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Noir Alley

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17 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

As Eddie said in his intro the actual murder \ crime  \ solving-the-case aspect of the film is lacking and unlike most crime \ noir films done in the 40s and 50s,  these aspects are just used to carry forward the story of the wow-such-buddies and of course the racial love triangle.     (while most crime \ noir films have a romantic aspect and other auxiliary aspects,  they typically revolve around the crime,  especially solving it when the stars are detectives,  instead of the other way around like we see here).

I was surprised at how little time was devoted to the crime plot and how much to the romantic triangle. I was expecting to see more of the female painter in danger, but after the one assassination attempt, pretty much all she had to worry about was which guy she was going to pick.

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15 hours ago, Dargo said:

Seems the city of Torrance which as you know is adjacent to Gardena is where according to Wikipedia the largest community within North America of people of Japanese descent presently reside, James.

And yes, I remember the Watts riot of '65 very well too, what with my childhood home very near the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd and the then named Compton Ave, and with the latter thoroughfare being renamed Marine Ave through the western portion of Gardena and as it had already been named through the cities of Manhattan Beach and I believe Lawndale, and due I would presume to the unfortunate negative connotation that riot would foster of the nearby city of Compton.

And yep, spent many a night at both the Vermont Drive-In (among many of the movies I recall watching there were True Grit and The Abominable Dr, Phibes) and at Ascot Park raceway where not only did my dad and I watch Evel Knievel jump 15 cars on his Triumph motorcycle in 1967 (it was also telecast on ABC's Wide World of Sports and which would be one of first to contribute to making him a household name) but I was also at Ascot almost anytime the Grand National Championship motorcycle Flat Track racing series stopped there twice a year.

(...I owned a BSA motorcycle at the time, and so of course would root on the BSA factory riders especially as they slid around that half-mile dirt track at breakneck speed)

Torrance \ Gardena:  I guess to us kids it was all the same (i.e. any areas we could ride our bikes too).      I had a few Japanese American friends at the time.  Some like me (half and half),  and some the full monty.      Yea,  you were older so you did more in the area than I was able to do,  but I do recall going to Ascot when it wasn't open and riding bikes there.  One memory I still have over 40 years later is getting stuck in a tar \ oil 'pit'.   My friends were able to get me out but was I a mess!!!  I just asked my mom if she remembers this,  and she has forgotten.   But I recall that she was really mad at me at the time.    Maybe she conveniently forgot because now I'm stuck doing her laundry!    

 

 

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Last night on YouTube I watched Blanche Fury (1948), which falls into the category of historical noir or gaslight noir. TopBilled has mentioned liking this film a lot, and now so do I. Excellent print on YouTube that shows off the costumes, sets, and outdoor settings. Some of the elements of the film are familiar, and a subplot is borrowed from a famous film, but everything is well done. Stewart Granger is perfectly cast as the illegitimate son who believes that Clare, the ancestral hall of the Fury family, rightfully belongs to him. As usual, Granger looks right in these historical roles. Valerie Hobson plays Blanche, the poor relation who escapes a life of drudgery as a governess to live with her uncle and cousin. Though I haven't seen a lot of Valerie Hobson's work, I don't think she has ever looked more beautiful, and she sinks her teeth into this very juicy role. She and Stewart Granger have great chemistry, Marc Allegret directs with considerable skill, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching to see how the plot was going to turn.

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1 hour ago, kingrat said:

Last night on YouTube I watched Blanche Fury (1948), which falls into the category of historical noir or gaslight noir. TopBilled has mentioned liking this film a lot, and now so do I. Excellent print on YouTube that shows off the costumes, sets, and outdoor settings. Some of the elements of the film are familiar, and a subplot is borrowed from a famous film, but everything is well done. Stewart Granger is perfectly cast as the illegitimate son who believes that Clare, the ancestral hall of the Fury family, rightfully belongs to him. As usual, Granger looks right in these historical roles. Valerie Hobson plays Blanche, the poor relation who escapes a life of drudgery as a governess to live with her uncle and cousin. Though I haven't seen a lot of Valerie Hobson's work, I don't think she has ever looked more beautiful, and she sinks her teeth into this very juicy role. She and Stewart Granger have great chemistry, Marc Allegret directs with considerable skill, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching to see how the plot was going to turn.

