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On 5/29/2021 at 1:49 PM, Thompson said:

Is The Lost Weekend considered a film noir?

Yes, two French critics jump started it all after WWII mentioning  five American Films that reminded them of the French Poetic Realist Noir from  mid to late 1930s.

"In August 1946, L'Écran français published Nino Frank’s article A New Kind of Police Drama: the Criminal Adventure. He begins by citing “seven new American films that are particularly masterful: ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘The Little Foxes,’ ‘How Green Was My Valley,’ plus, ‘Double Indemnity,’ ‘Laura,’ and, to a certain extent, ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Murder My Sweet.’” He then focuses only on the crime films.

Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma in November of 1946. In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”" (William Ahern)

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19 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Mary Astor's role in this is very interesting...I think I heard somewhere  (Eddie?  can't remember)  that Astor was happy to play a character so different from all the respectable "mother" roles she'd been given recently.

That whole scenario...Frank running wildly away from Joe,  swirling deeper and deeper into the shadows of the city, until he arrives at some kind of underworld,  that sketchyy bar where Mary Astor calls him "handsome"  (is she trying to get some business?  Is she really a "woman of the night" ?  Probably, but I like it that it's left  vague),  and then Mary's apartment, complete with the naked lightbulb swinging depressingly overhead--  I love all that, I love the way Frank just randomly runs into her and her shady friends (or maybe acquaintances...Mary doesn't seem too fond of them herself.)

I did notice that she dropped her "g's", I guess to distance herself even more from the type of woman she usually played.  I just enjoy the whole thing,  the way she keeps talking about "getting some kicks",  her introducing Frank to the amoral lawyer ,  the "Johnny" character  (so effectively played by Barry Kroeger), Frank's passivity, maybe lying to himself again  ( as he did at the prisoner-of-war camp)  that he wasn't agreeing to a deal to kill Joe -- that whole final third of the movie is like some bizarre underworld, and Mary Astor is the weary ineffectual queen of it.  

Speaking of Mary Astor "distance herself even more from the type of woman she usually played", I noticed in one scene in her apartment, visible wrinkles on her face. Obviously, a woman never wanted to be photographed that way, especially at her age and especially as she is thought to be a very pretty woman. It was certainly a brave move on Astor's part to allow the definite washed up and has gone through the ringer appearance. This was a move that gave credibility to the character, but a move that showed that Astor was dedicated to her craft in a way that not every actress of her status would have allowed.

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I saw those wrinkles too and really liked that, seemed so natural.  You don’t suppose they were done in makeup?  Either way it was a standout scene.  She’s quite an actress, that Astor.  The way she moves (and smokes cigarettes) is on another level.  

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6 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

...Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma in November of 1946. In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”" (William Ahern)

Yes, BUT CJ, did this frenchie dude ALSO mention anything at all about how Bela Lugosi wasn't in any of the movies you just mentioned here EITHER??? 

(...Well. I sure hope he DID, or else my earlier posting in this thread would make even LESS sense than it already did!)

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3 hours ago, Stallion said:

Speaking of Mary Astor "distance herself even more from the type of woman she usually played", I noticed in one scene in her apartment, visible wrinkles on her face. Obviously, a woman never wanted to be photographed that way, especially at her age and especially as she is thought to be a very pretty woman. It was certainly a brave move on Astor's part to allow the definite washed up and has gone through the ringer appearance. This was a move that gave credibility to the character, but a move that showed that Astor was dedicated to her craft in a way that not every actress of her status would have allowed.

Agreed, it was courageous of Mary Astor to play a woman like that.  I did think,  however,  that she looked even older than her actual age at the time, which, according to Eddie M., was 42.

Maybe nowadays,  with so much attention and effort spent on appearance,  so many skin care products etc. that weren't around in the 1940s,  a woman of 42 just doesn't look as old as someone of that age in 1948.  However,  I did kind of wonder if they'd made Mary look older than that with make-up.  (They could easily have added a few "wrinkles" that way.)

