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ChiO

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Everything posted by ChiO

  1. I'm blanking on the one you described, but thought of another: *Gate of Hell* ( Teionosuke Kinugasa, 1954).
  2. Two other Kurosawa movies: *High and Low* and The Bad Sleep Well. Also, check out the movies of Seijun Suzuki. Kenji Mizoguchi's Street of Shame comes very close to noir.
  3. _Molo_ wrote: *The extent of my Joseph H. Lewis viewing hasn't been all that helpful. My Name Is Julia Ross being the one standout. Desperate Search was disappointing. A Lady Without Passport, a little less disappointing. Throw in a couple of early East Side Kids Films, Border Wolves and The Return of October and that is pretty much all I know of Mr. Lewis and his work.* You must watch The Big Combo, the one Lewis movie that gives *Gun Crazy* a run for its money as his best film. After I saw Gun Crazy, I immediately started collecting everything I could find directed by Lewis (the combination of being a noir fan and an auteurist does lead to obsessions such as this). As a result of recording four that I didn't have (though I'd seen two of them) on Wednesday night, I've snagged 21 of his 41 features, none of which are the movies he directed before the East Side Kids. The most interesting for me after the Big 3 (Gun Crazy, The Big Combo and My Name Is Julia Ross) are: *Invisible Ghost* (1941) - a horror/near-noir Lugosi vehicle that is better than one might expect *The Falcon in San Francisco* (1945) - hey! It's the Falcon and we're really starting to become noir *So Dark the Night* (1946) *A Lady Without Passport* (1950) *Cry of the Hunted* (1953) *A Lawless Street* (1955) *Seventh Cavalry* (1956) *Terror in a Texas Town* (1958) A little over two years ago, I made the following two posts at another site during discussion of *Gun Crazy* (please excuse some of the repeating, but I'm obsessive _and_ lazy): #1: Lewis wanted Cummins and Dall, upon their meeting and engaging in the shooting challenge, to act (as I believe he put it) like "animals in heat." However, he wanted Dall's character throughout the film to have a vulnerability that Lewis thought could best be achieved by using a "quietly" gay actor, and that for Lewis meant Dall (Hitchcock teamed him with Farley Granger for a similar reason in *ROPE* the previous year). He is the softer, sympathetic figure throughout, whereas Cummins is the animalistic passion, the unleashed Id. The gun imagery is better left to Freud, but Tamblyn's cradling of the gun is the finest image this side of the model oil derrick in WRITTEN ON THE WIND. Dall's clinching of his fist -- repression of violent urges that repulse him -- are echoed throughout. His underlying sexual impotence is made more overt by Warren Beatty in BONNIE AND CLYDE, but here many acts can be taken only hesitantly. The bank robbery is a classic scene. A typical director would take us inside the bank and witness the robbery. Lewis brings tension to an otherwise common scenario by never letting us in. What's going on in the bank? And then the policeman engaging in conversation with Cummins heightens the tension further. And it's all surrounded by a bravura single take to get us to the bank and out of town. According to Lewis, Billy Wilder called him to find out how the shot was done because he couldn't figure out how three to four background rear projection machines could be used at the same time. Lewis told him that it was shot "real", without rear projection; Wilder said "it's impossible" and refused to believe him. The film breaks a lot of the "rules" of film noir: the setting is rural and small town, not urban; with few exceptions (the opening scene and our duo in a cabin being the major ones), it's pretty much a daytime movie, not nighttime; shadows and Expressionistic camera angles are at a minimum. But a dynamite femme fatale and the overpowering sense of doom doom doom for reasons that seem out of their control leave no doubt that it is noir. There is one camera shot that is a Lewis staple: Lewis' nickname was "Wagon Wheel" Joe because in his early Westerns, he would add visual interest by shooting through a wagon wheel so often that it became his trademark. When they're on the lam and Dall is driving, there is a shot of him through the steering wheel (the camera would have been about where the accelerator should be). If it weren't for Edgar G. Ulmer, Joseph H. Lewis would be the King of the B's. #2: *GUN CRAZY* has slowly inched its way up to where it is now my favorite film noir (watching it about 10 times in two years can do that, I suppose). One of the fascinating aspects is that six years later, Joseph H. Lewis directed THE BIG COMBO, a movie that arguably was the summation of all of the popular conventions of film noir. In GUN CRAZY, however, right in the middle of the Golden Age of noir, he for all practical purposes ignores (or, certainly downplays) some of the major conventions -- nighttime, chiaroscuro, baroque camera angles, and the urban setting. They can be found, but whereas *THE BIG COMBO* is awash with them, *GUN CRAZY* is more subtle and, therefore, more psychologically engaging. Few films better play off of the male fantasy and fear of female sexual aggression and then connect it with violence -- female use of violence in support of her carnality and lust, and male impotence in the face of violence and satisfying the female's needs. (Digression: triple feature of CAT PEOPLE, GUN CRAZY, and FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!) According to Lewis, he really wanted Peggy Cummins for the Annie Laurie role. She had been a hot property and had the lead in FOREVER AMBER, but Preminger didn't like her and she was replaced by Linda Darnell after three weeks of shooting. The combination of Lewis wanting her and the major downturn in her career made it mutually satisfying for her to take the role. Lewis also wanted John Dall because he could portray weakness without acting; in Lewis' words, "he played himself." Dall fought for the role and got it because the producers' choices, Dana Andrews (different, but interesting) and Gregory Peck (arrgghh!) could not be obtained. Dalton Trumbo was the ghostwriter of the screenplay, his first post-HUAC. Despite reasonably positive reviews upon release as *DEADLY IS THE FEMALE* (a title disliked by Lewis), it quickly died due to poor distribution. Eight or so months later, it was re-released as *GUN CRAZY* -- and died because theatres didn't want a "failed" movie. Thank goodness we have it now.