I would like to see Blanche Fury;  Granger did the film just over a year before he signed with MGM and made a string of fine adventure period films.   

As for Valerie Hobson;  Not very familiar with her work other then some of her films for Universal like Bride of Frankenstein and Werewolf of London. 

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Cornered (1945)  wrote the below blurb in 2012

Cornered Poster

Director: Edward Dmytryk, Stars: Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel and too many to count to its detriment. On being demobilized at the end of the war, Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard returns to France to track down who ordered the killing of a group of resistance fighters including his new bride in a convoluted plot that has Buenos Aries as its center point. RKO's back lot is not a very distinctive Buenos Aries, not much atmosphere no dietetic music that would have helped.  Still a 7/10.

Lets see what Eddie has to say.
 

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Cornered (1945)  wrote the below blurb in 2012

Cornered Poster

Director: Edward Dmytryk, Stars: Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel and too many to count to its detriment. On being demobilized at the end of the war, Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard returns to France to track down who ordered the killing of a group of resistance fighters including his new bride in a convoluted plot that has Buenos Aries as its center point. RKO's back lot is not a very distinctive Buenos Aries, not much atmosphere no dietetic music that would have helped.  Still a 7/10.

Lets see what Eddie has to say.
 

For me the best thing about Cornered is Walter Slezak.    He was also fine in Born To Kill and Riffraff,   and he was the second best actor in Bedtime for Bonzo (after the chimp).

He was handsome in 1925.

Walter Slezak by Setzer.jpg

    

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

For me the best thing about Cornered is Walter Slezak.    He was also fine in Born To Kill and Riffraff,   and he was the second best actor in Bedtime for Bonzo (after the chimp).

He was handsome in 1925.

Walter Slezak by Setzer.jpg

    

LOL

Whenever Slezak is mentioned, the very first role of his that comes to my mind is always the conniving Nazi character Willi he played in Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

 

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"Cornered" was the second post-song and dance picture I remember seeing that featured Dick Powell (the first was "Murder My Sweet").  I had never seen either picture until I started watching TCM, and I like Powell much better in his 40's and 50's portrayals than the ones he did in the 30's.  This 'war noir' shown on Noir Alley today begins in London, then winds its way to France, Switzerland, and subsequently Argentina as Powell is trying to find out who really killed his wife, who was part of the French resistance in World War 2.  Powell played a Canadian air force pilot who spent the late stages of the war as a German prisoner of war, but had been married for less than 3 weeks before his wife's demise.  Along the way, he encounters a kaleidoscope of characters that may or may not be trying to help him in his quest.; namely, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel, and Steven Geray.  What I liked about the climax of this movie was how the real villain's identity was hidden in the shadows as long as possible.  The viewer always knew his name, and they heard his voice well before they caught a glimpse of his facial features toward the end of the picture, which was sort of shocking in itself, where Powell literally beats Luther Adler to death.  I thought that scene was particularly vivid in its presentation as it was a combination of cool and disturbing at the same time.  Although, Powell didn't 'get' the girl at the end of the film, he was able to avenge her death at the hands of some creepy individuals.  I also liked the way Powell's character wasn't all that hung up on his personal grooming; sporting buzz cut hair and a stubble beard in several scenes of "Cornered".  It was a completely different look for him and the persona he had built up for his audiences prior to 1940.  All in all, I give "Cornered" an 8 out of 10 rating.

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Cornered is one of those films that improved for me on a second viewing. The plot may be too convoluted for its own good, but it's interesting to see an early Hollywood treatment of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who escaped to Argentina. The cast is full of less familiar, but very good, actors. Luther Adler and Morris Carnovsky were best known for their stage work. Micheline Chereil (Mme. Jarnac) and Nina Vale (Senora Camargo) are scarcely known at all. Nina Vale should have had a lengthy film noir resume; I loved the scene where she tries to seduce Dick Powell. Powell hits all the right notes as the serviceman who wants revenge on his wife's killer, and Walter Slezak knows how to play sleazy characters, as in Born To Kill. Edward Dmytryk and his cinematographer, Harry Wild, give us lots of the noir imagery we love, and the scene in the subway between Dick Powell and Micheline Chereil is especially fine, as their tense conversation keeps getting interrupted by the trains.

