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Would a Film Noir work today?


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Love the genre too much not to ask this question.

 

I'm a writer & have a desire to use a lot of the common noir themes from the 40's in the script. Phrases like "Sorry Charlie" or shadow character types like Femme Fatales & also the classic 'bad guy hero' type.

 

I wonder though, would it sell without swear words? Would the low budget be enough to win the studio and/or producer?

 

I might wait until I've finished film school that way I can Direct it to get the desired effect out of it.

 

NOT NEO-NOIR.....FILM NOIR......could it work today?

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I realize that I may not speak for ALL twenty-year-old movie fans, but I think the reason films have to rely so much on cursing, sex, and explosions today is because they are so much lower in general quality. If you could make another "White Heat" or "Pickup on South Street", you wouldn't need a single profainity throughout the entire film. That's how effective those films are. The action absorbs you so fast, so hard, all of that superficial stuff doesn't even matter! I've never cared much for cursing in movies anyway, but I can see why cowardly modern-day filmmakers feel like they have to resort to it. Their films are so hackneyed, so mundane, and so horribly cast that they feel their film won't sell to today's "youth" markets without it. If you could make a great noir film (and I sure hope you do!!!), it would most definitely work. In fact, you just might start a trend! The saying happens to be true. What is old is always new again. It happens in fashion, it happens in music, so why not in movies??? The absolute best of luck to you with your film, and I'll be eagerly anticipating it!!!

 

---Barrett

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the kind words.....yeah especially this week, I'm just writing and joting down notes from all these great classic noir spiced flicks.

 

I spoke to a few people in the biz(no one too big), and thinking about how WW2 set-up film noir, you might say we're in a related time right now in the World.

 

Iraq....not as major as the AXIS, but still has brought some pretty intense feelings of pessimism to the country.

 

Who can trust? Trust the movies....that's about the only sure thing these days.

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I don't mind the swearing in films unless (as in several DeNiro & Pacino films)fu@k is used over and over.

An example of a film made during the era of the four letter scripts is Rocky. I believe there is only one maybe two times (by Burgess) that the word sh!t is used. Other than that it's a clean script. Even Paulie and the hoods Rocky worked for never said anything worse than "****"

There are several hit films without swearing (noticable).

Field of Dreams

Star Wars series

While You Were Sleeping

Spiderman

Shrek

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Cursing in films doesn't exactly "bother" me (my favorite comedian is George Carlin, if that tells you anything!) but it can definitely be argued that unnecessary cursing, which doesn't provide a dramatic, emotionally appropriate focal point for a script, can become so repetitive as to actually begin to detract from a film's power. A well-used profanity, evoked at a well-chosen and dramatically appropriate moment in a script, can actually make a film ten times better! (Clark Gable's famous last line from Gone With the Wind being one of the most notable examples) But when you hear a profanity over and over, with no emotional or dramatic context to speak of, said profanity loses its power and momentum to propel a script, and you can tell that the filmmaker is merely using words that the young punks of today like to say, as sort of a linguistic crutch, so as to avoid the hassles of having to write a competent, engaging script. I'll take a bitingly sardonic, well-written quip from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca over the most swear-ridden piece of youth-targeted claptrap anyday. And remember, this is coming from a 20-year-old! I guarantee I'm not alone in these beliefs either. I'll bet if there weren't so much cursing in films, the public might actually develop a sensitivity to such language again, and profanity would be a much more seldom occurence. Maybe I'm an idealist, but it is food for thought!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know a lot about the noir genre, but I do think that a neo-noir film could work today. Look at the success of L.A. Confidential a few years back. Granted, there was a LOT of profanity in that film, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be done without the excessive bad language.

 

I have never heard anyone complain that there wasn't enough swearing in a movie.

 

I think that ANY genre could work today, if the film is well done. Look at the success of movies such as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (martial arts), CHICAGO (musical), THE NOTEBOOK (old-fashioned romance), and FAR FROM HEAVEN (Douglas Sirk-style melodrama), THE SIXTH SENSE (old-fashioned, non-slasher horror). All considered "dead" genres.

 

Interesting topic! I hope that some more folks post their thoughts on this.

 

Sandy K

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Sandy,

 

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is an excellent example of modern-day film noir. I loved that film. There are some film purists think film noir can only work in black & white. If a modern director wants to take a shot at the genre, why not? I love many of those classic noir films. Their use of light and shadow, partially derived from German Expressionism, really creates tension on the screen and almost becomes another character in the film. Some of the lighting effects in the Noir films can first be seen in many of the German silent films.