  4. *The Mask of Dimitrios* *Beyond a Reasonable Doubt* *While the City Sleeps* *Sweet Smell of Success* *Shock Corridor* *Chicago Confidential* *Call Northside 777* *Stranger on the Third Floor*
  5. *With regards to 'most noirs that I can't live without' for those top 3 directors what are the films, by each that you can't live without.* Joseph H. Lewis: Gun Crazy, The Big Combo, My Name Is Julia Ross Anthony Mann: T-Men, He Walked by Night (I know, he's not credited, but it doesn't take long to figure out that he was _the_ director), Raw Deal Although Lang made many fine noirs, only one of his would make my Top 30 (maybe 50), but that one is "a can't live without": Scarlet Street. Nicholas Ray: On Dangerous Ground, In a Lonely Place Jacques Tourneur: Out of the Past, Cat People Samuel Fuller: Pickup on South Street, Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss But we digress. Back to my favorite film noir.
  6. Dear _FritzGrimes_: *Where's Lang?! I'm on the verge of Nightfall. I already like Aldo Ray's off-center performance.* It's all about the criterion one uses, isn't it? If the criterion is "most good noirs made", then Lang is probably the winner. But if I use the criterion of "most noirs that I can't live without", then the score is Lang -1, Mann - 3, Lewis - 3. Add to that, as the tiebreaker, "and most other noirs that are good", then Mann beats Lewis. But wait...here come Ray and Tourneur and Fuller! It's a never ending battle for my loyalty. Lest anyone think I'm fixated on *Gun Crazy* just because of Annie Laurie, oh, no. Lewis does some gender-bending that I find fascinating. Most femme fatales seem to be predators looking for a male fall guy, seeking phallic power by using a man to accomplish some bad deed and then, as he's spiraling downward, snatching that power for herself. I never get the sense that Annie Laurie is doing that. She doesn't need the male because she is the male, she already has the phallic power. She needs a female, and Bart plays that role. He wants to domesticate her, settle down, be a family. She wants to be free and independent. She has a gun [FREUDIAN ALERTS!!] and is willing to use it on anyone. Bart can handle his gun, but would rather not point it at a person, only inanimate objects...until she starts to use it on his boyhood friends. Role reversal time -- only at the end does he fulfill the stereotypical male role. And the bank robbery scene! Gracious, is there another instance of such a long take where there is minimal action and, yet, creation of incredible tension? The audaciousness of just shooting the back of their heads in the car while discussing a planned bank robbery with all of the banality of looking for a parking spot at the zoo. And we never see the robbery! Absolutely amazing. According to Lewis, the script had seventeen pages devoted to it -- most of it relating to Bart inside the bank. Lewis threw it away, said it wasn't "him". Genius! Warning to those who only saw the end and liked it: The ending is even better when seen in context. The final scene is nothing like the rest of the movie except, arguably, the opening scene (bookends, as it were). For the most part, *Gun Crazy* is shot in a realistic, semi-documentary style, in bright daylight. Then, seemingly out of the blue (was anyone expecting that terrain after seeing where the rest of the movie takes place?), we have this surreal finale in a foggy marsh. And the Doom is thicker than the fog. Yeah, it's a pretty good movie. I like it.
  7. *Bart, I want things. A lot of things. Big things.* Be still my beating heart. The boys in the Production Code room were asleep when that came by. They were asleep when most of the movie came by. The carnival scene gets more erotic each time I watch it (A close second in eroticism is the early knife-throwing scene in *The Unknown*, which come to think of it, may have been the model for the carnival scene in *Gun Crazy*. Or, I'm just a carny at heart?) This has it all. The *Citizen Kane* of film noir! Toss in *The Big Combo* (where was that last night?!?!?) and *My Name Is Julia Ross* and Anthony Mann's crown is in jeopardy.
