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The definitive film noir


Guest TCMhost-Claire

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Just happened upon your question. There was a film about torch singer Ruth Etting (played by Doris Day) under the thumb of a ganster guy played by none other than Cagney himself. I don't recall the song, Bill, though. Hope I'm not in left field. Dini

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Guest Maniac!", Jeffrey L.Shannon-"Golden Age

From: Jeffrey L. Shannon-"Golden Age Maniac!" Now this is pretty much what: "TCM," is all-about to me anyway! I Even got your: "TCM GANGSTER WATCH"-One of my most prized items-Collectables!!! But to me: Mitchum & RKO-("Out of the Past"/"Crossfire"/ "The Racket",etc. kinda' summed-up 'film 'noir-(NOTE: I stayed within 5/6 blocks of it, on Vine! & Could see old front door to: RKO Radio, now: Paramount side door, from motel! They at least still have the old: RKO-Globe on corner of Melrose & Gower!) But my all-time favorite Mystery is: "Vertigo" then: "The Maltese Falcon" ('4l version)-(Which they still have under glass up at: (WB in Burbank, if you are ever near there-The Museum alone/worth $ of admission!) 3rd-"Rear Window" / 4th-"Blue Velvet,"-I know it has it's detractors/But time will tell! & 5th-"Chinatown" Runners-Up: "The Third Man" & "The Big Sleep" ('46 version of course!) But for out & out "GANGSTER FLIX," which I kinda' grew up on-CAGNEY, especially! "White Heat," is my fav. of his & he shoulda' won: BEST ACTOR-l949 OSCARS! But, I must have seen: "Angels With Dirty Faces" & "Roaring 20's" more times then any of his!-(NOTE: Those (2) kinda' go together)(NOTE: Just got: "Ragtime" (l98l) for Me B'Day!) "THE GODFATHER FILMS" are The Summit though & I Rank 1st one as finest film to ever win: BEST PICTURE! But: "GoodFellas" is the real-deal! Anyway, That's that

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Hey Jeffrey....your gangster film-noir favorites are right on target. Also appreciate the info regarding the heyday places in Hollywood which is interesting. Was surprised you didn't list one of my favorites "Double Indemnity" which is a Billy Wilder masterpiece not to mention his "Sunset Boulevard". Also note that James Cagney wasn't even nominated for an Oscar in "White Heat" in which he was superior as was Margaret Wycherly his "Ma" (she wasn't nominated either). Right on with "The Godfather" although I believe "The Godfather II" has the edge. "Ragtime" is a good flick although Cagney was way past his prime. Happy Boitday.

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Guest Siegel, Richard

Altho considered by many to be film noir, " The Maltese Falcon" actually predates many of the noir (named given by french critics of the 50s for the bleak, dark post war malaise thriller). Depends what side of the gutter you're on swathed in a blinding white back light reflecting in the inky pools of death. What about "This Gun For Hire" or Kubrick's eloquent use of NYC locations in his minimalistic low budget "Killers Kiss" or his nihilistic, much vaunted time displacement thriller "The Killing" with stalwart Sterling Hayden and Elisha Cook --to name but two.

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Guest k, sandy

Could someone define film noir? I'll admit that I'm not very hip to this genre, but it seems to me that gangster and suspense films are not film noir. Although all film genres have blurry borderlines in some cases, I consider Hitchcock films such as the afore-mentioned SHADOW OF A DOUBT and VERTIGO to be suspense. And with all due respect to THE GODFATHER, a gangster saga, in my eyes, is not film noir. I always thought that noir had to have an antihero-type hero and a double-crossing dame-and a downbeat, dangerous feel. (Here I go defining it myself after I asked for a definition!)I do agree with Jeffrey that CHINATOWN could be considered a modern noir. Any thoughts out there?

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The first thing that I think of when it comes to film noir is the general look of the film. The dark lighting, the shadows, that sort of thing. Secondly, the main of characters always fall into a very gray area when it comes to morality. They're all a little too greedy. Stanwyck's character is looking to kill her husband in DOUBLE INDEMNITY and MacMurray, the stable insurance guy is willing to help her. Everyone in a noir is dirty! I wouldn't put THE GODFATHER in the noir category either. It's pretty much a straight gangster film albeit and excellent one! I think of OUT OF THE PAST, SORRY WRONG NUMBER, and THE BIG SLEEP when I think of noir. I'm sure someone else can do a better job at defining film noir. I love the stuff though whatever it is!

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Guest veejayel

HERE ARE THE SPECIFIC ELEMENTS OF "FILM NOIR": True "film noir" has a unique "visual style" (dark and oppressive) as well as having the strong presence of a narrator. Remember Crawford's narration in "Mildred Pierce"; or William Holden's narration in "Sunset Boulevard"? These narrations are often told as "flashbacks" with action taking place in the present and alternating with the past via flashbacks. The protagonist relives his/her past in these flashbacks to find out where things went so terribly wrong. Another narrative technique is the use of "voice overs" which serve as a "cue" to the audience that another flashback event is about to occur. "Film noir" presents very dark and foreboding themes (greed, desire, lust, betrayal, paranoia) and these dark themes are reflected in the "visual style" which uses dark sets and unusual lighting techniques in order to create strong sinister shadows. Another common element is the presence of an attractive yet dangerous woman who often willfully tempts a male character to commit a crime or some other unscrupulous act in order to satisfy her greed. Although many movies may have a few elements of a "film noir" there are Three Key Elements which must be present in order to classify a film as such. These three elements are: 1. A strong and distinctive narrative style (often using "voice overs" and "flashbacks"). 2. A dark and foreboding theme (e.g., greed, lust, betrayal, etc.). 3. A unique visual style which uses dark sets with unusual lighting techniques to create dark and sinister looking shadows.

