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rohanaka

A Walk on the Noir Side

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I got trapped in a loop of Science's Benefit To Mankind and Noir-dom lately. KISS ME DEADLY started it. No, maybe it was Dick Powell in CRY DANGER - darned women, causin' us poor guys so much grief. Then Ralph Meeker's pickin' up blondes along the highway. After that beach-house is nuked (how many cool places does Paul Stewart get to own in his film career?!!), I thought about other nuked-houses.

 

Ah, yes... [THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960)|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053593/] with ruff-tuff Douglas Kennedy getting sprung from prison to become an invisible safe-cracker. At least Marguerite Chapman was still working in 1960... Of course, the crime-boss of this film wanted to create an invisible army to presumably take over the world. The Fourth Reich? Fifth? Eighty-Second? I couldn't tell... James Griffith's lip coulda handled a little comb-sized mustache, although I'm not sure his acting could have.

 

From there, it's an inevitable demise into Louisana swamps, following Beverly Garland track down her wounded vet husband in [THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052549/] (well, person). There's Douglas Kennedy again, along with George MacReady. When I was reading about all the ruff-tuff sex-symbols over in the Grimes Torture Thread, I wonder, "Does Lon Chaney Jr's character in Alligator People fit the bill?"

 

All of this science, all of this technology.

 

Well, we just pulled out Dick Powell's first directed feature, [sPLIT SECOND|http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046353/] and that's an, uh, interesting first attempt, let's say. Fun film, but no, not really 'good'. Fun to watch, though. They coulda used some alligator people.

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I watched John Garfield in "He Ran All The Way." (That's a great title.) The story isn't really anything new but the performances make this one worth watching. Garfield plays a man on the run for a killing who holds up in Shelley Winters home with her family. Always keeping one of the family members with him to keep the others in line Garfield's "Nick Robey" runs the emotional roller coaster from thug to caregiver to paranoid tough guy afraid of the shadows.

 

The underlying story revolves around him and the relationship with Shelley Winters. Garfield meets her in a public pool on his escape from his crime. They are taken with each other. He sees her as a means to escape but he becomes fond of her. Through the film she seems to love him but then seem to only say it so she can save her family. Only at the end do you find out for sure.

 

Garfield is great in what would be his last performance. He manages to strike fear into this family while at times giving a sense that he is not all seems. Wallace Ford is really good as the father trying to protect his family. Unsure of sticking it out or finally going to the police. Winters is good as the girl who takes a fancy to Garfield I think just because he showed interest in her. In spite of all that is going on you take her feelings that this may be her only chance at a romance. Surely, she couldn't have that kind of interest in him.

 

This was Garfield's last film.

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MM, HE RAN ALL THE WAY makes me think I'm claustrophobic. It feels so shut-in and constraining - trapped. And it starts that in the large pool - plenty of room to run and hide, but suddenly, everything's tiny and confined. And then in the house. Even in the street, even the gutter feels too small.

 

I'd never looked up to see where this film was in Garfield's career but I can't name a more favorite performance. And from Shelley, too, and as you mentioned, Wallace Ford. Wallace isn't one of my most memorable supporting-actors, but after I'd seen this film, I started paying attention to him. It's still probably my favorite performance by him. Weak, wishy-washy and finally sets his jaw and that's it - he's going to make his stand. Pretty incredible.

 

There are plenty of Shelley performances that hold as memorable, but maybe this too could be my favorite dramatic performance by her.

 

Maybe my claustrophobic notions of this film are because Garfield's character is trapped into his one choice of circumstances - this one, with no alternatives, no other options, more other chances. This is it.

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I hadn't consciously thought of it as being claustrophobic but I did think that has was trapped. He may have thought he had the upper hand but only narrowly speaking. As long as he was in their place he was but he couldn't go out. It was a too big a risk.

 

Ford standing across the street and screaming was great.

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"Don't like Wally?" Oh, it's not a matter of liking or disliking Wallace Ford's characters in his career - it's remembering them.

 

He doesn't have memorable-to-me performances in many films. "Oh yeah, he's in that one" or "He's in THAT one? Really?" is often my thought. I do try to list him on my 'labels' but I have to admit I probably don't "collect" his films.