Eddie Muller talked about the changes in writers, not all of them known, for the film, and how one right-wing writer was replaced by a Communist writer, John Wexley, whose propagandist speeches Dmytryk and the producer, Adrian Scott, threw out even though they were both Communist Party members. Scott and Dmytryk were then expelled from the CP as not being loyal enough, though both Scott and Dmytryk would eventually serve prison time because of their unwillingness to testify before HUAC.

 

 

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Sure Willi was a no good Nazi U-boat bad guy, but at least he was able to coax Gus out of the boat

and on his way to Davy Jones locker so we would no longer have to listen to his interminable

whining about Rosie and the joys of cutting a rug. Shut up already, Bendix. Danke, Willi.

I've never taken Powell very seriously as a tough guy. Yeah he can snarl and make with the wiseguy patter,

but I've never bought it. Still, Cornered was fairly entertaining. I think the main outlines of the plot were

pretty clear though the details of who was with who got a bit confusing. As far as Nazis go, the French

variety just don't make the grade. You truly need the real Teutonic deal for ultimate impact, not their weak tea,

land of 10,000 cheeses fascist brethren. One political spiel near the end caught my attention. Jarnac says

something about the needy and poor being fertile ground for fascism. Not very subtle, comrade.

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5 hours ago, Vautrin said:

Sure Willi was a no good Nazi U-boat bad guy, but at least he was able to coax Gus out of the boat

and on his way to Davy Jones locker so we would no longer have to listen to his interminable

whining about Rosie and the joys of cutting a rug. Shut up already, Bendix. Danke, Willi.

I've never taken Powell very seriously as a tough guy. Yeah he can snarl and make with the wiseguy patter,

but I've never bought it. Still, Cornered was fairly entertaining. I think the main outlines of the plot were

pretty clear though the details of who was with who got a bit confusing. As far as Nazis go, the French

variety just don't make the grade. You truly need the real Teutonic deal for ultimate impact, not their weak tea,

land of 10,000 cheeses fascist brethren. One political spiel near the end caught my attention. Jarnac says

something about the needy and poor being fertile ground for fascism. Not very subtle, comrade.

Might this be because you find it hard to believe a guy with a "cherubic" (Eddie's choice of word in his intro) face could ever be a "tough guy", Vautrin?

(...btw, loved your Lifeboat take up there...oh, and your French Nazi thing was pretty funny too)

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18 hours ago, Dargo said:

Might this be because you find it hard to believe a guy with a "cherubic" (Eddie's choice of word in his intro) face could ever be a "tough guy", Vautrin?

(...btw, loved your Lifeboat take up there...oh, and your French Nazi thing was pretty funny too)

No, I'm not very familiar with Powell's days as a juvenile musical star. To me he just looks underwhelming in

the physical tough guy way. I noticed he had quite a widow's peak in Cornered. Maybe that was his secret

weapon. A Nazi with the first name of Marcel? C'mon. That lowers the Nazi bad guy scale by about 50%.

Now if it was Helmut or Heinrich, then we've got a ball game.

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Mama Mia, Walter Slezak in 1925!!  I always thought he was born looking like a middle-aged, overweight Viennese waiter.  (along the lines of S. Z. Sakall -- hey, can anyone find a sexy photo of "Cuddles" in his Hungarian youth?)

While I appreciate Dick Powell's  hard-boiled, noir persona changeover in the mid-Forties, I have to say (small voice, lol) that I really enjoy him more in cute n' clever stuff like YOU NEVER CAN TELL and SUSAN SLEPT HERE.    

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2 hours ago, Bronxgirl48 said:

Mama Mia, Walter Slezak in 1925!!  I always thought he was born looking like a middle-aged, overweight Viennese waiter.  (along the lines of S. Z. Sakall -- hey, can anyone find a sexy photo of "Cuddles" in his Hungarian youth?)

While I appreciate Dick Powell's  hard-boiled, noir persona changeover in the mid-Forties, I have to say (small voice, lol) that I really enjoy him more in cute n' clever stuff like YOU NEVER CAN TELL and SUSAN SLEPT HERE.    