  8. *Well, now I have to watch, and as soon as possible, so I can see if I agree or disagree... I have a feeling this is the kind of noir I will like. I don't know why.* *My mother liked John Dall, I think maybe because of _The Corn is Green_. She said she was completely creeped out by _Rope_... she said that she would never watch that film again as long as she lived because it weirded her out too much.* Perhaps you will like it because it is THE GREATEST FILM NOIR OF ALL-TIME! (Excuse me...I mean: It is my favorite film noir.) My favorite John Dall non-Gun Crazy performance: *The Man Who Cheated Himself* (Felix Feist, 1950). Dall takes on Lee J. Cobb and you may be surprised by who the tough guy is in this sleeper of a B-Noir. Edited by: ChiO on Jul 15, 2010 8:41 PM
  9. "Stranger on the Third Floor is the first true film noir...." - Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (Silver & Ward, eds)(3rd ed., 1992) at p. 269 "Our starting point is 1940 and the movie usually agreed to be the first film noir: Stranger on the Third Floor." - Film Noir (Eddie Robson, 2005) at p. 7 "Although many critics cite RKO's *Stranger on the Third Floor* (1940) as the first true film noir...." - Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir! (Arthur Lyons, 2000) at p. 35 Generally, the argument over whether it's "first" is over whether there was one earlier, which is really an argument over the definition of film noir.
  10. Max Ophuls' *Caught* and *The Reckless Moment* qualify, as does Douglas Sirk's Sleep, My Love. But my favorite is My Name Is Julia Ross, which TCM is showing on July 14 as part of its salute to Joseph H. Lewis.
  11. Other no-crime noirs: *Caught* (Ophuls, 1949) *Clash by Night* (Lang, 1952) In the what-if-there's-a-crime-but-only-in-a-dream noir category: *The Woman in the Window* (Lang, 1945)
  12. _finance_ asked: *...so what was the last true noir...?* I would contend that it hasn't been made yet. Unless one can define "true noir" and say "True noir ended on (month), (day) (year)", then noir is still being made, albeit with less frequency. Two post-1966 American noirs that come to mind are *The Friends of Eddie Coyle* (1972) and *The Killing of a Chinese Bookie* (1976). But aren't post-19XX noirs really "neo-noir"? As long as we're making up definitions, "neo-noir" to me is a noir that is self-consciously made (How can you tell? Beats me, but I feel it.) to be a noir (Hey! Let's make a film noir!). A pastiche, if you will. So the two movies above are noir, but *Red Rock West* is neo-noir.
  13. _JackFavell_ wrote: *Beware My Lovely* was almost the exact opposite for me. I had a visceral, gut wrenching emotional reaction to it. I hate what it says about me that I really loved Ryan in this movie, even though he was a psychopathic killer! I felt so sorry for him, as he floundered and reached out, then fell into the fog of his psychosis. He was brilliant, and I think this is my favorite role for him - he mesmerized me. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen for a moment. I WANTED Ida Lupino to help him! Save him! She saved him the year before in On Dangerous Ground, so I guess she was spent. Looking so forward to *The Outfit* in August. Robert Ryan _and_ Timothy Carey (and a bunch of other swell folks)!
  14. I highly recommend *More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts* (James Naremore, 2008 2nd ed.). It captures the paradoxes in film noir critiques better than any other book I've read. From the first chapter (sorry for the lengthy quotation, but it is a wonderful summary of the difficulty is defining noir, why, and one approach to thinking about it): Unfortunately, nothing links together all the things described as noir -- not the theme of crime, not a cinematographic technique, not even a resistance to Aristotelian narratives or happy endings. Little wonder that no writer has been able to find the category's necessary and sufficient characteristics and that many generalizations in the critical literature are open to question. .... More intriguingly, if the heyday of noir was 1941-1958, why did the term not enjoy widespread use until the 1970s? A plausible case could indeed be made that, far from dying out with the old studio system, noir is almost entirely a creation of postmodern culture -- a belated reading of classic Hollywood that was popularized by cineastes of the French New Wave, appropriated by reviewers, academics, and filmmakers, and then recycled on television. At any rate, a term that was born in specialist periodicals and revival theaters has now become a major signifier of sleekly commodified artistic ambition. .... .... .... The classical model is notoriously difficult to pin down, in part because it was named by critics rather than filmmakers, who did not speak of film noir until well after it was established as a feature of academic writing. Nowadays, the term is ubiquitous, appearing in reviews and promotions of many things besides movies. If we want to understand it, or to make sense of genres or art-historical categories in general, we need to recognize that film noir belongs to the history of ideas as much as to the history of cinema; in other words, it has less to do with a group of artifacts than with a discourse -- a loose, evolving system of arguments and readings that helps to shape commercial strategies and aesthetic ideologies.
