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

Friday, January 17, 2020

Noir Watch: Raw Deal (1948)



Watched:  01/13/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

A few months ago, I had purchased a BluRay collection of films, all shot by noir-famous cinematographer John Alton.*  I'd had great intentions, but never made it into the disc.  For whatever reason, I finally did crack open the case and put in the BluRay and I get what the hubbub is about.

This was my first viewing of Raw Deal (1948), a fairly staple noir film, but one that I'd just not made time for before - which is a shame, because I liked a lot of the movie, and would probably use it to illustrate some classic noir tropes and definitely as a teaching tool for the epitome of noir cinematography from the height of the movement.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Heist Watch: Cash On Demand (1962)



Watched:  01/08/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

I'd heard Hammer produced some thrillers and whatnot, but I'd not really seen any - my exposure to the studio's output had been mostly limited to their horror films.

Shown as a Christmas treat by Noir Alley's Eddie Muller - who fessed up that it's more noir adjacent than noir - this small-scale production is a terrific sort-of real-time story of a robbery at a bank branch in a small town well outside of London.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Noir Watch: This Gun For Hire (1942)



Watched:  01/01/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's

Noir Watch: Criss Cross (1949)


Watched:  12/30/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

Eddie Muller introduced Criss Cross (1949) as an exemplar of noir and an underrated movie, and he's absolutely right.  I'd seen this movie a while back, and it's absolutely stuck with me - so when it made the programming list for Noir Alley, I was thrilled to watch it again.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Holiday Watch: The Thin Man (1934)


Watched:  12/26/2019
Format:  BluRay (Warner Archive)
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's

I finally got around to watching my new Thin Man (1934) bluray from Warner Archive.  I won't talk about the movie's plot, because I've done that a few times.  Also, it's one of the most famous movies that ever was, so if you don't know about it or haven't seen it - well, you're bad at movies.  No, I'm not kidding or taking that back.

So why did I buy this movie?  Again?  Well, I'd heard the transfer and restoration were really good - and even if you enjoy the hell out of The Thin Man, sometimes the print or transfer could look a bit rough.  The movie is 85 years old.  That's gonna happen.  But, dang, this BluRay looked phenomenal.  And who doesn't want to see Myrna Loy kinda glow even more?  See her in even more detail?

We could or should have easily covered this movie for our "Holiday Adjacent" podcasts, but did not.  Maybe next year?  It'd be fun to talk about this movie for a long time while Day Drinking.

Friday, December 20, 2019

PODCAST: "Lady in the Lake" (1947) - Holidays 2019! - with Jamie and Ryan


Watched: 12/12/2019
Format: DVD
Viewing: Unknown. 7th?
Decade: 1940's

It's Christmas Noir! From a first-person-perspective! It's kinda weird, honestly! Join Jamie and Ryan as they discuss "Lady in the Lake", a movie about murder with a very twisty mystery, with a lot of the story taking place on Christmas! For some reason. And Ryan finally gets to talk about Audrey Totter, noir and whatnot.



Movie Trailer:


Holidays 2019 Playlist:



Gallery of Ms. Totter in Lady in the Lake (1947)

Friday, December 6, 2019

Noir-ish Watch: The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)


Watched:  12/06/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Look, if a movie has Sydney Greenstreet in it, I'm watching it.  And I've never been disappointed.

Of course, this movie *also* features Peter Lorre, so, that's two great performers of the era.  Add in Zachary Scott in his screen debut, and I was positively jazzed to watch The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), a movie I'd oft-head referenced, but never seen.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Noir Watch: Kansas CIty Confidential (1952)


Watched:  11/27/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Somehow I'd never seen Kansas City Confidential (1952), but if I'd known it starred John Payne, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam, I would have tried a lot harder to see it sooner.

A windy, twisty heist caper - this one is told from the outside as John Payne plays an ex-con who is accidentally/ sorta framed for a bank heist when masked robbers pull a job worth $1.2 million (that's about $11.6 million now), using a duplicate of his flower delivery van.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Noir Watch: Force of Evil (1948)


Watched:  11/12/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's


I recalled liking Force of Evil (1948) the last time I watched in 2011, and it's hilarious to read my write-up from what I'd argue was pretty early in my dive into noir (were we ever so young, Leaguers?).  Apparently this was also my first John Garfield movie, and it's a heck of an introduction to the guy, but I knew Marie Windsor and was thrilled to see her appear (as one should always be excited to see Windsor).