While I can't seem to track down a youthful shot of Cuddles for ya here Bronxie, I DID find where on the internet someone posted that in turn-of-the-century Budapest he was quite the heartbreaker and before all that weight gain looked quite a bit like Brad Pitt.

(...and if you believe that, I got a bridge very near your old stomping grounds which you might be interested in purchasing)  ;)

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Almost had me going there, Dargo, lol.   I was (really!) breathless with anticipation until the second paragraph.

Just tell me how much the Whitestone Bridge is going for these days and I'll write you out a check.

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I watched Cornered hoping I'd like it better this time  (seen it twice before.)  But no.  The same things about it that I didn't enjoy before , I still noticed.  As some of you have said, it's just too damn complicated -  too many characters, too many assignations (how many in that hotel lobby, for instance?)  too much to follow. And it wasn't entertaining or fun enough to make it worth the effort.

I did find Eddie's background information really helpful, especially the bit about all the different writers who worked on Cornered.  That explained a lot as to why the script was so murky, hard to follow, and just plain dull  (kind of, a few times):  first, two many cooks spoil the broth.  Second, anyone who writes a screenplay with an "agenda" is going to end up with a sub-par screenplay.  Whether it be a Communist , hard C "Conservative", or any other ideology, a film is going to suffer from such an approach.  Messages in movies are best left out altogether, or at best, given in small and subtle doses.  Look at Clifford Odets:  ok, sometimes he's good  (Notorious,  Sweet Smell of Success...) but just as often, his "I'm a proud Socialist"  viewpoint shows too obviously in his screenplays.  (This is not a criticism of those 1930s and 40s left-wing writers per sec, it's a criticism of the way they thought it was good art to integrate their left-wing perspective into their work.)  Note to these writers  (ok,  5 decades late):  Leave your political agenda OUT  !  

Just an example of how doing this just doesn't work:  back to Cornered:  The alluring  Mrs.  Camargo is trying to seduce and distract  our guy Gerard  (or maybe she's trying to do something else,  like so many things in this movie, we often have no idea what the hell is going on).  She asks Gerard about his lost bride, asking if she was "very beautiful", and Gerard replies that "her teeth were crooked, and she was too thin.  Too thin from having not enough food between the wars..."  A loving husband mourning the death of his wife of 3 weeks would not talk about her "thinness", or that it was caused by France's political and economic situation.  He'd talk about something else, I don't know, her eyes,  her sense of humour, her courage -- hey, we never meet her, so I don't know. But I do know that Powell's character sounds more like someone reciting polemic than like a grief-stricken lover.

Good things about Cornered:  nice noirish cinematography and settings, all those dark alleys and deserted cafes; and the actors, especially Walter Sleazy  (that's his name, or should be) and  Morris Carnovsky, who's been in a few noirs Eddie's shown on Noir Alley.

 

 

 

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On 5/18/2020 at 6:03 AM, sewhite2000 said:

I was surprised at how little time was devoted to the crime plot and how much to the romantic triangle. I was expecting to see more of the female painter in danger, but after the one assassination attempt, pretty much all she had to worry about was which guy she was going to pick.

Yeah, and the triangle aspect wasnt very convincing. After barely a glance, Shaw suddenly falls for Shigeta.

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4 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yeah, and the triangle aspect wasnt very convincing. After barely a glance, Shaw suddenly falls for Shigeta.

Well my wife and I didn't view it that way,  but that is it related to us;    While my wife (who was just a friend of a friend at the time),  knew I had a good job as an IT person,  was technical,  etc...   she didn't know I was a musician,  into art and 'old' movies;  I.e. that I had a sensitive side.     Once she saw that she fell for me like a ton of bricks.

NOW,  I agree that in the film all-of-that taking place in just one scene wasn't realistic but it wasn't just 'barely a glance';  it was because both realized they were soul mates.  

Of course, as I noted before,  once he starting playing that Japanese song and my mom started singing the words (she learned the song 70 years ago!),,,,  well,   all 3 of us got emotional!    So in this regards, we were sucker for this scene (ha ha).       

