Dr. Rich Edwards

July 31 Film Discussion for #NoirSummer for all 13 Films

157 posts in this topic

I'm asking myself "If they wanted to show a color noir movie, why not Bad Day at Black Rock???" Not that Party Girl is all that bad, just that Bad Day at Black Rock is all that great, and twice as noir, if you ask me...

That or Slightly Scarlett.

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Thank you  Dr. Edwards, Ball State University, TCM, Eddie Muller, and the countless others behind the scenes,  who endlessly worked together to create the wonderful gift of this course. And that it was free for anyone who wanted to enroll it it is fantastic.  A big thank you as well to everyone who shared their thoughts in the posts on the message board.  You were my teachers as well. 

 

I can't remember when I've enjoyed a learning experience this much.  And I have learned so much. I look at films so differently now.   Not only did I receive an education about film noir, but I was reintroduced to  all of the  character actors whose faces were familiar to me  but whose names were lost until now. 

 

I've had the pleasure of seeing Double Indemnity on the "big screen" at my local theater with my family.  Truthfully, if it hadn't been for this course, I probably wouldn't have done this.  And I am now reading  books by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler for the first time in my life and am enjoying every page.  Also, I just got a copy of The Lives of Robert Ryan and am looking forward to learning about this recently "rediscovered" actor.  So this course has changed my life in so many ways!!  And I will be forever grateful!!

 

I so hope TCM will offer another course in the future.  I would  love it if TCM would dsignate one day or evening a month to films noir, showing ones that didn't make it to the schedule this summer.

I would also love to see the TCM guide, Now Playing, designate films noir in the guide as they do adventure, comedy, crime, drama, etc.

 

Again, thank to everyone.  Boy, am I going to miss this course!!!  I am so glad that we'll still be able to post on the message board!!

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The Big Heat:

Violence and the Postwar Existential Crisis

 

The movie’s opening is grim: The first shot after the credits is of a gun on a table or a desk, and the first scene involves a suicide. The wife, Bertha Duncan, opens her husband’s suicide note and uses the information inside for blackmail: She now has inside information on the local tough Mike Lagana.

 

Postwar suburbia and domesticity seem to be nonexistent or threatened in The Big Heat. The Bannion family seems like a loyal, loving trio. They live in their own house in a seemingly nice neighborhood. But nothing and no one is safe in a city or town run by corruption. The movie still shows some lasting effects of the idealism of World War II. For example, Army veteran friends of Dave Bannion’s brother-in-law are protecting Bannion’s daughter. The war is over but they are ready to defend Bannion and to protect what they fought for overseas. One of them even says that the thugs in town wouldn’t dare to go where he has gone while he served in the army.

 

The violence in general is shocking. Debby Marsh, who starts out as a femme fatale, shoots Bertha Duncan and throws hot coffee in Vince Stone’s face. Stone shoots and kills Debby, but even before that, the movie depicts a lot of violence against women:

• Lucy Chapman is tortured and strangled. No sexual assault but it’s called a psychopathic act. Her body is covered in cigarette burns. (She may be a “working girl” or a barfly, but the coroner and Bannion are still concerned about her death and solving the murder case.)

• Katie Bannion, Dave Bannion’s wife, is killed in a car bomb blast.

• Vince Stone uses his cigar to burn a woman’s hand at The Retreat, a bar.

• Vince Stone throws hot coffee in Debby Marsh’s face, scarring her.

 

The war may be over but there’s more fighting to do now on the home front because nothing is as rosy as it appears at home, with its corruption, violence, intimidation. The Big Heat is another example of a bleak existential postwar crisis. Maybe by now the crisis is also accentuated by the Cold War. Dave Bannion makes a decision to fight the corruption he sees, and he’s given extra motivation after the murder of his wife. One could say that he, the Army veterans protecting his daughter, and Debby Marsh are the only ones who are holding on to any ideals at all, even though they are willing to resort to violence themselves.

