Barton_Keyes

Noir Alley

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  :wub: (Wish they had a more noirish emjoi for a love-crush.)

 

Wouldn't hurt to have a whole set of emojis dedicated to classic films.

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Yes.  Apparently he was supposed to have a reoccurring role on Seinfeld but he was so difficult to work with that it was a one-time guest appearance.

 

Seinfeld said he was afraid of him! LOL.

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DETOUR

 

This is the second film to be aired in the Eddie Muller Noir Alley series.

( Wonder what, if any, rationale he's using for the order in which these films are shown? Not chronologically, not alphabetically - seems pretty random. But that's ok, so is life, as reflected in film noir...)

 

Hoo boy, this is one dark nasty movie. But fascinating. At just over an hour ( 67 minutes), this ultra bleak little picture gets in, tells its disturbing story, and gets out with no frills and no unnecessary plot or character devices.  Bare bones dark (oh, I said that ), almost nihilistic, and devoid of any soft edges.(hey, sometimes a noir does have a few soft edges. Not this one.)

 

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

 

I noticed in his introduction to the film Eddie Muller says something about "an unreliable narrator". Actually, I have a problem with people saying the voice-over narrator in movies is "unreliable". This guy is telling his story to us, the audience. Or maybe he's just telling it in his own head.

In any case, he's certainly not ( as yet) telling it to the police. Why  should he lie? It's his story, and one of the salient features of it is his remarkable bad luck. He wants us to know all about his bad luck, how things just didn't work out for him in this indifferent universe we all live in. I take what happens in the film literally, and at Al Roberts' word. Why not?

 

This is about the third time I've seen Detour. I liked it better this time around, and I think I got more out of it.

For one thing, I was much more sympathetic to the main character ( call him Al.) I love it when movie characters are musicians, I automatically have sympathy and even respect for them. I enjoyed the early seedy nightclub scenes, with Al and Sue doing their best to make the crummy little joint just a bit better, with his ( surprisingly good) piano playing and her torchy singing.

 

And I believe what I honestly think the director intends us to believe: that Al is basically an ok guy who just wants to marry his girl and make a decent living playing music. But it all falls apart when his girl (Sue) decides to head out for L. A. and see if she can make it there. We have to wonder how interested she is in her fiance following her out there. Come on, Al, can't you see she's giving you the brush-off?

 

Anyway, our boy decides to hitch-hike out to L. A. to join Sue. Unfortunately, he hitches a ride with a driver with some unnamed medical problem -  the guy keeps asking Al to pass him some medicine box with a bunch of pills in it. ( Whether this is some underlying heart condition, or he's the 1945 version of a prescription drug addict, we neither know nor care.) 

When Al, who's taking a turn at the wheel, discovers the man is dead, he makes a fateful decision. Of course he does. He drags  the guy's body off the road a bit and hides it in some brush. First big mistake.

I know forensics in 1945 was much much different than it is now, but shirley if he'd gone to the police and told them what happened, a simple doctor's check ( or yeah, maybe an autopsy) would have revealed that Al Roberts spoke the truth. There was no evidence that he'd struck the man. (The head hitting the road when he opened the door was because he was already dead; it wasn't that that killed him.)

 

But then we wouldn't have had this unnerving story. That would have been the end of it.

Instead, Al carries on in the dead man's car, picks up a bona fide harpy from hell, and seals his fate.

 

There can be no female character in noir as malevolent as Vera. Played with frightening intensity by the rightly named Ann Savage, Vera's like some creature sent by a hostile Fate to ruin his life. He's virtually her prisoner, and it's somehow fitting that when he finally does break free from her, it's in the worst possible way. How was he to know she'd wrapped that telephone around her neck? This guy can't get a break for love nor money. She's taken all his ( well, actually, the deceased car-owner's) money, and he's not interested in her openly sleezy attempts at love - or at least, lust.

 

It's truly impressive that all this is packed into 67 minutes. 

 

The first time I saw Detour I didn't like it. As I said before, there's not one second of relief from the unsettling,claustrophobic, atmosphere, and I found this a bit hard to take. I tend to like my noir with a bit of humour, maybe even a little genuine passion or human decency ( which yes, many noirs have). But Detour's one relentless ride from beginning to end.

However, this time, maybe because I already knew what was in store for Al Roberts, I enjoyed it, in a semi-masochistic kind of way. The film's so bleak and hopeless and at the same time so compelling, you have to admire it, even if you don't love it.

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Have seen Detour a few times, but not today.  Just does not appeal to me.  MissWonderly may have the reason - it is unrelentingly dark.

