Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
rohanaka

A Walk on the Noir Side

Recommended Posts

Ollie:

 

Congratulations from me to for 1000 fine contributions. Now you need to get cracking if you are going to keep up with MissG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh boy Ollie, the gals reaaaalllly care about you 'round here. Calories, dangerous girls with claws and guns...and then those femme fatales.

 

But don't you go hiding. We'll need more posts from you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is ducking the same as hiding? There's a front-lawn somewhere begging for a fellow to learn BOTH techniques long before certain 1940 films were made!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of Film Noir...

 

Just for the record --

 

*JOHN ALTON IS GOD!* (or, if not, he was commissioned to photograph Him, as portrayed by Orson Welles)

 

I saw that 35mm print of *REIGN OF TERROR* (Anthony Mann, 1949) last night. Sure, the dialogue ranges from the, to be kind, stylized to the banal depending on whether one prefers Robert Cummings' grandiloquent elocution or Charles McGraw's guttural growl. The story is a mish-mash of hard-boiled detective fiction, romantic melodrama and B-Western dressed in 18th century costumes. The acting ranges from quite enjoyable (Richard Basehart, Arnold Moss, Charles McGraw) to...well...Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl (no brickbats, please...this just doesn't represent their best work). The direction is fine, but let's face it...

 

This is John Alton's movie all the way. Despite the above, this is a wonderful movie and Alton's photography has to be the reason. Every one of his trademarks is there -- the high contrast between light and dark, scenes in which there is only enough light to keep the screen from being pitch black, shadows cast when there is no apparent light source, close-ups that are grotesque, performances in silhouette, diagonal lines cutting through the frame. All adding up to creating dramatic tension and visual interest.

 

And that's what I thought when watching my muddy print. In near pristine 35mm...(sigh). I may never be able to watch this movie again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the word, Chi-Towen? -- You're a lucky dog to have seen an actual clean print of Reign of Terror, let alone to see one on the big screen.

 

I finally watched the film just a couple months ago, and your very high recommendation rang true with me. I loved the film. It's one of the most unique films I have seen. As you say, it's a costumer done as film noir. Basically, Shakespearean noir. Fascinating. And you're also right about the mixing in of melodrama and western.

 

It's hard for me to comment on Alton's work because of the murky transfer I have on DVD. But I can tell you the shot compositions and lighting looked to be phenomenal. It definitely created a film noir mood.

 

I actually liked Robert Cummings in the film... a lot. He has a breezy, smartass way to him that reminded me of Dick Powell, who I really like. I also liked Arlene's tough dame act. The scene where they first meet up is my favorite in the film.

 

"Perhaps I can get the innkeeper to come up and play the violin. Explanations always sound better with music."

 

reignofterror1.jpg

 

reignofterror2.jpg

 

As you can see, extremely soft images. But you can also get an idea of how the shots are composed and the lighting that's being used to create atmosphere. Now that's filmmaking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. ChiO says: The story is a mish-mash of hard-boiled detective fiction, romantic melodrama and B-Western dressed in 18th century costumes

 

The Grey Guy replies: Basically, Shakespearean noir. Fascinating. And you're also right about the mixing in of melodrama and western

 

Well NOW you gents have really got me curious. That sounds like a truly intriguing combination. Oh my golly.. the more I hang out here.. the more I realize that I have WAY too many movies I have yet to see to even come close to keeping up w/ you folks.

 

WOW, I am truly thankful to have started this thread so long ago to be able to get a chance to learn more about and hear of so many movies I might otherwise have NEVER known about before.

 

But AAAGGHHH.. my list of "wanna see's" is SO "bulging at the seams" lately. I do not think I will ever catch up.

 

I am such a "movie watching" wannabe compared to most of you... To borrow from a famous late night talk show host.. .thank goodness this is "ONLY an exhibition.. and not a competition" Ha. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is way too creepy! A Robert Cummings movie!

 

No, I'm just kidding. But it was really scary! Especially Norman Lloyd's face.

 

I think the hand in the mirror shot would have been way creepier though if they had not brought the knife in front of it. Just let the hand tell the story. But who am I to argue with a real director and a great cinematographer?

 

Whew! They should be showing that movie (that print) on Halloween.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Oct 15, 2010 7:56 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[That is way too creepy! A Robert Cummings movie! No, I'm just kidding. But it was really scary! Especially Norman Lloyd's face.

 

Whew! They should be showing that movie (that print) on Halloween.

 

:D The guy did a really nice job of editing and using scary John Carpenter-esque music. It really does feel like it's a horror film fit for Halloween. In a way, it is. Lots of shadows, underhanded dealings, and monsters.

 

You should watch Terror Train with Ben!

 

I think the hand in the mirror shot would have been way creepier though if they had not brought the knife in front of it. Just let the hand tell the story. But who am I to argue with a real director and a great cinematographer?

 

I believe the reason for the shot of the knife is to let us know the guy was stabbed not strangled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should.... but then I would have to bump Diary of a Lost Girl out of the top spot in my queue - for Terror Train.... it would be sacrilegious!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should.... but then I would have to bump Diary of a Lost Girl out of the top spot in my queue - for Terror Train.