 

The ending, with the obsequious police officer and Bannion sitting again at his desk, seemed like it was tacked on for decency’s sake. But for me, we already saw that decency had prevailed when Bannion comforts Debby Marsh during her death. With all the violence against women portrayed in this movie, I thought that The Big Heat could have ended right then and been an even better movie.

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This is my first time seeing Criss Cross. Hard to believe that this beautiful woman is Lily Munster!  Great story and acting so far especially be DeCarlo.

 

And the fashion! I can stop looking at the shoes!

One of the great things about this course is being introduced to so many actors and actresses in their "former lives," prior to TV.....

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So I'm watching Desperate and the fact that Raymond Burr's character's name is Walt has my mind wandering to Breaking Bad. I'm thinking about the absolute noirness of the show (my waaaaaaaaaaaay all time favorite), and wondering if I've been a serious noir fan for a long time and just didn't know it until I took this class...

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Suddenly

 

Okay, so I've obviously learned nothing because I cannot see a single reason this is a Noir. Or...perhaps I've watched it with my newly-minted Noir chops and analysed the style, subject and societal aspects of the movie and decided that it doesn't fit into my own narrower definition of the genre/style/movement! 

 

Suddenly (a United Artists movie) stars a brutal and psychotic Frank Sinatra as a hitman paid to kill the President and who holds the Sheriff and his girlfriend's family hostage while time ticks down until the President rolls into town. 

 

I can see where such an amoral character as Sinatra's hitman might be seen as Noir, and the film does tie into the fear and paranoia of the outsider in the 50s, but: 

  • The movie is filmed in a very flat manner, with even lighting throughout and traditional framing and angles. It actually reminded me of 50s TV.
  • The sheriff is good, and lives.
  • The bad guys are bad, and all die.
  • The guy gets the gal.
  • The bad eat lead.
  • People learn lessons and come out of the movie heading for a brighter future.
  • No femme fatale, no voice-over, no flashbacks, no shadows, no night! 

Two more things. Firstly, Sterling Hayden is as wooden in this as a store-front Indian, was he really star material back in the day? Finally, Sinatra was my grandpa's favorite artist and I wonder if he enjoyed his acting roles too, wonder if he took my gran to see this in 1954 and I wonder what he thought, I'd love to know. 

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This is my first time seeing Criss Cross. Hard to believe that this beautiful woman is Lily Munster!  Great story and acting so far especially be DeCarlo.

 

And the fashion! I can stop looking at the shoes!

I was wondering why her name was so familiar! I had the hots for Morticia Addams when I was a kid, but Lilly Munster was cute too(it was the stripe in the hair got me!).

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Party Girl- A Ted Turner Colorized Classic, I've had a change of heart, colorized films can be noir especially if that good looking Robert Taylor is in it, in his technicolor glory

I didn't know it was colorized.  That's always good.

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Suddenly (1954)

 

This is a well made suspenseful thriller about a plot to assassinate the president. John Baron (Frank Sinatra) takes over control of a home which sits high across the tracks of a train station, where the president is expected later that day.

 

Observations and thoughts

I found it ironic that the television set played a role in saving the day. In Daily Dose #24 (Opening scene from 99 River Street) the curator mentioned, “. . . Phil Karlson [possibly] commenting on the limitations of television in the 1950s." Here the director may be suggesting the opposite- that television has no limits and is a legitimate source of entertainment.

 

My personal preference in film noir is an intense visual style made of sharp contrasts.

Suddenly is a very good film but visually it is too “bright” and lacking dark hues. I enjoyed the movie very much, it kept me interested throughout and moved along at a good pace. Sinatra was excellent and convincing as always. Sterling Hayden who I’ve seen before in four major titles, was under used I thought. What I mean is, the role seemed small for him and didn’t pack a punch.

 

Thematic elements includes transgression and postwar anxiety . I want to say cold war anxiety but the movie was never clear about the motive nor who was behind the plot.

