuff on Lorre, one of the greatest character actors to ever grace the screen, and surely one of the easiest to imitate. I remember an actor who billed himself as "Peter Lorre, Jr." who apparently had no relation to the original whatsoever. I wonder what that was all about.

I will definitely seek out the Moto films. Our library might have them, or the aforementioned Movie Madness.

And thanks for getting this thread going again.
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Postby Brad Smith » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:00 am

My pleasure.

I do remember a "Peter Lorre, Jr." and, of course, he wasn't Lorre's son.

It's been said that when Vincent Price and Lorre attended Bela Lugosi's funeral, Lorre allegedly asked Price, "Should we drive a stake thru his heart . . . just to make sure?"

I hope you do watch the Moto films. Let me know what you think.
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Postby Slade » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:48 pm

Hydebound,

Have you seen THE NARROW MARGIN (1952)? It stars Charles McGraw - who is surely the ultimate tough guy...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Narrow_Margin

...and Marie Windsor.

Note: Charles McGraw died, aged 66, after slipping and falling through a glass shower door in his home in 1980.

A number of critics say it's the best B-film ever made, and the commentary track by William Friedkin (THE EXORCIST, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.) is almost a text on Film Noir.

Slade
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