But, dang, was I happy to see I was appreciative of the film back then, because rewatching it now, I was stunned by what a remarkable film this is, was and shall be, and am shocked - watching it now - that it doesn't have a deeper fanbase.  Hell, you can't buy this on BluRay in Region 1, as near as I can tell.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Noir Watch: The Harder They Fall (1956)



Watched:  10/20/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Noir Alley host Eddie Muller knows a thing or three about boxing.  His father (the senior Eddie Muller) was a longtime sports writer for the Examiner, and a prominent boxing reporter.  As he said in talking about this movie - there are movies about boxers and which occur around boxing (Wise's The Set-Up is straight up a great film), but The Harder They Fall (1956) is *about* boxing.  And, hey, bonus, it's a really good movie.

The movie features a dynamite cast of actors pulling from old school and modern traditions, as well as former boxers and players from the boxing world all working from a tight script and with a terrific crew behind the camera.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bette Noir Watch: The Letter (1940)



Watched:  10/01/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I am well aware of the hurricane force that is Bette Davis, but for whatever reason, I don't wind up taking enough advantage of her expansive filmography.  Sometimes I feel genuine guilt in regards to this deficiency, and - as this Davis-induced-remorse had occurred once again recently - I decided to remedy the issue by force-marching Jamie through a 90 minute movie that, frankly, I knew nothing about.

A prestige picture of sorts from pre-war Warner Bros., The Letter (1940) makes not just for an interesting time capsule, but a fascinating melodrama and noir, punctuated by Davis' terrific performance.  With a script based upon a 1927 play (and previously made into a movie during the silent era), the material of the film is well honed, a tight, taught narrative with a number of fascinating characters and smart dialog.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Noir Watch: Nocturne (1946)


Watched:  09/30/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Look.  They can't all be winners.  And, frankly, whatever draw George Raft had at one point as a huge movie star, I just... do not get.

The pieces are there for a solid noir film, but every scene feels like it's the second take after maybe three run-throughs.  Raft is wooden in the best of circumstances, but he sort of sets the tone for everyone else, bringing down the energy around near everyone but Queenie Smith, whom Raft seems to just sit back and enjoy during their shared scenes.

The movie follows the investigation of the suicide of a well-known song composer who also happens to go through women like they're on a conveyor belt coming to his door, not bothering to learn their names and calling them all "Dolores" (which never gets resolution or meaning in the film).  Raft plays the milk-drinking cop who becomes obsessed with the idea the guy was plugged.  Lynn Bari plays the dame who maybe did it.  Who, for reasons that are not at all clear, Raft decides he's fallen for.

The titular "Nocturne" is a song written by the composer, left unfinished when he died.

That's it.  That's the movie.  Raft running around questioning people, fighting improbably with his own bosses, and having his mom do all the real detective work.

Sure, the movie looks good - RKO knew who to put behind the camera (Harry J. Wild was no slouch in my book), and there's a good idea in there somewhere about a good cop who doesn't think a suicide is just that and wants to investigate it for murder.  But at the end of the day, we don't know much about the victim, we know less about the cop's dogged motivation, and the movie tips its hand as to what's happening at the 30 minute mark.  Honestly - that's just strange.

I really, really did not like this movie, so I think I will stop writing about it now.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Noir Watch: The Big Clock



Watched:  09/15/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1940's

I... I may now be a fan of Ray Milland.  I used to not think of him one way or another, but after The Long Weekend and a re-watch of The Big Clock (1948), and thinking back on some of this other films like Dial M for Murder, Alias Nick Beal...  he's not quite Cary Grant or James Stewart to me yet, but I may actually seek out more of his work just to see what he does.

I read the novel of The Big Clock maybe two decades ago, and my memory of the book is that it was, as the kids say, a real page turner.  One of those books you keep picking up to see where it's headed.  Shortly after, I found the movie and give it a viewing, and while they're substantially different, also a good watch.  A few years ago, I watched it again and liked it significantly more than even the first time - and on this viewing, I am pretty sure I was correct to like it all the more.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hitch Watch: The Wrong Man (1956)



Watched:  08/21/2019
Format: TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

I had no idea what this movie was about prior to giving it a watch, so real quick:

Directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, this is based on a true story (apparently?) of a musician who goes to his insurance company to see if he can take out on a loan his wife's life insurance for some dental work, only to be identified by the clerks as the man who committed two robberies of the company in the prior 9 months or so.  The police pick him up, assuring him that if he didn't do it, there's nothing to worry about, but in a line-up, he's identified by multiple witnesses (the robber also hit a few stores) and even his handwriting sample seems to match.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chandler Watch: Marlowe (1969)



Watched: 08/14/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

People take a lot of liberties when adapting Raymond Chandler novels to screen.  It's not a huge surprise.  After all, Chandler's books are winding, complicated, and don't exactly make it easy to translate Marlowe's inner-monologue or exposition in a way that's easy to cram into 90 - 120 minutes and keep the audience with you.  To this day, people complain The Big Sleep is "too complicated".