 

When Baron tells the sheriff, “When you have a gun, you are a sort of god,” I think it rings true of most noir villains who seem to show a false sense of entitlement towards their superiority.

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Get your popcorn ready!  What a great prime-time lineup!  I'm especially looking forward to seeing Criss Cross!  

Don't laugh, but I actually designated Fridays as "popcorn Fridays" and at some point in the evening would make a batch to enjoy right along with the films.  For me it gave the whole experience a nice "extra touch."  How I'm going to miss film noir Fridays!!!

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I didn't know it was colorized.  That's always good.

 

Just to clarify, Party Girl wasn't colorized, it was shot in color in the 1950s. Colorization refers to a practice of transforming original B&W films into color in the 1980s. That wasn't the case of this film. It was originally shot in color. 

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Suddenly

 

Okay, so I've obviously learned nothing because I cannot see a single reason this is a Noir. Or...perhaps I've watched it with my newly-minted Noir chops and analysed the style, subject and societal aspects of the movie and decided that it doesn't fit into my own narrower definition of the genre/style/movement! 

 

Suddenly (a United Artists movie) stars a brutal and psychotic Frank Sinatra as a hitman paid to kill the President and who holds the Sheriff and his girlfriend's family hostage while time ticks down until the President rolls into town. 

 

I can see where such an amoral character as Sinatra's hitman might be seen as Noir, and the film does tie into the fear and paranoia of the outsider in the 50s, but: 

  • The movie is filmed in a very flat manner, with even lighting throughout and traditional framing and angles. It actually reminded me of 50s TV.
  • The sheriff is good, and lives.
  • The bad guys are bad, and all die.
  • The guy gets the gal.
  • The bad eat lead.
  • People learn lessons and come out of the movie heading for a brighter future.
  • No femme fatale, no voice-over, no flashbacks, no shadows, no night! 

Two more things. Firstly, Sterling Hayden is as wooden in this as a store-front Indian, was he really star material back in the day? Finally, Sinatra was my grandpa's favorite artist and I wonder if he enjoyed his acting roles too, wonder if he took my gran to see this in 1954 and I wonder what he thought, I'd love to know. 

I completely agree with your thoughts regarding this film. I watched it because of Frank Sinatra and was somewhat disappointed overall.

Like your grandpa, Ol' Blue Eyes was and still is one of my top favorite artists. He had an innate acting ability as well and, I could be wrong, but I don't think he was formally trained. He was superb in The Man with the Golden Arm, which I believe, could be classifed as another noir-must-see. Sidebar: My mother would regale me with stories about Sinatra and the bobby soxers...but, that is a whole 'nother story; I believe that period remains as one of the most critical turning points of his career. All in my humble opinion, of course. Enjoyed your post.

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Thanks for the clarification.  Adding to my noir knowledge bank :)

Just to clarify, Party Girl wasn't colorized, it was shot in color in the 1950s. Colorization refers to a practice of transforming original B&W films into color in the 1980s. That wasn't the case of this film. It was originally shot in color. 

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i know yvonne decarlo is a gorgeous woman, no wonder the men were fighting and robbing over her!

This is my first time seeing Criss Cross. Hard to believe that this beautiful woman is Lily Munster!  Great story and acting so far especially be DeCarlo.

 

And the fashion! I can stop looking at the shoes!

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Last night's send-off to Summer of Darkness was amazing, starting with Criss Cross.  From the very first scene you knew Steve, Anna and Dundee were headed for disaster and, like a lot of train wreck's, it was impossible to look away, even for a second.  Lancaster, DeCarlo and Duryea were fantastic!


 


All the elements of noir were in residence...the heist, the double cross, the flashbacks, the snappy patter, the love triangle...one member of whom, at least, was possessive and brutal, the gravity of the past weighing-down the present and destroying all hope of a future, the wonderful camerawork and lighting even in what could otherwise be 'throwaway' scenes.   And what an ending!   An absolutely wonderful film!  


