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FredCDobbs

Black Widow (1954), beginning of the end of the classic era

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You have a point. Sophia Loren had top billing in OPERATION CROSSBOW but that hardly made her the real star (nor the film a women's war film). Ida Lupino had it in HIGH SIERRA, but does the film belong to Lupino or to Bogart? Bogie was supposed to get his name on top, but some trouble arose when he was called before the Dies Commission and a hesitant WB put Lupino on in first place.

 

 

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This movie was part of a package Fox sold to NBC in 1962 and they ran it a few times back then. Today was my first time seeing it in 50 years and I liked it as much as I did then. I'd forgotten much of it and didn't realize Nancy doesn't get it until nearly halfway into the film. I also didn't get the thing with Ginger committing a murder and hanging up the body without mussing her dress. The story was well told with Carlotta's exposure coming as a real surprise.

 

Speaking of surprises; was that really George Raft as a *cop*? With no Tommy gun in sight? Seriously, I thought he was good and wasn't sure if he believed Peter or not and kept watching to find out.

 

If it wasn't Noir it was still an interesting film. I'm glad I went back again.

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To circumvent the restrictions of the production code, they usually did employ the flashback method. It showed that what the viewer was about to see happened in the past and that corrective measures (law enforcement) have been taken to improve society. If they did not frame the narrative this way, it would look like the filmmakers were sanctioning violence and crime.

 

Of course, other films in different genres use flashbacks, too.

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Fred:

 

If it is a crossover noir film, was it a crossover from good and excellent noir films (Impact, dearie, and of course Murder My Sweet, my sweet, I'm looking at you both) to bad and worse noir films, which I wouldn't have seen since they wouldn't have been in my beloved black and white?

 

Can you share another very good (unlike this stinkeroo) noir film that was in !Technicolor! and !Cinemascope! which I wouldn't have bothered with due to my innate prejudice for all film things color, excepting TWOO of course?

 

Rope was a delightfully delicious diabolical color movie, but I wouldn't categorize that as a noir. Should I?

 

O/T: you know what I wish? I wish that there existed an online film dictionary containing the names and synopses of every film ever made, where one could plug in 'Rope' and 'Impact' and not come up with, respectively, the noun and the verb but the films! Google, are you listening?

 

 

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The two most noir-like color movies I have seen from this time era are *Niagara* 1953 and *A Kiss Before Dying* 1956. *A Kiss before Dying* is especially interesting considering what possibly happened off of Catalina Island in real life.

 

*Leave Her To Heaven* from 1945 should also be included as it was done in color and involves a psycho of sorts. So between these three movies I would think they represent the best of the so-called color noirs I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

PS Any noir fan that goes into seeing these three movies with high expectations i would be surprised if they are not fullfilled. All three have very interesting "deaths" in them for lack of a better word.

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> Can you share another very good (unlike this stinkeroo) noir film that was in Technicolor and Cinemascope which I wouldn't have bothered with due to my innate prejudice for all film things color, excepting TWOO of course?

 

I think BLACK WIDOW (1954) is probably the most extreme crossover noir example I've seen, since it has so many old-time noir actors in it, and an old-time plot, while having the most brightly-lit Technicolor in the widest format Cinemascope, and with the actors obviously spread out across the screen in an artificial way and so much that there is no feeling of intimacy. The film pretty much lacks shadows and dark nighttime scenes.

 

I can give you another example of a crossover film, but it is not a noir. It is a WW II type of screwball comedy, with old-time actors, but filmed in Technicolor and Cinemascope in 1956.

 

It is THE AMBASSADOR?S DAUGHTER (1956).

 

The oddity of this film is that the young virginal girl that the young soldier is after, is 40 years old, while the young soldier is 38 years old.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048944/

 

Olivia de Havilland ... Joan Fisk

John Forsythe ... Sgt. Danny Sullivan

Myrna Loy ... Mrs. Cartwright

Adolphe Menjou ... Senator Jonathan Cartwright

Edward Arnold ... Ambassador William Fisk

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Check out "Desert Fury" (1947) with John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey and Mary Astor. Definitely noir-"ish" and done in that bright 1940's Technicolor. Lots of wierd subliminal psychological stuff going on too.

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>The much more recent L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is noir through and through.

 

Yes. And it's a classic, too.

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>What is considered "this" time era? The much more recent L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is noir through and through.