Act of Violence did not appeal to me either, but liked it better than Detour.  Tension is fairly good and I will probably watch it again - maybe.

Same for Scarlet Street, but maybe because I do not remember it that well.

 

Guess my rating system is whether or not I bought the DVD.  Have Maltese Falcon and The Blue Gardenia, but none of the rest through end of April.  Will probably watch He Walked by Night again since I don't remember it that well.  And maybe The Set-Up, but I almost never watch movies about fighters.

 

Perhaps I am more into mystery, drama, crime, etc. than "noir" per se.  And a little humor helps.

 

On the other hand, I am thankful that TCM offers these types of events so that I can see the movies and then decide whether or not I like them.

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misswonderly3, A good friend of mine put together his thoughts on this very subject...

 


"Detour (Ulmer, 1945) is rightly considered one of the greatest of films noir. It contains the essential elements of noir: bizarre circumstances, a feckless hero crossing from light into darkness, a femme fatale. The film was also made quickly and for little money, lending an appropriate air of crudeness to the proceedings. This crudeness serves to camouflage, if some are to be believed, a work of considerable sophistication.

 

Quote

Most critics of Detour have taken Al’s story at face value: He was unlucky in love; he lost the good girl and was savaged by the bad girl; he was an innocent who looked guilty even to himself. But the critic Andrew Britton argues a more intriguing theory in Ian Cameron’s Book of Film Noir. He emphasizes that the narration is addressed directly to us. We’re not hearing what happened, but what Al Roberts wants us to believe happened. It’s a “spurious but flattering account,” he writes, pointing out that Sue the singer hardly fits Al’s description of her, that Al is less in love than in need of her paycheck, and that his cover-up of Haskell’s death is a rationalization for any easy theft. (Ebert 134-136).

 

Even before Britton’s clever reading, others had questioned Al’s veracity:

 

Quote

. . . .  Roberts believes that fate controls these circumstances, and that is why he is so afraid. No matter what he does to try to escape his predicament, fate reaches out and produces another fantastic turn of events that makes things even worse.

 

The existential answer to this mythic dilemma is a realization that one is not simply a pawn in the hands of mysterious, evil forces. Ulmer subtly implies that Roberts ironically controls his own fate by emphasizing the close relationship between his fear and the freakish chain of events that reinforces it. He expects the worst and the worst occurs. Roberts maintains that he only expects the worst because he knows some exterior fate has “put the finger on me,” but how does he know this? It seems just as reasonable to assume that this is just his way of tyrannizing himself. (Selby 29)

 

Apparently, the author of the Detour entry in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style had his doubts about Roberts also. Glenn Erickson expands on ideas found there:

 

 

 

Quote

Critic Blake Lucas correctly pegged Al’s detour from the straight and narrow path as the road he really wants to take. Unlike other noir antagonists who struggle in dark corners, Al’s destiny has a definite self-willed quality. 

 

Al makes two crippling decisions, choices proving that character determines his fate, not the ‘mysterious force’ he whines about at the film’s end. He’s convinced that his vagrant status will prejudice the law against him, but Haskell’s accidental death isn’t all that mysterious. The dead man’s pills should prove that he had an existing heart condition. Al makes the accident appear to be a crime and takes Haskell’s identity, thus guaranteeing a murder charge if he’s caught. These are the acts of a masochist. So thoroughly does Roberts frame himself, the only explanation is that he secretly wants to be a criminal. (Erickson in Silver and Ursini, 27).

 

 

 

As we have seen, there is another explanation possible: Roberts, a social deviant, is relating an ex post facto rationalization for his criminal acts. But let’s return to Erickson.

 

 

Quote

Later on Al laments the fact that he can’t hook up with Sue “with a thing like that hanging over my head.” In actuality, that happened as soon as he left his ID on Haskell’s body. Roberts is really that kind of complicated man who professes to have strong goals yet all the while purposely engineers his own failure. In real life these maladjusted types want attention, or for someone else to step in and relieve them of their responsibilities. It’s the urge that keeps a potential high-class musician like Al playing piano in a dive: he can curse his cruel fate while avoiding the feared struggle for success in the competitive world. This allows him to trumpet his superiority while cursing the system that he claims has victimized him. (Erickson in Silver and Ursini 28).