 

His performance in HE RAN, though, is memorable to me. Very distinctive, and his character's slow-build to the ending scene is well done. Shelley's the character that was so difficult to determine. Is she double-crossing him or out-smarting him? Is Garfield outsmarting himself? Did he really get so lucky to find the One Girl who'd truly help him? Has he EVER been that lucky before?

 

"No", I think, was the answer he gave to himself. He truly believed in himself - that he was doomed, and not worthy of having someone run off with him, to truly help him out.

 

Self-worth - priceless!

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With the urging (via a Youtube clip) I watched "Pushover" with Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak. After the first ten minutes this looks like this will be a standard police grunt work type drama. Not exactly. This becomes a bigger, more involved and trickier film than you would think.

 

Borrowing, sort of, from "Double Indemnity" MacMurray picks up Novak after a movie that has to rank as one of the quickest pairings and one of the sexiest to come across my screen. Shortly after they figure out who is who and what is going on. The first half-hour moves at a pretty good clip. Dorothy Malone plays the girl next door - literally.

 

Some nice twists come through the script. A couple of things I noticed of no particular importance are that this film may have more rain in it than anything that doesn't involve a flood and more trench coats than you will find anywhere outside of a London Fog factory. A pretty good "B" film I have never heard of but am glad to have found.

 

Thanks Ms. Maven.

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Chris,

I like *Pushover*, I even think this is Kim at her most beautiful.

But did you notice any "foreshadowings" of Vertigo as I did?

 

I did not notice the rain, however! I'll have to pay attention to that

next time.

 

I like Philip Carey by the way...he's kind of "sexy" to me. :)

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I didn't see much of "Vertigo" as I was too busy comparing it to "Double Indemnity." But thinking about how Fred was getting Kim to do whatever he wanted does look to it.

 

I like the end of one of the early scenes where Kim proposes their plan and Fred says, right before he kisses her, "And I thought I was using you." That stays with you the rest of the film and at times made me wonder what was genuine and what was them "using" the other.

 

I've never thought much about Carey one way or another but this is one of his more likable roles. Even when he is putting off Malone I didn't get him being rude, as it looked like she did, as much as he honored his duties at the moment. I liked him.

 

Kim was indeed beautiful. The black dress caught my eye.

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> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> I didn't see much of "Vertigo" as I was too busy comparing it to "Double Indemnity." But thinking about how Fred was getting Kim to do whatever he wanted does look to it.

>

 

Well, for one thing, the men in each movie are following and watching the woman's every move. Then there is a shot in *Pushover* where Kim is at Fred's apartment entrance and wearing an outfit rather similar to one in *Vertigo* in a similar such shot at Scottie's door...a light coat with a black scarf or something. And just the way she was there seemed similar to how Scottie found Madeleine at his door.

 

I could even swear something was said about "wandering" in *Pushover*. Anyway, the voyeuristic pattern of the detective falling to the point of obsession for the woman he's watching, and the woman being enigmatic is the main thing I found similar between the two films, and it made me wonder if Hitch saw this film. He may have, as the need to replace Vera Miles rather quickly would have necessitated seeing as much on Kim as possible, and this movie would have been a logical choice to show him.

 

I might also add that the female characters in both films start out as mistresses of a criminal.

 

> I like the end of one of the early scenes where Kim proposes their plan and Fred says, right before he kisses her, "And I thought I was using you." That stays with you the rest of the film and at times made me wonder what was genuine and what was them "using" the other.

>

 

I did get that same uneasy feeling between them.

 

> I've never thought much about Carey one way or another but this is one of his more likable roles. Even when he is putting off Malone I didn't get him being rude, as it looked like she did, as much as he honored his duties at the moment. I liked him.

>

 

I never noticed him much, either. I thnk the only other movie I can think of at the moment was the one where his son witnessed a murder. Again, he plays a cop.

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You're right, as always. One thing that did bother me about Kim's character was how fast she fell for Fred/Paul. When he "helps" her with her car she is smitten, to say the least, right away. Fred may be doing his job but get a good kisser who likes that it might be easy for someone to get pulled in.

 

After their argument when Kim finds out about the car, right before the line I mentioned, I thought it was going to be more trouble.

