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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Lousy acting by Martin Milner and Susan Harrison (is that her name?) drags it down a bit.

I don't think they were lousy, finance. They just didn't have the juicy parts that the two stars had. I think in the cynical world we live in now, those two characters seem very two-dimensional & unrealistic to an audience in 2011.


And also, not sure I would call this a film noir. It might have more in common with the angry young ma/kitchen sink dramas coming out of England at the time. Or maybe it's one half of both. But I do agree it's an excellent movie. 9 out of 10 for me. It's not a great movie. As finance pointed out, the two goody-two shoes hinder it a bit (but as I pointed out--that has more to do with how the parts were written than how they were performed IMO).

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*Slightly Scarlet* (1956) Director: Allan Dwan, Cinematographer John Alton Writers: James M. Cain (novel "Loves Lovely Counterfeit"), Robert Blees (screenplay), Stars: John Payne, Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl and Ted De Corsia. WOW! here a an unexpected diamond in the rough, a color Noir that slightly surpasses "Niagara" shot in Superscope, that has got a David Lynch feel to it .










This Noir is not listed in Spencer Selby's "Dark City - The Film Noir." Its definitely off my radar.








First, the film has a weird juxtaposition of color, light & shadow. Its this Lynchesque look that is sort of indescribable, unless you've seen it, the the set designer, flamingly went overboard, (even in the extremely noirish seqments) and filled the screen with a pallet of colors, its like "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" meets "Blue Velvet, except where Blue Velvet and Niagara used color, the colors were somewhat muted, in this film they basically run riot. The film even recalls somewhat the pallet of Warren Beatty's comic book film "Dick Tracy".


John Alton's color noir cinematography:


Check out the pallet on the suits.




ominous shadows on the wall



John Payne



Second, Rhonda Fleming and Allene Dahl playing two gorgeous, smoldering, redhead sisters one "good" the other BAD. I say "good" because Fleming is June, obviously the mistress/secretary of the reformer mayoral candidate living quite lavishly in a perfect "Leave It To Beaver" suburbia with kept woman undertones.



Dahl plays over the top kid sister Dorothy just of of prison for a kleptomania relapse, she's also a bit of a nymphomaniac but one excusable flaw in the screenplay is that this is not hinted at sooner. It's supposedly a big improvement over Cain's novel where the Dorothy character is almost an afterthought. For the film I can understand that for the fifties the revelation of her tendencies must have been quite extraordinary, but looking back through the prism of time, realistically she should have been shown more open about it, as it is, its hinted at symbolically, i.e. in one scene Dahl flicks a lighter on under the palm of Payne's hand in another she brandishes a speargun.










Regardless both actresses are stunning in their beauty and provide quite a bit of eye candy throughout the film and you wonder how each will upstage the other next. Another plus, their costumes, their body language, and the backdrops provide a living pulp fiction magazine/paperback book cover shot extravaganza.








Here is a series blatantly showing off a couple of Fleming's assets (PS these caps aren't as good as the DVD, BTY) and the battle of the sisters over John Payne:


Fleming & Dalh with a pretty blatant phallic symbol:



There must be a full minute of Fleming flashing her breasts under the flimsy nightgown good stuff way to go Rhonda




to be continued....



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*Slightly Scarlet* (continued)


Dahl's turn in a nice slip:





Dahl on a couch using a back scratcher on her legs and probably something else... use your imaginations







Dahl wins... she is spread eagled on the couch dripping for John Payne but when it turns out to be Ted De Corsia who sees the "display show" she has spread out she doesn't bat an eye lash




Third, Payne and De Corsia wonderfully reprise (for me anyway, since I've seen their other outings first) some of their rolls in other Noir films so they bring that cinematic memory factor into their characters, some of De Corsia's lines recall William Conrad's in "The Killers", all in all giving that slipping into a comfortable pair of old shoes feel to the film which adds to the mix making Slightly Scarlet what it is.