 

Most critics taking this line do so by demonstrating inconsistencies between the narration and what appears on screen. But as Selby points out, we are not merely dealing with an unreliable narrator. "Such speculations are certainly being encouraged by the film’s ending, where Roberts only imagines his final capture. Through this clever twist, Ulmer forces the viewer to make his own judgment about Roberts’ real fate, which in turn forces him to admit how great his identification has become." (Selby 29)

 

On this view, it is not only the narration we may question in the final moments, but the visuals as well. Selby doesn’t push this understanding far enough, however. If the final images are coming from the narrator’s imagination, why not the entire film? Why trust anything we see when the whole is being mediated through Roberts’ perspective?

 

In fact, the plot sounds like a yarn told in the exercise yard by an inmate who has worked it up to demonstrate the injustice of his sentence. He’s innocent, a victim of “fate” and circumstances. Maybe the film is just Roberts’ first run-through before the cops pick him up, a rehearsal to make sure he’s got his facts “straight.” 

 

Detour is, at least for some, a film about being conned. For others, Detour will remain what it purports to be, a true testament of a man driven by circumstances to crime. But then there are always those willing to pay out to panhandlers and snake oil dealers, those who take any tale at face value, however outlandish, those who will not scruple even to accept the words of French critics with a fancy name for a group of films. Detour is for them too."

 

Dave Jenkins

 

Works Cited: Ebert's The Great Movies/Selby's Dark City: The Film Noir/Silver and Ursini's Film Noir Reader 4

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Have seen Detour a few times, but not today.  Just does not appeal to me.  MissWonderly may have the reason - it is unrelentingly dark.

Act of Violence did not appeal to me either, but liked it better than Detour.  Tension is fairly good and I will probably watch it again - maybe.

Same for Scarlet Street, but maybe because I do not remember it that well.

 

Guess my rating system is whether or not I bought the DVD.  Have Maltese Falcon and The Blue Gardenia, but none of the rest through end of April.  Will probably watch He Walked by Night again since I don't remember it that well.  And maybe The Set-Up, but I almost never watch movies about fighters.

 

Perhaps I am more into mystery, drama, crime, etc. than "noir" per se.  And a little humor helps.

 

On the other hand, I am thankful that TCM offers these types of events so that I can see the movies and then decide whether or not I like them.

Isn't a good noir SUPPOSED to be unrelentingly dark? We're not talking SINGIN IN THE RAIN here.

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Isn't a good noir SUPPOSED to be unrelentingly dark? We're not talking SINGIN IN THE RAIN here.

I don't think of The Blue Gardenia, The Maltese Falcon or Out of the Past as being all that dark.

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I don't think of The Blue Gardenia, The Maltese Falcon or Out of the Past as being all that dark.

 

well, a good way to gauge the darkness of a movie is to assess how many of its main characters survive; so on that point alone, one of those titles you mentioned above rates pretty well into the shadowy part of the spectrum. 

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I don't think of The Blue Gardenia, The Maltese Falcon or Out of the Past as being all that dark.

Maybe the point is that the films you mentioned have a lot of wisecracks, even though the body count may be high. My recollection of DETOUR is that is virtually yuk-free.

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How come I found this interesting thread languishing on page 4? Time to bump it up.

 

TENSION

 

Anyone see Tension ? It was aired on the Sunday morning "Noir Alley " series a few weeks ago.

 

Damn, I love this odd little noir ! Like a lot of less spectacular film noirs, it's not as well-known as it deserves to be.

The always good Richard Basehart ( who's also not as well-known as he deserves to be) stars as a mild-mannered pharmacist ( a pharmacist !  what an un-noirish profession !  and nope, there's no poison prescriptions to be seen...) who's sexually obsessed with his tarty selfish shallow but very sexy ( in an obvious tarty sort of way) wife. Audrey Totter shines as the shapely but nasty wife, she's a hoot to watch in this.

I won't go into the details of the plot - suffice to say that Basehart's character  decides to create a false identity, the better to commit the perfect murder .  

Some of the things I found really enjoyable about Tension were the on-location suburban L. A. setting ( I love that 50s courtyard apartment complex the hero moves into), the dual identity ruse, in which the plotting pharmacist disguises himself by switching his glasses for contact lens  (!), and the smart -a** detective who keeps stretching an elastic band  - to remind us that everyone cracks under , uh, tension.

 

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I often find film noir movies rich with humour. Often intentionally ( as in much of the dialogue in them), sometimes unintentionally. Either way, although I know, obviously, that these movies are not comedies nor were they intended to be, I find a lot that makes me laugh in some of them.  This is not to say that I don't take noir seriously, or recognize that very dark things happen in this genre. 

But there's also, often, much that I find quite funny in them, and Tension is a good example of this. 