 

Many feel these films probably work better in black & white. I'm probably in that group. However, the 'mood' of the noir films is really what set them apart and I think that can be recreated today. Other films from the past two decades or so, that are examples of what we can call Neo-Noir, include BLOOD SIMPLE, THE LAST SEDUCTION, RED ROCK WEST, MULHOLLAND FALLS, HARD EIGHT, THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and BODY HEAT. Oh, and I don't want to forget NINE QUEENS, a wonderful film from Argentina. Released in 2000, it was recently remade here as CRIMINAL, with John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. I'm reluctant to see it, as I will only compare it to the original film.

 

Anyway, these are just a few examples of good films that make an effort to at least create the mood and the tension of those earlier noir classics. Purists may not be impressed, but I enjoyed these films and was impressed that someone would pay homage to the great noir films. As you say, any genre can still be utilized in a film, and if it's done with care, by a respectful director, it's a great thing.

 

As crazy as it sounds, I would love to see some director attempt a modern Silent film. Guy Maddin is a Canadian director that is heavily influenced by silent film and uses imagery influenced by the silents in all of his offbeat films (which I love). Of course, who is going to be bold enough to finance a modern-day silent? Even a low-budget, arthouse silent film? Well, I know there are a few people, myself included, that might find that interesting. One can dream........

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Thanks Keith, for some more examples of modern-day noir. As I've said before, it's a genre that I don't know too much about. As for a modern-day noir in black and white--why not? It perhaps would be something that would only play on the indie-art house circuit, but that's ok. I'd love to see someone take a crack at it.

 

Speaking of noir, I'm planning on watching/taping DETOUR tonight on TCM. Is that film considered noir? I know almost nothing about it, except that it's kind of a low-budget sensation, and several folks here on the boards have raved about it.

 

I'd love to see a neo-silent! With the right music and imagery, that could be really cool...I heard today that the new movie SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW has imagery inspired by METROPOLIS and other films of that ilk. I'll be going to see that one soon.

 

Sandy K

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DETOUR is a classic example of film noir, Sandy. I will definitely tape it, as I haven't seen it in a few years. Despite the low-budget, DETOUR is really good. In fact, there was a low-budget indie remake of DETOUR that was filmed here in Kansas City, that was released in 1992. Although it got mixed reviews on the Internet Movie Database site, and was slammed by the sole person who reviewed it on Amazon.com, it is pretty faithful to the original and is pretty good for a low-budget film with almost non-existent distribution.

 

As far as SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is concerned, I have the day off and just returned from seeing it. There is some really good imagery, but overall, there's too much style and not enough substance. The first 20 minutes or so are good, then it just becomes another overwrought action-adventure film. Jude Law is good, as is Angelina Jolie, who enters the film late. Giovanni Ribisi, also does a fine job. I did have problems with Gwyneth Paltrow's performance, however. I like some of what she does, but I didn't think she was a great choice for the leading female role here.

 

I wanted to like SKY CAPTAIN, but was a bit disappointed. I appreciate the care that went into the visual aspect of the film, but in that respect, it reminded me a bit of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN. There were some really cool visuals in that film as well, but both films, to me anyway, can't hide the fact that there is little else of interest. That's just my opinion, though. It is a visual feast, to be sure. There was just very little 'heart' in SKY CAPTAIN........

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Yeah, I really enjoyed the style and imagery in SKY CAPTAIN, but I did get a little bored partway through.

 

Interesting use of Laurence Olivier as the talking head/old scientist. I wonder if they had to get permission from the Olivier estate or what?

 

Sandy K

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really since TOUCH OF EVIL, we're seeing Neo-noir films develop.

 

CHINATOWN is a great example.

 

PULP FICTION is neo-noir

 

COLLATERAL is another great example.

 

MAN ON FIRE is another.

 

there's been several efforts made; however, I've come to the conclusion to focus LESS on what made film noir what it was in Post WW2 America and create a unique World where elements of today can successfully blend with elements of yesterday.......basically, I'm striving to create an aspect of 'what era is this?' in my films. It will be current/modern, but capturing things here & there from the eras of film I love so much: 40's, 50's, & the 70's.

 

A little Exploitation, a little vintage noir, and a very REAL feeling to the film without loosing the freshness or 'cool factor' that we see so much with a lot of today's Indies.

 

I'm a movie-dreamer/writer/aspiring director.....but I won't bow down to every whim H-Wood throws at me. If I play my cards right, I can eliminate the whole SUPER-PRODUCER interference factor by writing an actor friendly script with colorful/believeable characters, easily marketable material meaning multi-cultural savy characters(not just male heros-also female), and just a tuned vision to what I want put on the screen.

 

It might be 10-15 years before I've made all the necesary moves to become this, but 'love is patience', I'm not attempting this to become a 'business man', i'm doing it because I'm really feeling(more & more daily) that I was born to make movies. Maybe you guys will enjoy the end results, maybe you won't.....but if I can entertain you without extreme CGI & make you feel that 'you've just seen a movie' and not a summer money trap.