 

The voyeurism that bothered me more was Carey watching Malone. Novak was their job and they had a good reason for doing it. This part made me think of "Rear Window." Though his watching has a paternalistic quality, so he says, at first he then becomes attached to her romantically.

 

One thing it took me a bit to figure out was that I thought they were watching her from across the street when it turned out to be a courtyard. (Rear Window.) But when they met so easily on the roof it was a different set up.

 

 

 

One other thing of useless information is that as I recall there were only two day time scenes. One was the opening back robbery and the other was when Carey calls Fred about being late for bowling. There may have been one at police headquarters to talk about the stake out but I don't think Kim was in any daytime set.

 

Edited by: movieman1957 on Dec 9, 2010 10:10 AM. To correct a word. That's important.

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A *PUSHOVER* FOR SPOILERS...

 

 

> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> You're right, as always. One thing that did bother me about Kim's character was how fast she fell for Fred/Paul. When he "helps" her with her car she is smitten, to say the least, right away. Fred may be doing his job but get a good kisser who likes that it might be easy for someone to get pulled in.

>

 

People fall pretty fast in real life, too, so that didn't bother me, but I found it a bit of a stretch that Fred would murder his colleague.

 

> One thing it took me a bit to figure out was that I thought they were watching her from across the street when it turned out to be a courtyard. (Rear Window.) But when they met so easily on the roof it was a different set up.

>

 

You're good, I could never figure such things out. I couldn't even tell you how my own building is situated. :D

 

> One other thing of useless information is that as I recall there were only two day time scenes. One was the opening back robbery and the other was when Carey calls Fred about being late for bowling. There may have been one at police headquarters to talk about the stake out but I don't think Kim was in any daytime set.

>

 

that's very "noir".

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>but I found it a bit of a stretch that Fred would murder his colleague.

 

By that time nothing really surprised me about Fred. He had already killed someone so he was in deep. His partner was already in trouble and Fred had that over him but I don't think Fred had thoughts of killing him when he got in the car but things change in a hurry.

 

It is hard suspecting a cop and each step deeper into it always had a plausible explanation. But we knew it would cave in on him eventually.

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I just happened across the wikipedia article on Film Noir. It is informative and engaging. I recommend that noir fans check it out. It has lots of interesting information. One thing I learned is that the term "film noir" was coined in France in 1946, not by Francois Truffaut in the 50s, as I had read several other places.

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To get back to PUSHOVER for a moment: Kim Novak did pretty well considering this was her first big role. She looked very attractive, too, especially in the scene where she's lying on top of Fred on the couch. I did think that Fred looked older and more tired than was necessary. Some directors--Mitchell Leisen, for instance--always make their stars look good.

 

Anyone want to ramble about either QUICKSAND or THE NAKED CITY for a bit? QUICKSAND is OK, but I preferred PUSHOVER, not to mention the really extraordinary noirs that have been shown recently, like THE CRIMINAL, THE LONG NIGHT, THE LONG MEMORY, and SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR.

 

In QUICKSAND Peter Lorre is good as always, and I only wished we'd seen him in the second half of the movie. Jeanne Cagney doesn't have the looks of most femme fatales, but she's a good actrress who makes the most of her role. Mickey Rooney is a gifted performer, and I'd rather see him singing, dancing, and putting on a show, because I have trouble accepting him as a real person. He's most real when he's on stage. Is the atypical ending of this noir conditioned by the audience expectations for a Rooney character?

 

THE NAKED CITY is a well-made film which makes the most of its location shooting. William Daniels won an Oscar for cinematography, and the final confrontation on the George Washington Bridge is impressive. And yet, and yet . . . after all the TV shows which have been influenced by this movie, including countless Law & Order episodes, how fresh does this seem? Docu-noir is generally an uneasy hybrid. Too, "documentary realism" and "Barry Fitzgerald" are concepts that don't exactly go together. When Fitzgerald starts ladling on the Irish charm, instinctively I check to see if my wallet's missing.

 

But what do all of you think?

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I like *Naked City*...for all it's cliches (which I think weren't cliches at the time, only after others stole its style), I always find it compelling and human. It's one of those movies I always end up watching, even when I don't think I want to. I really enjoy Fitzgerald and think he is toned down here into a super character.