 

I meant for Halloween! You still have two weeks! But I'm thrilled to know Diary of a Lost Girl is now at the top. I'm positive you'll really like it. It's a female roller coaster. It's my second favorite silent film behind The Man Who Laughs.

 

it would be sacrilegious!

 

Very good! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh no... I want badly to ask you what your top ten silent films would be.... but I don't want to digress on another thread....

 

Oh, what the heck!

 

Here is my list of YOUR top favorite silent films, based on what I know about you. Thanks for giving me the top two.

 

I probably should list more Lang, but I went for diversity - using the more popular films of several directors instead. This will be my downfall. :D

 

1. The Man Who Laughs

2. Diary of a Lost Girl

3. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler

4. Sunrise

5. Metropolis

6. Nosferatu

7.Pandora's Box

8. Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

9. The Last Laugh

10. Three Bad Men

 

runner up: Phantom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! That's some excellent guessing by you! Of the eight films you didn't know, you got four for them. Nicely done! Here are all the silents I've seen, ranked in order of preference:

 

1. The Man Who Laughs

2. Diary of a Lost Girl

3. Faust

4. Sunrise

5. Nosferatu

6. Tabu

7. 3 Bad Men

8. Spies

9. Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler

10. The Spiders

11. The Bat

12. Phantom

13. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

14. The Fall of the House of Usher

15. Metropolis

16. Die Nibelungen

17. Destiny

18. The Last Laugh

19. The Manxman

20. The Lodger

21. Warning Shadows

22. The Bells

23. Just Pals

24. Tartuffe

25. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

26. Hell's Hinges

27. The Cat and the Canary

28. The Golem

29. Woman in the Moon

30. The Farmer's Wife

31. Hangman's House

32. The Ring

33. Champagne

34. Easy Virtue

35. Four Sons

 

I haven't watched Pandora's Box, just yet.

 

I need to watch some Lon Chaney.

 

In case you are thinking I do this off the top of my head every time... I certainly don't. I wised up. I have these lists on my hard drive. I like to update them whenever I watch a film. I keep track of my favorite actors, actresses, directors, characters, films noir, westerns, silents, films by decade, and overall.

 

What are your top ten silents? It doesn't have to be in order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I knew I should have included Faust instead of the Last Laugh! I would have never picked Tabu as one of your favorites. I almost put down the Spiders.

 

My favorites in order are:

 

3 Bad Men

Sunrise

The Crowd

Die Puppe (The Doll) - Ernst Lubitsch

A Kiss for Cinderella

A Woman of Paris - Chaplin

Flesh and the Devil

The Big Parade

The General

Hell's Hinges

Ben Hur

The Kid

He Who Gets Slapped

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Oct 15, 2010 9:23 PM forgot one

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think from my list, you would like:

 

He Who Gets Slapped - Lon Chaney

The Crowd

A Woman of Paris

Flesh and the Devil

Die Puppe -The Doll

The Big Parade

Ben Hur (just kidding!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I knew I should have included Faust instead of the Last Laugh!

 

:) ChiO is a huge fan of The Last Laugh. It's a brilliant film. I love Faust. Hey, that one is religious!

 

I would have never picked Tabu as one of your favorites.

 

I love the love story and the entire concept of using natives, not actors. I believe Ford looked to make a similar film with The Hurricane.

 

I almost put down the Spiders.

 

It's a very entertaining film. I like the first part more so than the second. It's often deemed the "first Indiana Jones."

 

My favorites in order are:

 

3 Bad Men

Sunrise

The Crowd

Die Puppe (The Doll) - Ernst Lubitsch

A Kiss for Cinderella

A Woman of Paris - Chaplin

Flesh and the Devil

The Big Parade

The General

Hell's Hinges

Ben Hur

The Kid

He Who Gets Slapped

 

Very cool! That's a nice mix. I had to look up A Kiss for Cinderella. I never heard of it. How does it play?

 

How about we make a deal? You watch Diary of a Lost Girl and I'll watch The Doll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair enough! I'm all for it.

 

*A Kiss for Cinderella* is badly in need of restoration, first of all. It is terribly hard to watch, physically, because the film is very beat up.

 

Plot wise, it's charming, but has overtones of tragedy. However, it never goes that direction.It is light. It has a really goofy quality that I love. It is a fairy tale, but not really for kids. It's whimsical, but not sweet. It's about a young housemaid, caught by a stiff, humorless young policeman for stealing crates. When he follows her to find out what she is using them for, it turns out she lives in a shack no bigger than the average bathroom. The crates are hung on the walls to be used as beds for the war orphans she has adopted. They are from all different countries and do not speak English, but they get along fine together. The policeman is puzzled by the girl. He does not know what to make of this imaginative thief. She tells him that she is convinced that she is Cinderella and that she will meet her Prince Charming. He thinks she is nuts.

