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MOVIE BUFF

FINALLY, A GREAT NOIR

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Today's Noir, The Breaking Point, with John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, and an outstanding supporting cast was not only the best Noir shown by this channel in years, but the only good Noir shown this year.  Previous films have been B-films at best and made me lose interest in this Sunday morning tradition that my wife and I had of watching Noir together.

Several times, Eddie Muller would go on and on about a forthcoming Noir only to disappoint us with a very poor film.  I would assume that he did not have control of the films to be shown and was trying to hold on to his film viewers.  Surely he did not believe what he was saying?  I wish I could remember some of the titles of many of the horrible films presented this past year.

Please, Eddie, if you have the power, bring back more films like the one today.  This was a powerful script with powerful performances and of course, a brilliant author behind the scenes.  More of Garfield and Bogie, please.

Movie Buff

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5 hours ago, MOVIE BUFF said:

Today's Noir, The Breaking Point, with John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, and an outstanding supporting cast was not only the best Noir shown by this channel in years, but the only good Noir shown this year.  Previous films have been B-films at best and made me lose interest in this Sunday morning tradition that my wife and I had of watching Noir together.

Several times, Eddie Muller would go on and on about a forthcoming Noir only to disappoint us with a very poor film.  I would assume that he did not have control of the films to be shown and was trying to hold on to his film viewers.  Surely he did not believe what he was saying?  I wish I could remember some of the titles of many of the horrible films presented this past year.

Please, Eddie, if you have the power, bring back more films like the one today.  This was a powerful script with powerful performances and of course, a brilliant author behind the scenes.  More of Garfield and Bogie, please.

Movie Buff

I think part of the problem is what you say-- he is limited by what he can show. Meaning he is mostly restricted to RKO, MGM and WB titles in the TCM library. He probably would prefer to introduce rarely seen "A" noir from Universal and Paramount. But that requires a better budget.

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57 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I think part of the problem is what you say-- he is limited by what he can show. Meaning he is mostly restricted to RKO, MGM and WB titles in the TCM library. He probably would prefer to introduce rarely seen "A" noir from Universal and Paramount. But that requires a better budget.

I don't think Eddie being limited to films from the 'old' Ted Turner library is the issue here since the complain is focued on "B" noirs and the 3 studios you mention didn't make those.  In addition the OP mentions more Bogie and Garfield;  Most of the noirs by those two were done by Warner Bros.  and Eddie has shown many from these two.

My observation is that the OP is focused on this season of Noir Alley,  verses last year:    Eddie showed most of the well known noirs last time around.     Since he can't repeat he is how having to focus on lesser known noir films (or in some cases borderline noirs).     

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18 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I don't think Eddie being limited to films from the 'old' Ted Turner library is the issue here since the complain is focued on "B" noirs and the 3 studios you mention didn't make those.  In addition the OP mentions more Bogie and Garfield;  Most of the noirs by those two were done by Warner Bros.  and Eddie has shown many from these two.

My observation is that the OP is focused on this season of Noir Alley,  verses last year:    Eddie showed most of the well known noirs last time around.     Since he can't repeat he is how having to focus on lesser known noir films (or in some cases borderline noirs).     

Not sure if I'm following you here James. 

My interpretation (to clarify) is that Eddie was now showing more RKO "B" films that are marginally noir, because he is limited to what is in the TCM library. And that is what triggered the OP's complaint.

I find it very telling that he's never been able to air DARK CITY (1950) a Paramount noir which has Lizabeth Scott and was Charlton Heston's debut...especially since Eddie's own book is called:

scnreen

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Not sure if I'm following you here James. 

My interpretation (to clarify) is that Eddie was now showing more RKO "B" films that are marginally noir, because he is limited to what is in the TCM library. And that is what triggered the OP's complaint.

I find it very telling that he's never been able to air DARK CITY (1950) a Paramount noir which has Lizabeth Scott and was Charlton Heston's debut...especially since Eddie's own book is called:

scnreen

The OP doesn't say anything about RKO "B" noirs but only about some of the "B" noirs Eddie has been showing lately and only Bodyguard is an RKO films,   but instead  United Artist;  E.g. The Underworld Story,   Wicked Women,   or Columbia,   E.g  Murder by Contract,   Underworld USA etc..

