Showing posts with label noir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label noir. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2019

Noir City Austin - Day 3 "Nightfall" (1957) & "Murder By Contract" (1958)






First, I forgot to mention that on Day 2, the TCM Backlot Austin Chapter met up at Noir City and grabbed a picture, and you'll see me awkwardly standing in the back.  Thanks to Jane, et al, for organizing.

Next: Upfront, I'll tell you, I only saw two of the four films on Day 3 of Noir City Austin.  This is not due to film programming, venue or any of that. I just had stuff I needed to go do as the coming week of work/life is set to be  busy one.  So, I was able to see the first two films shown on Sunday.

Noir City Austin continued exploring the 1950's, and by the late 1950's, the differences in style of dress, attitude and film-making choices between the first film shown on Friday night from '49 and by the time we hit boom-time/ post-Korea America in '57, a lot has shifted.  Hell, men aren't even wearing hats as a required feature.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Noir City Austin - Day 2: "City That Never Sleeps" (1953) & "Private Hell 36" (1954)






Watched:  05/18/2019
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Long ago I had purchased tickets to see a baseball game in the evening, so I was only scheduled to see two films for Noir City Austin, Day 2.

The theme for 2019 was a follow up on 2018, which was Noir in the 1940's, year-by-year.  This 10 film cycle was tracing noir as we left the 1940's and how and why the films changed as we hit the 1950's as cultural issues crept into the films and television competed with the big screen and informed the lives of characters on screen.  And, by the mid-to-late 1950's, began influencing how movies were shot so they'd work on the television sets of the era as Hollywood looked to cash in on the secondary income stream.

Noir City Austin - Day 1 - "Trapped" (1949) and "The Turning Point" (1952)




Viewed:  05/17/2019
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  First for both
Decade:  1940's/ 1950's

Eddie Muller is back in Bat City for Noir City Austin, our annual showing of films I'd never find on my own, and always can't believe the gold Muller is able to surface.   Muller isn't just host of TCM's Noir Alley weekly dose of crime, implied sex and moral gray areas - he's also head of the Film Noir Foundation.  Proceeds from the festival and merch sales go back to the FNF, who, in turn use the money to rescue films from obscurity and eventual loss.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Noir Watch: Nightmare Alley (1947)


Watched:  05/12/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

I remember reading that film-reviewer Pauline Kael made it a rule to only ever watch a film once - maybe a practicality of her business, maybe a personal quirk (as in all things, it's only mostly true).  I think about this a lot, because - as anyone who has followed the blog or PodCast knows - I find returning to movies fascinating, both to see what my now-brain thinks of a movie versus what I thought of it then, and because of how those differences reflect on your own experience, making films something all the more personal.

I saw Nightmare Alley (1947) about four years ago, and I remembered thinking it was good - but not really clicking to it in particular.  But on this viewing, despite the fact I remembered the film fairly well, it just reached out and hit me over the head.  This is a brilliant, wonderfully crafted movie, tackling deeply sensitive material and plowing right through, and getting away with it like the low-level conman who inserts himself with the right clothes and patter - the movie sure looks like a morality tale and crime movie, while questioning the nature of anyone selling you salvation, spiritual insight or deep insight into your own psyche. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Noir Watch: 99 River Street (1953)



Watched:  04/18/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1950's

I've written up 99 River Street (1953) once before, and watched it something like 1.5 times before, but I genuinely really like this movie.  Starring John Payne as a former champion boxer, now a cab driver - he's trying to adjust to a world of broken dreams and settle in with the dishy blonde he married at the height of his fighting days when he finds her cheating on him.

In a twist of just insanely bad timing,* a pal - Evelyn Keyes - lures him to a theater to show the body of a man she accidentally killed when he tried to #MeToo her during an audition.  Just to make matters worse, the guy Payne's wife is running around with is a jewel thief who just heisted $50K in diamonds.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Noir Watch: Border Incident (1949)


Watched:  04/08/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

...so...

We've essentially not only just *not* made any progress on how we deal with our border with our Southern neighbor since the release of this film in 1949, but we're now actively and intentionally worse about how all of this works.