 

It's a neo-noir, It uses period costumes and old cars to help give it the feeling of being an old time noir. :)

 

This type of neo-noir can be a successful film, such as Chinatown, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Two Jakes, etc.

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See:

 

Category:Neo-noir: The film noir genre generally refers to mystery/crime dramas produced from the early-1940s to the late 1950s. Movies of this genre were shot in black and white, and featured stories involving femmes fatales, doomed heroes/anti-heroes, and tough, cynical detectives.

 

The neo-noir sub-genre refers to crime dramas and mysteries produced from the mid-1960s to the present that, while they are generally shot in color and do not always emulate the visual style of classic film noir, often borrow the themes, archetypes, and plots made famous by the film noir genre.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Neo-noir

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THE MONEY TRAP was made in the mid-'60s, but it was in b&w, and if you didn't know that it was made in the mid-'60s, you'd think it was made in the early '50s (except for the obviously aged Hayworth, Ford, Montalban, and Cotten)

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Of course, there are a lot of crime, murder, and mystery films that are very good, but I believe that a "true noir" must be in 4:3 and b&w.

 

There were some near-noirs made in the 1930s, such as CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, but it was not a full true noir.

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The screen is 4 units wide and 3 units tall. For example, 40 feet wide and 30 feet tall. Pretty much the same screen proportions as the old TV screen format. Some people call it 1.37:1 or 1.33:1

 

With 4:3, if you divide the 4 by 3, you get 1.33, and the 3 represents 1, and that gives you 1.33:1 :)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_ratio

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Of course there is no final and official definition of a "noir film". :)

 

I just think Black Widow has a large number of old noir actors and the most obvious new photography technique for Technicolor and Cinemascope, with the wide sets, the people spread apart, the brightly lit sets, and very few shadows.

 

It took Hollywood a few years to figure out how to put shadows in color films, since color films lose their color if the scene is dark. The color just sort of fades out in shadows.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> > What is considered "this" time era? The much more recent L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is noir through and through.

> It's a neo-noir, It uses period costumes and old cars to help give it the feeling of being an old time noir. :)

>

> This type of neo-noir can be a successful film, such as Chinatown, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Two Jakes, etc.

 

I'd add *Blood Simple*, *Memento*, and *Red Rock West* to the list of excellent neo-noirs.

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Ok, I haven't seen those. I like the ones that use old cars, old buildings, and old-time locations. :)

 

Denzel Washington did an excellent job playing a black detective in 1940s Los Angeles in Devil in a Blue Dress.

 

I wish he would do a re-make of Casablanca before he gets too old. He is one of the best modern actors.

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*Of course, other films in different genres use flashbacks, too.*

 

Yes, please let's make this clear before someone starts in that ALL ABOUT EVE is noir.

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The ones I mentioned are not period pieces, but modern settings to when they were made. But, they definitely have a strong flavor of the old noirs. *Memento* is a truly unique film. It has a gimmick that puts the viewer as much in the dark as the protagonist, and produces the same effect in the viewer as the protagonist is experiencing. It is sort of the ultimate flashback film.

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*I think BLACK WIDOW (1954) is probably the most extreme crossover noir example I've seen, since it has so many old-time noir actors in it, and an old-time plot, while having the most brightly-lit Technicolor in the widest format Cinemascope, and with the actors obviously spread out across the screen in an artificial way and so much that there is no feeling of intimacy. The film pretty much lacks shadows and dark nighttime scenes.*

 

Fred, I have never subscribed to BLACK WIDOW being a noir, just a run of the mill murder mystery set among Broadway sorts. That being said, this movie was one of many made by Fox in the first year that the studio brought out Cinemascope. So everything you describe about is correct, as Hollywood came up with different widescreen processes (and Cinerama and 3-D) in attempts to try to lure back the patrons that were deserting them for their TV sets. Give the people what they (maybe) want that they can't get on the small screen, seems to have been the credo.

 

Yes they had to line them up across the screen, which is why many of the early Cinemscope flicks had many stars in the cast, including this one. And yes, the size of one's role is not necessarily reflected by how highly billed a given star is; this is indeed mostly about Van Heflin's dilemma, and how it affects those around him. In answer to another post of yours, there are some technicolor films that have shadows and night scenes; many of Fox' 40s color films have some amazing scenes like this, if not always lifelike, quite breathtakingly beautiful.

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