 


Brute Force has always lived up to its name, and its cast is a virtual 'who's who' of noir!   It's a devastating portrayal and indictment of power and brutality and our whole penal system (and more) that's as poignant now as it was when first made.   The use of the same generic portrait of a woman to springboard into the flashbacks of how the cellmates of R17 got there was very nicely done and afforded both momentary relief from the claustrophobic cell and yet inevitably confirmed the hopelessness and futility of any chance of escaping it back to those happier times.  Those brief flashbacks were like having a door briefly open and then quickly shut in your face.


 


Desperate was all about random chance victimizing an average, innocent guy, a B noir made special by its direction, camerawork and the monomaniacal menace of Raymond Burr.   (It's easy to forget just how good Burr was in his early roles in noir, before he became Perry Mason and Ironsides.)  


 


And The Asphalt Jungle is one of the best heist films ever made as well as one of the best noirs. With Huston at the wheel and Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe in the roles, there's a certain nobility about the characters of Dix Handley and Doc that is uncommon for thugs in noir.   Neither are tarnished knights, remember.   One's got brains and the other's got muscle, but they're career criminals.   Each has a certain expertise and live by a very specific and unforgiving code.   Even when Dix is being brutal he's not especially brutish, and Doc is never arrogant and controlling.   Both are calm under pressure, both are street savvy, and both have fatal flaws that we know, from the get-go, will eventually catch-up to them, but there's something honorable, even admirable, about them all the same.    I also thought noir character actors Louis Calhern and Brad Dexter were outstanding, as well as a very young and very beautiful Marilyn Monroe as Calhern's 'niece'.  


 


A great conclusion to what's been, for me, a great ride.   I cannot thank Professor Edwards, Eddie Muller, TCM, Ball State and Canvas, etc. enough for making this outstanding adventure happen, and meeting new friends and affectionados of noir, and exchanging comments and ideas with them here on the Summer of Noir Message Boards has been a unexpected and delightful bonus.  


 


It's been fun, informative and thought-provoking.   Thank you, all!    As we've all learned over the past couple months, there's no escape from the noir universe, so hopefully the success of this course is more a beginning than an end, and we'll reconvene again in the shadows and share and suffer the consequences of our own imperfections real soon.       


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i know yvonne decarlo is a gorgeous woman, no wonder the men were fighting and robbing over her!

 

One could say that the actual femme fatale in Criss Cross was the mother.   If she didn't ask the detective to harass Anna none of the bad thinks that followed would have occurred.   The mom and the detective were selfish and nasty people. 

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July 31st Discussion for all 13 films.

 

I watched the four primetime entries consecutively. 

 

Criss Cross was a film noir primer of sorts.  It crystallized every element of film noir up to that point in history: lighting, angles, music, story content, type of actors, even music.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see the passion in their relationship (except maybe in the parking lot.)  The scene in the malt shop he was completely adversarial with her and vice versa, and there was nothing to indicate that they each got off on it, a la George and Martha in “….Virginia Woolf.”   And since that should’ve been the heart of the matter, and it wasn’t going on, no soap for me.  I appreciated all the art in it, the photography and all that went with it, but no.  And the one thing that finally cooked its goose for me:  Dan Duryea shot them both multiple times.  It should have been a bloodbath.  When the shot switched.  Nothing.  I know none of the movies of this period used much blood in the shootemup, but come on!  You set something up like that and then show…nothing?  A little blood, a few artful drops even….disbelief willingly unsuspended.  The daily dose promised so much.  This movie spun its wheels very well, but didn’t go anywhere for me.

 

Brute Force delivered all that it promised.  A little politically preachy in the one scene with Mr. Big reading the Warden the riot act but it was mercifully short.  There was something very surreal about the big guard gate, like “Metropolis” or something.  Loved just about everything in it.  The flashbacks with the back stories slowed things down a bit, but fleshed out the prisoners.  Calypso Man acted as a sort of Greek chorus.  The movie they showed the inmates, “The Egg and I”, a movie released same year same studio, a comedy about city slickers moving to a farm in the country; was it sadism to show incarcerated people a movie about the great outdoors?  Hume Cronyn was terrific against type.  Unforgettable characterization.  Great movie.