 Anyhow I looked up the line up of Noir Alley films that have been shown in 2020 and I don't agree with the OP;  Many first rate "A" noirs have been shown (e.g. Mildred Pierce,  The Fallen Angel, Cornered,  Ride The Pink Horse etc...

I suspect that the OP saw one or two films on Sunday he didn't like and that lead him to make what I find to be an nonfactual statement: ",,,not only the best Noir shown by this channel in years, but the only good Noir shown this year.  Previous films have been B-films at best and made me lose interest in this Sunday morning tradition that my wife and I had of watching Noir together".

 

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21 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

The OP doesn't say anything about RKO "B" noirs but only about some of the "B" noirs Eddie has been showing lately and only Bodyguard is an RKO films,   but instead  United Artist;  E.g. The Underworld Story,   Wicked Women,   or Columbia,   E.g  Murder by Contract,   Underworld USA etc..

 Anyhow I looked up the line up of Noir Alley films that have been shown in 2020 and I don't agree with the OP;  Many first rate "A" noirs have been shown (e.g. Mildred Pierce,  The Fallen Angel, Cornered,  Ride The Pink Horse etc...

I suspect that the OP saw one or two films on Sunday he didn't like and that lead him to make what I find to be an nonfactual statement: ",,,not only the best Noir shown by this channel in years, but the only good Noir shown this year.  Previous films have been B-films at best and made me lose interest in this Sunday morning tradition that my wife and I had of watching Noir together".

Thanks. Obviously I am not a devotee of the series. But I thought there were some other RKO "B" noirs...maybe in previous seasons?

CORNERED is an RKO noir.

Anyway, I didn't say the OP mentioned RKO noir, but I was making an inference. He might have watched THE BODYGUARD, didn't like it, and felt it was a cheap example of the genre. 

***

I think my favorite studio for noir is 20th Century Fox. The stories seem tighter. MGM is my least favorite studio for noir, as I feel they are more derivative and copying the successes that Fox and RKO had.

I would certainly like it if Paramount noir, Republic noir and Universal noir was shown more often.

Oh and more Eagle-Lion noir too.

By the way, I do not consider MILDRED PIERCE an example of noir. The folks in TCM's programming department might think it's noir. But I would say it's a melodrama with crime elements. Some of Crawford's later vehicles have more noir in them...notably THE DAMNED DON'T CRY (1950), SUDDEN FEAR (1952) and THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS (1952).

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14 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks. Obviously I am not a devotee of the series. But I thought there were some other RKO "B" noirs...maybe in previous seasons?

CORNERED is an RKO noir.

Anyway, I didn't say the OP mentioned RKO noir, but I was making an inference. He might have watched THE BODYGUARD, didn't like it, and felt it was a cheap example of the genre. 

***

I think my favorite studio for noir is 20th Century Fox. The stories seem tighter. MGM is my least favorite studio for noir, as I feel they are more derivative and copying the successes that Fox and RKO had.

I would certainly like it if Paramount noir, Republic noir and Universal noir was shown more often.

Oh and more Eagle-Lion noir too.

By the way, I do not consider MILDRED PIERCE an example of noir. The folks in TCM's programming department might think it's noir. But I would say it's a melodrama with crime elements. Some of Crawford's later vehicles have more noir in them...notably THE DAMNED DON'T CRY (1950), SUDDEN FEAR (1952) and THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS (1952).

I agree about Mildred Pierce as it relates to being a melodrama than noir,  but it was featured on Noir Alley and that was my point;  it is an "A" production and very well known film,  and classified as a 'noir',  and thus the OP wasn't correct in their assessment of Noir Alley films in 2020.    (your 'he might have watched The Bodyguard' is likely on-target,,,,).

 

 

 

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MILDRED PIERCE was made during the war. I think noir in its purest sense was made post-war, as it was reflecting changes in society after soldiers came home. 

