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Is it noir or is it a gangster picture?

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Okay, I know this sub-forum combines the two as Fillm Noir--Gangster, but some will tell you these are very distinct classifications.

 

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A few nights ago I looked at KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE on YouTube. It was James Cagney's follow-up film to WHITE HEAT at Warner Brothers, made by the studio just a year later. Because this movie never airs on TCM, I wasn't sure if many people had seen it...but it has many views on YouTube and there are presently 40 user reviews on the IMDb. So obviously it is somewhat known.

 

Several of the IMDb reviewers were adamant that the film is a gangster picture, not an example of noir. They were arguing it was a late-in-the-cycle gangster drama, which might explain why it is not as well known as Cagney's other work. Others were saying it was a courtroom drama, since it begins with the trial of the captured gang members and flashes back over their crimes.

 

So how should KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE be classified?

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Gangster, I remember thinking it wasn't much of a Noir last time I saw it.

There's folks that classify some Gangster films a Proto Noirs, You can even say Horror films are equally Noir-ish.

 

But it's subjective. A thought to throw into the equation of what makes a Noir/Neo Noir is an individual internal factor. It's subjectivity. Noir is in all of us. Think of us all as having an internal tuning fork, these tuning forks are forged by our life experiences which are all unique. When we watch these films their degree of Noir-ness resonates with us differently, so we either "tune" to them or we don't. The amount of "tuning" (I'm appropriating this term from the Neo Noir Dark City (1998)) to certain films will vary between us all also."

 

James Ellroy's take:

 

“Here’s what film noir is to me.

It’s a righteous, generically American film movement that went from 1945 to 1958 and exposited one great theme and that theme is you’re ****. You have just met a woman, you’re inches away from the greatest sex of your life but within six weeks of meeting the woman you will be framed for a crime you did not commit and you’ll end up in the gas chamber and as they strap you in and you’re about to breath the cyanide fumes you’ll be grateful for the few weeks you had with her and grateful for your own death.”

 

-James Ellroy

Novelist,

L.A. Confidential

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Way more gangster picture than noir,  but because it was released in 1950 the film is often classified as a noir.   E.g. The Book Film Noir (Ward \ Silver),   includes the film.

 

One noir character is Cagney's man Jinx.   He is weak and filled with anxieties common to many noir figures.    This type of character is often found in a noir but not so much in a 30s gangster picture.

 

 

 

 

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Way more gangster picture than noir,  but because it was released in 1950 the film is often classified as a noir.   E.g. The Book Film Noir (Ward \ Silver),   includes the film.

 

One noir character is Cagney's man Jinx.   He is weak and filled with anxieties common to many noir figures.    This type of character is often found in a noir but not so much in a 30s gangster picture.

 

Yes, I think so too-- because KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE was produced in 1950 (during the post-war period), it tends to get lumped in with noir. Howard Hughes' remake of THE RACKET (1951) is also a gangster picture that gets classified as a noir. And I'd even say the 1955 Columbia picture TIGHT SPOT is more of a gangster picture, very late in the cycle.

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Yes, I think so too-- because KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE was produced in 1950 (during the post-war period), it tends to get lumped in with noir. Howard Hughes' remake of THE RACKET (1951) is also a gangster picture that gets classified as a noir. And I'd even say the 1955 Columbia picture TIGHT SPOT is more of a gangster picture, very late in the cycle.

 

The Brothers Rico (1957) is similar too.

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