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Guest HEAT), Abbe Buck (all about THE BIG

Best movie maker of the genre: Fritz Lang....oh, yeah. 'The Big Heat' - I first saw it in an art house while in 9th grade. Omigod. Blew me away! I still cringe and laugh at at Gloria Graham, and can still hear her say to the evil Bertha "We're sisters under the mink." TCM aired the film in Nov. They gotta play it again! It really made Lee Marvin a movie star, and as for Glenn Ford, it goes without saying...anything with Ford, or Dana Andrews knocks me cold. Turner Classic Movies is certainly doing Glenn Ford justice; they have aired his movies 50 times in NOV and DEC (hear, hear! see: www.glennfordonline.com) BTW, Big essay on the movie in 'Movie Love of the 50's' by James Harvey. Abbe B., no femme fatale - trust me! www.abbebuck.com

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Guest n, sandra

Has anyone seen 'THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE'? (a Cohen Brothers film). It is an excellent modern treatment of the genre.

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Guest olmsted, l

I saw it and really enjoyed it, but although I like all the actors in the film, I still prefer the true classics. I appreciate the throwback to the genre, but I thought there were some things in the movie that were more modern that you wouldn't see in a true film noir from the '40's.

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After having discussed films that you love, would anyone be interested in sharing a story about a movie they have seen that impacted their life in some way? This movie made such a personal impact, it forced you to look into and reevaluated your present situation thus, taking the steps you needed to make a change. Please, feel free to share your story, I am extremely interested in hearing it. Thanks!!

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Guest Lompe, Randall

The link to robertsvideos.com should be dropped. This is a scam outfit and is not recommended by the Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan. They do not deliver product and do not reply to emails or answer phone calls.

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Guest Billingsley, Robert

I thought "Detour" was a great film noir. It never made the big time, but for a film shot on apparenly a small budget, I think it hits home.

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Guest Billingsley, Robert

I personally thought "Last Seduction" with Linda Fiorentino was a modern day film noir. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you do. She's evil enough that she makes Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" look like Cinderella. The movie also starred Bill Pullman. Also directed by one of my favorite directors- John Dahl.

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Guest TRIXIE

SUSAN HAYWARD SANG A SONG 'BILL' or 'HE'S JUST MY BILL' IN A 50'S B&W MOVIE "I'LL CRY TOMORROW", I THINK. COULD THAT BE IT? SHE WAS A LITTLE 'TIPSY' & STOOD IN FRONT OF A WOODEN CHAIR HOLDING IT TO KEEP HER BALANCE. AM I CLOSE? TRIXIE

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Guest Salem, Larry

The "Asphalt Jungle" is one the best examples of film noir since the genre is analagous to greek drama with the characters doomed from beginning to end because of their character flaws and irrationality and absurdity of existence, the influence of the existential philosophers in the late 1940s.

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Guest Mitchell, Steve

I recently saw Jean-Pierre Melville's marvelous noir Bob Le Flambeur (1955) at the Music Box Theater in Chicago. Melville, considered by many to be the godfather of the French New Wave, had a wonderful feel for film noir atmosphere.

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Guest Prescott, Dean

I'm not sure I'd call it the definitive film noir but I watched "Blue Dahlia" (Alan Ladd/ Veronica Lake)(1946) the other night. I love "the feel" of the movie. It has some great moments. The great William Bendix is in it. As well as Huge Beaumont (Ward Cleaver). Here's to Film Noir! Has anyone seen the movie "Odd Man Out" Starring James Mason?

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Guest odunne, dan

"The Sweet Smell of Success" is one of the greatest examples of film-noir that I have ever seen. The ruthlessness portrayed by Burt Lancaster's character is staggering: "You're dead son, now go get yourself buried," he says to Tony Curtis. There are countless lines such as that. Another is when Lancaster and Curtis are walking outside "21" and a couple of men throw a guy out of a nearby club. Lancaster's character watches this, and sneers, "I love this filthy town" before getting into his limo.

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I don't know if someone has already mentioned this but I think there should be a cd dedicated to the film noir movie scores! Having the music perfomed with a large orchestra would be great!

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I strongly agree with your choice of "Out of the Past," but "Laura" and "Murder My Sweet" (though I enjoyed them both) are way too upbeat for my notion of film noir. I'd rank the top ones in the following order: 1. Out of the Past 2. Double Indemnity 3. The Postman Always Rings Twice 4. Force of Evil I'm sure I've forgotten some that I might want to include near the top but I don't think my 1st choice is subject to reconsideration.

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I agree with your definition (and your examples). That's why I don't think Chinatown is really a modern version. Faye Duniway just looks bad. She really isn't. Or at least her character isn't. I'd have to say that Body Heat and The Face of Trespass are about the closest thing to modern "film noir," and I'm not completely comfortable with anything that's not a black and white with lots of shadows.

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Guest Cat, Maggie the

Actually, I think there was an album of Mikos Rosza's work available; I seem to remember a lot of it being available for download at emusic.com. But I could be wrong.

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I've seen two great Film Noir movies in the last few months. Both were small low budget movies but big on suspense and quality! The first was THE SET-UP with Robert Ryan. One of the best boxings movies I've ever seen. The other was DETOUR which I saw this past weekend. That movie blew me away! Ann Savage was excellent as the "femme fatale." Just goes to show what a good cast, director, and writer can do. Who needs a multi million dollar budget!

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