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Author Topic: Noirvember 2020  (Read 4465 times)

colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2020, 12:37:45 PM »
ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) - Everywhere the shadows are lurking and with Dr. Riedenschneider, aka the Professor, masterminding the perfect caper with his perfectly assembled team of getaway drivers, safecrackers, and strong men.  This film is in all respects a visual masterpiece, but what really makes me love this are all the different characters.  Sterling Hayden is great, his performance almost makes me think of this being the sequel (though I think THE KILLING comes later in reality) to THE KILLING.  With a great double cross, beautiful women including Marilyn Monroe (but no femme fatales, what I presumed to be a main ingredient for noir, but that's perhaps another discussion), and twists and turns as the perfect crime unfolds far from perfectly along with crooked cops make the perfect noir.  The story is very well done, we have this masterminded recently escaped from jail ready to pull off the caper and then safely abscond somewhere warm.  Hayden plays a broke down gambler who joins the caper as the strong man and as the Professor's right hand man, he's just trying to make good on his debts and make it back to the idyllic dream of the country fields of rural America he left behind in his youth.  You can see the influences it has had on other films that would come later in the genre with elements that make up Tarantino films or Guy Ritchie escapades.  These are the kinds of films where I'm rooting for the bad guy, knowing that justice in film of this era will not allow crime to go unpunished.  I love the scene building, the shots of the heist itself are so well done with shots of the Professor in the foreground overlooking the safecracker and shadows creating our dirty city, the asphalt jungle.  I love the characters, the crooked store owner who keeps Sterling Hayden one step ahead of the cops to the double cross by the corrupt lawyer (perhaps an ode to our first "criminal" lawyer found later in James MacGill aka Saul Goodman) and his sidekick the crooked detective.  The attempted double cross scene is brilliantly shot, the crooked detective played by Brad Dexter is incredible (I think I saw a STAR WARS moment) with the camera work and the scene itself.  This is a MUST for anyone entering the noir realm, I am actually excited to continue exploring and may do so even though Noirvember has elapsed. Incredible.
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

1SO

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2020, 03:37:10 PM »
John Huston is acclaimed beyond Noir, but The Maltese Falcon is the Big Bang for the genre and this is where the modern heist film was born. What George Romero did for zombies, Huston did for crime films... Twice!

Sandy

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2020, 05:08:17 PM »
Glad this marathon is still active, because I have one more...


Suddenly



Initially this film comes across as a stilted, paint-by-number TV episode. Think Perry Mason. Not sure I want to stick with it, but Sinatra's going to show up soon, so I give the kid and cop an "A" for amateur effort and continue watching. The writing doesn't get much better, but the subject matter is noir textbook, albeit rudimentary and on the nose. A Post war study, showing the strain of one who was left left behind and one who can't leave it behind. There's even an aside or two, to make sure the audience really gets the psychology of it. Noteworthy for some foreshadowing of JFK and for Sinatra taking on a new kind of role for himself. As long as expectations aren't high, it's a quick 77 minutes.


colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2020, 11:13:28 PM »
I may dabble here for awhile, if I need to start a new thread to create my own marathon (and to avoid dampening the spirit of Noirvember in November) I can and won't mind at all.  Let me know, if not I'll keep dropping films in here, thanks all!

NARROW MARGIN (1952) - This was a quite a fun (although short) ride with a host of actors and actresses I am unfamiliar with, but thoroughly enjoyed.  Our film is almost a western, a sort of 3:10 TO YUMA setup as we have a couple of detectives trying to bring across country a mobster's wife to the Los Angeles district attorney. While the action in this movie is pretty poor (like laughably bad)what I love is the dialogue, the lighting and most of all the camera/technical work.  Charles McGraw plays our "Last Boy Scout" detective who won't take a bribe and will die to deliver his package.  He's actually pretty great in this, showing his vulnerabilities, but also really tough--his action takes are awful, but he delivers his great lines perfectly, "Strictly poison under the gravy." The best banter is between McGraw and his partner Don Beddoe (known as Forbes in the film), the use of chubbier actors is kind of a theme and ends up aiding the adventure in interesting ways.  As mentioned I loved the camera work, the opening sequence uses all the obligatory shadows, but I loved the shot from between the stairs and the hidden face of the mysterious gunman. There is one scene on the train where the train is passing under a bridge or something and one of our fat guys stands against the wall as if he's being struck by thunder and lightning or hell is opening up.  Nothing so dramatic occurs, and the films twists are actually not bad. This is a short film at an hour and 11 minutes and I would not say this is any kind of top 100 material, still it has so many good elements that makes good noir (in my limited experience and what I am enjoying about the genre).  Our damsels are also very good especially Marie Windsor (who I also really enjoyed as the perfect femme fatale in THE KILLING) whose character is probably the most thought out and best in the film (though Beddoe's appearance is also really good).  Ann Sinclair also plays a great role, both female roles are really well done, as a seemingly straight laced, well-to-do mother with her son and his nanny in tow.  Beddoe's character mentions that different kinds of women can fall for a hoodlum and his musing proved to be quite true (and I believe he actually won the 5$ bet).  This was such an interesting experience because I am not sure this is actually a good movie, but I loved it and there are some really strong scenes that make me love this genre even more.  A hidden gem.

