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Film Noir Comedies


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Film Noir Comedies

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Sure, they're categorized as dramas, and they pushed the production code limits when first released, but films such as The Woman in the Window (1944) and White Heat (1949) have always seemed to be darkly humorous in their toying with movie conventions and their observations on human nature, (especially evident in the lead performances of Robinson & Cagney). Do any other noirs strike anyone as strangely amusing?

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The laugh meter goes berserk on BORN TO KILL which had to have the entire set in stitches at the time. It's dismal (in a great way) but the extremeties the film doles out are so expertly rendered that they become comic in defense of our own sensibilities. I agree with WOMAN IN THE WINDOW completely, and you can toss in Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Welles' LADY FROM SHANGHAI has moments that are hilarious, intentional and otherwise. SUNSET BOULEVARD and SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS are bitterly funny when not being brutally cruel. Who among us hasn't chuckled madly at the sight of Sterling Hayden staring helplessly out at the runway at the end of Kubrick's THE KILLING? Funny. That which makes us cringe makes us laugh. All at once.

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Moira -- I'm glad you didn't take the first bus out of noir town. Nice to see you.

 

*His Kind of Woman* is the best film noir comedy that I have seen, thus far. This is what I wrote about the film earlier this year:

 

I also agree with your comment about His Kind of Woman being a noir parody. The film's tongue is planted firmly in its cheek. While the film does present a very serious tone via its antagonist(s) (Raymond Burr, Charles McGraw), it also undercuts that seriousness via Vincent Price's Cardigan and his boatload of screwballs that come to the rescue of Robert Mitchum.

 

I think the setting of His Kind of Woman has a lot to do with its levity. Mitchum and Jane Russell run into all sorts at the resort hotel. I actually kind of get a Love Boat vibe. The schtick be knee deep. Heck, one of the first persons to speak with Mitchum at the hotel is Mr. Magoo himself, Thurston Howell III.

 

I think the following interchange is where the film winks at us, the viewer:

 

Myron Winton (Jim Backus) enthusiastically speaking to Vincent Price: "That was one of the finest movies I've ever seen! They oughta make 'em all like that. None of this nonsense about social matters. People don't go to the movies to see how miserable the world is. They go there to eat popcorn and be happy!" they both laugh.

 

Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price) speaking to another person who just watched the film: "What did you think of it?"

 

Martin Krafft (John Mylong) speaking in a miserable, sourpussian tone: "It had a message no pigeon would carry." He walks off.

 

Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price) speaking to Backus "at my studio, all messages are handled by Western Union."

 

Myron Winton (Jim Backus): "You know, you can't take his opinion on anything. He's an intellectual."

 

In fact, I think the above interchange happens on this board quite a bit. Some just want to be entertained by films, some want to watch films that make them think, and some want it all.

 

Like Miss G, I really enjoy His Kind of Woman. I like it for its uniqueness. If one is expecting a hardcore noir flick, this surely ain't it. But if you are looking to taste all the flavors of noir, I think it's a must-see film.

 

Jose Morro - "She is beautiful, as well as interesting, isn't she?"

 

Dan Milner (Mitchum): "She's beautiful... that's always interesting."

 

Mitchum being Mitchum.

 

Bastogne -- His Kind of Woman is definitely a disjointed film. It's clearly whipped-cream noir. Mitchum gets his tail whipped while Price saves the day while dispensing cream-pie humor. Price's performance at the end is very Batman-esque. Literary zingers for all. Camp galore.

 

When a boat full of clowns and a boat full of mobsters collide, you get His Kind of Woman.

 

My favorite film noir of all time is *Scarlet Street*. It's a film that contains quite a bit of humor in it. I think it's one of its undervalued strengths.

 

Adele Cross (Rosalind Ivan): Next thing you'll be painting women without clothes.

 

Chris Cross (Edward G. Robinson): I never saw a woman without any clothes.

 

Adele Cross (Rosalind Ivan): I should hope not!

 

Preston Sturges' *Unfaithfully Yours* has been called a film noir, although I don't consider it a noir myself. It's my favorite Sturges film.

 

I also love the breeziness of *Macao*.

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Not really noir, but I see MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE as a dark, self parodying comedy. Programming people's brains, ala the low end of the secret agent craze. Villains dressed as giant playing cards. What is this? Batman?

 

I'm not even sure about OTHELLO. The overboard suspicion, the desperate conniving. The, albeit conventional, asides to the audience. I wonder if Shakespeare intended some bizarre humor.

 

RR

 

Message was edited by: redriver

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Just thinking of Clifton Webb in The dark Corner Some of his lines are actually funny especially the ones concerning art and his younger wife. In The Big steal Bill Bendix is used in a comedic way as well as Bobs referring to Janie Greer as Chiquita. In Out of the Past the scene between Mitchum and Rhonda Fleming in their "junior league patter" is quite amusing considering the mood of the film.

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