If this film has one major weakness its the score which is a bit too bland. The DVD (rented from Netflix) has some nice special features, a good commentary by writer and James M. Cain enthusiast Max Collins, a James M. Cain bio, a collection of stills from the film, and trailers from other James M. Cain based films. 9/10

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*Sweet Smell of Success* (1957) Director: Alexander Mackendrick, Writers: Clifford Odets (screenplay), Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Barbara Nichols, Martin Milner and Susan Harrison. An excellent Noir. Lancaster and Curtis are superb in their roles as sleazy columnist and press agent respectively who chew up the scenery with colorful dialog. The New York of the fifties is captured perfectly by cinematographer James Wong Howe.


The Street


Lancaster plays powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker who based loosely upon real life columnist Walter Winchell who was know as W.W. Anyway, J.J., coerces slimy and unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco (Curtis) into breaking up his sister's (Susan Harrison) romance with a jazz musician (Milner). Barbara Nichols plays Falco's cigarette girl-girlfriend Rita, who Falco pimps off to another columnist in order to plant a derogatory story about Milner. The only two weak links are Milner & Harrison who come off looking lifeless but its understandable when Lancaster & Curtis dominate every minute they are on the screen.

JJ & Sydney


Rita in cigarette girl costume & Sidney


Some famous New York nightclubs of the 50's i.e., Toot Shor's, and The Stork Club are shown in exterior location shots and their actual interiors were pains-takenly recreated in detail on Hollywood soundstages.

Caught this a while back on TCM and since Barnes & Nobel has a 50% off sale going on picked up the pristine Criterion release, its the way to go, the first disc has an excellent commentary by film scholar James Naremore. So you can watch the film on two levelsI haven't even cracked the second disc 2 yet.
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*Nightmare Alley* (1947) Director Edmund Goulding writers, Jules Furthman (screenplay) based on William Lindsay Gresham's novel. Cast, Tyrone Power as Stanton 'Stan' Carlisle, Joan Blondell as Zeena Krumbein, Coleen Gray as Molly, Helen Walker as Lilith Ritter, Ian Keith as Pete, Taylor Holmes as Ezra Grindle, and Mike Mazurki as strong man Bruno. This film has both great visuals into the world of the Carney and an insider peek into the various cons and the slang terminology.


The story is, basically, carny roustabout Stan (Power) is having a quasi affair with phony fortuneteller Zeena who's husband Pete is a hopeless alcoholic, and became so because Zeena was unfaithful to him, Stan also has the hots for Molly "Electra" who's act is based on electric charges. Before becoming an alky Pete & Zeena had a mentalist act that was very successful based on a set of code words. Zeena explains to Stan that the code was worth a small fortune (in carny terms) and that other performers have offered Zeena & Pete lots of money for it.

Stan & Zeena


However Pete doesn't want to sell it, in fact he says only "over his dead body." Zeena feels sorry for Pete who she now feels responsible for, she wonders if its not too late to get Pete "the cure". Stan mentions that that takes money and Zeena says that she can sell the code for the dough. Stans says why don't she just do the cat with him and make the money that way. Zeena and Stan discuss doing the act but during a bout of Tarot card reading the hanged-man card turns Zeena away from the idea of doing the act.

In the course of events one night Pete gets the shakes bad Stan feeling sorry for him lets him have some of his pint of moonshine Pete tells Stan about his act as a crystal ball reader and how easy it is to hook "chumps". Later in a drunken stupor Pete accidentally drinks some of Zeena's wood alcohol and dies. After Pete's death Zeena with the help of Molly teach Stan the code. Zeena and Stan then begin to do the act, and it's revealed that possibly Stan actually does have some precognitive extrasensory perception abilities.

Stan and Molly consummate their relationship Bruno & Zeena find out and in the convoluted morals of the Carney world this means that they must marry. Stan & Molly marry and Stan decides to leave the carnival and do the act with Molly.

