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Once Hollywood stopped B productions most of the Crime Genre syphoned off to TV, the demise of the MPPC opened up subjects that were previously taboo, for independent and low budget filmmakers, films got more psychological, offbeat, experimental, and exploitive.  Noir style continued it just couldn't be pigeonholed as easily as before.

 

 

Yes, the death of B films took a lot of wind out of noirs. That and the slow tapering off of B&W films being produced as well.........

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Whatever LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is- noir, neonoir, notanoir, melonoir- it is a FAR MORE IMPORTANT FILM than I think it is given credit for being.

 

Granted, DOUBLE INDEMNITY from the previous year is THE watershed, landmark moment in film noir- where the audience's sympathies are manipulated into being with TWO immoral leads- but LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is really equally daring, making its (gorgeous and heretofore in films pure and innocent) female protagonist manipulate the audience and reveal herself, before our very eyes, to be a heartless sociopath.

 

it shocked the Hell out of audiences then, it shocked me when I saw it as a teenager. it was also a MAJOR MAJOR HIT, the second highest grossing film of the year (adjusted for inflation and rereleases, i dare say it'd be on a par with a $100 million grosser today)- and I really think did a lot to pave the way for more complex portrayals of female characters and- of course- more femmes fatales.

 

So, although Barbara Stanwyck is THE pioneer for evil women in film, don't discount LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN entirely...

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Whatever LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is- noir, neonoir, notanoir, melonoir- it is a FAR MORE IMPORTANT FILM than I think it is given credit for being.

 

Granted, DOUBLE INDEMNITY from the previous year is THE watershed, landmark moment in film noir- where the audience's sympathies are manipulated into being with TWO immoral leads- but LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is really equally daring, making its (gorgeous and heretofore in films pure and innocent) female protagonist manipulate the audience and reveal herself, before our very eyes, to be a heartless sociopath.

 

it shocked the Hell out of audiences then, it shocked me when I saw it as a teenager. it was also a MAJOR MAJOR HIT, the second highest grossing film of the year (adjusted for inflation and rereleases, i dare say it'd be on a par with a $100 million grosser today)- and I really think did a lot to pave the way for more complex portrayals of female characters and- of course- more femmes fatales.

 

So, although Barbara Stanwyck is THE pioneer for evil women in film, don't discount LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN entirely...

 

Gene Tierney was a great villain in Leave Her to Heaven.  Between the lake scene, the stairs scene and the framing Jeanne Crain for murder scene and you've got one of the all-time best noir villains in Gene Tierney.

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I need to correct an earlier statement- BETTE DAVIS was the real trailblazer for evil women in film.

I tend to agree.  Her character in Of Human Bondage didn't kill anyone, but she was nonetheless reprehensible to the max.  The Letter could be called a noir: lighting, sets and camera work certainly point in that direction.  And in The Letter, Bette's character does commit murder. 

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I tend to agree.  Her character in Of Human Bondage didn't kill anyone, but she was nonetheless reprehensible to the max.  The Letter could be called a noir: lighting, sets and camera work certainly point in that direction.  And in The Letter, Bette's character does commit murder. 

 

Note that Bette played an evil women in The Little Foxes which was released 3 years before Double Indemnity and a crazy evil gal that does commit murder in the 1935 film Bordertown.

 

So yea,  Bette was bad before it was fashionable to be.       

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I saw my first Noir Alley movie last night, GUN CRAZY.

 

I liked Eddie Mueller's intros & outros, they were very informative. My only beef is in his wording he made assumptions, or possibly just his opinions. I much prefer those who know how to inform by stating the facts and allowing the viewer to come to their own opinion. It's the difference between an enthusiast and a professional.

 

(that said, I don't mind Ben Mankeiwicz' little bad jokes - they are typically just a play of words)

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Note that Bette played an evil women in The Little Foxes which was released 3 years before Double Indemnity and a crazy evil gal that does commit murder in the 1935 film Bordertown.