If TCM is classifying MILDRED PIERCE as a noir, then it would also have to classify DECEPTION (1946) as one too...since it's another melodrama with crime elements. 

Probably TCM has been including MILDRED PIERCE in Eddie's series because it's in the TCM library, it has crime elements and memorable performances, and it is one less film for them lease from an outside studio.

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Noir in a Nutshell - I wrote this for a Facebook Group where quite a few off the wall discussions would crop up every time someone would ask if a film was a Noir or not

 

It seems like we go round and round about this every other day. So maybe we should examine this phenomena a little closer. Just the Facts.

1.) Film Noir literally means Dark Film it was originally used to describe films about dark subject matter, not just chiaroscuro films shot with a a lot of style.

Charles O’Brien who researched the use of “film noir” before the war in Film Noir In France: Before The Liberation found  that the term was coined in right wing and religious publications in France in the mid  1930s "The connotation of “film noir,” according to Film Noir In France: Before The Liberation is “unambiguously negative” and is described by the French and American critics in a litany that contains, “doomed to failure,” “long poems of discouragement,” “lament for the living,” “immoral and demoralizing film,” “indecent, immoral, sacrilegious,” full of “debauchery and crime” whose “effect on the public could only be harmful.” 

Noir is bigger than just Classic Film Noir (CFN) which is what this Facebook page is about. CFN is generally considered Hollywood Productions made between 1940 and 1959. What is interesting is, the two French critics upon seeing a backlog of Hollywood films hit Paris after the liberation subjectively wrote that these films reminded them of what they used to call Film Noir. So obviously Noir was around before 1940.


2.) Films Noir are still being made. What happened was that during 1950s Hollywood was loosing their audiences to competition with TV. Previously the pool of dark themes and subject matter that Noir forged into stylish films, were held in check by a voluntary Motion Picture Production Code. Think of Hollywood productions under the Code as having a guardrail of violence on one side and a guardrail of sex and taboo subjects on the other.  When the Big Studio motion picture companies began to get serious competition from television, they needed an edge to get butts out of the living rooms and into the theaters they began to no longer enforce the code and to explore more previous banned subject matter. The guardrails disappeared. Then independent producers in competition with the Hollywood Studios tried to out do them by being the avaunt guard of exploiting the new freedoms. The legal challenges of, and ever changing benchmarks to the obscenity laws and the old taboo themes weakened the bulwarks of the pool and that arbitrary "dam" holding back all creativity burst out with predictable results.  
3.) So those Film Noir that went too far over the line depicting violence started getting classified as Horror, Thriller (even though they were just say, showing the effects of a gunshot wound, or dealing with weird serial killers, maniacs, and psychotics, etc.). Those that went too far depicting sexual, drug, torture, etc., situations were being lumped into or classed as various Exploitation flicks, (even though they are relatively tame comparably to today's films). The the noir-ish films that dealt with everything else, except Crime, concerning the human condition were labeled Dramas and Suspense. Those that tried new techniques, lenses, etc., were labeled Experimental. Some films are so so bad in all aspects that they acquire the "so bad it's good" Cult status. These Film Noir I label the Transitional Noir.


4.) Since the 1970's all of the above in various forms and intensities can typically be part of the creative tool box used in what we call Neo Noirs. Also note that Neo Noirs have been made for roughly fifty years easily eclipsing Classic Film Noir. 


5.) Since the entire Noir phenomena was subjective in the first place, there is going to be a whole spectrum of opinions. What tips a film noir for you may not be enough tip noir for somebody else.


6.) Visually, "dark subject matter" films or Films Noir are recognized now as having a sort of Ying-Yang thing going on. Originally the first studio bound films tended to be made on low budgets using expressionistic lighting and camera techniques to hide cheap sets and back-lots. Post war films using the lighter cameras developed for newsreel productions were able to make use of outdoor locations, not only real cites but now bleak deserts, and tropical locations were also the settings for these dark stories. The French coined these sun baked desert and tropical set Film Noir, Films Soleil.

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