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Film noir runneth over on the schedule lately


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

> OK, got out my recording of *Where the Sidwalk Ends* and watched it last night. (Too bad about *Man Hunt*. So many movies, so little time. Well, at least it isn't a noir.)

>

> I LOVED THIS MOVIE. (look I've turned into johnb. just kidding)

>

> Before I talk about it, I want to address finance's comment about the old lady downstairs. Finance, she was asleep! Every time you see her in that window, she's sitting at the table, listening to classical music with her head down. (Mozart. Strauss, Beethoven.) She does look out the window at people once or twice, but only after someone's awakened her, sometimes to ask her questions. Also, she wasn't particularly nosey. She said, and this seemed to be the case, that she was lonely since her husband had died, she didn't miss him as much if she sat in the kitchen and listened to the radio. If you look at her figure through that window while Dana is sneaking the body down the steps, her head is flopped down and she appears to be asleep. That would explain why she doesn't see Andrews and the body.

> *What I want to know is, what's up with Dana Andrews carrying a body, even if it's just the distance from the boarding house to his car. and even if it is in the middle of the night? Wouldn't he at least have tossed a blanket around it or something? If somebody had come along, he'd have looked pretty strange.*

 

And this is what makes these movies simply movies. I often wonder why certain things take place in film noirs. Things like moving dead bodies or touching evidence is always a biggie for me (then again, when you watch police procedure shows like "Law and Order" it almost can make any mystery from the 40s look ridiculous)

 

Thank you for taking a look at that scene. I always thought she was slumped over, and that the camera even cuts in on her window and we simply see the back of her head but I wasn't sure.

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*Where the Sidwalk Ends* : Now this is my idea of classic noir. I liked it so much I'm afraid I might end up gushing about it. It had all the visual elements I like; the dark streets, the urban background (like the overhead subway tracks near the murdered guy's apartment), even the seedy boarding house setting, the doors with decorated glass, the stairway that people always hide behind. Even, yes, cliche though it is, the fedora hats. Dana Andrews looks pretty damn good in that fedora. Preminger gets way more down and dirty with this one than he did with *Laura* . *Sidewalk* invites comparison because of course it's got the same director and the same leads, only it's 8 (?) years later.

 

Did I mention the shadows? This is a lot more shadowy than *Laura*; it's almost a textbook example of noir's much talked about blend of light and shadow, especially by windows and on staircases. Railings, etc. Chiraroscuro. ( Hey, I've always wanted to work that word into one of my posts, and now I've done it. Sometimes I wish I"d made it my "poster name" for this site.)

 

But the other classically noir aspect of *Where the Sidewalk Ends* is the Andrews' character's inner conflict, his desperation, his sense of being an outsider no matter what he does or how hard he tries. His family history that haunts him. I'm not sure how Dana Andrews as an actor is regarded by critics, but I think he's under-rated. He really communicates this character's turmoil through his face and eyes.

 

Gene Tierney is also good in this, although I was disappointed she wasn't in it more -were any of her scenes cut? I do think that the scene quite near the end, when Andrews writes his confessional letter and lingers over her sleeping form before leaving, possibly going to his death, is a tad too long, the way the camera lingers over Gene's sleeping face, it clearly is just to show off her beauty.

 

Anyway, I was looking forward to this film, and it didn't let me down. As I was watching it I was thinking, " Yes, this is why I love film noir."

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 20, 2010 11:19 AM

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He plays Bette Davis' fiance in *All About Eva*, doesn't he? Yes quite a different role for him. He's good in it.

 

I thought *Where the Sidewalk Ends* had similarities to *The Big Combo*. In both films, the hero/police detective is obsessed with catching a gang leader who is clever enough to elude the law over and over again. The hero knows the guy is guilty, but he cannot prove it. He makes it his entire life's goal to "get" the crook once and for all.

 

Another noir that came to mind was *The Big Clock*, the similarity being that in both films the protagonist's job is to find the killer, or at least the suspect, when he himself is the one the authorities are really looking for. (Big difference, yes -I'm aware that Ray Milland is not the actual killer in *The Big Clock*, he's just the "suspect", the man who was last seen with the murder victim.)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 20, 2010 5:48 PM

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I thought Where the Sidewalk Ends had similarities to The Big Combo. In both films, the hero/police detective is obsessed with catching a gang leader who is clever enough to elude the law over and over again. The hero knows the guy is guilty, but he cannot prove it. *He makes it his entire life's goal to "get" the crook once and for all.*

 

This goes back at least to Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables".

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*Preminger gets way more down and dirty with this one than he did with Laura . Sidewalk invites comparison because of course it's got the same director and the same leads, only it's 8 (?) years later.*

 

1950-1944= Six years to be exact.

 

*Did I mention the shadows? This is a lot more shadowy than Laura; it's almost a textbook example of noir's much talked about blend of light and shadow,*

 

Being that in 1944, when LAURA was made, the term and concept of Film Noir had not yet been coined, defined or articulated, it's not surprising that Preminger didn't know he had to light scenes a certain way.

 

*Chiraroscuro. ( Hey, I've always wanted to work that word into one of my posts, and now I've done it.*

 

Me too. Except I never found a thread here where I could post about Caravaggio or another Italian Baroque painter. :-) maybe I should've started one on THE NAKED MAJA.

 

 

I too love this film and agree that it's a classic noir.

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"Chiaraoscuro" - no, "chiaroscuro", Is that right? Although I've always liked that word, and what it means, I had till now avoided using it precisely because I figured I'd misspell it. And it looks like I did.

