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misswonderly3

Film Noir Fridays: Can't Hardly Wait !

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Since this *Festivale du Filme Noir* is (apparently) themed by the writers of the pieces, I thought I'd take the moment to recommend some of me favorite romans noir ... roman noires? ... noirvels ?

 

Whatever: *crime novels of the 20th century:*

 

*The High Window by Raymond Chandler*. It's one of the least-discussed titles of the glorious "Unholy Sextet", but I remember it as being my favorite when I went on a six-novel-straight Chandler binge whilst living in LA. It is also- I think - the one novel of his besides (the also under-discussed and underrated) Playback- which has never been done for film (but maybe TV? With Powers Boothe?)

 

 

*The Grifters by Jim Thompson.* I love this book. I have read most everything Dickens and George Eliot and Hemingway and Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy ever wrote and I -seriously- would cite The Grifters as at least one of the most perfectly written novels I've ever read. It is excellent and has this whizz-bang-right-jab-and-one-you-didn't-see'coming ending that blows you away. The film as a disappointment, if only because when reading it, *you must know how it ends* and you have to put forth that extra effort and focus required especially and uniquely bu reading to get there and then when you do it's like: "Oh.****." Everything a novel should be.

 

 

*The Asphalt Jungle by WR Burnett.* Every bit as engrossing as the movie- with the harness of the Production Code lifted from the way the author tells it. I didn't think it would be as good as the movie. I was wrong.

 

 

*Clean Break by Lionel White.* Retitled (and likely most editions bear the title of:) The Killing by Stanley Kubrick. This may knock the thread off the rails but here goes: *THE BOOK BLOWS THE MOVIE OUT OF THE WATER BY A MILE AND A HALF.* Kurbuck EFFED it UP. Order it on amazon or go to your library. Check it out.

 

 

*Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.* I'm getting old. All I remember is that I really liked this the best of Hammett's Unholy Sextet, but I don't remember why. Maybe I'll take my own recomendation and check it out meself...

 

 

ps- I've tried, but I'm not "in" to Cornell Woolrich or David Goodis.

 

 

pss- would also recommend The Far Cry by Fredric Brown.

 

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 7, 2013 10:59 AM

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 7, 2013 11:03 AM

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 7, 2013 11:05 AM

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Hammett's Red Harvest was made into a film several times. The first occasion was 1930's ROADHOUSE NIGHTS, which I listed earlier in the thread.

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"The High Window" was actually adapted twice, both times by Fox in the 1940s.

 

The first one was called TIME TO KILL and Marlowe became Michael Shayne in the person of Lloyd Nolan.

 

The second was THE BRASHER DOUBLOON which starred George Montgomery. This one I saw 40 years ago and I can't say that it was very good. Maybe if Fox had cast Dana Andrews, John Payne, Richard Conte, Victor Mature, Richard Widmark or Zanuck's pool boy, I might have been more favorably inclined.

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But I was right in thinking Playback has never been filmed, which is kind of a shame, but I understand why.

 

However, I again note that I was most pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

 

I do not want to spoil the ending, but Chandler pretty clearly meant for it to be the last of the Marlowe series and it works. It also ties in nicely to The Long Goodbye, which you need to read first to fully appreciate Playback, (although I note, The Long Goodbye is the only one of Chandler's novels I didn't care for, and I read it twice.)

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 7, 2013 11:24 AM

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I was excited when I heard the theme, but in looking at the list of films, many of these aren't noirs, even broadly construed. Not as far from noirs, as, say, ALL THIS AND HEAVEN TOO, but still not noirs.

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Oh yeah, baby, I definitely can't wait!!! And it's on, tonight! I won't be able to catch as many as I would like tonight as I have to work tomorrow, but tomorrow night, the DVR will be hummin' it!

 

Tonight's lineup is really totally rockin'!!

 

Total groovaliciousness!

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There do seem to be more films that are being called noir when their

inclusion is somewhat dubious, but it's fairly easy to find fit these

into the noir category if one wants to. Eddie is doing what any smart

businessman does--expanding the franchise.

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Take some of the most famous films ever made, call them noirs, and the noir franchise is off and running.....CITIZEN KANE: noir.........CASABLANCA: noir.........GONE WITH THE WIND: noir (well, maybe that is going too far)

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Citizen Kane and Casablanca are easy lifts. Hard to find a hero more

world weary and disillusioned than Ricky. Gone With The Wind would

take some really heavy lifting--a Civil War pic in color as a noir? Frankly

my dear, I don't see how.

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Fred to finance, earlier:

 

No CITIZEN KANE and no GONE WITH THE WIND on a first date.

 

These are special-audience movies that not all people like.

 

-------------------------

 

DANG! I posted that message on the WRONG THREAD ! Please excuse me folks, I thought this was the "movie on the first date" thread. :)

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Jun 7, 2013 7:59 PM

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I just wish this was made permanent for Fridays. It would be a great way to end the week.