 

So yea, Bette was bad before it was fashionable to be.

Yeah. Bette was the hardcore OG...

 

That's why I made it a point to correct my earlier mistatement, I didn't want her coming out of the grave to get me.

 

(And she would, too)

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I saw my first Noir Alley movie last night, GUN CRAZY.

 

I liked Eddie Mueller's intros & outros, they were very informative. My only beef is in his wording he made assumptions, or possibly just his opinions. I much prefer those who know how to inform by stating the facts and allowing the viewer to come to their own opinion. It's the difference between an enthusiast and a professional.

 

(that said, I don't mind Ben Mankeiwicz' little bad jokes - they are typically just a play of words)

 

Eddie posts here and he mentioned that he was hired by TCM to give his opinions as a noir czar.   

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Speedy,

being in the unique position of having seen BEYOND THE FOREST- I'm sure you can also see the influence on it from LEAVE HER... I think it's safe to say without LHTH there would be no BEYOND THE FOREST.

 

And THAT would be a damn SHAME

 

Yes.  I can see many similarities between Leave Her to Heaven and Beyond the Forest.  It's like the filmmakers took Leave Her to Heaven and cranked the volume up to 11. 

 

Both Gene Tierney and Bette Davis could not care less about anyone but themselves.  Both ladies knew what they wanted and by god, they were going to make sure they got it.  Both ladies have unwanted pregnancies that they take care of, in similar fashions.  Tierney and Davis are both involved in ill-fated relationships.  While Tierney's is a marriage in which she's obsessed with her husband, Davis is obsessed with getting away from her husband and into the arms of another man who lives in a more exciting town (Chicago, versus her podunk nothing town).  Tierney and Davis are both bonkers, but whereas Tierney is a very classy glamorous bonkers, Davis is just plain trashy, which is hilarious.  

 

I suggest TCM do whatever it takes to air Beyond the Forest and air it as a double feature with Leave Her to Heaven.  Maybe make it a triple feature and throw in Fatal Attraction

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Looks as though no one has so far commented on today's Noir Alley offering, Possessed.  

 

This may be the ultimate Joan-o-drama. (which is really saying something, when  you consider how many of these things Joan was in....)

 

I guess the most noirish aspect of the film is the mental state Joan suffers from which is indicated in the title. She is possessed and obsessed with David Sutton ( ably played by Van Heflin with his usual aplomb), She wears her misplaced and misguided passion for him like a thorny crown, allowing her "love" for him to ruin every moment in her life that could be a turning point for her, where she could be happy if she wanted to, or at least, if she were "normal".

 

Something that's interesting about all the Joan-o-drama characters is her undeniable competence in everything except how she deals with her love object  (in Possessed it's Sutton, in Mildred Pierce it's her daughter Veda, and so forth). Joan always plays a career woman, invariably good at whatever she does ( in this case, Possessed, she's a nurse). She's intelligent, efficient, exceptionally capable, and all common sense  - except when it comes to the weakness that ultimately destroys her, her obsession with David Sutton. 

 

The film opens with what could be described as an intimate scene between Joan (Louise)  and Heflin (Sutton.) It's set in an idyllic wilderness lake-side cottage; the two of them have just been swimming, and Joan's just drying her hair while Van plays Schumann on the piano. How romantic. It's strongly  implied that they're in a physical relationship - very adult but also quite risque for the time (1947.) I mention this because it may be a partial explanation for why Louise becomes so unhinged when Sutton rejects her. Back then, sleeping with one's lover before marriage was a major decision for a woman to make. Louise may not have felt so betrayed by Sutton if she'd not taken this step.

 

This is just speculation on my part, of course nothing is ever overtly said to indicate Louise and David had been intimate. But it's strongly suggested in that first scene, and it would account at least somewhat for Louise's over- wrought emotional reaction when David calmly tells her he's not in love with her and never will be.