Another great Noir 10/10. Actually a 20th Century Fox "A" picture which Power persuaded the Studio to make (trying to change his image) based on his success with "The Razors Edge" the year before. Bought the Fox Film Noir DVD with a great commentary by Alain Silver and James Ursini.
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*Jeopardy* (1953)Director John Sturges with Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Ralph Meeker, and Lee Aacker. A man Sullivan vacationing with his wife Stanwyck and son Aaker in Mexico on a desolate beach with a dilapidated jetty in Baja becomes trapped under a rotten piling as the inevitable tide threatens to drown him. The film does a pretty good job of building up tension as it cuts from the frantic Stanwyck running around the Mexican countryside to the inevitable tragedy at the shore where Sullivan and Aaker are engulfed by the rising tide. Escaped con Meeker becomes Stanwyck's only hope. Stanwyck even at one point tells Meeker that she will "do anything" to get Meeker to help her.


Caught this on Ralph Meeker day on TCM. Entertaining enough film, Noir in character aspects since it (similar in respect to The Lineup) takes place basically within a 6 hour time slot 7/10

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*While The City Sleeps* (1956) Director: Fritz Lang Writers: Casey Robinson, Charles Einstein (novel), Stars: Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Thomas Mitchell, Sally Forrest, John Drew Barrymore Jr., and James Craig. This is sort of a "noir light" film, and its the second ensemble cast Noir I've seen the first being "The Grand Central Murder".

Story paraphrased from IMDb: The Kyne News Empire founder dies, his son (Price) takes over and decides to create a new position that will do all the work his father did so he doesn't have to. So when a "Lipstick Killer" (Barrymore) begins to stalk the city murdering/**** young single women the various factions of the Kyne News Empire vie for favor the Wire Service (Sanders) the Sentinel Paper (Mitchell) and the Photo News (Craig) using the unfolding story.

Andrews, Forrest, Mitchell, Lupino

Dana Andrews plays a Pulitzer Prize winning TV Journalist who leans toward Mitchell and "The Sentinel" in the contest but his main ambition is to be left alone to pursue his drinking and his girl (Sally Forrest) who is Saunders secretary. The Femme Fatales are Vincent Price's trophy wife (Rhonda Fleming) who pulls strings on behalf of her lover Craig, while mink-wrapped, lush, sob sister, Ida Lupino "Champagne cocktail. Brandy float" initiates like maneuvers for her squeeze, Sanders by trying to seduce Andrews. Andrews on his nightly news taunts the killer and even come up with a scheme to use his girlfriend as bait.

Lupino & Duff

On the positive side its entertaining, Fleming, Lupino, and Forest all provide eye candy and the performances are great. On the negative it is all mostly uninteresting set and studio sound stage bound, with its only foray into realism being a pursuit by Andrews after the rapist into the NYC "subways" which look an awful lot like an LA trolley tunnel.

Price & silhouette of exercising Fleming


Barrymore's spy view of Fleming adjusting her stockings triggering the final denouement.

This would have benefited immensely with much more real on location work and a darker pallet, and as one reviewer put it, Lang's following of so many plot strands results in somewhat of a fragmentation of focus. Watched on TCM 7/10
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*Between Midnight and Dawn* (1950) Director Gordon Douglas, staring Edmond O'Brien, Mark Stevens, Gale Storm, Gale Robbins, Madge Blake, Donald Buka and Robert "Rusty" Stevens.



Rocky (Stevens) and Dan (O'Brien), war buddies, are prowl car cops on night duty. Dan is the pro who views all lawbreakers as scum; Rocky a rookie feels more lenient. Both are attracted to the radio voice of communicator Kate Mallory (Storm); but in person, Kate the daughter of a cop killed in the line of duty doesn't want to get involved with men who just might stop a bullet. By lucky chance, Rocky and Dan cause big trouble for murderous racketeer Ritchie Garris (Buka); but when he breaks out of jail and swears vengeance, Kate's fears may prove justified.



It seemed like the first 3/4 of the film was dedicated to routine police work and the love angle between Storm, O'Brien, and Stevens and it doesn't really kick into Noir mode until the last 1/4 of the film, at least its shot on location and has a nice chase sequence.



The other weird aspect is the presence of Gail Storm, Madge Blake, and Robert "Rusty" Stevens. These three actors I got imprinted with as a kid from early TV, Storm was Margie Albright from "My Little Margie" who dad was Charles Farrell who called her Maahgie. Madge Blake and Robert "Rusty" Stevens were respectively Mrs. Mondello and Larry Mondello, from "Leave It To Beaver", Larry and the Beave were best friends.