 

Desperate is a good “B” film.  Simple plot, a simple thing like a phone message set the whole thing in motion.  Doing the right thing by flashing the headlights and pulling away, leaving Mr. Bad’s thug-in-training brother to be shot and apprehended created for the hero and his imminent family dangerous circumstances. What’s the message here?  Do the wrong thing?  “Nice Guys Finish Dead?” It has noir set pieces in it.  The first beat down that was featured in the Daily Dose with its single swinging light, and a pretty terrific end sequence where there are endless angles of staircases and the different shadows and perspectives they present.  Very ambitious.

 

The Asphalt Jungle—I have seen this film in the past, but seeing it now.  WOW!  The artistry in this movie in its subtlety and integration is unsurpassed.  And I am not one to hyperbolize, but I will here.  Everywhere I looked in this movie I saw art.  Every shot was intricately framed and lit and blended into the whole; every acting moment landed big time and blended into the whole; every note of music played and blended into the whole.   Not one second of this was off.  Not one thing in this film was “for the sake of” the individual element.  There was not a thing that didn’t belong and every single part fit seamlessly into the fabric of this.  There were flowers growing out of the cracks in this asphalt!  The final shots of the farm and the horses and the clouds took my breath away.  It looked like an Ansel Adams study.  Such texture, such detail from white to black—plus, that too fit into the whole because his memory of it was that it was idyllically beautiful.  And it was.  Louis B. Mayer was an idiot.  “Trash?”  ART!!!  

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Just a comment on The Asphalt Jungle: The scene where Jean Hagen pulls her false eyelash off transforms this movie from the 40's to modern with that one simple gesture. The big fake eyelashes clearly place the character in the 1940s but as soon as she takes the second one off, the look and feel of her role transforms to modern acting. I was really struck by that.

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Criss Cross: Trapped Cinematically by Windows and Doors

 

I’ve seen this movie only once, and I was struck immediately by its use of windows and doors to show how Steve, Anna, and Slim are trapped by fate. I’ll get to the windows and doors in a bit.

 

First, what an opening! We saw this in the Daily Dose, but it’s worth repeating: The aerial shot behind the credits was spectacular for its blacks, whites, lights, and all its shades of gray. This opening seems to me to foreshadow the aerial shot of the armored truck as Steve drives it to its destination, to the meeting point where Slim Dundee and his gang are waiting. The movement in that shot was almost dizzying. In fact, these two instances in the movie seem to be the only times that the action and/or the characters are unrestrained.

 

When Steve first leaves the bank in the armored truck and heads toward the planned meeting point, the camera shot shows the truck leaving the bank and moving up an incline toward the street. The truck is framed by the lines of the building and the window panes, which gives the impression of being trapped. It’s (another) hint that events will end badly.

 

When Steve is in the hospital, his anxiety about Slim’s desire for revenge is heightened by the shadows crossing the transom window over the door, by the shadow on the hallway wall that is reflected in the mirror in Steve’s room. It turns out that Steve’s fear is well-founded: He is hijacked out of his hospital bed, but he bribes his hijacker to take him to Anna.

 

Steve and Anna are reunited at the bungalow. The shot of Steve at the window (framed/trapped again by the window panes) is beautiful, with the ocean behind him, but Anna guesses that the guy who brought Steve is taking his money and acting as an informant for Slim. She packs, tells Steve that everyone (including her) has to take care of him- or herself (that’s the way it is in this noir world), and runs out the door. She leaves the door open, and the shot shows Steve again framed by the window behind him and now by the door frame in front of him, too. Anna runs back through the doorway into the room screaming Steve’s name, and the camera shows the open door, this time from Anna’s and Steve’s perspective: The door frame shows nothing but the black night. Then Slim appears in the doorway with a gun and shoots them both. He turns around, and this time Slim is the one framed in the doorway, listening to an approaching police siren. When he runs, we see the bodies of Anna and Steve.

