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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Noir Watch: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)


Watched:  03/25/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I've been meaning to read some Dorothy B. Hughes, and now I'm deadly curious.  She wrote the novel this movie - a gritty, all-in-one-night (well, two nights) - is based on, and it sounds like the book is even meaner.

But you kind of have to know that anything that's called "Ride the Pink Horse" is either a children's book, porn or something rough and tumble enough that it can have a goofy name and walk away with it.  Sort of the "Boy Named 'Sue"" effect.  I won't pretend Ride the Pink Horse (1947) is a great film, but it's different and interesting enough that I can see why it's got it's own reputation among noiristas and landed a Criterion edition release.

Friday, March 20, 2020

PODCAST: "Gemini" (2018) - Noir Watch w/ JAL & Ryan



Watched:  03/07/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's


It's a neo-noir! Join JAL and Ryan as we delve into a modern mystery thriller full of twists and turns in the world of Hollywood-pointed Los Angeles! There's murder, suspects and a personal assistant on the run, languidly pursued by no less than John Cho! Join us as we talk the world and rules of noir and doing it without pointing out that you're doing noir!




Music: 
Gemini - Keegan DeWitt, Gemini OST

Noir Watch Playlist:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

PODCAST! "Laura" (1944) - Noir Watch w/ JAL & Ryan


Watched:  02/22/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  5th or 6th
Decade:  1940's


We welcome all-new co-contributor and longtime pal JAL to the PodCast for a new series: Noir Watch! We're kicking it off with a dreamy murder mystery, Laura (1944) - a whodunnit about a detective who falls for a painting, a venom tongued columnist and Vincent Price in his pre-Master of Horror Days. And, of course, the lovely Gene Tierney.




Music:
Laura - Dan Raskin, Laura OST

Noir Watch Playlist:





Show notes:

Whiskey:  Bonesnapper Rye

Some films mentioned:
His Kind of Woman starring Vincent Price, Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell
Kiss of Death starring Richard Widmark and Victor Mature

Laura as cover song
by Sinatra
by Charlie Parker
by Ella Fitzgerald

Laura portrait








Thursday, February 20, 2020

Noir Watch: Kiss of Death (1947)



Watched:  02/20/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  3rd?
Decade:  1940's

Kiss of Death (1947) was one of the first "noir" films I watched years back when I was trying to sort out "what... is noir?".   It took a second viewing a couple of years later for me to get how it fit into the category, but I do feel it is a good example of a certain kind of noir.  More importantly, it's got a great set-up that plays into a tight, engaging story, and has three fantastic performances.  And Brian Donlevy.

I kid.  Brian Donlevy is fine, but this film is famous for a ground-breaking psychotic performance by Richard Widmark as mad-dog criminal, Tommy Udo.  Flat out, that's probably what the movie is best known for - and there's no question, it's the Joe Pesci-before-Joe Pesci performance of it's day.  Maybe even the Heath Ledger-Joker performance of its day?  He's a lit stick of sociopathic dynamite who thinks nothing of killing someone's kids just to make a point, and he'd have a good laugh about it.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Noir Watch: The Woman on the Beach (1947)


Watched:  02/07/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

This film lands somewhere just on the other side of what could have been an interesting one-set play, but requires film as the medium to tell the story Jean Renoir had in mind, and we'd lose some key scenes and beautiful visuals.

Muller's intro and outro on Noir City are more than what most of the hosts on TCM provide - there's lots of contextualizing, from historical notes to researched portions that shed light on aspects of the film you might not have picked up on as a modern viewer or not knowing what was happening with the creators of the film either professionally or personally.  And the outros usually leave you with something similar, but best saved for after you've already seen the movie.  And this movie had plenty of curious stuff surrounding it, not the least of which was that I never knew famed French director Jean Renoir (Rules of the Game) was the son of the famed painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Fleeing the Germans, Renoir came to the states and made the least memorable films of his career.  There's a long and painful story behind the making and release of The Woman on the Beach (1947), but the end result was a deeply shortened final film following reshoots and months and months in the edit room.

I don't actually doubt that the film counts as noir, but it's a noir living inside a melodrama.  The stakes are almost entirely personal, and no crimes, exactly fit into the picture.

Coast Guardsman "Scott" (played by Robert Ryan) is recovering from a ship going down under him and suffering from what we'd now call PTSD.  He's found a nice girl (Nan Leslie) in the coastal town where he's recuperating, and would marry her, but they have a schedule they're sticking to.  He keeps seeing a woman on the beach (natch) collecting firewood and hanging around, and eventually finds she (Joan Bennett) is married to a well known painter who has gone blind (Charles Bickford).  The robust and younger figure Scott (Ryan) cuts is appealing, and Peggy and Scott feel a mutual attraction.  The artist, Tod, is no charmer but Peggy doesn't feel she can leave him as she's responsible for him losing his eyesight.  Apparently they used to have bursts of boozing and passion, both angry and sexual (and at the same time, I'd gather).

Scott doesn't believe Tod is blind and believes he has to rescue Peggy (Bennett), becoming an obsession - but it becomes clear that Scott isn't the first gentleman Peggy has lured in.

The movie begins with some fascinating and oddball visuals of Ryan drowning, super imposed underwater in a series of effects shots - visual representations of his PTSD-fueled dreams.  But the cinematography captures the world of the film as a desolate beachfront, sand and scrub against weather, water and sun.  And plenty of "shot on location" footage brings the movie to life - including a scene in which Scott tests whether Tod is actually blind, clearing the question for both audience and himself.

The movie isn't color by numbers, and doesn't resolve its conflicts in ways that I realize maybe I'd come to expect from the movies appearing on Noir Alley, but it does have tight ending that I still didn't really see coming til it occurred.

Robert Ryan and Joan Bennett (and some beach)

Brief at 75 minutes, it's worth a spin.  Joan Bennett is pretty great (they suggest she's aging in the film, but looks younger than her mid-30's, so.... good genes, there, Joan), as is all the cast.  Maybe the weirdest to see in the film is a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Irene Ryan, playing a colorful but not over-the-top local woman and friend to Ryan's fiancee.

According to Muller, the movie was far longer in its original cut and tested badly - which would be obvious, this isn't a movie for teens and kids and the usual folks who show up for "movie" because it's free.  Although made inside the studio system, The Woman on the Beach reads more like an arthouse film, and it's kind of amazing it hasn't been remade in the years since in exactly that context.  The sort of confused love triangles are more reminiscent of The Piano than anything I can readily think of - especially those 90's and 00's potboilers about infidelity.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

Noir Watch: The Captive City (1952)



Watched:  01/26/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

The Hayes Era produced some interesting bedfellows between Hollywood and public officials.  Esepcially as we headed into the HUAC years and Hollywood watched as colleagues were dragged out in front of cameras or placed in rooms to testify, naming names.  An odd side-effect was the over-compensation and big hug some movies gave law enforcement in some movies as they attempted to illustrate the complicated scenarios the officials were on about.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Noir Watch: The Big Night (1951)



Watched:  01/20/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

A movie full of interesting ideas and what I'd give a solid B- for execution, The Big Night (1951) follows a sweet kid as he spends a long night trying to get back at the man who humiliated and beat his father in front of a crowd of people.

On his 16th birthday and believing himself to be entering the world of manhood, Georgie LaMain returns home to his father's Bar & Grill where he's met with a small, sad party made up by the tavern dwellers.  Moments after the candles are blown out on his cake - with little explanation - local sports writer Al Judge enters the place and orders Georgie's father from behind the bar and to remover his shirt.  He then beats him mercilessly with a cane and takes his leave.

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.