 

I do have one quibble with the film:   SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

 

Don't read this part if you haven't seen the movie, although it's probably not much of a surprise that  - yes, Audrey Totter is the bad girl who's murdered her new boyfriend and tried to run home to Warren.  I don't have a problem with Audrey being the killer; but we're never given any motivation for her murdering the boyfriend. He's rich, he's crazy about her - why does she kill him? We have to make up the reason, since it's never given us.

 

Anyway, other than that, Tension is a fine little noir that's well worth watching.

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I do have one quibble with the film:   SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

 

 

Don't read this part if you haven't seen the movie, although it's probably not much of a surprise that  - yes, Audrey Totter is the bad girl who's murdered her new boyfriend and tried to run home to Warren.  I don't have a problem with Audrey being the killer; but we're never given any motivation for her murdering the boyfriend. He's rich, he's crazy about her - why does she kill him? We have to make up the reason, since it's never given us.

 

Anyway, other than that, Tension is a fine little noir that's well worth watching.

 

 

Its implied, if I remember right, that once Quimby told Barney about Claire's M.O., i.e., how she tells him that she is going off to watch a film but actually trolling for more men, that Barney probably confronted her and in the ensuing fight she shot him.

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Its implied, if I remember right, that once Quimby told Barney about Claire's M.O., i.e., how she tells him that she is going off to watch a film but actually trolling for more men, that Barney probably confronted her and in the ensuing fight she shot him.

 

Yeah, that's probably it. I did think of that - that Barney starts getting worried about whether Claire's actually gone to the movies or not  (if she's not at the movies, where is she?), because of the doubt that Warren plants. And rightly so...that trampy girl probably IS lying to Barney about where she's been. It's clear that she's a restless, easily distracted, fickle thing who may have been getting bored already with her new beau. 

So, yes, we can imagine a scenario in which Barney confronts Claire, she gets angry and defensive ( and nervous - she doesn't want to lose her comfortable beach house position already), grabs the gun that is sitting conveniently around somewhere within reach, and pulls the trigger on Barney. Probably not pre-meditated, maybe she'll get off with 2nd degree murder and life in prison ( where she can exchange life notes with Brigid O'Shaughnessy...)

 

But I still think something, just a couple of lines about why she did it, wouldn't have been amiss. Something like " All right ! The truth ! Barney was beginning to be a bore, even worse than you were, Warren. He started giving me a hard time, and before I knew it, I let him have it. I didn't mean to, it just happened. It's his fault. Ya gotta help me, Warren, ya gotta back me up."

 

By the way, I neglected to mention in my previous post about Tension the truly likable character Cyd Charisse plays - the sweet girl, the kind of girl Warren should have met and married in the first place. Cyd's role is relatively small, but she makes the most of it. I love the scene in the drugstore where the detective is trying to trap her into openly recognizing Paul Sothern/ Warren Quimby, but she won't take the bait. Of course ! She doesn't recognize him because he's wearing glasses ! He looks totally different  ! - - doesn't he?

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I love the way Audrey Totter looks royally p***** off so much of the time. She's good at this. (Check out her pretty, disapproving, face in Lady in the Lake. )

For some reason, I find her scowling really funny.

 

e2ddbd94bb946c11a25c07605befbebf.jpg

 

Oh, Claire, frowning again!

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I love the way Audrey Totter looks royally p***** off so much of the time. She's good at this. (Check out her pretty, disapproving, face in Lady in the Lake. )

For some reason, I find her scowling really funny.

 

e2ddbd94bb946c11a25c07605befbebf.jpg

 

Oh, Claire, frowning again!

 

Well, that is what too much tension can do to an individual.    

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How come I found this interesting thread languishing on page 4? Time to bump it up.

 

Anyone see Tension ? It was aired on the Sunday morning "Noir Alley " series a few weeks ago.

 

Damn, I love this odd little noir ! Like a lot of less spectacular film noirs, it's not as well-known as it deserves to be.

The always good Richard Basehart ( who's also not as well-known as he deserves to be) stars as a mild-mannered pharmacist ( a pharmacist !  what an un-noirish profession !  and nope, there's no poison prescriptions to be seen...) who's sexually obsessed with his tarty selfish shallow but very sexy ( in an obvious tarty sort of way) wife. Audrey Totter shines as the shapely but nasty wife, she's a hoot to watch in this.

I won't go into the details of the plot - suffice to say that Basehart's character  decides to create a false identity, the better to commit the perfect murder .  

