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

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.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Noir Watch: "The Naked City" (1948)


Watched: 12/15/2018
Format: TCM on DVR (from Criterion, natch)
Viewing: first
Decade: 1940's

"There are 8 million stories in the Naked City.  This has been one of them." is probably a line you've heard used somewhere - maybe not from this movie, exactly, but from the television show loosely based on this movie that was a sort of crime-anthology series that started off in the late 1950's, aping the style of police procedural that The Naked City (1948) may not have originated, but it did get down to a T. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Noir Watch: The Big Sleep (1946)


Watched:  12/14/2018
Format:  Big screen at Austin Film Society
Viewing:  unknown.  Fifth?
Decade:  1940's

I'm not actually going to write up this movie.  You should watch it.  And behold Bacall.  I need to re-read the novel.  It's been a long time.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Noir Watch: The Killing (1956)


Watched:  12/02/2018
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th?
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Decade:  1950's

First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination.  It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional.  I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.

The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir.  Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed.  As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Noir Watch: Pickup on South Street (1953) w/ special guest to Austin, Karina Longworth


Watched:  11/13/2018
Format:  Alamo Ritz hosted screening
Viewing:  second
Decade:  1950's

This evening Karina Longworth, host of the much-discussed You Must Remember This podcast, came to Austin for a book signing and screening.  Longworth has a new book available, Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood, which she's promoting.   If she's coming to your town, stop on by and see her and pick up the book.

For the film selection, Longworth and the Alamo programmed Pickup on South Street (1953), which starred Jean Peters, one of the main figures in Longworth's book.  The film also stars noir star  Richard Widmark and high-quality character actor (and multiple award nominee but never the recipent) Thelma Ritter.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Noir Watch: Follow Me Quietly (1949)


Watched:  11/09/2019
Format:  Noir Alley of TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Noir Watch: He Ran All the Way (1951)



Watched:  11/10/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1951


I admit - I started watching this movie a while back shortly after it aired on TCM and then got busy and forgot to finish watching it, until now.  And I'm very glad I did.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Noir Watch: The Sniper (1952)



Watched:  11/06/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's

My recollection of the first time I watched The Sniper (1952) was that it was a much, much better picture than I was assuming I was about to watch, and that helped me overcome the fact that while I'd watched the movie to see Marie Windsor, her screentime isn't as much as any of us would like in your average Marie Windsor picture.

Kudos to TCM host Eddie Muller for (a) not shying away from showing the movie, and (b) a nuanced discussion about film violence and how we think about it in regards to real-world violence that will, no doubt, go right past a lot of the hot-take approach to film discussion that crawls past all of us on social media as "film twitter" rushes to fill in their rubrics for "good/ bad".