 

Later, the maid falls asleep, waiting for the policeman to come back from some errand and take her to the pokey. She dreams herself into the story of Cinderella. At the ball, the king is toasted with baked potatoes instead of champagne. Cinderella arrives at the ball in her mouse drawn coach, but it drives right into the ballroom, as if there were nothing strange about that at all. The ballroom is thronged with policemen, and the bored prince has to put a nickel in the gas meter every hour or the heat will go out. We start to see that the dream is invested with all the touches of the little maid's reality. It's pretty funny. It is a weirdly dreamlike movie on the whole, you can't be sure whether dreams are any odder than real life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmmmmmm... whimsical. Why doesn't this surprise me? :)

 

What you wrote sounds beautiful. I actually think I'd like that one. I'm all for dreams.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I'm off to dream of baked potatoes and policemen. I am exhausted.

 

As you can see from my list of favorite silent films, I am a noir poseur and shouldn't be allowed near this thread. :D

 

Goodnight, Gwynplaine. :x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, at least you've been watching film noir. And, for the most part, you seemed to have liked most of them. That's pretty good.

 

Get to bed before midnight, Cinderella.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a very unique film

 

OH me. That was quite a clip. Very intense. I also watched the other youtube that I saw pop up for this film when I clicked on your link. (it showed a woman being interrogated and tortured) Dadgum, that Mann was quite the dark and grim fellow wasn't he?

 

I will have to put this one on my radar to try and catch it I ever see it playing... but I do not know if I would actively seek it out. I think I am too big a chicken for that much "intensity" ha. Yet I also know myself well enought to admit if I started watching it.. this would probably be a movie I would not be able to walk away from once it was on ((just based on what I saw here)

 

However I imagine (again..just from those two clips) I would likely be an emotional wreck by the time the movie was over.. ha. But I mean that in a good way. :-)

 

Oh.. and PS: I hope to get back w/ you on They Live By Night in the next day or so..that is IF I can manage to stay awake this time... ha.. And no. it is not a reflection on the movie.. ha. .it is just ME being too much of an old fogey movie watcher these days, I guess.

 

In fact.. ugh... it pains me to admit that I just woke up from an "unplanned" nap only a little while ago, ha. That seems to be happening to me a LOT lately. (A dvd and a soft couch is a recipe for disaster, I guess. ha) :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You listed Lang as your favorite director I believe? It turns out I've seen more of his than I thought though it has been awhile. Can you give me a couple to go rediscover and maybe and some Lang touches to look for? No hurry and I'm sorry to interrupt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ChiO writes - "I saw that 35mm print of REIGN OF TERROR (Anthony Mann, 1949) last night...This is John Alton's movie all the way. Despite the above, this is a wonderful movie and Alton's photography has to be the reason. Every one of his trademarks is there -- the high contrast between light and dark, scenes in which there is only enough light to keep the screen from being pitch black, shadows cast when there is no apparent light source, close-ups that are grotesque, performances in silhouette, diagonal lines cutting through the frame. All adding up to creating dramatic tension and visual interest.?

 

Frank Grimes replies - "I finally watched the film just a couple months ago, and your very high recommendation rang true with me. I loved the film. It's one of the most unique films I have seen. As you say, it's a costumer done as film noir. Basically, Shakespearean noir. Fascinating. And you're also right about the mixing in of melodrama and western.?

 

Rohanaka responds - "Well NOW you gents have really got me curious. That sounds like a truly intriguing combination...WOW, I am truly thankful to have started this thread so long ago to be able to get a chance to learn more about and hear of so many movies I might otherwise have NEVER known about before.

 

I am such a "movie watching" wannabe compared to most of you... To borrow from a famous late night talk show host.. .thank goodness this is "ONLY an exhibition.. and not a competition" Ha.? :D

 

A-ha Rohanaka. ;-)

 

Jack Favell chimes - ?That is way too creepy! A Robert Cummings movie! No, I'm just kidding. But it was really scary! Especially Norman Lloyd's face. I think the hand in the mirror shot would have been way creepier though if they had not brought the knife in front of it. Just let the hand tell the story. But who am I to argue with a real director and a great cinematographer??

 

Step right up. Get your wet noodles here! Step right up. Give the CineMaven forty lashes with a wet noodle. She didn?t heed the advice of Fred Baetz when waaaay back in June of this year he gave her one of his recommendations for an Anthony Mann film to see while it played at NYC's Film Forum. And he wrote:

 

?Dramas: I loved "Reign of Terror" or the original title "The Black Book". A film noir set during the French revolution with Robert Cummings and the beautiful and very good Arlene Dahl Some terrific performance by Richard Basehart, Norman Lloyd and Charles McGraw.. Great Mann style with marvelous close ups and everyone trying to discredit the notorious Robsepierre and his "Reign of Terror". A wonderful example of what can be done on a small budget and it a great ride to the guillotine..Off with their heads...? - < ( FRED BAETZ - JUNE 21ST, 2010 @ 12:56PM ) >

 

Yes, step right up and give forty lashes with a wet noodle to the CineMaven who missed another fine classic. She deserves the lashes b?cuz you folks? postings of "REIGN OF TERROR" was ANOTHER great read.

 

STEP RIGHT UP!!!!

 

Edited by: CineMaven on Oct 16, 2010 12:47 PM - At least the metaphor is keeping up with the torture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...