I do enjoy the way Pat keeps talking about getting her "kicks",  the way she unscrews and winds up the cord of that lightbulb when she decides to leave; the way she keeps fussing with her nails when we first meet her in that divey bar.   She really only has a few minutes screen time, but she makes the most of it.

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Another thing about Ryan's apparent change of heart is that during the scene in his hotel room with Thaxter, for a second or so it appears she had gotten through to him, but that is until he receives the phone call from the hitman, and then that seemed to re-wet his appetite for revenge.

Did anyone also notice this?

(...and re "the wrong guy dying" thought: The way I look at this is that the concept of "Karma" was what screenwriter Richard L. Richards and story originator Collier Young were really going for here)

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This movie was shot in 1948 and released in 1949.  Right after this movie, Mary Astor and Janet Leigh played mother and daughter in "Little Women".   Just a few years later, Janet Leigh played bad guy Robert Ryan's girlfriend in a western called "The Naked Spur".   She does a fine acting job, but I thought that she was too young for Van Heflin here and for Robert Ryan in the western.  I also thought she was too young to have a school-age child in "Holiday Affair" .    Of course, Hollywood has always had a history of matching young actresses with older leading men.

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19 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Agreed, it was courageous of Mary Astor to play a woman like that.  I did think,  however,  that she looked even older than her actual age at the time, which, according to Eddie M., was 42.

Maybe nowadays,  with so much attention and effort spent on appearance,  so many skin care products etc. that weren't around in the 1940s,  a woman of 42 just doesn't look as old as someone of that age in 1948.  However,  I did kind of wonder if they'd made Mary look older than that with make-up.  (They could easily have added a few "wrinkles" that way.)

I do enjoy the way Pat keeps talking about getting her "kicks",  the way she unscrews and winds up the cord of that lightbulb when she decides to leave; the way she keeps fussing with her nails when we first meet her in that divey bar.   She really only has a few minutes screen time, but she makes the most of it.

I definitely agree!

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12 hours ago, Dargo said:

Another thing about Ryan's apparent change of heart is that during the scene in his hotel room with Thaxter, for a second or so it appears she had gotten through to him, but that is until he receives the phone call from the hitman, and then that seemed to re-wet his appetite for revenge.

Did anyone also notice this?

(...and re "the wrong guy dying" thought: The way I look at this is that the concept of "Karma" was what screenwriter Richard L. Richards and story originator Collier Young were really going for here)

I believe it is a questionable practice to quote one's own posts,  however, once in a while I must admit I do it.  Your comment here, Dargs,  the part I bolded,  is so in line with what I said earlier, I'm going to quote myself-- just a part of what I posted about this a page or so back:

"Of course it had to end that way.  While yes,  there are noirs (quite a few, actually) with happy endings,  sometimes feeling a bit stuck-on  )  many noirs - and for that matter, many films of the day (late 1940s)  had a sort of rough justice to them. Frank had to die because,  well,  he'd done something wrong, something that couldn't be papered over,  and he had to pay for it.

In a way, it was the only thing that could have happened;  one has to wonder if Frank would ever have been truly happy, if he ever would have forgiven himself for what he did in the prisoner-of-war camp.  His angst wasn't just about Joe's relentless pursuit of him and his fear of Joe's revenge; after a while that seems almost incidental to the real demon stalking Frank:  his own conscience.  

I realize it sounds harsh to say "Frank did something wrong and had to pay for it with his life",  especially given how sympathetic a character he is.  That's one of the things about Act of Violence that makes it so good;  Frank  seems like he is a completely decent, "good" person, but we find out he had a dark side.  He is a "good" person, but he also did something in his past that was terrible.  Like all of us, he's both "good" and  "bad".  "

"Karma."  Thanks, Dargo, that's exactly what I was talking about. 

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On 5/31/2021 at 4:31 AM, cigarjoe said:

Yes, two French critics jump started it all after WWII mentioning  five American Films that reminded them of the French Poetic Realist Noir from  mid to late 1930s.