It's been a while since I read The Little Sister, I think the fifth Marlowe novel and the work upon which the studio based Marlowe (1969).   Between reading several Chandler novels in a row at that time and years inbetween, not every detail of the plot had stuck with me, but impressions of various characters remained, and as the movie unspooled, it did provide me with a roadmap and certain expectations for the film that gave me a leg up vis-a-vis following the plot and keeping up.  A glance at some contemporary reviews suggest that even Ebert and Siskel found it a bit muddled.

Still, the story sticks surprisingly close to the novel, updating some factors for 1969 that would have looked very different in the original setting of 1949.  And, I'll argue, while people feel like they've got a grip on Chandler by way of reputation, in practice his novels tend to feel like a morass of detail until the denouement.  That's part of the fun (and Hammett did same in books like The Thin Man).

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Wilder Watch: The Lost Weekend (1945)



The Lost Weekend (1945) is one of those movies that you always know you should watch, but when you know what it's about, it's sort of hard to get fired up to put on.  But with Billy Wilder behind the camera and with a "co-written by" credit, it did nudge me toward "okay...", and knowing it featured Ray Milland, whom I like well enough, and Howard Da Silva, whom I really like, it put it in the "yeah, I need to see that" direction.

But in the past month two things happened.  (1) I read that Wilder wrote the movie after working with Raymond Chandler to write Double Indemnity.  Chandler certainly suffered from alcohol addiction and, as it will, the addiction impacted his professional and personal life.  I'm unclear on whether Chandler was dry during Double Indemnity, but I'm also sure working with Wilder would drive him to drink.  While the two never got along, it's noteworthy that whatever he saw and respected in Chandler was mixed up with how he saw his alcoholism.  (2) Our own JimD referenced the movie and asked me when the last time was that I'd seen it, which was "never".  Mid-tweet response I decided to watch the movie this weekend.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Noir Watch: Thieves' Highway (1949)

this quote is exactly what Jamie said to me when we met


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

There's a surprising number of movies about or including the work of "trucking" in this category we call "noir".  I suppose it makes sense given the world of people operating mostly alone, moving from place to place by day and night.  Add in the shadiness of transportation companies and both the folks sending and receiving goods, and it's fertile soil for drama.  And it's not like people like myself who've never ridden in a truck are oblivious to truckstop shenanigans. 

But who would have thought moving produce would lead to excellent noir drama?  But, at it's core, Thieves' Highway (1949), which is 100% about moving produce, contains a lot of what I think of when I ponder what comprises the "noir movement".  Characters in over their head pursuing goals due to hubris or lust (this one has both), a disaffection with the status quo and everyman status, a woman on the make pulling the wool over some schmuck's eyes...  it's all there.  Plus a heavy played by Lee J. Cobb and a morally gray protagonist played by Richard Conte.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Noir Watch: In a Lonely Place (1950)



Watched:  08/02/2019
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  1950's

Nicholas Ray has an earned reputation as a director, if, for no other pop cultural reason than Rebel Without a Cause and - for noiristas - They Live By Night.  I hadn't realized, til watching the extras on this Crtierion disk, how much Ray's work helped spawn the thinking in Europe that led to auteur theory of film.  It's not a theory I necessarily subscribe to anymore, but like anything - some directors are better in general, are more attuned to their work and/ or manage to find work that better suits their sensibilities than other directors.  I do get excited when the names like Fritz Lang, Edward Dmytryk, Robert Wise and Jules Dassin (and many, many others) cross the screen.*

And, in some productions, those reputations as the driving force behind the movie makes sense.  There's no doubt whose movie you're watching when you're watching a Tarantino movie or a lot of Spike Lee's features, especially when they wrote the thing to begin with.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Noir Watch: While the City Sleeps (1956)



Watched:  07/30/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's

I'm always going to support a movie that features Ida Lupino slinging back drinks, dropping snappy dialog and not exactly being coy about her interests.  She's, however, just one of many name talents in While the City Sleeps (1956), an ensemble drama about the women and men at work in a major metropolitan newspaper.  Directed by Fritz Lang, this one features:  Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Thomas Mitchell, John Drew Barrymore, Sally Forrest and more, all bringing their A-game and making for a fun, unsentimental look at how the sausage is made in the big news game.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Noir Watch: The Tattooed Stranger (1950)



Watched:  07/18/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

So....  I don't know that I'd want to actually recommend The Tattooed Stranger (1950) to anyone.  It's far more of a curiosity of production than it is a watchable or good movie, and in the right, riff-able hands, could be wildly entertaining.  Pre-film, Muller explained that it had been a producer of RKO's Pathe office, who wanted to try their hand at cheap narrative films, exploiting their guerrilla film making know-how from decades of documentary films  and using the wealth of actors in NYC.