 

My loayalty to the Noir movement has and hopefully will continue to drive me to making great movies. $$$=a HUGE gray area in H-Wood, so if needs be I'll produce my own pictures & skip meeting with the $$$-driven producer who's thirst for more-more-more is cranking out movies that bore-bore-bore!!

 

I'm ranting....so please, any input about what you guys think about the business these days versus the days of yor give it to me.

 

You might hear from Adam Isaac, and you might not....but if you do, you'll find massive influences from the classic film noir movement in nearly everything I do.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

Most of all the best movies I have seen have no bad language or nudity in the film, in fact it seems the worse the movie is, the more nudity and bad language is in the film( but not all of them are bad), this is just my opinion, and I'm sure that a good noir movie will still work today. Good luck and I hope it works out for you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Film noir (and Neo Noir) can and does work today. Examples of some great films: "The Machinist", "The Man Who Wasn't There", "Angel Heart", "7even", "Barton Fink", "Blue Velvet", "Chinatown", "Lost Highway", "Mulholland Dr.", even "Frnk Miller's Sin City" in an ultra comic book fashion.

 

All art forms evolve, and the directors who are making modern noir flicks today may not neccessarily stick to every principle that went into the noir genre at its roots, but this doesn't change the fact that there is plenty of fantastic neo noir celluloid out there to watch.

 

T.Paul

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Just as Gothic architecture would work today, because the basic principles of construction do not change, so the great aspects of noir would as well. Truly great art never really goes out of style, because it is just that. Art! People pay ungodly sums for Old Masters because some of their values are timeless. Since film is an art form as well, it will be the same for noir.

Go for it!

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I just saw most of Devil in a Blue Dress the other night. I would say that qualifies as a modern film noir. Surprisingly well done.

 

I only wish they had cast someone else (a talented unknown) besides Denzel in the the lead role. This would have been a great role for an up and coming young black actor.

 

For all the Denzel fans out there, it's not that I don't like his work. I do. I'm a fan. But he overpowered this role a little bit, IMHO. The story would've stood on it's own with a lesser known actor in the lead.

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YES! But it needs a director who loves "old noir"and is able to find a decent script and the right cast.Because its seems that some TCM forum writers object to Gina Gershon, so for that reason I won't recommend her for the part of the the leading lady in a noir.But I do admit SHOWGIRLS was a terrible film,I'm not a prude but some of the language,and other scenes were too much for me.,She has been in a number of awful films,but I still like her and her and the way she looks.Look's are strictly a matter of taste and because it is taste there are no right or wrong opinions on attractiveness..I love the looks of,to mention only a few Maurren O' Hara,Ann Sheridan,Claire Trevor,Barbara Stanwyck,Dorothy Dandridge,Linda Darnell,and I had better stop or I'll take up the whole page.

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I thought ?Devil in a Blue Dress? was really a good film, and it was a good imitation noir or modern noir. I liked Denzel quite a lot. He tended to have the old Bogart and Mitchum attitude about being a nice but tough guy who didn?t want to be pushed around by anybody, yet there he was, stuck right in the middle in-between white gangsters, black gangsters, crooked white politicians, and white cops who liked to treat back men badly back in those days. I don?t think any white actor was ever in such a dangerous and isolated spot back in the old days.

 

The color film was both an asset and a problem. I remember the real color from back in those days, but I mostly remember b&w noir films. The color was good, but it tended to make it seem like a more modern movie. Only the cars and a few of the old houses in L.A. made it look something like an old noir film.

 

Anyway, I liked it.

 

In my opinion, Denzel is the type of actor who (in many movies) makes me think I am him in the film. But I think he is more brave in this film than I would have been in similar situations.

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I agree Fred.

 

Denzel was very good and, initially, was one of the reasons I didn't click past it. As I got absorbed in the story and saw it was a tribute of sorts to the old time films, I realized what a great little story it was. Denzel was just fine. I do like his acting. It just occured to me while watching it, that a 'less pretty', lesser known, but talented actor could have made this film his own. Some vehicles need star power to carry them. Some do not. I thought this might be a good opportunity to bring a fresh face to the public. I'm sure the producers were absolutely ecstatic to have such a big name and talent.

 

BTW... I also learned that it was from a series of books by a black author using the same characters. Might be fun to see more of Easy and Mouse and their adventures, if the stories are told so well and in similar vein.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I really hope you do film noir moviegeek. I really think you have a huge audience waiting for you. I am a big fan of Mickey Spillane and Erle Stanley Gardner. Read some of their work to get the "feel" for the era and its "bare bones" dialogue & descriptions.

Good Luck!

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Q&A starring Nick Nolte,Timothy Hutton,and Armand Assante,directed by Sidney Lumet was an excellent modern day noir.It is set in NYC and focuses on conflicts among Jews,Irish,Italians,Blacks,and Puerto Ricans,in and out of the NYPD.

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