Thursday, February 27, 2020
Viewing: 5th or 6th
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.
Laura - Dan Raskin, Laura OST
Noir Watch Playlist:
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 Charlie Parker
by Ella Fitzgerald
Friday afternoon, I saw news that Dan Didio, former writer, promoted to Executive Editor, then promoted to Publisher at DC Comics, was no longer with the company. No circumstances regarding his departure have been reported from DC or Didio, so at this time, it's safe to say Didio's exit was possibly due to a difference of direction from WB and/ or the head of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences - Pam Lifford, who took over DC leadership when Diane Nelson resigned and the structure of DC Entertainment was folded back into WB. There are also rumors about the perceived impact of the coming "5G" event and reshaping of DC Continuity, which, frankly... sounded exhausting as a reader. Other possibilities included workplace issues and the good old fashioned lay-off as ATT goes about restructuring WB.
A lot of artists and writers took to twitter to talk about how Didio had done good by them, with a few popping off here and there. Honestly, some of what I saw about how Didio is a great guy just sounded like basic human decency or Management 101, which really makes me wonder what the heck it's like actually working in comics when "he said he'd take responsibility for the thing he is responsible for" is the bar for a great humanitarian in comics. But, still, the expressions seemed sincere, and while I'm aware there's a tendency in creative fields to not burn bridges and overly laud anyone exiting, I'll take these creators at their word.
Longtime readers will know - I am not a fan of Dan Didio.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
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.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
From the great state of Missouri, StuartW joins us to talk about one of his favorites from the 1980's - and one you probably haven't seen in a long while - it's "Teen Wolf"! The movie that brought us Urban Surfin', a girl named "Boof" and a curiously blase attitude about a lycanthrope wandering the halls of a typical American high school.
There are three rules that I live by. 1) Never get less than twelve hours sleep 2) Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city. And 3) never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.
-Coach Finstock, Teen Wolf, 1985
Big Bad Wolf - The Wolf Sisters, Teen Wolf OST
Win in the End - Mark Safan, Teen Wolf OST
Monday, February 17, 2020
Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great Curt Swan. For those taking any kind of deep dive into Superman as a long-running comic book character, it doesn't take long before you start producing your list of giants associated with the character's creation and adventures - and Curt Swan is top of the list.
Siegel and Shuster created Superman, but eventually many of the art duties fell to first Wayne Boring, and then as we transitioned into the mid-Silver and Bronze Age, Swan became the primary pencil behind Superman. For about three decades Swan drew covers and interiors of Adventure Comics, Superman and Action Comics, and saw the end of his reign with the new era that began post COIE. In his tenure he created such characters as Supergirl, Titano, Lucy Lane and many more.
I became familiar with his work through a mish-mash of back-issues and collections of Silver Age comics, and he's very much locked in my mind as one of the best of the best. It's astounding to see the care put into every panel of his art and how his own style evolved to meet (and often exceed) the times.
More about Curt Swan from Comic Vine and Wikipedia.
Sunday, February 16, 2020
The Supergirl TV show has run for five seasons on, first, the CBS network and now The CW. That's roughly 22 episodes (plus) per season with a cast that has shifted, story elements come and gone, and now survived a Crisis on Infinite Earths. It's a bit messy to explain how the events of Season 1 line up with what's happening now on the show, but one can if they're willing to experience nose bleeds and dizziness.
It's one of the shows I am probably watching now more out of habit than anything, but I don't *dislike* the show. Every season has an arc and gives the characters arcs of their own to work through.
DC Comics released their solicitations for May comic releases, and announced that issue 42 will be the final issue of this run of the Supergirl comic book series.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Thursday, February 13, 2020
We're back with more Bond, and this time we've got Jamie along for the ride! We take a gamble on the 2006 relaunch of the Bond Franchise starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Dame Judy Dench as "M". All our cards are on the table as we examine this movie and how it fit into the world building they tried this go-round, how to make a Vesper cocktail, and what makes this movie so unique in the series. It's "Casino Royale"!
James Bond Theme - Monty Norman
You Know My Name - Chris Cornell, Casino Royale OST
No Time to Die Trailer
James Bond Popsicle
Eva Green in a cocktail dress
Monday, February 10, 2020
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Uh. Look. I wasn't really planning to see this movie. I wasn't a fan of Suicide Squad or even Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn in the movie, which many found winning. She's kind of a perky Mary Sue for fans of My Chemical Romance. I get it.
Friday, the movie was, at one point, tracking over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has settled in at a comfortable 80% as of this writing. Filmmakers I like vouched for it, and Jamie expressed some interest, and I have an Alamo Season Pass, so money is already sunk for tickets, so we went.
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
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.