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Recently watched Noir

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On 1/13/2020 at 4:30 PM, jamesjazzguitar said:

I watched Backfire,   a 1950 noir \ crime film by Warner Bros,  starring Edmond O'Brien, Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, Viveca Lindfors, and Dane Clark.

While the film has an "A" cast it plays like a "B" film.    Other than O'Brien the lead cast was rather weak,  especially MacRae.     Mayo was underutilized and rather boring but since this was released after White Heat,  she was one of the main draws in the ads for the film:  "To take advantage of White Heat's popularity, movie posters for Backfire prominently featured Mayo in a femme fatale pose (very unlike her character in the film) and contained the tag-line: "That 'White Heat' girl turns it on again!" 

Critic John Howard Reid assessed the film as "borderline" in 2006, but felt cinematography was effectively atmospheric and the action sequences fair.[15] He found that the supporting players (O'Brien, Begley, Lindfors, Clark, and Sheila MacRae) delivered performances remarkably superior to that of the two stars, and singled out Lindfors for her acting.[15]

Worth seeing but don't expect too much.





Pretty much agree. It seemed to play like one of those ensemble type Noirs with a big cast where Dane Clark and Viveca Lindfors performances stood out more than Mayo and  O'Brien.

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14 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Pretty much agree. It seemed to play like one of those ensemble type Noirs with a big cast where Dane Clark and Viveca Lindfors performances stood out more than Mayo and  O'Brien.


I should have mentioned Dane Clark since, as you note,  (as well as that critic),  he was very good and effective in his role.    That being said I did have an issue with his casting in that I figured out the plot-twist as soon as I saw him playing just an old-time war colleague of the two male leads.     I said to myself:  "hey,  no way at this stage in Clark career,  in a WB film (since I knew he was under contract for the studio),    was he going to play just a low-level supporting role".       So as soon as I knew there was the never-seen-man I knew it had to be him. 

I believe we have discussed this before in that with actual "B" films or films from non-major studio most of the time the stature of the actors doesn't reveal parts of the plot.   This is what I liked about the casting of unknown-to-most Lindfors.      The screenwriter \ director could utilize her character as "necessary".      The character was the best female role in the film and Mayo would have been fine doing the part,  but then would the studio have allowed her to be killed off?     Most  likely not and that is the issue I have with casting major stars in gritty noir roles;  the suits don't want to harm  the "status" of their stars.  

 PS:   another ad poster for the film shows Clark strangling Lindfors so the plot-twist was given away before one got their popcorn!  




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On 9/30/2019 at 6:52 AM, cigarjoe said:

Sapphire (1959) British Transitional Noir

For it's time period Sapphire surprisingly explored straight forwardly racial relations in the UK.

During the 1950s some of the white working class in the UK began to show open hostility to the influx of African-Caribbean immigrants. Groups such as the Teddy Boys, Oswald Mosley's Union Movement and the White Defense League were agitating to keep Britain white.

Blacks were attacked during the summer of 1958. On 29 August 1958 Majbritt Morrison, a white Swedish woman, was arguing with her Jamaican husband Raymond Morrison at the Latimer Road Underground station. A fight broke out between Morrison and some of his friends and some whites who tried to intervene.

The following day Majbritt was assaulted by a white gang. That night on Bramley Road, hundreds of whites attacked the houses of West Indian residents. These riots and attacks continued through the 5th of September. The Metropolitan Police Service arrested well over a hundred people.

"The riots caused tension between the Metropolitan Police and the British African-Caribbean community, which claimed that the police had not taken their reports of racial attacks seriously. In 2002, files were released that revealed that senior police officers at the time had assured the Home Secretary, Rab Butler, that there was little or no racial motivation behind the disturbance, despite testimony from individual police officers to the contrary." (Wiki)

Sapphire won the British equivalent of our Academy Award the BAFTA Film Award for Best British Film. It's a nice noir-ish mystery with a message 8-9/10. More screen caps at Noirsville.

Basil Dearden is one of my favorite directors.  He takes on subject matter that most directors wouldn't touch AND makes great films while he is doing it. I reviewed this film somewhere,  either here or over at Sergio Leone Board.  Its a great entry in his catalog.  Very good post...

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