Some of the things I found really enjoyable about Tension were the on-location suburban L. A. setting ( I love that 50s courtyard apartment complex the hero moves into), the dual identity ruse, in which the plotting pharmacist disguises himself by switching his glasses for contact lens  (!), and the smart -a** detective who keeps stretching an elastic band  - to remind us that everyone cracks under , uh, tension.

 

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I often find film noir movies rich with humour. Often intentionally ( as in much of the dialogue in them), sometimes unintentionally. Either way, although I know, obviously, that these movies are not comedies nor were they intended to be, I find a lot that makes me laugh in some of them.  This is not to say that I don't take noir seriously, or recognize that very dark things happen in this genre. 

But there's also, often, much that I find quite funny in them, and Tension is a good example of this. 

 

I do have one quibble with the film:   SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

 

Don't read this part if you haven't seen the movie, although it's probably not much of a surprise that  - yes, Audrey Totter is the bad girl who's murdered her new boyfriend and tried to run home to Warren.  I don't have a problem with Audrey being the killer; but we're never given any motivation for her murdering the boyfriend. He's rich, he's crazy about her - why does she kill him? We have to make up the reason, since it's never given us.

 

Anyway, other than that, Tension is a fine little noir that's well worth watching.

What would be a BIG noir? Most noirs do not break the bank, budget-wise.

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It's a bit late in the day for this one, it was aired last Sunday, and now we're almost up to the next one coming up for this Sunday ( as in, tomorrow.) Still....it's a film worth discussing....

 

THE BLUE GARDENIA

 

Oh, Fritz Lang, you are so friggin good !  I can't think, off-hand, of a Fritz Lang film I haven't liked, a lot, and The Blue Gardenia is no exception.

 

The film's premise is a classic noir theme:  A sympathetic protagonist ( in this case, a woman !) thinks she's committed a murder, but maybe she didn't, she just can't quite remember ( due to about a gallon of hard liquor in the form of "Polynesian Pearl Divers". I'd kind of like to try one of these. But not 10 in a row...)

Even the audience doesn't know whether she killed Harry Prebble, the man who was trying to force himself on her when she whacks a poker at him  - or so we're led to believe, but it's hard to tell, what with the point-of-view camera angle and the smashed mirror and Norah's ( our heroine) being so drunk.

This film,by the way, is interesting to watch these days if only for the 1953 take on date-rape, which the above scenario definitely is. Attempted date-rape. 

 

Can't resist noting that the scene leading up to the date-rape situation is the meeting between Norah and lascivious, predatory Harry ( Raymond Burr, good casting choice), at the trendy hot spot, "The Blue Gardenia". I love scenes like this - luxurious, pleasure-filled '50s nightclubs with fancy drinks and musicians like Nat King Cole (who sings, beautifully, the title song.) What fun it would be to hang out at a place like that !  

Anyway....

 

What we have with The Blue Gardenia is something unusual for 1953, a female-centric crime movie with most of the story seen from the perspective of a female character, Norah Larkin. Norah is convincingly and sympathetically played by Ann Baxter, proving that "Eve" was not just a happy fluke for this talented actress.

Norah lives with her two room-mates (female, of course), and one of the fun things about this movie is the way you see how the three women have worked out a co-operative system when it comes to house-keeping tasks and morning routines such as washing the dishes and making the orange juice. I really enjoyed all the scenes ( and there are quite a few) with the three "girls" interacting in their smallish apartment, talking, kidding, and supporting each other.

 

But what Lang and Baxter really nail is the panic a person would feel if they believed they'd committed a murder. Panic complicated by confusion, if you couldn't remember what exactly had transpired the night you think you might have done the murder. And the "closing net" feeling as the newspapers and radio continually update the story, how it's reported that the police are hard on the trail of the killer, is a perfect noir trope. 

I love the scene where Norah hears that they've figured out the killer was wearing a black taffeta dress. She gets up in the middle of the night and burns her dress ( a fabulous little black cocktail dress, what a waste !), only to encounter a police officer on the beat. Ann Baxter is wonderful at conveying the fear, the jumpiness, her character would feel in such a situation. (Turns out the cop just wants her to limit her incinerator activities to day- time....)

 

I haven't yet mentioned Richard Conte, who plays a hard-working reporter who wants to get Norah's "story" before the cops do. There's a fun Cinderella-like bit in which Conte ("Casey Mayo") tests whether the women calling him  to tell the story, claiming they're the killer, are truly the one the police are looking for by asking their shoe size  ( Norah had left her shoes in the murdered man's apartment.)