  15. It's always about definitions, isn't it? Depending on one's definition of "suburban", much of the action in The Big Heat, Double Indemnity and *Kiss Me Deadly* (off the top of my head) happens in the suburbs. Some others that quickly come to mind that take place largely in locales that I do not consider "urban" (though small towns may be included): *Touch of Evil* *Detour* *Gun Crazy* *Border Incident* *Nightfall* *The Red House* *Roadhouse* *Thieves' Highway* *Key Largo* Then there are the Westerns, such as Pursued, Silver Lode and Day of the Outlaw, and prison movies. For my money, "urban" and "femme fatale" are the two most over-emphasized concepts attributed to film noir. Sure, they are common and iconic, but they certainly are not a necessity.
  16. Battle Circus Battle Hymn The Manchurian Candidate
  17. _misswonderly_ wrote: *And the Anthony Mann film you mentioned, "Strange Impersonation" -I'd love to see that, I'm a big fan of Anthony Mann (rhyme unintentional), but I thought he usually made Westerns.* A case could be made that Anthony Mann is the top -- or near the top -- director of film noir. *Strangers in the Night* (1944) *The Great Flamarion* (1945) *Strange Impersonation* (1946) *Desperate* (1947) *Railroaded* (1947) *T-Men* (1947) - cinematography by John Alton *Raw Deal* (1948) - cinematography by John Alton *He Walked by Night* (1948) (uncredited) - cinematography by John Alton *Reign of Terror* aka *The Black Book* (1949) - cinematography by John Alton *Border Incident* (1949) - cinematography by John Alton *Side Street* (1949)
  18. _Arturo_ wrote: *The genre was only recognized as such by French critics (hence the French name) in the postwar period, when American movies unavailable during the war were finally released in Europe.* A couple of points for consideration or, possibly, discussion: Whether film noir is a genre is a persistent point of debate. I tend to think it is not a genre, but that is probably as much a factor of how I think of "genre" as it is anything else. To me, a "genre" has some tangible element without which a movie cannot fit within the "genre". A "war" movie has to have a war going on. A "Western" has to be set in the West (though the geographic designation of "West" can change depending on the time during which the film's action occurs). A "musical" has to have music that makes singing (and often dancing) a key element of the narrative. A "gangster" movie has to have gangsters. A "film noir" has to have...what? Urban setting? Nope. Femme fatale? Ditto. It's more focused on mood, theme, and style and often can be placed in one of the existing genres. Most of the discussion appears to be using the term "film noir" as shorthand for what is (to my mind) better characterized as "American film noir." No -- that's not accusing anyone of ignoring *The Third Man* or other post-1940 non-American made movies that most people would consider to be examples of film noir. What certain French critics "discovered" when American movies unavailable during the war were finally released in Europe was not film noir, but _American_ film noir (e.g., A Panorama of American Film Noir). French writers were writing about and using the term "film noir" in the late-'30s in connection with movies such as *Pepe le Moko* (1936). Recognizing this changes discussion about *The Stranger on the Third Floor* from "was it the first noir?" to "was it the first American noir?", and opens up discussion of, for example *M* (Lang) from "was it a proto-noir?" to "was it noir?" And my vague recollection from reading A Panorama of American Film Noir far too long ago is that if the authors did not categorize *Citizen Kane* as a film noir, they came thisclose. We don't generally think of it as such today, but that may be because it was (and continues to be) such a monumental cinematic work that limiting it to any category seems belittling.
  19. 1. James Stewart 2. Robert Ryan 3. Timothy Carey 4. Sterling Hayden 5. Edward G. Robinson 6. Humphrey Bogart 7. Cary Grant 8. Charles Chaplin 9. Johnny Depp 10. Lee Marvin Rounding out a baker's dozen: Lon Chaney, Joel McCrea, John Turturro
  20. It's such an honor just to be nominated. Yeah...right. Rats. Well, as we say here in Chicago Cubs Land...wait 'til next year.
  21. And Hayward hasn't turned it on yet. We have reason to believe. ChiO, Class of '73 (double major: Political Science & Sociology -- so watch those Sociology cracks out there)
  22. Good grief! Does anyone remember a couple of cool Hoosiers: Steve McQueen James Dean A few more from Indiana: Louise Dresser Marjorie Main Robert Emhardt Hoagy Carmichael Strother Martin Will Geer Robert Keith Alvy Moore Irene Dunne (born in Kentucky, but grew up in Indiana) Jane Randolph (born in Ohio, but grew up in Indiana) Criswell
  23. A purely objective and unbiased opinion: *BUTLER* ChiO, Class of '73
  24. Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) in *Gun Crazy* -- heat _and_ a chill.
  25. _redriver_ wrote: *Orson Welles made a great movie.* Which one are you referring to? I only count nine that qualify, maybe ten if I were to include The Lady from Shanghai (but I'm a tough grader).
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