"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2020, 04:24:07 PM »
WHITE HEAT (1949) - Wow, I wonder if I am just blindly falling in love with every noir film because the genre is so enchanting or I am simply hitting all the gems.  James Cagney at his absolute best as the epitome of the worst, most evil gang leader Cody Jarrett (though the film does hint that he may have some mental illness when he starts to hear voices and gets bad headaches). The opening sequence is almost like a western with a train robbery with violence that reminded me a bit of the Breaking Bad episode where they robbed a train. We also have flashed of THE DEPARTED with an undercover cop played by Edmund O'Brien, having to go in really deep to get close to Cody. We have a double crossing beautiful dame played by Virginia Mayo and a mother who would kill for her son, Ma Jarrett played by a delightfully vicious Margaret Wycherly.  This movie has everything that was missing from NARROW MARGIN, solid fight scenes, car chases (old Ma Jarrett is better than any Baby Driver haha), violence, double crosses, and classic lines.  Cagney steals the show, he's better than Pacino's Tony Montana or Nicholson's Frank Costello, he's more Brando's Godfather, but a caricature of violent men.  He oozes evil, killing innocent people, kicking his girl off a chair, and disregards everyone and everything, except his darling mother.  I saw shades of ANIMAL KINGDOM that pushed the Oedipal limits as mother and son ride together like an incestuous Bonnie and Clyde.  It doesn't go that far, but you can see his deep connection to her particularly in one scene where he gets news about her fate in prison.  The climatic ending is some of Cagney's best work, he is sniveling and almost crying angrily at the double cross, its brilliant.  The supporting casts are also really great Mayo playing our sultry femme fatale who will do anything to save herself.  The henchman all serve admirably, but they are easy to miss given the giant on screen.  I want to continue to gush hyperbole about how much I loved this, but I doubt that would serve anything, I wish I could offer something more intellectual, but I think right now I am more in awe than anything.  A masterpiece of the films I've seen so far.
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2020, 04:09:43 PM »
SCARLET STREET (1945) - Edward G. Robinson is a favorite of mine, especially when he is not playing his usual villain role.  Here Robinson is playing Christopher Cross a devoted cashier who is being awarded a medal for 25 years of service working for JJ Hogarth.  He has been a devoted employee and while he is reaping the small reward of a quarter century's worth of work finds himself pulled into a tragedy of his own device. We must always be careful what we wish for and when Chris longs for some younger feminine company, as he sees his wealthy employer departing with a much younger lady.  Cross is essentially the traditional 40 year old virgin, while he is married it is a marriage of convenience and is likely unconsummated, given that his wife yells he certainly has "not seen a woman naked." This is a very full plot, Chris meets a young lady and "saves" her from some brute and they share a coffee afterwards together. The young lady is not the usual damsel in distress, instead is the femme fatale in full bloom.  The brute was her boyfriend with whom she is madly in love with and is willing to do anything to keep him happy. A mistake of conversation leads the damsel, played by a very interesting Joan Bennett, believes Chris is a famous artist, when in fact Chris paints as a hobby. Chris does not correct the misunderstanding because he does not want to appear less in front of her eyes. Chris is a pitiable character, he is completely emasculated by his wife and he is simply chasing that dream of being with a younger woman. Our femme fatale, Kitty, cooks up a scam with her no-good-boyfriend to scam Chris out of money by pretending to be interested in Chris.