"In August 1946, L'Écran français published Nino Frank’s article A New Kind of Police Drama: the Criminal Adventure. He begins by citing “seven new American films that are particularly masterful: ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘The Little Foxes,’ ‘How Green Was My Valley,’ plus, ‘Double Indemnity,’ ‘Laura,’ and, to a certain extent, ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Murder My Sweet.’” He then focuses only on the crime films.

Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma in November of 1946. In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”" (William Ahern)

I don't see how The Lost Weekend could be called Noir.  One thing I've learned from watching Noir Alley's introductions is that the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir can be taken loosely, but i assumed that was Eddie's excuse to be able to show different films.  

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2 hours ago, Shank Asu said:

I don't see how The Lost Weekend could be called Noir.  One thing I've learned from watching Noir Alley's introductions is that the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir can be taken loosely, but i assumed that was Eddie's excuse to be able to show different films.  

Mmm,  I would say the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir CAN  be taken loosely,  that's not just Eddie's opinion.

Why this is always a perennial  conversation--sometimes bordering on debate or even argument -- and why it's such an ongoing source of fascination for people is beyond me.  I've also noticed that it seems to be mainly the newcomers to film noir,  people who have just found out about this style of film,  who are the ones most determined to pin it down and limit it to a very specific type of movie, with very hard parametres around what they think it is.

On the other hand, people who've known about and followed film noir for a long time are actually more relaxed about how it's defined.

(no offence to ShankAsu,  if they've just recently discovered noir, that's great.)

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2 hours ago, Shank Asu said:

I don't see how The Lost Weekend could be called Noir.  One thing I've learned from watching Noir Alley's introductions is that the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir can be taken loosely, but i assumed that was Eddie's excuse to be able to show different films.  

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (just aired on TCM) most certainly is a film noir.  Jim Morrison and The Doors had a ten foot tall woman, she was a noir too.  Lola wasn’t that tall.  Ray Davies isn’t that tall, is he?  The more tall you are the more noir you are.

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40 minutes ago, Thompson said:

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (just aired on TCM) most certainly is a film noir.  Jim Morrison and The Doors had a ten foot tall woman, she was a noir too.  Lola wasn’t that tall.  Ray Davies isn’t that tall, is he?  The more tall you are the more noir you are.

LOL

Yes Thompson, I suppose this MIGHT be true, however considering that Bela Lugosi was 6'1'' and thus reasonably tall, any movie HE was in STILL couldn't be considered a "noir", RIGHT?!

(...I'm gonna get my "Bela Lugosi/not a noir" theory established in the minds of the cinephiles of the world if the last freakin' thing I do)  

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I asked the bartender, the same gal that off duty drinks Miller Highlife and half shots of Jameson, what she thinks of film noir and that fella Bela Lugosi.  “Dargo told us all about him,” she said.  “Actually I wouldn’t mind doing the Lugosi, but only if it doesn’t take too long.”  I didn’t know what that meant so I ordered a bag of potato chips and another Budweiser.

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5 hours ago, Shank Asu said:

I don't see how The Lost Weekend could be called Noir.  One thing I've learned from watching Noir Alley's introductions is that the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir can be taken loosely, but i assumed that was Eddie's excuse to be able to show different films.  

You don't?

Do you have a reading comprehension problem? Read this SLOWLY "Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma in November of 1946. In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”" (William Ahern)

We wouldn't even be talking about FILM NOIR if those two French critics hadn't written those two critiques. 

The New York Times noted the dark films as being part of what they were calling the Red Meat Crime Cycle, not quite as catchy.

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3 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Mmm,  I would say the definition of what qualifies a film as being noir CAN  be taken loosely,  that's not just Eddie's opinion.

Why this is always a perennial  conversation--sometimes bordering on debate or even argument -- and why it's such an ongoing source of fascination for people is beyond me.  I've also noticed that it seems to be mainly the newcomers to film noir,  people who have just found out about this style of film,  who are the ones most determined to pin it down and limit it to a very specific type of movie, with very hard parametres around what they think it is.