 

And there are lots of noirs to play. All the one people complain about not seeing would eventually get seen.

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Well, it was something different and unusual, so I can't fault TCM for showing it, but OY! the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon was *terrible.*

 

However, one does learn as much from watching a bad movie as a good one, and I would have to say it is an invaluable lesson to any aspiring or otherwise actor/director/writer to see both versions as a sort of *Lesson A in* : *here it is done very badly* vs. *here it is done right.*

 

Bold in my memory is the scene 1/2 way through the picture where Spade calls Miss Wonderly out on her "damsel in distress" routine once she's done laying it on with a trowel. (ps- was it just me or was there no mention of the name "Brigid O'Shaugnessy" in the 1931 version? Guess they thought the audience wouldn't get it)

 

 

( note- paraphrased [ possibly badly|http://forums.tcm.com/] from memory here )

 

 

SPADE: "I particularly like the look you get in your eyes when you say 'please help me, Mr. Spade' and that weak quality you get in your voice when you say it."

 

 

From Bogart as Spade, it's him calling her out, saying "cut the crap, I get what you're all about. I'm not a sap, level with me and I'll level with you." He's a decent guy at heart, but the rules of the game preclude the use of said heart.

 

 

From Cortez as Spade it became the most loathsome, icky, condescending, SMARMY put-down. His Spade is *100% HEEL.* No nuance, no decency. Cortez was nowhere near as good *and nowhere near as smart* an actor as Bogart and his turn as Spade lacks any sort of depth at all and thus the whole crux of the story is moot, it has no shoulders to rest upon.

 

 

The supporting cast of the 1931 version comes off badly as well. Oh what an appreciation one had for Lorre and Greenstreet- doing *so much more* in pretty much the same roles with much of the same dialogue. The guy playing Cairo (not even called "Cairo" in this version) came off particularly bad to me. Dwight Frye made the most of his minimal use, but even a strong performance from him compares badly to the much more restrained (and effective) work of Elisha Cook in the remake.

 

 

I think the 1931 director just didn't have an effing clue what he was doing.

 

 

About the only cast member who comes off well is Una Merkel. She was terrific, but I kept yelling at her to wise up and drop Ricardo. Ugh- he was such a manpig!

 

 

Props, I guess to Roy Del Ruth for at least making the sex pretty obvious. That's about all the 1931 version has going for it.

 

 

I guess it would be too mean to compare what he does with the story with what Huston uiltimately crafted, and I'm running low on time. However, was it just me or was the four-minute-long montage of Spade searching Miss Wonderly's apartment the most *tedious use of screen time ever?* (They could've just had a montage of phone dialing scenes serve the same purpose.)

 

 

1931 The Maltese Falcon (aka Dangerous Woman ???): *one-and-a half stars out of four.*

 

 

ps- Leonard Maltin gave it three stars.

pss- Leonard Maltin huffs paint thinner.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 8, 2013 10:18 AM

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Gotta agree with Addison about that 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon, and I like Cortez in just about every other movie I've seen him in. I *might* not have found it so terrible if I'd seen it before the Bogart version, but I don't think even that would've added half a star to its rating.

 

OTOH since I'm the perpetual Charlie Brown when it comes to trying movies I know will disappoint, I'm looking forward to seeing the second version from last night, the 1934 Warren William / Bette Davis remake. So far the only "bad" William roles I've seen have been when he plays Goody Two Shoes characters ( Gold Diggers of 1933, Three on a Match, Imitation of Life ), and the young Bette Davis is always worth a look, so maybe there's some hope for Satan Met a Lady. At least it can't be worse than the Cortez version.

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>His Spade is 100% HEEL. No nuance, no decency

 

And no code. :)

 

I can't believe you like the sanitized Code-Spade better. :)

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This is what I mean by shortchanging other genres. Fridays for film noir? That's all these people ever show is film noir, 1930s, 1940 and some 1950s not enough though. Would like to see a repeat of The Burgler with Dan Duryea. Just look at the TCM emblem. A 1930s/40s guy with a hat so don't tell me these guys need to set aside fridays for film noir. It's just a way for TCM to set aside a weekday for filler.

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I think you need to check out some of the 50 or more other movie channels on cable TV. You are pretending that TCM is the only movie channel on the air.

 

Film noirs are among the most requested of all TCM films.

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I have little doubt that critics of the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon would probably be a lot more receptive to this pre-code version of the Hammett detective novel if they didn't have the Huston-Bogart version to which they can compare it.

 

I quite liked Ricardo Cortez as Spade. His smooth oily superficial charm masked a ruthless character completely out for himself. The only person for whom he may have had a little affection (just maybe) was secretary Una Merkel. Everyone else, particularly the women, look out, this man is ready to use you. But let's not forget that Hammett's Spade is not the same romantic knight-of-the-streets that was Raymond Chandler's Marlowe.