 

Arturo wrote:

"Being that in 1944, when LAURA was made, the term and concept of Film Noir had not yet been coined, defined or articulated, it's not surprising that Preminger didn't know he had to light scenes a certain way."

 

This implies that I was being critical of the earlier film for not being "dark" or shadowy enough, as per what is now recognized as the "classic" noir style. I just want to clarify that I was not complaining that *Laura* was not as full of shadows (dare I say "chiaroscuro" ?) as *Where the Sidewalk Ends*, merely observing. I was aware that *Laura* was made several years earlier (guess I was out by two), and that the noir style had not evolved yet. I am, as those who have read my posts on these noir threads know, fully aware that noir as a genre did not exist as such at the time, that these were "crime" films, often B pictures, that were made a certain way but without consciousness on the part of the filmmakers that they were creating a type of cinema that would subsequently be given a label, etc. etc.

 

I was mostly just saying, it's interesting to compare the two films and note the differences.

 

As for my comparison of *Where the Sidewalk Ends* to *The Big Combo*, it did occur to me even as I was writing about it that the theme of a man determined to stalk done and capture his enemy and of how it becomes an obsession is hardly original to those two films. I was going to add something along those lines, but I didn't really think it was necessary. Certainly that is a very old theme in literature, it just struck me that the way it was done in those two noir films had similarities.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 20, 2010 5:55 PM

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*"Chiaraoscuro" - no, "chiaroscuro", Is that right?*

 

Chiaroscuro is the right spelling. A combination of the Italian Chiaro (light or clear) with Oscuro (dark), which brilliantly describes the Catholic paintings of the Italian Baroque, dramatically contrasting the light and dark, often with the light seeming to be coming from a divine source.

 

The word works just as well to describe the film technique employed in classic noir films, emphasizing as it does a similar contrast.

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I love the opening credits of WTSE particularly the whistling of Street Scene.

 

Question....in that piece on film noir that TCM shows in between films (with Eddie Muller and others), there is a clip from a movie at the beginning when Eddie is talking about how he's saved forgotten/lost noirs...in the clip a man is walking towards a train....the train looks like it's doing a nose dive down (guess it's just the way the rail was) anyway, the train is obviously a screen, but what film is that? It looks super interesting....and like I may have possibly seen it.

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

> No, as far as I know, to Philadelphia, unless you consider De Palma's BLOW OUT a noir.

>

> Noir and baseball? They would seem to go together like De Havilland and Fontaine.

 

Actually noir and baseball would go great together. There is an episode from Murder, She Wrote where a murder takes place in a minor league baseball team. The story was pretty interesting. That same storyline could have definitely been put into a noir backdrop (and without the shoulder pads!)

 

Has anyone seen the clip I spoke of earlier?

 

Also, what noirs are coming up on the schedule that folks plan to watch? Of course I'm going to DVR some of the Bogie/Bacall films on Wednesday even though I already own them on DVD....because I just don't ever get sick of watching them.

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Am I the only one who wishes that TCM's full schedule (listed by the day) on the website had an icon for noir? Sometimes I go combing thru films (like a bargain bin clearance sale) and have to cross reference with my noir encyclopedia (which I lent out so I have to use wikipedia and IMDb) titles listed as "drama" "crime" or "suspense".....I know it won't happen since to the masses noir isn't a genre, it's a style.

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"Noir and baseball? They would seem to go together like De Havilland and Fontaine. "

...kind of like "finance" and "baby", eh?

 

LoveFilmNoir, I think I would remember that TCM short if I'd seen it. I'm disappointed I haven't, I really like a lot of the specially made TCM shorts. I'll keep my private eye out for it.

 

One reason I asked about noirs in relation to both Philadelphia and baseball was, I tried to post pictures of both a black and white Philadelphia, very noir-looking, and one of the Phillies. Just for fun, and because I know some of our noir fans out there are from Philly (Phillie? ). The questions were supposed to go with the photos I posted, but I don't think the pictures "took".

 

Looking forward to Boagart and Bacall. Are they showing *The Big Sleep*? That ones's so much fun to watch, it always makes me laugh. "And then she tried to sit on my lap while I was standing up."

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It was, of course, on the "heartthrob" thread, as Martin Sheen epitomized the Platonic Ideal of male physical beauty when he was young. Someone else figured out what I was trying to do, and kindly posted the picture for me.

 

Don't think Marty Sheen was in any noirs. Or on any baseball teams.

 

...actually, now I come to think of it, *Badlands* is a kind of noir, in the tradition of T*hey Live by Night*

or, more accurately, *Gun Crazy*.

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I missed the first twenty minutes or so of Sidewalk, but watched the rest anyway. If

Laura is any guide, this one will probably be showing up on FMC again fairly soon.

Perhaps a minor mater, but the romance between Dana and Gene seemed more natural,

at least by Hollywood standards, than the one in Laura. I was surprised to see

Neville Brand act as the voice of restraint when Gary Merrill was about to fatally clobber

Mr. Andrews with the stool. Usually Neville is more bloodthirsty. Whenever somebody

hides under a staircase, I can't help but think of Ma Bates. All in all, a very fine noir.

The good thing about noir is that it's still entertaining, though one can't help but notice

that, in a general way, you've seen most of it all before.

 

If the Phillies don't get busy, there may be a noir set in Philly.

 

She was a streetwise dame who thought she knew all the angles, until she met him and

found herself in the middle of a deadly Squeeze Play. No one will be admitted to the

theater after she reaches third base (the baseball kind).

 

I'm sure Ghandi was a good bloke, but this kind of picture is right up there with sword and

sandal and love triangle jungle adventures on my do not watch list.

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