 

What an ending! Anna’s and Steve’s bodies were arranged like a sculpture and framed by the window, even in death. It reminded me a little bit of the Pietà by Michelangelo, but with both of the figures dead and the male and female positions in “reverse,” so to speak: Steve (the noir homme fatale) is the one “cradling” Anna (the noir femme fatale). Slim is likely being picked up by the police off screen, or maybe he has to go into hiding indefinitely. Either way, all the main characters—Slim, Steve, and Anna—are trapped by fate in Criss Cross.

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The Big Heat

 

I have seen this a bunch of times and appreciate this crisp new print.  I like this movie.  Always have.  It's not great, but it's a solid piece of entertainment.  My following comments are just what I saw, and perhaps made me like the movie even more because I liked it in spite of its cheapness!

 

It's amusing how fake everything looks.  The Manhattan backdrop outside of the "penthouse" apartment looked like cardboard with cutouts populated by Christmas Tree lights, the apartment itself looked like it was borrowed from the Perry Mason TV show, the fake wainscoting on the stairwell of the Burton home; the obvious difference between the outside of Ford's house and the makeshift inside.   Columbia spared every expense on this one!  Glenn Ford seemed to like the sound of his breathy voice during his many weary/petulant outbursts, but he was OK and didn't get in the way of the thing.  I loved Gloria Grahame more than usual in this.  There's more I can say, but less is more, but, in the case of this film, less is, well...less!

 

I think there was an inside joke in this.  Although Rita Hayworth was not in this movie, perhaps since Glenn Ford was, and most likely in homage to "Gilda," in "The Retreat" bar scene, just after Lee Marvin burns a blonde Carolyn Jones, and after he exits and Gloria Grahame asks Glenn Ford if she can buy him a drink, the accordion diegetic music in the background switches to "Put the Blame on Mame!"

 

Farewell, Summer of Darkness: "Here's tuning in to you, kid."

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Suddenly (1954)

 

This is a well made suspenseful thriller about a plot to assassinate the president. John Baron (Frank Sinatra) takes over control of a home which sits high across the tracks of a train station, where the president is expected later that day.

 

Observations and thoughts

I found it ironic that the television set played a role in saving the day. In Daily Dose #24 (Opening scene from 99 River Street) the curator mentioned, “. . . Phil Karlson [possibly] commenting on the limitations of television in the 1950s. Here the director may be suggesting the opposite- that television has no limits and is a legitimate source of entertainment.

 

My personal preference in film noir is an intense visual style made of sharp contrasts.

Suddenly is a very good film but visually it is too “bright” and lacking dark hues. I enjoyed the movie very much, it kept me interested throughout and moved along at a good pace. Sinatra was excellent and convincing as always. Sterling Hayden who I’ve seen before in four major titles, was under used I thought. What I mean is, the role seemed small for him and didn’t pack a punch.

 

Thematic elements includes transgression and postwar anxiety . I want to say cold war anxiety but the movie was never clear about the motive nor who was behind the plot.

 

When Baron tells the sheriff, “When you have a gun, you are a sort of god,” I think it rings true of most noir villains who seem to show a false sense of entitlement towards their superiority.

I see your point about television helping save the day, but on the other hand, it was also portrayed as a 5,000 volt killer.

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I Died A Thousand Times is a good colorized version of High Sierra not unlike the western version Colorado Territory. Jack Palance did a good job, and it was interesting seeing Lee Marvin with dark hair, and a young Earl Holliman, Nick Adams and Dennis Hopper, The rest of the cast came nowhere near the quality of High Sierra There is angled photography, especially in Big Mac's room, with yellowish lighting in places that does equal chiaroscuro lighting of black and white. It does a good job of showing that in the hands of a good director and crew that noir could have continued in color. As does Party Girl. (And be sure to stay away from dogs named “Pard” who choose to own you, they are not good for your ultimate health.)