 

Anyway, the rest of the movie is the progressive unravelling of Louise's sanity. Her mental illness may have been triggered by David's rejection, but clearly there was already some kind of instability in her psyche in the first place for her to fall apart the way she does.

 

I must admit, fun in its shameless melodrama as it is, I did become a little bored by the film by the half-way point.  Maybe because I'd seen it before ( this was my second viewing), and I knew what was going to happen  - but with really great films, knowing the story doesn't stop me from enjoying them on repeated viewings.

 

My memory of Possessed's ending, however, was incorrect. I had this idea that Louise is released from the hospital and goes wandering into the city again, only to be struck by a car and killed. I don't know where I got that from . In fact, the shrink explains her mental condition to her devoted and truly loving husband (Raymond Massey, who probably never played a more sympathetic and thankless role), and it's left open whether Joan will get better or not. Also, whether she'll be found guilty of the   SPOILER  murder of David Sutton, given that she was a complete nutter at the time of shooting.

 

As I suggested earlier, in many ways I do not regard Possessed as a true noir; it's more a melodrama, or maybe one of those early, earnest "mental illness"/ psychology pictures. But it has enough of the noir aesthetic  - lots of night scenes, mental disturbance in the main character, and a sense that the world is askew and nothing can be done to right it - that I'll concede that it deserves a place in the classic noir canon.

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I think Possessed is one of Joan's best performances.  I like what Eddie said about Joan's career at its peak from Mildred Pierce to the early-mid 1950's (I am paraphrasing).  I agree that a case can be made for her winning the Oscar instead of Loretta Young that year.

 

I do think she was having an intimate affair with David in Possessed.  She wouldn't have gotten that freaked out about David breaking it off if they hadn't been intimate.  It is a pretty sad thing when you are in an intimate relationship with someone and really dig them and then they reveal they kind of feel "meh" about you afterwards.  Yes, she probably had some mental struggles to begin with but I kinda don't blame her for going off the rails when David, who doesn't want any commitment or so he says, falls head over heels for Joan's stepdaughter.  OUCH!

 

I felt sorry for Raymond Massey's character.  He's playing a decent guy who clearly loves Joan and wants to help her.  I've said before about Van Heflin:  he is just so good in everything.

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 Joan always plays a career woman, invariably good at whatever she does ( in this case, Possessed, she's a nurse). She's intelligent, efficient, exceptionally capable, and all common sense  - except when it comes to the weakness that ultimately destroys her, her obsession with David Sutton. 

 

 

 

 

Could this be a subliminal message telling women "you can't have both"?

 

In other words: warning women to stay out of the business world if you want a loving, happy family life. Financial independence make a woman a terrible (too selfish) prospect as good wife/mother?

 

Just asking...but it sure seems like a recurring theme. 

 

Women only worked to bide their time while looking for a husband to support them. Remember, when Joan was caught cheating in THE WOMEN her line was "Well I guess it's back to the perfume counter for me...."

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I recorded Possessed to hear Eddie's comments. I deleted the film as I had no time to watch it and needed the space for something else. I've seen it many times and agree it's one of Joan's best if not THE best performance(s)........

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I think Possessed is one of Joan's best performances.  I like what Eddie said about Joan's career at its peak from Mildred Pierce to the early-mid 1950's (I am paraphrasing).  I agree that a case can be made for her winning the Oscar instead of Loretta Young that year.

 

I do think she was having an intimate affair with David in Possessed.  She wouldn't have gotten that freaked out about David breaking it off if they hadn't been intimate.  It is a pretty sad thing when you are in an intimate relationship with someone and really dig them and then they reveal they kind of feel "meh" about you afterwards.  Yes, she probably had some mental struggles to begin with but I kinda don't blame her for going off the rails when David, who doesn't want any commitment or so he says, falls head over heels for Joan's stepdaughter.  OUCH!

 

I felt sorry for Raymond Massey's character.  He's playing a decent guy who clearly loves Joan and wants to help her.  I've said before about Van Heflin:  he is just so good in everything.