Border Incident (1949) follows law enforcement working together from both the Mexican and American governments, seeking not to punish the braceros crossing illegally so much as to stop the exploitation and criminal behavior of the coyotes, who use the undocumented status of their victims to exploit them for terribly low wages, awful living conditions and potentially violent treatment.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Noir Watch: His Kind of Woman (1951)


Watched:  03/23/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's

If you're looking for a fun, kinda-noirish movie with a great sense of humor and a bit of sexiness, action and character, you can do a lot worse than His Kind of Woman (1951).

Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and a terrifically camp-tastic Vincent Price - the movie also features a few other notables.  Charles McGraw, Raymond Burr, Jim Backus and Marjorie Reynolds also show up as various antagonists.

Mitchum plays a small-time hood who is given a wad of cash and sent to a really nice Mexican resort where he's supposed to just wait for further instruction, no matter how long it takes.  En route he meets Jane Russell, a society gal-turned-chanteuse, who - as would happen - draws Mitchum's eye.  Russell is there to meet up with her actor boyfriend, Price.  For a bit there's a tad of Casablanca as Mitchum wanders around trying to figure out who is who and what's going on and a few colorful characters drift in and out of the scenes. 

I don't want to spoil the plot, but it is.... goofy.  But it's fun.  And Russell is... well, there's a reason we're still pondering Russell seventy years after the fact.

Weirdly, I didn't really remember the ending of the movie which is insane.  Muller's story about the making of the film explained a ton (Howard Hughes, y'all), but it does make for a crazy series of events that doesn't really match the first half, tonally, but does match up narratively.

Give it a shot!  It's a hoot and Vincent Price is hysterical.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Noir-ish Watch: High Sierra (1941)



Watched:  03/21/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  at least fourth
Decade:  1940's

I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick.  Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon.  And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest.  And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Noir Watch: D.O.A. (1949)


Watched:  03/13/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

You know how sometimes you hear about the premise of a movie and you write the whole thing in your head in about 5 seconds?  I mean, I'm often wrong, and I find that really nice, but other times the movie wraps and you say "that is exactly what I thought it was going to be"  And even that isn't all bad.  But that's more or less why I never bothered seeing this film, and, here we are, and I am reporting out that D.O.A. (1949) was more or less exactly what I expected it was going to be.

A fun ride, yes, and... no - I didn't guess every twist and turn (who could?), but "sounds like a dude running around trying to figure stuff out as he tries to beat the clock" - done in one, mi amigos.  What I wasn't anticipating was the weird tone of the film which, alone, kind of makes it worth a peek.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Noir Watch: Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)



Watched:  02/26/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1990's

I'd intended to see Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) during it's theatrical run, and I don't really know how I didn't.  It was a wide release and ran for a bit.  In the intervening years I've watched more noir of the original era, not necessarily watching what came out as noir and neo-noir at the theater.*  The 90's and 00's saw a fair number of mid-century crime and costume dramas and glossy neo-noir films that I think a lot of folks today see in their mind's eye more than actual films of the original noir era.  Some of the films were pretty good (I love LA Confidential), others were less so (I really struggled with The Black Dahlia).

There's a lot to recommend Devil in a Blue Dress, even if it feels like writer/ director Carl Franklin was more intent on establishing a string of movies based on the protagonist's exploits than he was in actually getting into the why's and wherefore's of the story's central mystery.  It's one of the extremely rare Black-focused noir films, and does a phenomenal job of world building, leaning on familiar noir tropes and giving us new spin based on the Black experience of mid-Century LA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Noir Watch: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)


Watched:  02/25/2019
Format:  BluRay from Kino Lorber
Viewing:  first
Decade:  1950's

I told myself that this year I was going to watch all of the films I could obtain which were directed by Ms. Ida Lupino.

I primarily know Ida Lupino as an actor who sort of radiates a certain razor sharp intellect in roles as hero or villain, whether she's vicious or kind.  She's up there in my list of actors whose films I'll give a go even if the movie isn't to my taste.*

But as she is not *in* the movies she directs (understandably), I've not gotten around to seeing what she did standing behind the lens (less understandably).  Of the films, the most famous is likely the 1953 noir thriller, The Hitch-Hiker, which I recently picked up as a BluRay edition released by Kino Lorber, made from a restoration print struck at the Library of Congress.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine's Day Watch: Coffy (1973)