 

 

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12 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Well my wife and I didn't view it that way,  but that is it related to us;    While my wife (who was just a friend of a friend at the time),  knew I had a good job as an IT person,  was technical,  etc...   she didn't know I was a musician,  into art and 'old' movies;  I.e. that I had a sensitive side.     Once she saw that she fell for me like a ton of bricks.

NOW,  I agree that in the film all-of-that taking place in just one scene wasn't realistic but it wasn't just 'barely a glance';  it was because both realized they were soul mates.  

Of course, as I noted before,  once he starting playing that Japanese song and my mom started singing the words (she learned the song 70 years ago!),,,,  well,   all 3 of us got emotional!    So in this regards, we were sucker for this scene (ha ha).       

 

 

Yeah, I hear women like a guy who has a sensitive side alright, AND I hear they ALSO say they like a guy with a good sense of humor too.

Guess I should have cultivated those two things back in the day, huh.

(...boy, hindsight sure IS 20-20, ain't IT?!)

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A Kiss Before Dying (1956) A color Noir on tonight.

Poster

 

 

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I enjoyed seeing Pickup on South Street again. Script is much better than most of Fuller's; he's usually a much better director than writer.  Great opening scene with no dialogue. First-rate cinematography by Joe MacDonald. Many of us wish Thelma Ritter had won an Oscar for this picture. All the cast is strong, not a given for Fuller's films, and Jean Peters simply nails the role of Candy, the hooker with, yes, a heart of gold. She is also exceptional in "The Last Leaf" from O. Henry's Full House. Too bad she got involved with Howard Hughes. She seems like potentially one of the best actresses of her era.

 

 

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14 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

    
A Kiss Before Dying (1956) A color Noir on tonight.

Poster

 

 

Anybody watch last night? I was out fishing. 

Anyway I been coming around to the thought that  that the Color Film Noirs that were produced within this 1940-1968 time frame were actually the first Neo Noirs (let's call these first phase neos or proto neos) so that the two sub styles actually overlap. But until the Motion Picture Production Code weakened in the 1960s the only significant difference between Noir and Neo Noir was the use of color film. Post 1960 the Neo Noirs (second phase neos) both Color and Black & White began to drift away from predominantly crime centric stories into more previously taboo "dark" subject matter and employing various salacious visual depictions not possible before.

The catalyst for this new alignment is when I read a quote about Neo Noir that said that if the filmmakers made a conscience decision to film in black and white when color was the norm then it was an artistic decision and not one of necessity for budget purposes, Same should go the other way if B&W was the norm for low budget B Noirs then it was an artistic decision to film it color.

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

Anybody watch last night? I was out fishing. 

I caught the ending of it, but I have seen this a few times. It did not seem very "noir" to me but I think it is a great suspense film. The only time Robert Wagner played a psychopath and he does very well. He is still the well groomed character he had played before but this time has danger behind that mask.

This was based on an Ira (Rosemary's Baby) Levin novel and it is worth reading. The great thing about the novel is we follow the villain in the beginning and we are never sure who he is by the end since he is never referred to by name at the beginning. In the movie, of course we can see who he is from the start. 

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

Anybody watch last night? I was out fishing. 

Anyway I been coming around to the thought that  that the Color Film Noirs that were produced within this 1940-1968 time frame were actually the first Neo Noirs (let's call these first phase neos or proto neos) so that the two sub styles actually overlap. But until the Motion Picture Production Code weakened in the 1960s the only significant difference between Noir and Neo Noir was the use of color film. Post 1960 the Neo Noirs (second phase neos) both Color and Black & White began to drift away from predominantly crime centric stories into more previously taboo "dark" subject matter and employing various salacious visual depictions not possible before.

The catalyst for this new alignment is when I read a quote about Neo Noir that said that if the filmmakers made a conscience decision to film in black and white when color was the norm then it was an artistic decision and not one of necessity for budget purposes, Same should go the other way if B&W was the norm for low budget B Noirs then it was an artistic decision to film it color.

Watching it now  live, it just occurred to me that this may have been more popular and better known had it used teenagers like Rebel Without A Cause with Diegetic sounds of Rock And Roll coming over the radio Maybellene, "Rock" Around The Clock. and Earth Angel were playing in the bg instead of the dirge that hits you over the head that they do have. It would have made it even more perverse while also playing to a younger deographic.

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