 

Party Girl right from the beginning gives high chiaroscuro lighting in yellows in the “Golden Rooster”, in the reds that Vicki wears and is surrounded by. Also the blues in the hospital and the blues, greens and yellows in the speak easy, and the dark and light colors used in the court room. Outside in Chicago is mostly at night in black and whites, and Tommy a crooked man physically and morally, mostly wears just blacks and whites. The contrasts are stark, though as Tommy straightens out, physically and morally, he becomes more alive slowly moving from whites and off whites to color. Noir lives in both these films and the experiment in color works, had Hollywood wanted to keep making such movies.

 

The two criminal justice films were studies in contrast of how to look at evidence. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt dealt, as so many Hollywood movies and television shows do that circumstantial evidence is not enough. That you can't base on case on that, yet DNA is circumstantial evidence for the most part. The police are shown mostly as dark and shadowy. Dolly has the best lines: “You touched enough already”. Of course it turns out Tom is guilty, and everything works out ok.

 

Alfred Hitchcock gives us the other view, the one proven over and over, that eye witness testimony is the most questionable, much more so than circumstantial evidence in The Wrong Man. Here all the real evidence is eyewitness, that of the women in the insurance company that was robbed. Throwing Rose into believing that she is not a good enough wife, because their debt is “...all her fault...debt all my fault I can't economize...not a good wife”. Eventually leading to he being put into an asylum. It was realistic in presentation of how procedures worked.

 

We see the police working on Manny how he goes through the system, an “innocent man has nothing to worry about”. In those pre-Miranda days they could get away with lineups where the eyewitness knew most of the men, except the accused. Then the single walk through the stores to be examined by potential eyewitnesses to other crimes. Finally being put through the system, fingerprinted, “relax your hand”, I know how difficult that is, and that just being fingerprinted for a job. Then being put into the cell, the examination of all the minute parts of the cell, and the circling camera going faster and faster. Unfortunately the innocent are often arrested and found guilty, unlike Manny. We also got to see Paul Carr mostly famous for his T.V. Roles as the boy telling them “4D” when they went looking for one of the witnesses who was dead.

 

The Harder They Fall what a last film to have, how much more could he have given us. Real boxers in the film Jersey Joe Wolcott as George, Pat Comiskey as Gus, Joe Greb as Joey, and Max Baer as Buddy, well over his time by 20 years, but still good in street clothes. Too bad Ron Howard used it as his portrayal of Max in Cinderella Man, not how he really was, but Ron has engraved that image on most people. He was a clown like Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali) was as he went for the title. I can recall the hatred of Clay there was back then. A Great show of how boxing is, how it is just a step up from wrestling. We hardly hear of heavy weights today, not the action people want, but Don King, I always had a funny feeling about him, and he has been sued many times. How the mobsters who control the game think of the people: “People fall asleep and get fat watching television”. Max got to fight Primo again.

 

The Blue Gardenia seemed more like a romance, especially with Nat King Cole singing the title song. We were back to our heavy (no pun intended) Raymond Burr as the victim. Not a nice man, as he was not in any of tonight's movies. There were great noir elements, the breaking of the mirror when she hit him with the poker, then when working the next day the mirror a co-worker, Hazel, dropped and broke.

The disruption of the war, in this case the Korean War as when Norah gets the reverse “Dear John” letter. The drain montage, walking the city at night, often not the best parts, the fog. Much better than in either of the other two films about papers, we saw how the presses roll.

 

One of the other “news” films was While the City Sleeps and little reality of what most reporters and managing editors do. The beginning with the wet streets of the night city slowly rolling to the Kyne Building with jazzy music that turned into horror type music and title came on like the old horror movies of the 1930's that helped lead to the noir style. A psycho killer with Hollywood pseudo- psychology of a mother complex and comic books, as the Kefauver Senate Hearing on Comics showed, following his earlier one on mobsters. Must say I am glad we do not have too many movies with Vincent Price in shorts, especially with knee socks.