Conte is one of my favourite noir actors. He can do "good" guy ( as in The Blue Gardenia) or heartless villain ( check out The Big Combo ) with equal aplomb. He's perfect as the ambitious journalist who ( of course) falls for Norah once he meets her. I do have a bit of trouble believing that he doesn't realize that Norah, who claims she's just representing her "friend", is  the suspect the police are looking for. The old "it's not me, it's my friend" strategy had been used so many times, shirley Casey Mayo would have spotted it.

 

Anyway, I know I'm all over the place with these comments about The Blue Gardenia. Sorry if I haven't gone into the plot more, but for one thing, I assume that people wouldn't be reading this if they hadn't already seen the film, and for another, I don't think the plot is the most interesting aspect of a movie to talk about.

 

I hope all you noir fans out there, if you didn't catch The Blue Gardenia when it was on last Sunday, at least recorded it. It's well worth adding to your collection.

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I caught SCARLET STREET this morning, which I have not seen in some time. Much was made about the film being Fritz Lang's "American masterpiece" but I can think of at least two films I would cite as Lang's best American efforts -- THE BIG HEAT (1953) and FURY (1936).

 

I was alo struck by the tremendous similarity of the plot of SCARLET STREET to THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, also with Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett, directed by Fritz Lang in 1944. I know THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW has its detractors, owing primarily to the happy ending of the film, but in some ways I found the earlier film to be more entertaining than SCARLET STREET. The first time I saw SCARLET STREET, I was expecting to turn out to be a dream like WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, and then when it ended it was a real downer. I guess that's what Lang was going for, but it was so terribly bleak.

 

220px-Scarlet_Street_p.jpgWomanintheWindow.jpg

 

Which one do you prefer?

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I know this is going to sound peevish, and I'm sorry about that, because, like most people, I don't like whining and complaining.

 

BUT ! Yes, at the risk of being peevish, I have to wonder why so few people seem interested in this thread. Thing is, I wouldn't care if the topic were about some obscure movie or foreign language films or something equally unpopular on these boards.

But I know a lot of you out there like film noir.  So how come I'm more or less the only one posting on this thread?  

I really don't want the thread to turn into a "misswonderly reports" kind of thing, where it sort of becomes "my" thread, where I'm the only person posting on it, and I keep "replying" to my own previous posts. And I didn't even create this thread !

 

I'm not a fan of those threads, what I call "vanity" threads, in which just one poster is the only person to participate on it. This is not a blog, and I don't want to be regarded as one of those vanity thread people. 

I'd love to hear from others, especially all you noir fans who I know exist out there. 

People, these are great movies we're getting on "Noir Alley". Am I really the only one watching them?

 

(ps:  I appreciate the "likes" some have given me, only because it shows some people are reading this thread. My peevishness was not aimed at them. Although I would really like it if they - and other noir fans, I know they're there - shared some of their ideas about these movies here. We did have something going for a while with "Detour", but now all conversation here has fizzled out...)

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I caught SCARLET STREET this morning, which I have not seen in some time. Much was made about the film being Fritz Lang's "American masterpiece" but I can think of at least two films I would cite as Lang's best American efforts -- THE BIG HEAT (1953) and FURY (1936).

 

I was alo struck by the tremendous similarity of the plot of SCARLET STREET to THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, also with Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett, directed by Fritz Lang in 1944. I know THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW has its detractors, owing primarily to the happy ending of the film, but in some ways I found the earlier film to be more entertaining than SCARLET STREET. The first time I saw SCARLET STREET, I was expecting to turn out to be a dream like WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, and then when it ended it was a real downer. I guess that's what Lang was going for, but it was so terribly bleak.

 

220px-Scarlet_Street_p.jpgWomanintheWindow.jpg

 

Which one do you prefer?

 

Oops !  Posts collide !  Now I feel more peevish than ever. Sorry, Barton.  As for your question, to me it's a "no brainer " : 

 

The Woman in the Window is a good movie, and highly entertaining. But Scarlet Street is a great film. I will get back to this later, I have to ponder both films before I can articulate a better answer.

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I know this is going to sound peevish, and I'm sorry about that, because, like most people, I don't like whining and complaining.

 

BUT ! Yes, at the risk of being peevish, I have to wonder why so few people seem interested in this thread. Thing is, I wouldn't care if the topic were about some obscure movie or foreign language films or something equally unpopular on these boards.

But I know a lot of you out there like film noir.  So how come I'm more or less the only one posting on this thread?  

I really don't want the thread to turn into a "misswonderly reports" kind of thing, where it sort of becomes "my" thread, where I'm the only person posting on it, and I keep "replying" to my own previous posts. And I didn't even create this thread !