 

I do understand what your saying, crime noir is a hard genre, but the movie is, to me anyway, quite pleasing and still makes me catch my breath in excitement, and that is saying a lot, because this is exactly the type of 50's movie I thought I hated.

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*I just happened across the wikipedia article on Film Noir. It is informative and engaging. I recommend that noir fans check it out. It has lots of interesting information. One thing I learned is that the term "film noir" was coined in France in 1946, not by Francois Truffaut in the 50s, as I had read several other places.*

 

James Naremore, author of More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts (2008 ed.) (not just my favorite book on noir, but my favorite on film), contends that the term "film noir" was used by French writers in the late '30s to describe French movies such as Pepe le Moko, *Hotel du Nord* and Le jour se leve. Then, in 1946, French writers started using the term to describe certain movies coming out of Hollywood.

 

Film noir is both an important cinematic legacy and an idea we have projected onto the past. -- James Naremore

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I could probably watch NAKED CITY and claim it's dull, especially if that's the mood I'm in. But I usually notice that it keeps my attention (ie, attention level, tension level - whatever) with some of the dull "police procedural step-by-step" scenes of endless questioning simply by doing scene fade-in's and overlays, one after another, no real dialog, no real nerve-tingling music. Just one overlay after the other, showing me the dull side of the search.

 

And it's done quickly enough that the camera keeps me in an Alert State while being presented with a fruitless search.

 

Barry Fitzgerald's too interesting of character to me. He's always attracting my eye to whatever he's doing. I love that kindly Irish Uncle-Cop he plays in UNION STATION, where he's giving the first gangster a chance to tell all he knows about kidnapper. The guy tries to play innocent a moment longer, and Fitzgerald tells Wm Holden and the other cops to "make it look like an accident." Love that flippant, off-handed remark of his. Sort of like his horse pulling up to the Cohan's Pub, "Maybe you're smarter than I thought..."

 

He's great with some half-muttered final-line of a scene.

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I watched Richard Basehart in "He Walked By Night." As police procedurals go this has to be among the best. Or at least it seems the most detailed. Basehart is the criminal the police are after. They have little to work with but methodical work (and a lucky break, to me) helps win the day.

 

Basehart is tough and not afraid to do what he needs to do. My only problem with the movie is that we really learn very little about his character. Most of what we do know is what the police think they know.

 

Everyone's favorite, Whit Bissel, shows up to play man Basehart plays for a sucker. Jack Webb plays forensic scientist and even smiles once or twice.

 

I enjoyed it but I couldn't help but think something was missing. Some over-the top narration didn't help but it was not a problem.

 

Maybe I'm missing something.

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"Police Procedurals" - exactly. I think Molo and I have a new phrase to debate.

 

These types of films may walk a fine line between 'engrossing' and 'boring', but the ones with memorable scenes (FOLLOW ME QUIETLY) and memorable characters (this HE WALKS BY NIGHT) make them favorites with me. I find myself wanting to lump something like Steve Brodie's DESPERATE in there, and maybe William Talman's ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, both of which have 'police procedures' on the outside of the main focus, but 'procedural' processes are part of the bad-guy or victim processes.

 

I feel like some of the virus-films are procedurals: KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK, 80,000 SUSPECTS and PANIC IN THE STREETS, too.

 

UNION STATION. So many others fit in, and I wonder if the 'boring procedures' don't enhance the tension of the chase?

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*He Walked by NIght* may be my favorite of this class of noir...because Basehart makes me oddly sympathetic toward his character. Like Alan Ladd, he injects a note of vulnerability in his characters. A man like he portrays could be really unpleasant and totally ice-cold (all mind) but Basehart keeps him human. In a strange way, he reminds me of Ladd's "Raven" in *This Gun For Hire*. But for a wrong turn in life, both men could have had such different lives.

 

Captive City is another that feels procedural, and of course Detective Story, Call Northside 777 and another by Anthony Mann, Railroaded!.

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Hi MissG:

 

What makes Basehart sympathetic for you? I had just the opposite reaction. Any back story that might have been provided may have helped in that regard but I lost that may have come two minutes into the film. During the finale I was pulling for the police.

 

I do admire him for doing his own medical work.

 

Just curious.

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