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Barton_Keyes

Noir Alley

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28 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I call them Tropic Noirs, Yes it fits right in with The Shanghai Gesture (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), The Bribe (1949), A Lady Without Passport (1950), Macao (1952), Affair In Trinidad (1952), The Wages of Fear (1953), Hell's Half Acre (1954), Affair In Havana (1957) and maybe a few others.

YES!!!!

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The J. E. version seemed very rough to me, not polished like the 40 remake. And like many early talkies, more of a filmed stage play. And unfortunately J.E. acts it that way. (as if she's playing to the balcony).

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52 minutes ago, Hibi said:

It was a convenient way to show they didnt get away with it and appease the code. They still had the knife that was used. Plus in the morning Bette's body would be discovered  (or even sooner) and they'd be the prime subjects. Doubtful they'd beat the rap, esp. killing a Colonial.....but the viewer is left to assume what happened down the road.

You'll probably right. But a part of me still wishes that they had gotten off. What poetic justice it would be that while Leslie ended up getting away with murder it would be sweet karma if the guy's widow and her partner ended up getting away with HER murder.

But as you pointed out probably not. The Production Code at the time wouldn't have allowed it.

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26 minutes ago, Hibi said:

The JEANNE EAGELS version seemed very rough to me, not polished like the 40 remake. And like many early talkies, more of a filmed stage play. And unfortunately J.E. acts it that way. (as if she's playing to the balcony).

SHE'S also clearly under the influence of something, she keeps nervously fumbling with her wardrobe.

apparently the only version of the 1929 LETTER that STILL exists is a WORK PRINT, which isn't entirely fair to judge what the movie must've been like from. It is- as is my understanding- it's comprised of a lot of alternate and unused takes (Eagels struggles with her lines a couple of times briefly in it.)

I imagine Wyler and Bette had access to the full, complete, actual 1929 film (as it may never be seen again)- I know he and Bette butted cabezas over her trying to emulate Tallulah in THE LITTLE FOXES and I'm sure some of this came from her wanted to emulate JEANNE.

(Bette always really wanted that stage respect.)

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

i was visited by the Angel of Migraines Saturday night and missed Eddie's comments, but I'll go out on a limbsy here and say it: I THINK "THE LETTER" (1940) is a film noir.

I mean, c'mon:

Shadows. Night. THE MOON. Palm fronds. The dripdripdrip of sap from a rubber tree into the bucket.a gunshot. Another. Another.Another.Another.Another. Click. click. click. Smoking barrel. WINDCHIMES. Shadows. Curtains. Blind slits. "AM I SO EVIL?" MILE WIDE EYES. MORE SHADOWS! MAX STEINER SWOOPS IN WITH THAT MARVELOUS MANIC DEPRESSIVE SCORE FOR STRINGS!MORE SHADOWS! MORE WINDCHIMES! MORE PALM FRONDS!BLACKMAIL! MURDER! "there is in existence a letter...""WITH ALL MY HEART, I STILL LOVE THE MAN I KILLED!"

NIGHT. THE GARDEN. THE MOON. ORCHIDS.

A KNIFE.

(if that ain't film noir, I dunno what is.)

 

 

I think of The Letter as belonging to more than one category (some may call it a melodrama, for example), but I think it belongs mostly to film noir. I don't think one film has to belong to only one category.

The category of film noir didn't even exist when The Letter was made, so I wonder what people at the time (1940) would have called it.

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11 minutes ago, Marianne said:

The category of film noir didn't even exist when The Letter was made, so I wonder what people at the time (1940) would have called it.

I can tell you, The New York Times called all these films as part of a series they called The Red Meat Crime Cycle 

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8 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I can tell you, The New York Times called all these films as part of a series they called The Red Meat Crime Cycle 

(laughing)

REALLY?

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1 minute ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

(laughing)

REALLY?

Yes that was what they termed them as.

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59 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

You'll probably right. But a part of me still wishes that they had gotten off. What poetic justice it would be that while Leslie ended up getting away with murder it would be sweet karma if the guy's widow and her partner ended up getting away with HER murder.

But as you pointed out probably not. The Production Code at the time wouldn't have allowed it.

I guess whether they did or did not is in the mind of the viewer!

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1 minute ago, cigarjoe said:

Yes that was what they termed them as.

YOU KNOW,

The more Times reviews of films from the 40's and 50's that I come across, the more I really wonder if they shouldn't have called themselves THE NEW YORK BEHIND THE TIMES. 

Crowther especially.

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43 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

SHE'S also clearly under the influence of something, she keeps nervously fumbling with her wardrobe.

apparently the only version of the 1929 LETTER that STILL exists is a WORK PRINT, which isn't entirely fair to judge what the movie must've been like from. It is- as is my understanding- it's comprised of a lot of alternate and unused takes (Eagels struggles with her lines a couple of times briefly in it.)

I imagine Wyler and Bette had access to the full, complete, actual 1929 film (as it may never be seen again)- I know he and Bette butted cabezas over her trying to emulate Tallulah in THE LITTLE FOXES and I'm sure some of this came from her wanted to emulate JEANNE.

(Bette always really wanted that stage respect.)

I wonder what happened to the original print? What exists comes off as more like a filmed rehearsal (just keep going if you run up on a line etc.........)

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I wonder what happened to the original print? What exists comes off as more like a filmed rehearsal (just keep going if you run up on a line etc.........)

possibly bought up by Warners and destroyed the way MGM did with GASLIGHT and JEKYLL. possibly destroyed intentionally or from willful neglect by Paramount.

also it was likely a nitrate negative, which is hella flammable and we all know how Bette smoked....

