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It's set mostly at night, it's about revenge, it's got lots of shadowy streets and corners. The main female character is untrustworthy, and the main male character is obsessed (with the memory of his wife and the desire for avenge her death). Sounds like a few noir ingredients.

Now, it is set in untraditional noir territory (Argentina) and it is fairly "talk-y" -both rather un -noirish features. Still, I think overall it is considered a noir -it's listed in the Noir "bible", so that ought to settle it.

 

I've never really enjoyed *Cornered* all that much. The flashback about the Nazis herding the French townspeople into a cave (?) and the plot in general seem confusing and hard to connect with. Dick Powell, who is so dead-pan witty in *Murder My Sweet*, turns in a very serious performance here. I guess that's to be expected, since the subject matter is much more serious than the previous film.

(I do enjoy the fact that his character is Canadian, although that doesn't really enter into the story much.)

Anyway, it's well-done, but there's no fun in it, as there is in many noirs.

 

(Sorry, Hibi. Glad you liked it , though.)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Sep 10, 2010 9:56 AM

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LOL. In some ways I liked it better than Murder, My Sweet because it WAS more serious, though it got a bit too talky/messagey towards the end. Both had rather convoluted plots that were hard to follow at times...........Did that French actress do any other films in Hollywood? I'm unfamiliar with her.......Powell was great!

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 10, 2010 10:52 AM

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The book Film Noir does list it as a noir film but I agree with you that it is more of a postwar thriller. But since it was made by the same team as Murder, My Sweet and it has some noir elements some view it as a noir.

 

I felt the picture was OK but not a must see.

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And it's not even that 'thrilling,' since it's rather talky and lacks action. Imagine what Hitchcock or Carol Reed would've done with this story.

 

Nonetheless, I like the atmospheric touches and I think the individual actors are good, but it's not a top script. The performers and the audience are forced to muddle through a mediocre film.

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

> As for this film, I think CORNERED has been incorrectly labeled as a film noir. It's actually a post-war thriller.

 

But, MFF, many film noirs are post-war thrillers. Being a "post-war thriller" does not in the least preclude it from being a noir, quite the opposite. Although a direct reference to World War II is not de rigueur for it to be a noir, even those that don't specifically allude to it are rife with the presence of its memories and effects. It's usually acknowledged that the aftermath of the war, the alienation, restlessness, ennui, and overall discontent it brought to returning soldiers, is a major element of the classic film noir period, whether it's actually about post-war issues or not.

 

A few examples of films that are usually considered noir, and that also could be regarded as "post-war thrillers" (I have included some pretty mainstream titles, and even a Hitchcock, because although they could be labelled a special category, they still are more or less, film noirs.)

 

*Act of Violence The Blue Dahlia Crossfire Gilda Key Largo Notorious*

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I did not say that film noir and post-war thrillers were mutually exclusive. But I think that CORNERED is more thriller than noir.

 

Take a look at this plot description for 1951's THE PROWLER (an obvious noir which will air on TCM in the near future):

 

Van Heflin plays Webb Garwood, a disgruntled cop called to investigate a voyeur by Susan Gilvray (played by Evelyn Keyes). Her husband works nights as an overnight radio personality. The cop falls in love with the young and attractive married woman. Obsessed, he woos her despite her initial reluctance. After they fall in love, Garwood, who finds out about an insurance policy on the man's life, dreams up a scheme in which a phantom "prowler" would be a good scapegoat if her husband should happen to die mysteriously. After becoming a prowler himself, Heflin murders the husband and makes it look like self-defense. The woman, now pregnant, and the cop take it on the lam.

 

In CORNERED, we do not have a character who is a hapless grifter or a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime. It's more of a social justice story, about a victim of war trying to avenge his wife's murder.

 

Finally, film noir is about the cynical attitudes and sexual motivations of its characters. Were the characters shown to be cynical or very sexual in CORNERED? There was much more (implied) sex in MURDER MY SWEET.