 

Corrupt and sadistic cops were the main part of the evening with many movies like The Big Heat, one of my favorites. Dave going out to find who killed his wife, knowing it is connected to the suicide of a corrupt cop. With Debby (Gloria Graham) becoming interested in Dave when he doesn't back down from Vince in the bar and forces Vince to leave, the music on the jukebox is “Put the Blame on Mame” we know so well from Gilda. Misogyny and pain are what Vince (Lee Marvin) revels in as when he hurts Debby and then throws boiling coffee in her face.

 

Frank Sinatra as John shows the same misogyny and psychosis as the World War II vet who liked killing too much and so got a section 8. When they gave him a gun he found himself and kept doing what he won a Silver Star from the Army for. In Suddenly his job is to kill the president no matter what. They work on his psychotic behavior to eventually bring him down, and he dies scared and a coward, not the god he saw himself as.

 

Anna is the perfect femme fetale in he relations both with Steve and Slim. Steve is the perfect patsy, if he hadn't been in Union Station that day, and if the clerk hadn't run out of cigarettes and had to bend down he wouldn't have seen Anna after her marriage to Slim. Despite his family and friend he can think only of Anna, she's caught him and reels him in slowly until she lands him. Double crossing both of them and about to take off by herself, both end up shot by Slim and the cops get him in the end.

 

Social Darwinism, survival of the fittest, with fascism and sadism is the basis of Brute Force. Backed up by hard forceful music by Miklos Rozsa we have a microcosm of the world. Men who can't make it outside the wall of prison. A prison of Metropolis design with the gate, tower, drawbridge design. A world of losers, even the guards, this is the last chance for any of them. The warden and guards have to keep quiet or they may end up there. Captain Munsey who believes any kindness is for his own devices otherwise it is weakness. The men pushed beyond endurance until they would rather die trying to do what can't be done.

 

Steve and Anne use all the modes of transportation to try to escape from Walt, trains, buses, cars, and Steve constantly makes wrong decisions that get him in deeper and makes him more Desparate. Walt as played by Burr is crazy, in his idea of making Steve take Al's place. Then in waiting, with the ticking clock for midnight when Al dies in the electric chair to kill Steve. Steve is ready to die, insurance is set for Anne if he does. The key lighting just on their eyes as the minutes tick away, then Steve is able to get Walt on the dark angled stairway.

 

The Asphalt Jungle gives us all the styles of noir in a action packed movie. Interesting how the opening is so much cobblestone before going to asphalt. The crumbling city with corrupt cops who don't see things, and a commissioner instructing them to be more cruel than the criminals, to “break furniture, tear out telephones”. The cafe like a Hopper painting, Dix in a lineup the only tall man, who fits the description, the cops and witness in chiaroscuro lighting. Dark halls and crumbling city, lighting on Louis's wife and baby. Alonzo saying “Crime is the left hand of human endeavor.” Dix is not a good man, yet Gus, Doll and others like him, and we come to like him. Unlike the commissioner who says of him that he is the worst of all: “..man with human feelings or mercy”. That without police the “jungle” wins. We see Dix as someone with human feelings, for the farm he finally makes it to “Hickorywoods Farm” and the horses, that his father had lost, and he wanted to get back.

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Did anyone else notice the picture of the Mike Lagana's mother in his office at home when confronted by Dave was of 

Maria Ouspenskaya ?

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I didn't know it was colorized.  That's always good.

It was not a Turner colorized version, it was filmed in color.

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Not sure that it fits as a noir film, but for style and use of lighting and camera angles, as well as one of the best ensemble casts, nothing beats 12 Angry Men in my mind.  The remake could not hold a candle to the original.  Especially of juror number nine Joseph Sweeney.   

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