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7 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

YOU KNOW,

The more Times reviews of films from the 40's and 50's that I come across, the more I really wonder if they shouldn't have called themselves THE NEW YORK BEHIND THE TIMES. 

Crowther especially.

Yes. UGH. (Crowther)

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2 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

possibly bought up by Warners and destroyed the way MGM did with GASLIGHT and JEKYLL. possibly destroyed intentionally or from willful neglect by Paramount.

also it was likely a nitrate negative, which is hella flammable and we all know how Bette smoked....

LOL. Yeah, I hadnt thought of that (remake angle) Still wouldnt think Paramount would've gone for that forever. Probably tossed aside and forgotten and didnt survive for the ages.......

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just went to the wiki and imdb entries for THE 1929 THE LETTER and neither makes mention of just what happened to the original ACTUAL film (or, for that fact, that the only extant copy is a work print, which makes me wonder where I learned that the copy that we have and that is shown on TCM is a work print...but the print the film has on archive.org is called THE LETTER 1929 WORK PRINT, so i imagine it's true.)

i also found the following imdb trivia entry for the 1929 film, which was of absolutely no help at all, but if i have to read the whole thing, so should you:

Originally released by Paramount, the rights to the film were sold to Warner Bros. in 1939 when WB began production on a remake which was released the next year. 2 other early Paramount sound films would also be sold to Warners - 1932's "A Farewell to Arms" and 1933's "One Sunday Afternoon" (both were also acquired with intention to remake, but only the latter would ever be remade by WB). Thus, the "Popeye" cartoons would not be the only former Paramount properties sold to Associated Artists Productions in the mid-1950s - the three sound features Paramount sold to WB would be sold to a.a.p. with the rest of WB's pre-1950 features, as well as all short subjects released prior to August 1948 (except black-and-white Looney Tunes, non-Harman/Ising B&W Merrie Melodies, and the first cartoon in the latter series - "Lady, Play Your Mandolin") and the live-action short subjects released that month.

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4 minutes ago, Hibi said:

LOL. Yeah, I hadnt thought of that (remake angle) Still wouldnt think Paramount would've gone for that forever. Probably tossed aside and forgotten and didnt survive for the ages.......

Maybe used as a coaster by Robert Evans while taking meetings on CHINATOWN...?

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Thanks. I remember hearing that too from somewhere (that it isnt the original print). Well if WB bought up the rights, they probably got all the prints too or had them destroyed. We are lucky, at least the work print survives. The original print probably was lost in the shuffle or just deteriorated badly.....

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I'm really glad Wyler reined in Davis and didn't let her emulate Eagels's performance. Her Leslie Crosby is a cooler, calmer, infinitely more deadly jungle creature.

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16 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I'm really glad Wyler reined in Davis and didn't let her emulate Eagels's performance. Her Leslie Crosby is a cooler, calmer, infinitely more deadly jungle creature.

YES. AGREED. Her performance is more powerful without the histrionics normally associated with la Bette!

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4 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

I call them Tropic Noirs, Yes it fits right in with The Shanghai Gesture (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), The Bribe (1949), A Lady Without Passport (1950), Macao (1952), Affair In Trinidad (1952), The Wages of Fear (1953), Hell's Half Acre (1954), Affair In Havana (1957) and maybe a few others.

Almost forgot Key Largo (1948) would fit in with these also.

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Tropic Noirs?  Guess His Kind of Woman would fit as well as Macao.  Then you might could add in The Big Steal.

Maybe Eddie could start a new series:  Tropic Noirs or maybe South of the Border Noirs?  That would open up a whole lot of movies.

But we get into that "discussion" of what separates Noir from crime from mystery movies.

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The NYT's movie critic I remember best is Vincent Canby. Read his reviews most days,

though I obviously don't remember much about them now. I get the impression that

when Canby started he was a bit daring, but he was there so long that by the end he

was likely considered an old fogy. 

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13 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Yes. 

Yes you are. 

Oh no!!  Am I doomed to consist of aspirin tablets and chicken salad sandwiches??

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I was a bit miffed with Eddie when he told us that 1947's HIGH WALL was Robert Taylor's first foray into film noir.  I thought Bob entered it as the anti-hero in 1941's JOHNNY EAGER.

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35 minutes ago, Bronxgirl48 said:

I was a bit miffed with Eddie when he told us that 1947's HIGH WALL was Robert Taylor's first foray into film noir.  I thought Bob entered it as the anti-hero in 1941's JOHNNY EAGER.

Well there again is that nebulous question of definition.

The original Film Noir, from it's first coinage was in rightwing newspapers in France defining all films about and depicting the dark side of life as Noirs. It's second coming was after WWII when Raymond Borde and Etiene Chaumeton viewed a backlog of American Films that were also about the dark side of life (and not necessarily about Crime) and also had a visually dark style, and called these films Film Noir. 

So you have films about the darker subjects of life, about obsessed and or alienated individuals, and filmed in a visually stylistically darker manner than before. 

So The Letter which has a dark subject and filmed in a visually darker manner fits the second coming of Noir, while Johnny Eager is more about the dark side of life without as much of the visuals fitting more the first coming of Noir. 

You know it when you see it, and everybody with an infinite variety of life situations are going to "tune" to these films differently according to what they experienced. 

 

 

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