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I am a hard core film noir fan, and I have read many articles about defining the parametres of this genre, whether it is technically speaking a "genre" at all, what are the elements of this kind of film that render it "noir", etc. etc. There have been any number of discussion about what is and isn't "noir" and how one should define it on the "Noir" forum. In a way, I don't really want to get into all that again. I will just say that the criteria that you suggest is necessary for a film to be considered "noir" , while it certainly applies to a particular kind of noir, does not include all the features that can make up a film noir. That's perhaps why it is such a topic for endless debate - chameleon-like, it's always changing its colours (so to speak.)

You suggest:

 

"...film noir is about the cynical attitudes and sexual motivations of its characters. Were the characters shown to be cynical or very sexual in CORNERED? There was much more (implied) sex in MURDER MY SWEET."

 

Yes, indeed, *Murder My Sweet* is a great example of what many consider to be classic noir. But noir (I'm getting a little tired of typing that word) is not limited to such a narrow definition. There are many great classic noirs that are not primarily about either of those things (cynicism and sexual motivation). Examples? *They Live by Night* (although it's about a couple, sexual obsession is not part of their story), *He Walked by Night*, *Asphalt Jungle*, *Dark Passage*, *Mildred Pierce* (this one's admittedly more a Joan-o-drama than a classic noir) *Union Station*...

 

I agree, the vast majority of them will have a healthy dose of cynicism, but as far as sexual motivation applies, there are many where that element is barely present.

 

As for "social justice" , or revenge, half of the noir canon is about that.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Sep 11, 2010 12:09 PM

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And don't forget there are genre hybrids. For instance, I consider THE VIOLENT MEN to be just as much a noir as it is western. The Stanwyck character, desperate to murder her husband, is on par with any femme fatale she played in pure noir pictures like DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE FILE ON THELMA JORDAN and THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS.

 

Going back to the thriller, I like HANGMEN ALSO DIE!, which seems to be a hybrid of thrillers, anti-Nazi war dramas and noir.

 

MILDRED PIERCE and WATCH ON THE RHINE seem to contain dark elements, but they are also melodramas (or women's pics) because of the overpowering force of the lead actresses-- Joan Crawford and Bette Davis-- and the preoccupation with how danger threatens to interfere with the mostly female domestic environment.

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Yes, there are any number of hybrid "noirs: -good point about the Westerns: *Pursued*, *Rancho Notorious*, and *Johnny Guitar*, just to add to your list. Plus, name almost any Joan-0 Drama and you'll find a multitude of noir elements.

Some have even suggested there are "space picture noirs", agreed, made after the traditional time period. They made a pretty good argument for it, but unfortunately I can't remember which titles they named. Their point was, I think, the broadest definition of "noir", which after all means "dark", could conceivably cover almost any film that presents a "dark", or bleak world view. (I remember now, I think "Blade Rummer" was one they suggested.)

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And what's interesting is that some of these are in color, like JOHNNY GUITAR.

 

Returning to CORNERED, what throws me off about it is that there seems to be a lot of international intrigue in it. You know, like what you would find in a Carol Reed film.

 

Of course, GILDA has its share of glamor and international locations, but with most typical noirs, the focus seems to be more on the uncultured, seedier side of life.

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Oh, redriver. Well, if we're going to go that route, how about *The Lady and the Tramp*? The male dog is a typical noir drifter, getting what he can where he can, until he meets a woman (or rather, female dog, uh-oh, a b**tch !) and resolves to quit the gang.

 

*Old Yeller* -hm, not very noir. It's got a sad ending, though.

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The classic noir era is said to run from 40 41 until 58 59, but of course there are many different views of this.

 

Of course 40 41 isn't when the first noir was done, but to many, the start of an era doesn't take place with one movie but a set of movies. The same is true about the end of the cycle; Of course there were noirs after 59, but instead of multiple noirs being released by different studios, one just gets 1 or 2 every other year or so during the 60s and it tappers off even more after that. e.g. Chinatown is a noir but I would define it as a homage to the era. Be be a homage to an era that era's cycle has to have ended.

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