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"Lost Soul" Scenes in Film Noirs


pandorainmay
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Have you ever noticed that in classic film noirs there's usually at least one, sometimes rather dramatically tenuous scene, with a central character who shows up on the doorstep of another character's home in the middle of the night?

 

When a disoriented and beaten Dana Andrews leans on Gene Tierney's doorbell in Where the Sidewalk Ends, or Linda Darnell shows up on Stephen McNally's porch looking like something the cat neglected to drag in during No Way Out or a bloodied and bowed Jack Nicholson pops by Fay Dunaway's manse in Chinatown, it's usually after a psychological or physical drubbing that the "lost soul" has just experienced. I guess it's supposed to dramatically highlight the extreme duress that our hero or heroine is experiencing, though it just dawned on my numb skull that this type of scene seems to be standard issue in noirs.

 

Are there any other scenes like these that you'd like to point out? Thanks in advance for sharing any of your thoughts.

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Hi Moira -- What you're describing is a trademark quality of many fine noir films. One in particular that I like a lot is in NIGHTFALL, Jacques Tourneur's wonderful 1957 film (airing on TCM for the first time next month). In it there's a scene where our hero (Aldo Ray) turns up at the apartment of Anne Bancroft (who may or may not be up to no good) after taking quite a shellacking (and escaping) from bad guys Brian Keith and Rudy Bond. Aldo's been pretty roughed up here and his ultra-sensitive artist's demeanor is used quite effectively against Bancroft's chilly fashion model. Great scene, great movie.

 

Then there's the scene in which Ralph Meeker (as the ultra-insensitive private eye Mike Hammer) in KISS ME DEADLY turns up in the bedroom of his secretary Velda after his buddy Nick has been bumped off. The kicker here, of course, is that Velda's bitter and recriminating comments send Mike back out into the night, unsatisfied and surlier than ever.

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