Anyway it was entertaining but hardly a top Noir 6.5/10



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This is the type of movie that when you read about it, as a noir fan, one says to themselves: This has to be great! But sadly it is mostly a soap opera and not very noir.


But what a great cast. Lang should of played down the silly love affair between Andrews and instead had the gal as his spy. In other words have Andrews just use her to get the scoop on the Sanders character. As you say, adding just a few hard edges would of made this movie a lot better.





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*Naked Alibi* (1954) Director Jerry Hopper with Stars: Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, Gene Barry, Max Showalter, Marcia Henderson and Chuck Connors.


Story is Al Willis (Barry) is picked up for drunk & disorderly conduct without ID and is in an interrogation room at the local Police Station being questioned about some robberies. A detective lieutenant (Showalter) is questioning the belligerent Willis. A scuffle results in Barry smacking Showalter in the head with an ashtray and threatening the cops that he will get even, the two other cops in the room subdue him just as Chief of Detectives Conroy (Hayden) walks into the room.

Willis is identified as a good citizen and owner of a bakery, he apologizes for being drunk and is let go. Sometime later Showalter is gunned down in the street at a police call box. Conroy remembers Willis's threat and hauls in him in after a brief chase. Conroy (who has a reputation for brutality) develops a hard-on for Willis convinced that he is the killer, but Willis and his lawyer pull strings and Willis is released. All hell breaks loose when the other two cops in the interrogation room are killed by a car bomb and Conroy is photographed attacking Willis. Conroy looses his job but becomes obsessed with "getting" Willis stalking him around town.

Conroy stalking Willis in a stylistically Noir sequence.


Willis getting un-nerved decides to leave town and his wife (Henderson) and child to take a vacation away from Conroy. Up to this point the film effectively has you sympathizing with Willis against loose cannon Conroy, but when Willis ends up in "Border Town" and assumes a new identity and joins gal pal B-Girl chantreuse Marianna (Grahame) our perceptions change drastically.

Femme Fatale (and real life naughty girl) Grahame with director Hooper showing the inside of her thigh B-)


Grahame with both Barry


And Hayden


It would have helped if this film would have been shot more on actual locations as it is its almost all Universal backlot, it picks up when it moves to "Border Town" (Tijuana) and Barry is revealed, but that location looks minimally used at best, it pales in comparison to say "Touch of Evil" taking place in a similar local. Its also one of those quasi Noirs that spend way, way, too much in the sunshine for the first 3rd of the film. But Barry is a lot better than I was expecting (showing a lot of range, all I ever remember was his TV turns as Bat Masterson, & Burke's Law), and Grahame & Hayden are great as usual, Connors plays Conroy's second in command adequately, but the budget lets this film linger in the second tier of Noirs. Graham sings a song at the bar obviously a lip-sync, but shakes that thing a bit doing it so who cares, lol. I'm a Gloria & Sterling fan so its an essential for me. Watch this thanks to a friend in Roma, Italia 7/10
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*Black Widow* (1954) Director Nunnally Johnson, Stars: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, George Raft, Peggy Ann Garner, Reginald Gardiner and Gene Tierney. Murder mystery set in Manhattan, supposedly a Fox Film Noir, pretty good story but another non noir marketed as a Fox Film Noir. 7/10 Heflin is good as murder suspect.

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There were four problems with Black Widow (1954):






Old actors


Bright front lighting. No noir lighting.



This film had a great cast, but it would have been much better if it had been made 10 years earlier, in b&w, 4:3, with lots of side and back lighting.


Somebody thought they could take an old noir cast, and a good mystery story, and jive it up for modern times and with new technology, but it didn't work.

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*Cry Of The City* (1948) dir by Robert Siodmak, with Victor Mature as Lt. Candella, Richard Conte as Martin Rome, Fred Clark as Lt Collins, Shelley Winters as Brenda Martingale Berry Kroeger as lawyer W.A. Niles, Hope Emerson, and Debora Paget as Tina Riconti.