 

I'm not a fan of those threads, what I call "vanity" threads, in which just one poster is the only person to participate on it. This is not a blog, and I don't want to be regarded as one of those vanity thread people. 

I'd love to hear from others, especially all you noir fans who I know exist out there. 

People, these are great movies we're getting on "Noir Alley". Am I really the only one watching them?

 

(ps:  I appreciate the "likes" some have given me, only because it shows some people are reading this thread. My peevishness was not aimed at them. Although I would really like it if they - and other noir fans, I know they're there - shared some of their ideas about these movies here. We did have something going for a while with "Detour", but now all conversation here has fizzled out...)

There are a few reasons I can think of that fit me.

Many users do not check out the Film Noir thread very often, if at all.  I generally go to View New Content, then the black hole of Off Topic from which I have a hard time escaping, then General Discussions.  Sometimes I remember to check out the other sections, but not often.

This thread is under General Discussions, but just does not leap out at me and seldom shows up in New Content.

Also, many of us have said about as much as we wish to on the general topic of Film Noir.  There is a section dedicated to Film Noir specifically.

In addition, while I enjoy Film Noir, the selections so far have not done that much for me OR I have already commented on them before.  While there are many noirs I watch often, the selections for this series are ones that I have seen and really do not feel inspired to see them again.

I also wonder if owning copies of many of these movies decreases the desire to discuss them?  If I have a movie, I may not watch it when TCM shows it and therefore not as inclined to discuss it.

Just my speculations.

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Miss Wonderly3, I very much enjoyed your comments on The Blue Gardenia. I would have to agree with everything you said. My main attraction to this film is Raymond Burr, however. This character is so far removed from that of Perry Mason, it's almost scary. And Burr carries it off quite well.

 

I love the nightclub scene too. It's a shame they don't have nightclubs anymore. I wonder if it would be just too darn expensive to run.

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I know this is going to sound peevish, and I'm sorry about that, because, like most people, I don't like whining and complaining.

 

BUT ! Yes, at the risk of being peevish, I have to wonder why so few people seem interested in this thread. Thing is, I wouldn't care if the topic were about some obscure movie or foreign language films or something equally unpopular on these boards.

But I know a lot of you out there like film noir.  So how come I'm more or less the only one posting on this thread?  

I really don't want the thread to turn into a "misswonderly reports" kind of thing, where it sort of becomes "my" thread, where I'm the only person posting on it, and I keep "replying" to my own previous posts. And I didn't even create this thread !

 

I'm not a fan of those threads, what I call "vanity" threads, in which just one poster is the only person to participate on it. This is not a blog, and I don't want to be regarded as one of those vanity thread people. 

I'd love to hear from others, especially all you noir fans who I know exist out there. 

People, these are great movies we're getting on "Noir Alley". Am I really the only one watching them?

 

(ps:  I appreciate the "likes" some have given me, only because it shows some people are reading this thread. My peevishness was not aimed at them. Although I would really like it if they - and other noir fans, I know they're there - shared some of their ideas about these movies here. We did have something going for a while with "Detour", but now all conversation here has fizzled out...)

 

I love film noir post about them all the time, the main reasons I haven't posted is I'm working on weekends one, and two, I've seen all of these before and have discussed them before on other boards, it's not as if they are long lost or rarely seen gems which would be of more interest. 

 

I've become very interested in what B&W noirs were made between 1958 and 1968 when they were in flux and transitioning between Noir and Neo Noir.  I'm actually finding a lot of interesting films in the 1960-67-68 range with some new talented and innovative directors that emerged after the demise of the Motion Picture Production Code, the rise of TV, and the end of B unit Studio Production. The 1958/59 years usually given for Film Noir style cut off was just arbitrary. There are still a few B&W Film Noir up to 1968.

 
I think what's going on is as the Motion Picture Production Code weakened and independent film creators were allowed more artistic freedom, so those Film Noir that went too far over the line depicting violence started getting classified as Horror, Thriller (even though they were just say, showing the effects of a gunshot wound, or dealing with weird serial killers, maniacs, etc.), those that went too far depicting sexual, drug, torture, etc., situations were being lumped into or classed as various Exploitation flicks, (even though they are relatively tame comparably to today's films), the noir-ish films that dealt with everything else, except Crime, concerning the human condition were labeled Dramas and Suspense. Those that tried new techniques were labeled Experimental.
 
With nothing really giving some of some of these directors & producers some parameters, or putting the brakes on, there was no speed limit they just shot past common sense and good taste and eventually they just dispensed with almost all plot at all and just followed the easy money into hardcore. Shame cause you can clearly see artistic talent in these early "Grindhouse" features. 
 