Maybe she was dead in bed?

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I think Possessed is one of Joan's best performances.  I like what Eddie said about Joan's career at its peak from Mildred Pierce to the early-mid 1950's (I am paraphrasing).  I agree that a case can be made for her winning the Oscar instead of Loretta Young that year.

 

I do think she was having an intimate affair with David in Possessed.  She wouldn't have gotten that freaked out about David breaking it off if they hadn't been intimate.  It is a pretty sad thing when you are in an intimate relationship with someone and really dig them and then they reveal they kind of feel "meh" about you afterwards.  Yes, she probably had some mental struggles to begin with but I kinda don't blame her for going off the rails when David, who doesn't want any commitment or so he says, falls head over heels for Joan's stepdaughter.  OUCH!

 

I felt sorry for Raymond Massey's character.  He's playing a decent guy who clearly loves Joan and wants to help her.  I've said before about Van Heflin:  he is just so good in everything.

 

I'm a huge Raymond Massey fan. He doesn't get enough credit as far as I'm concerned.

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misswonderly and christine - some very nice comments about Possessed, thank you.

 

One drawback in the film (for me anyway) was that I found I could not completely pull for Joan's character.  Aside from the sympathy for her illness, the picture they painted of her jealousy and vindictiveness reduced my level of support for her as things unfolded.  It appears the storytellers want to illustrate her psychosis and don't necessarily care what we think of her so much.  I guess ultimately the story has to establish the motivation for the big finish.

 

lydecker - Raymond Massey really was good at hitting all the notes of a supportive spouse and father.  Nice positive role for a change.

 

I was very impressed with the directing and photography of the film.  I have not heard much about Curtis Bernhardt before, so in the future I will watch his films with a new respect.  Eddie's comments about the churn involved in finding a cinematographer were also interesting - it worked out well in the end so that's what matters.

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misswonderly and christine - some very nice comments about Possessed, thank you.

 

One drawback in the film (for me anyway) was that I found I could not completely pull for Joan's character.  Aside from the sympathy for her illness, the picture they painted of her jealousy and vindictiveness reduced my level of support for her as things unfolded.  It appears the storytellers want to illustrate her psychosis and don't necessarily care what we think of her so much.  I guess ultimately the story has to establish the motivation for the big finish.

 

lydecker - Raymond Massey really was good at hitting all the notes of a supportive spouse and father.  Nice positive role for a change.

 

I was very impressed with the directing and photography of the film.  I have not heard much about Curtis Bernhardt before, so in the future I will watch his films with a new respect.  Eddie's comments about the churn involved in finding a cinematographer were also interesting - it worked out well in the end so that's what matters.

 

The fact that one can't "completely pull for" or against any character is one of the noir elements of the film.   E.g. David isn't a cad,  he just wasn't that into her (Joan),  and later on fell for her step-daughter.    Therefore while we can understand why Joan is hurt,  we can't be sympathetic to how she reacts.     In a standard drama the storytellers would have cared TOO MUCH about what the audience felt about each character by making the man really 'evil' and the women overly sympathetic.  

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Maybe she was dead in bed?

 

LOL

 

Actually the very thing I thought of the last time I watched this film a few months ago and the last time TCM showed it.

 

Yep, perhaps that old saying: "Crazy in the head...crazy in the bed" didn't hold true in Joan's case here, eh?!

 

(...AND, isn't it funny it took a guy around here to mention this possibility as to why Heflin "wasn't that into her", as they say today)

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I'm late to the party, and I'm not giving much notice, but I highly highly highly recommend THEY WONT BELIEVE ME! (Le Noir d'jour)

 

Starring Robert Young and a young Susan Hayward as a character whose real name is Susan Hayward, if I remember correctly, it's a fascinating and thoroughly unique film that owes some debt, I think, to THE WHISTLER radio program

 

(I originally saw it as one of Bob's Picks.)

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