Petty crook and cop-killer Martin Rome (Conte), in bad shape from wounds in the hospital prison ward, still refuses to help slimy lawyer Niles clear his client by confessing to another crime. Police Lt. Candella (Mature) must check Niles' allegation; a friend of the Rome family, he walks a tightrope between sentiment and cynicism. When Martin fears Candella will implicate his girlfriend Tina (Paget), he'll do anything to protect her. How many others will he drag down to disaster with him? (Written by Rod Crawford from IMDb)

More of a Crime film than an out & out Noir, it lacks the classic alienated or obsessed main character and besides the usual dark underworld they usually negotiate it also includes the Italian family of Rome and the effects of his life of crime on them It does possess the Noir style lighting and the entire film is seemingly taking place in eternal night.

Conte & Fred Clark


Siodmak's Noir cinematography


Conte setting up Emerson in a NYC Independant Subway Station


Right from the get go it grabs you with the image of Conte at death's door shot full of holes in a hospital ward after a gun battle with the cops. Guarding him are Lt. Candella and his partner Lt. Collins (who does show some obsession with getting Rome). Crooked attorney W.A. Niles attempts to get a deathbed confession out of Rome for a jewelry heist murder to exonerate his own client reasoning that since Rome is going to the chair anyway he might as well derail the wheels of justice.

Despite the efforts of Candella and Collins Tina is able to sneak in and remind Rome of a reason to live, her kiss gives him strength, and Niles' shenanigans gives him an idea for a score.

Its a great film with some memorable sequences Conte and Mature are outstanding and all the supporting players breath life into their characters. Catch it if you can on FMC or try and find a copy, I recieved mine from a friend in Roma Italia.

Watched it again a few nights ago along with TCM's *The Lady In The Lake* and *Murder My Sweet* as an antidote to all the Christmas fare 8.5- 9/10
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*The Steel Trap* (1952) Director: Andrew L. Stone, with Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright and Jonathan Hale. The story is about an obsessed bank executive who steals cash from a vault and hightails it with his wife (who doesn't know what he's done) towards Brazil over a long weekend, with various procedural obstacles put in his way the film is entertaining but not very Noir. Some nice shots of TWA Connies taking off and landing held my interest for personal reasons. 7/10


on TCM


Edited by: cigarjoe on Jan 3, 2012 9:31 PM

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*The Brasher Doubloon* (1947) Director John Brahm, with George Montgomery, Nancy Guild, Conrad Janis, and Roy Roberts. Nothing to go running out to find very talky and studio set bound. Probably the worst film based on Chandler's Marlowe P.I. character. Didn't like Montgomery at all nor the rest of the cast for that matter.


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*The Raging Tide* (1951) Director: George Sherman with Shelley Winters, Richard Conte, Stephen McNally, Charles Bickford, Alex Nicol, and John McIntire. Interesting cast makes this film entertaining. San Francisco hood Bruno Falkin (Conte) rubs out rival and reports the crime to Homicide Lieut. Kelsey McNally) in an alibi scheme which fails. To escape, he stows away on a fishing boat. At sea, skipper Hamil Linder (Bickford) receives Bruno kindly, teaching him fishing; Bruno enlists Hamil's wayward son Carl (Nicol) to tend his slot machines. Then Carl takes an interest in Bruno's girl Connie (Winters). It all climaxes in a storm at sea. McIntier is great playing against type as a crusty seadog, and Winters, for me anyways is hard to take seriously, but the film worth a look, though its not a very stylistically noir film at all. 7/10


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I've been watching noirs on YT, which isn't the best way to do so, but

TCM doesn't fit my schedule and I can watch the ones on YT when

I have the time, and the choices are better.


Saw Framed (1947) with Glenn Ford, Janis Carter, Barry Sullivan and

Edgar Buchanan a few days ago. It's nothing very orignal, but it's a good

solid cozy noir. Glenn and Barry look like teenagers, and Janis Carter

is quite beautiful, playing a relatively soft-edged femme fatale. It's said to

be low-budget, but since it takes place in a small town, you really don't

notice it all that much. And they didn't scrimp on Janis Carter's wardrobe,

because she looks fantastic in this movie, just as good as any of the other

better known bad girls. All in all, very enjoyable. B.


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