P.S. I just watched Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967) the other day again (on TCM) and without a doubt it's a Film Noir in the vein of the psychological type noir, but everyone is distracted by its "sensationalism" and maybe some of the atrocious accents and the mumbling of Marlon, lol. 
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There are a few reasons I can think of that fit me.

Many users do not check out the Film Noir thread very often, if at all.  I generally go to View New Content, then the black hole of Off Topic from which I have a hard time escaping, then General Discussions.  Sometimes I remember to check out the other sections, but not often.

This thread is under General Discussions, but just does not leap out at me and seldom shows up in New Content.

Also, many of us have said about as much as we wish to on the general topic of Film Noir.  There is a section dedicated to Film Noir specifically.

In addition, while I enjoy Film Noir, the selections so far have not done that much for me OR I have already commented on them before.  While there are many noirs I watch often, the selections for this series are ones that I have seen and really do not feel inspired to see them again.

I also wonder if owning copies of many of these movies decreases the desire to discuss them?  If I have a movie, I may not watch it when TCM shows it and therefore not as inclined to discuss it.

Just my speculations.

 

Thanks for your reply, Cid.

 

To respond to some of your comments: When I first joined these TCM message boards, I went on that Film Noir forum all the time. I do recognize what you're saying - eg, that if I want to talk about noir so much, I can always go to that forum. Point taken.

The reason I stopped visiting the noir forum was a combination of things, but mainly it was my time became more limited. I really don't have the time to go on as many forums and threads here as I'd like to, and I just had to let some of them go. So I stuck mostly to General Discussions, mainly because there's the most "action" on that forum. The Noir forum is great, but fewer people post on it, and also, there seems to be a longer window of time between postings there than on the G.D. forum.

 

As for your comment that the particular selections for "Noir Alley" are films you've already seen and don't have that much more to say about them, well, fair enough. l cannot argue with people's personal preferences when it comes to movies ( or of course, anything else for that matter.)

However, I disagree. I too have seen all the choices so far ( some of them several times) but I seem to like them more upon each successive viewing. Many of the noirs being featured on the program are among my favourites, so I'm happy to see them again ( even though, like you, I actually own most of them.)

I guess I just think that there's a lot to be said about these movies, and even if they have been discussed here ( or elsewhere) before, like most interesting intelligent engaging films, they can be discussed many times without fatiguing my enthusiasm for them.

 

Something I've always fondly believed about Turner Classic Movies and this accompanying website is that it has a unifying aspect to it; that when it airs a certain movie ( or series of movies), many people are watching it at the same time, therefore sparking the desire to discuss it. Of course I know that many, probably most, TCM fans do not watch these films in real time, that they DVR them and watch them later/ Still, just the fact that TCM is airing them draws attention to them.

 

Anyway, I appreciate your taking the time to give me your take on my peevish post. 

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Something I've always fondly believed about Turner Classic Movies and this accompanying website is that it has a unifying aspect to it; that when it airs a certain movie ( or series of movies), many people are watching it at the same time, therefore sparking the desire to discuss it. Of course I know that many, probably most, TCM fans do not watch these films in real time, that they DVR them and watch them later/ Still, just the fact that TCM is airing them draws attention to them.

 

 

I generally watch Noir Alley on TCM's On Demand. I'm on the west coast, so it's hard to be completely coherent at 7am to give the program my full attention and critical analysis. I wish it'd air on Sunday nights.

 

Like you, I too, have seen most of the films on the Noir Alley bill, and I've long given my analyses during the Summer of Darkness a couple years ago. I generally contribute more to that forum which is still active under the Neo-Noir thread. What I like about Noir Alley is Eddie Muller's insight and presentations before/after the film. I also follow the twitter feed. I love the quips and cocktail recipes. 

 

But I digress. I do read the threads. I guess what keeps me from contributing in Noir Alley's real time is that I don't watch the program until mid-week.

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Miss Wonderly3, I very much enjoyed your comments on The Blue Gardenia. I would have to agree with everything you said. My main attraction to this film is Raymond Burr, however. This character is so far removed from that of Perry Mason, it's almost scary. And Burr carries it off quite well.

 

I love the nightclub scene too. It's a shame they don't have nightclubs anymore. I wonder if it would be just too darn expensive to run.

Interesting to me was the role's Burr played before Perry Mason.  He almost always played the heavy and did it very well.  Personally I think he did it better in some others even than in The Blue Gardenia.

And then he does the TV Perry Mason so well.

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