So I did the stupid thing and watched all the movies without writing about them. So now here are my half-hearted writeups!
The less you know about this movie going in, the more you will enjoy it. The suspense is fantastic. The logic in the plot may stretch a bit far, but it is forgivable. I loved everything about this.
It's Kurosawa and Mifune, one of the all-time great actor-director duos. They don't disappoint in this noir-esque crime thriller. A rookie cop gets his gun stolen and is on a quest to get it back before it is used to kill. Guilt and desperation are at the forefront here, but there was a lot to appreciate. I wish I had written about it sooner while it was still fresh in my memory, but needless to say it is a fantastic movie.
The Big Heat
You have to love the twisted, convoluted plot structures of film noir. At least when its done well, and here, it certainly is done well. A cop decides to take on a crime syndicate despite everyone warning him against it. Against all odds he battles for what is right and it costs him. I was surprised at how brutal this film from 1953 was. Generally during this era most unpleasant situations had soft edges. Not here. There are biting consequences to messing with a powerful crime organization. It makes an impact.
Kiss Me Deadly
I was surprised at just how 'out there' this film noir was. Without giving too much away, there are definitely some sci-fi elements at play here. It all starts when a tough-as-nails private eye picks up a young woman on the side of the road. She is naked, except for a trench coat and has just broken out of an insane asylum. She is convinced someone is after her, and as it turns out she is right.
The movie lost me a bit in its, at times, needlessly convoluted and complex narrative. I can't say I liked Ralph Meeker all too much as the skeevy private eye, but I loved the way it was shot and there was still a lot here to enjoy. If nothing else I'm pretty sure that 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' stole its climatic scene from here. It was just as awesome watching it in this movie.
This has a fantastic noir opening. We start with a murder, and we're kept in the dark about who died, who the killer was and what the motives were. Gradually over the course of the film, we unravel the convoluted plot. Fantastic. While watching it I had the feeling that this was going to fall into the overly convoluted and messy Noir plot structure, but it actually came out fairly clean. My biggest problem with it is the coolness of the characters. The lack of empathy all around and it was hard to relate to their plights and motivations.
The Lost Weekend
Alcoholism is a miserable affliction. Not only does it ruin the life of the alcoholic, but also of the people who care about them. I knew that 'The Lost Weekend' was about a man and his alcoholism, but I didn't know that is all it is about. Generally in film Noir there is a convoluted plot revolving around crime, but that is absent here. It is simply a man's struggle with his addiction. He is a flawed individual, and the drama arises in his ability to get his life back on track. A movie about alcoholism could be less than compelling to sit though, and while this is difficult to watch in some parts, it is a perfect portrait of an alcoholic. The desperation and despair inherent in the disease is captured perfectly.
My Noir Round Up:
1.) Les Diabolique
2.) The Big Heat
3.) The Lost Weekend
4.) Stray Dog
5.) Mildred Pierce
6.) Kiss Me Deadly