 

Therefore, even though street tough Bogart is clearly the definitive Spade, smooth, oily Cortez worked quite well in his role, I thought. The script does allow glimpses of conscience pangs from Cortez when he visits a weepy Bebe Daniels in prison, only to largely negate that a moment later when we see him smiling at the fadeout. Cortez, ultimately, really is a cold one, not as physically hard or imposing as Bogart but seemingly more shallow as a character. Some may cite that shallowness as just Cortez as an actor but I think it's still effective in the 1931 Spade role.

 

Yes, the supporting cast here looks like lost opportunities compared to Lorre, Greenstreet and Cook in the '41 version. But then there's Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly (we never do hear the first name in the '41 version, do we?). Being a pre-code film, Daniels has the opportunity to be a lot more sensual than would school marmish Mary Astor in the Huston take on the same tale. Astor gives a more intelligent reading of her role (as does all the cast in the '41 version) but sexy Astor is not. (Yes, I know she doesn't have the opportunity, though I'm not certain that Astor could have pulled that aspect off as well anyway). I am saying, however, that Daniels brings a sensuality to her part lacking in the '41 version, and it adds to her portrayal as a femme fatale.

 

Unlike some of the other posters' takes on this film, I think that the '31 Maltese Falcon, while clearly no classic, is still quite entertaining, with the inherent advantages to be found by being done in the pre-code period compensating for supporting performances that do not measure up to those in the Huston version. Cortez's snake-in-the-grass charm works well as Spade for me. It's just a different take on the well known Bogart interpretation of the role, and that may take a little getting used to.

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRGKkofEq0PzvT_Sn0Lpjv

 

Cortez as Spade: a womanizing snake out for Number One.

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From your narrative, you don't seem to give that much credit to Huston for the superiority of the '41 version. It certainly made him a "hot" director.

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City Streets, a sophisticated Paramount gangster tale in contrast to the street gritty Warners hoodlum sagas, is a highly entertaining pre-code joy, for me. Hammett's original screenplay is augmented by the highly inventive direction of Rouben Mamoulian and elegant photography of Lee Garmes.

 

The film has some wonderful touches, I feel. Yes, the casting of people like Gary Cooper and Paul Lukas as gangsters seems a little strange. Then, again, this film was reputedly a favourite of Al Capone, who called it the most realistic of gangster films.

 

Whether it's realistic or not, it sure is stylish. The casting of jovial, smiling Guy Kibbee as a ruthless mob member works extremely well. Now it may seem like counter casting but at the time this 1931 effort had one of Kibbee's first roles.

 

I love the scene in which the audience knows that Kibbee plans to bump off boss Stanley Fields, and as you see the shot of the smaller Kibbee walking behind Fields, Garmes' photography gradually has Kibbee's shadow loom larger so that it finally towers over Fields, a (pardon the expression) foreshadowing of what is to come.

 

Of course, there's also the famous voiceover narrative sequence set in the prison cell, in which there are variations of previous audio dialogues played on the soundtrack as a distraught Sylvia Sidney lies in her bunk at night. (Only Hitchcock had done the same thing earlier in a British talkie, before Mamoulian became the first American director to do so in this film).

 

Speaking of Sidney, she's really excellent in this film. She would later became something of a specialist in being cast as heroines of the Depression, her large soulful eyes reflecting the sadness of those economic times. Still, part of me would have loved to have seen original casting choice Clara Bow in this role. As Bow showed the following year when she made Call Her Savage, she was a great, spontaneous actress, and, to put it mildly, one smoking hot sexy lady.

 

Bow and former off screen lover Cooper might have burnt up their scenes together in City Streets. Aside from that lament, however, Sidney's casting is actually one of the highlights of the film for me. As for Cooper, I found him charmingly boyish, unlikely as gangster material, I admit, but quite engaging in his role. Coop never played in a gangster film again, and it's perhaps it's just as well, but his one fling at the genre would be in an impressive, if little remembered, effort.

 

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I am surprised that Muller did not pick Mickey Spillane. Two films using material by Spillane are in the Turner Library: RING OF FEAR and KISS ME DEADLY.

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Well I finally watched the entire 31 version and I must say that I wasn't impressed. I just don't like Cortez's interpretation of Spade. I find it to be an all over the place mess. One area I don't believe mentioned yet was the differences in how Spade interacts with the police. With Cortez these scenes are just another chance to be glib. With Bogart one can see that there is respect between Dundy and Spade. Their scenes have tension.

 

With the Huston Bogie version we are watching a crime film while the Cortez version is more of a lark. Yea the Cortez version is more sexual but to me that takes away from the crime elements of the plot.

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