On the other hand, people who've known about and followed film noir for a long time are actually more relaxed about how it's defined.

(no offence to ShankAsu,  if they've just recently discovered noir, that's great.)

Exactly!

You watch enough Noirs and you literally get to the point where, I've heard it put this way, that "you know them when you see them." I'll go that one better. Noir, for me is a pan generic dark story told in a stylistic way that triggers a vibe that you tune to, almost akin to a drug/alcohol high. You get a Noir buzz. But its a strange type of high that is actually topsy-turvy to a drug/alcohol high in that it works like this. For Noir neophytes they will only get that high from the hard boiled hardcore Noirs with Detectives, Femme Fatales, and murder. They are the Noir junkies, the mainliners. But with the more Noirs you get exposed to you'll find that there is an endless variety of stories that shuffle and spiral away on different tendrils that provide enough of the elements that make a film a Noir. Your personal life experiences will also inform your affinity to the types of stories that will tip Noir for you. So your tolerance level to Noir goes down, you don't need the hardboiled, hard core stories to get the fix and you recognize the noir in all the various tragedies and picaresque situations that plague the human condition. Noir expands out to an ill delineated, fuzzy "on the cusp of Noir" point where a film can tip either way for an individual. A good example of this effect is the the film Somebody Up There Likes Me that has a few very noir-ish sequences sprinkled through out its length.

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Exactly!

You watch enough Noirs and you literally get to the point where, I've heard it put this way, that "you know them when you see them." I'll go that one better. Noir, for me is a pan generic dark story told in a stylistic way that triggers a vibe that you tune to, almost akin to a drug/alcohol high. You get a Noir buzz. But its a strange type of high that is actually topsy-turvy to a drug/alcohol high in that it works like this. For Noir neophytes they will only get that high from the hard boiled hardcore Noirs with Detectives, Femme Fatales, and murder. They are the Noir junkies, the mainliners. But with the more Noirs you get exposed to you'll find that there is an endless variety of stories that shuffle and spiral away on different tendrils that provide enough of the elements that make a film a Noir. Your personal life experiences will also inform your affinity to the types of stories that will tip Noir for you. So your tolerance level to Noir goes down, you don't need the hardboiled, hard core stories to get the fix and you recognize the noir in all the various tragedies and picaresque situations that plague the human condition. Noir expands out to an ill delineated, fuzzy "on the cusp of Noir" point where a film can tip either way for an individual. A good example of this effect is the the film Somebody Up There Likes Me that has a few very noir-ish sequences sprinkled through out its length.

HEY Thompson! Here's another one of those "general rules of thumb" that distinguishes something as "noir".

And that would be that ANY post which includes the words "tendrils" and/or "picaresque" in it and such as CJ's above posting does here, is about as "noir" as it can get!

Also notice that CJ up there never once mentions Bela Lugosi in it, and so once again of course making his post even MORE as "noir" as it can get.

(...and be sure to mention this to that girl at the bar you keep talkin' about here)

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Don't have much to add to Act of Violence. I've seen it a half dozen times and it's one of my favorite noirs. One I had not heard of before TCM! It has some believability issues, (the fact the hoods would go through with the plan w/out being paid first), but overall a gripping story and still timely subject matter today. Love all the Bunker Hill area night scenes. One thing I dont think anyone has mentioned are how finely etched the 3 female lead characters are written. Thaxter doesn't have a lot to do, but her character moves the plot along and her prodding of Ryan's conscience does affect him in the end. Astor and Leigh are both great. Everyone is. But for a noir the women are all 3 dimensional and well written.

I've always wondered whether Astor tried to forge Heflin's signature and cashed that check!

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17 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

You don't?

Do you have a reading comprehension problem? Read this SLOWLY "Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma in November of 1946. In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”" (William Ahern)

We wouldn't even be talking about FILM NOIR if those two French critics hadn't written those two critiques. 

The New York Times noted the dark films as being part of what they were calling the Red Meat Crime Cycle, not quite as catchy.