The film takes an interesting turn, a sort of BIG EYES turn, where Chris is 'discovered' by a street artist after the boyfriend tries to peddle some stolen paintings by Chris. Kitty pretends to be the artist and our tragedy takes a predictable path toward doom and gloom for everyone. While I do pity Chris, he is essentially Humbert Humbert (from LOLITA), where he is chasing this very young girl even though he is married.  The circumstances around the marriage are not ideal, but then Chris is responsible for his life choices. The film even throws in some insurance fraud, which unfortunately detracts from the overall film because it seems unnecessary, as if the director is trying to do too many things.  The ending is sad and also satisfying in some ways, but there are no good people in this one, so pretty dark.
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

1SO

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #36 on: December 20, 2020, 10:47:30 PM »
WHITE HEAT (1949) - Wow, I wonder if I am just blindly falling in love with every noir film because the genre is so enchanting or I am simply hitting all the gems.

So glad you posted a new review because I forgot to respond and encourage you. You are hitting the gems right now, but Noir sensibilities (far as I can tell) align with your own quite well. White Heat and Scarel Street are 2 of my Essentials, along with Asphalt Jungle. (Narrow Margin is one notch below them.) Heat was my wife’s introduction to Cagney and sent us on a career-spanning Marathon where I’ve seen nearly everything and rarely been disappointed.

My journey to watch everything with Edward G., Robinson is also nearly complete. Scarlet Street is interesting to rewatch because there’s so much going on. Once you have a handle on where the story’s heading, it actually plays pretty funny. Like Chris, Kitty and Johnny are pretending to be something they’re not and it’s funny watching them try to act cool and sexy while undercutting that persona with things they say or do.

Looking forward to where you go next.

colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2020, 09:55:34 AM »
I appreciate the encouragement! I read a lot too but don't often comment because I haven't seen the films or docs (lately) being posted. Still I enjoy every poster and their various takes on everything. This has been a fun adventure and I want to dig deeper because I so enjoy the filmmaking of this type. Probably related to my penchant for bad guys and gals doing bad things 😆 thanks for following along I have two more queued up!
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

colonel_mexico

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2020, 04:24:59 PM »
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) - I hate to admit that I have not seen many Hitchcock films, but this was a very enjoyable peek at the pantheon director's noir submission.  I was unacquainted with any of the actors and actresses in this film, but they were all quite good, especially our bad guy Robert Walker as the unhinged Bruno Antony.  Bruno is traveling on a train when he crosses paths with tennis star Guy Haines (played by Farley Granger). Bruno gets to chatting with Guy about their lives and begins to share his thoughts on how he could help solve both their problems--through murder!  Guy takes this all in jest, never seriously thinking Bruno means that they should kill each other's "problem." For Guy it is his wife who he is seeking to divorce based on her infidelity and pregnancy by this unfaithfulness. For Bruno he is the wayward child of a wealthy family, who patriarchal father expects him to make something of himself--imagine that (sort of Donald Trump in many ways).  Bruno decides that Guy has accepted his offer and proceeds to help Guy by removing the "problem."

What's great about this movie is that Hitchcock is brilliant with suspense and awkward conversations, there is one scene where Bruno is describing hypothetical murder with a guest at a party (with Guy nervously watching across the way) and the scene is brimming with tension. Ruth Roman plays Guy's love interest and Patricia Hitchcock is Ruth's sister and I love this casting and their performances. Ruth is beautiful in a serious and pragmatic sort of way, and the way she gazes at Bruno worried, sickened angered is really well done. Patricia's character is equally likeable for her charming Nancy Drew way of unfolding everything that will occur as the result of the murder investigation.  Walker's Bruno though steals the show, there are numerous shots of him following Guy around a foreboding silhouette everywhere Guy goes.  One scene in a tennis match has everyone watching the ball, their heads moving in unison one direction, but only Bruno not moving staring at Guy, it is almost comedic if it were not also frightening.  The use of Bruno's mother as the silently enabling figure who keeps Bruno from the wrath of his father is the perfect profile of how movie serial killers are born. 

The light and dark fit the noir trope perfectly, our bad guy is particularly evil, and our good guy (Guy! ha!) fits the mold of tennis star and aspiring politician perfectly. Farley's Guy just looks the part so well, tanned and smooth talking, charming and you feel quite sorry for him when his wife treats him as badly as she does. There are few funny moments and of course I recognized the THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN homage taken from this.  The ending gets a little crazy, but at least this has one of the more comforting endings than most noirs I've encountered have so far. Excellent.
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"

Sandy

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Re: Noirvember 2020
« Reply #39 on: December 31, 2020, 02:21:32 PM »
I always had this squeaky clean image of Robert Walker because of The Clock and Since You Went Away, but after seeing Stranger on a Train a few years ago, I only see his face at that tennis match! Creepy!