Watched:  02/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Jamie and I went out for a lovely dinner for Valentine's Day, followed by catching up on Star Trek: Discovery, and then - somehow - I wound up watching this movie, and I think for the fashion choices alone, Jamie didn't object.  I thought I'd previously seen Coffy (1973) when I started it - because it's currently streaming free to Amazon Prime subscribers, and, I didn't intend to actually watch it.  But I hadn't seen it and the next thing I knew I was an hour in.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Noir Watch: The Burglar (1957)


watched:  02/08/2019
format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
viewing:  first
decade:  1950's

I recently read the David Goodis novel, which Goodis himself adapted as a screenplay for The Burglar (1957).  Surprise: the book is better.  An existential noir thriller that *really* piles on Goodis' weirdness with women, the book is singularly bleak piece of fiction that, honestly, would probably not work terribly well as a film (the ending would be, also, logistically unfilmable in 1957*).

The movie hits a lot of the same beats and maintains the motivations of the book, but it's just not as well fleshed out, and they clearly were worried about the audience getting lost along the way so they're more concrete in trying to state the vague mess of issues plaguing Duryea's titular burglar. 

Jayne Mansfield is about as far from the Gladden on the novel as one could get in personality and build, but it does shake up the mix a bit and puts a point on the creeping sexual stress as the story shows up on the screen - it's simply different from the frail, skinny girl of the novel.

There's some terrific imagery and cinematography in the film, and pitch perfect noir-esque build of sweaty claustrophobia once the game is revealed, all of which is mind-boggling, as this was the director's first time out (Paul Wendkos, who went on to make Gidget movies!), and a DP who, really, doesn't show much on his filmography to show how he got to this point. 

Honestly, I think they cut too much from the book to give the other burglars any real personality or show why Duryea's character is so wound up, but it's still basically intact, and as a B picture, it's got some good stuff going for it. 


*it involves a lot of stuff of people swimming in the choppy Atlantic.  Sort of.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Noir Watch: The Stranger (1946)


Watched:  02/04/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR (Noir Alley from months ago)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

This is an oddball one to slot in with noir in some ways - but I think it fits.  It's just sort of a weird set-up to have your antagonist of the film a Nazi war criminal.

I really don't want to say too much or give too much away - I really didn't know much going into The Stranger (1946), and if you've not yet seen it - try not to learn too much and go give it a shot.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

PODCAST: Noir Watch: "The Long Goodbye" (1973) - w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  02/01/2019
Format:  Kino Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Simon and Ryan delve into Film Noir via Neo-Noir, Altman-directed entry "The Long Goodbye" (1973), an oddball of a film with a lot to offer. We explore the role of Philip Marlowe in the world of fiction, some of the mechanics of noir, and whether or not any of this actually works as a movie.




Music:

The Long Goodbye - Music by John Williams/ Lyrics by Johnny Mercer/ performed by Jack Sheldon

Links:

For more about The Signal Watch PodCast
The Signal Watch Patreon

Friday, January 25, 2019

Noir Watch: Murder, My Sweet (1944)


Watched:  01/25/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  4th
Decade:  1940's

Murder, My Sweet (1944) is a favorite and one of two Dick Powell movies that made me a fan.  Based on the classic detective novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (not yet a classic, obvs, at the time), this movie has as many or more twists and turns than The Big Sleep and maybe doesn't have the popping-off-the-screen chemistry of Bogart and Bacall, but Powell feels more like the Philip Marlowe of the books in my book.

Anyway, I promised not to write up every movie this year, and I'm sure I've written this one up before, so aside from adding that Claire Trevor's evening-look with her up-do is something else, I'll just give the movie a solid rec and what I love about Chandler boiled down to work in a movie.  Oh, and Mike Mazurki is pretty great.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Noir Watch: Lured (1947)


Watched:  01/17/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940s

Anything with Lucille Ball pre-I Love Lucy is a weird watch.

I do not know what to do with Sexy Lucy.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Noir Watch: Double Indemnity (1944)



Watched:  01/04/2018
Format:  Noir Alley TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown.  4th?  5th?
Decade:  1940's

Whole books have been written about Double Indemnity (1944), so I'll keep it brief while the more scholarly pursue it's winding journey through the souls of a couple of grifters.  And Eddie Muller's intros and outro's were, as ever, insightful, knowledgeable and refreshing.