Yes I read it correctly, I just don't agree.  Chartier has his opinion and I don't take it as the word of God.  I've seen plenty of film theory professors change their opinions on things after open discussions, so I just take that as his opinion and not fact.  I'm not new to noir but don't call myself a expert.  I just don't see how The Lost Weekend is noir.  Sorry. 

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On 5/31/2021 at 10:56 AM, misswonderly3 said:

Agreed, it was courageous of Mary Astor to play a woman like that.  I did think,  however,  that she looked even older than her actual age at the time, which, according to Eddie M., was 42.

Maybe nowadays,  with so much attention and effort spent on appearance,  so many skin care products etc. that weren't around in the 1940s,  a woman of 42 just doesn't look as old as someone of that age in 1948.  However,  I did kind of wonder if they'd made Mary look older than that with make-up.  (They could easily have added a few "wrinkles" that way.)

I do enjoy the way Pat keeps talking about getting her "kicks",  the way she unscrews and winds up the cord of that lightbulb when she decides to leave; the way she keeps fussing with her nails when we first meet her in that divey bar.   She really only has a few minutes screen time, but she makes the most of it.

Of course the cinematographer had control over this with lighting. Often, a woman looks most flattering lit from the front, it smooths out imperfections. Once you start moving your key light more to the side or higher, flaws are more noticeable. This move of the main light toward the side  can help give men that craggy, and do I say, masculine look.

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32 minutes ago, Shank Asu said:

I just don't see how The Lost Weekend is noir.   

To me this sentence if flawed.    I.e. there is no such concept as "is noir".

Such a binary POV is limiting and thus flawed by design. 

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2 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

To me this sentence if flawed.    I.e. there is no such concept as "is noir".

Such a binary POV is limiting and thus flawed by design. 

I think there will always be discussions of what movies fit into what category. What is the line when a drama turns into an action movie? What is the line where a movie goes from musical to musical comedy? In the above discussions, when does a movie go from a crime movie to a noir? To me, I get the general idea of the labels such as "drama", "musical", "comedy", etc. Sometimes, to pinpoint a movie super exactly is difficult. I see these movie labels as helpful, knowing what to expect. But, I think a lot of movies may be on the border between genres. Unless the moviemaker specifically has the intent to make a "noir" for instance, many movies will be fuzzy to place in their exact category.

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51 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

To me this sentence if flawed.    I.e. there is no such concept as "is noir".

Such a binary POV is limiting and thus flawed by design. 

🙄

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1 hour ago, Shank Asu said:

🙄

FYI:   I don't view "noir" as a genre but a style;  therefor the question is never 'is this film a noir" but instead what noir elements (e.g. visuals,  themes,  character behavior), does a film have that fit the noir style.     Of course this leads to the discussion of:  does this film have enough noir elements to be classified as "noir"?       I tend to ignore such discussions and instead focus on the actual noir elements instead of the binary classification,   but will sometimes address it in this manner:  if I was writing a book on American Film Noir would I include this film?      With regards to The Lost Weekend,   I wouldn't include it in the main section of the book,  but instead in the appendix,  as a film with noir elements but not enough to be included in the main section.

 

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7 hours ago, Hibi said:

Don't have much to add to Act of Violence. I've seen it a half dozen times and it's one of my favorite noirs. One I had not heard of before TCM! It has some believability issues, but overall a gripping story and still timely subject matter today. Love all the Bunker Hill area night scenes. One thing I dont think anyone has mentioned are how finely etched the 3 female lead characters are written. Thaxter doesn't have a lot to do, but her character moves the plot along and her prodding of Ryan's conscience does affect him in the end. Astor and Leigh are both great. Everyone is. But for a noir the women are all 3 dimensional and well written.

I've always wondered whether Astor tried to forge Heflin's signature and cashed that check!

And speaking of Thaxter did you notice when she grabs Leigh's small automatic at the house she doesn't put it in the draw she opens but in her purse, wonder if that was going to be another plot point that never was developed or got discarded.

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