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FredCDobbs

Black Widow (1954), beginning of the end of the classic era

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Osborne always goes on and on every time they show a Gene Tierney picture about how she was his favorite of all the stars. I understand that sentiment because I've seen Laura, Heaven Can Wait, Leave Her to Heaven, and Mrs. Muir.

 

Of course, TCM *never/rarely shows those pictures-* instead habitually showing *the worst films* Tierney made ( Black Widow, Belle Starr, Thunderbirds, The Shanghai Gesture, Dragonwyck ) or showing Night and the City, in which she's fine, but in the film for all of about eight minutes. (Of course, to be fair, Gene's bad pics somewhat outweigh her good ones.)

 

Watching any of *those* films, newbie fans must be scratching their heads as to why Tierney ranks so high in the book of Os.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Dec 28, 2012 12:05 PM

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While BLACK WIDOW was a TCM premiere, there really wasn't much reason to use it as the anchor for the night. If it had to be a premiere at 8pm, it should have been the Bogart film where she has a more prominent role even if she's beginning to look a bit matronly in some shots.

 

The trouble is I'm sure the usual issue when it comes to Fox and availability, but if someone is to get special tribute, it should be with special films.

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THE LEFT HAND OF GOD, the film Tierney made with Bogart, has aired on TCM before. A few years ago...when Bogey was SOTM, I think.

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This thread reminds me of something I've often thought about TCM.

 

 

We must not forget that the studio era was a factory system -- at least one film a week and in some cases more. Hence, plenty of bad stuff that makes the good stuff shine. For a variety of reasons, not all of it could be great. That's partly why we tend to get the same 15 films on The Essentials and at prime time (although we don't all agree that they're "great.")

 

 

So, instead of knocking certain films for whatever reason, I strive to discover SOMETHING redeeming about each one -- certain under-rated actors, lighting, costumes, camera work, etc. In my head, I also play a six-degrees-kinda game with the actors.

 

 

Signed,

 

 

Pollyanna

 

 

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> {quote:title=dpompper wrote:}{quote}instead of knocking certain films for whatever reason, I strive to discover SOMETHING redeeming about each one

>

> Signed,

>

>

> Pollyanna

>

Nice.

 

Every outfit Ginger wore in Black Widow- with the exception of that weird pink mullet gown in her first scene- was *to die for.* Especially that white/dark blue/light blue number with the capelet. I hope they let her keep it. Lord knows she deserved it for being in such a piece of...oh, sorry. Got off the positive train pretty quick.

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Yes, very nice. Another view at this website (front and back view, and coat):

 

http://www.julienslive.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/79/lot/31967/

 

Here's a "lace briefer" Rogers wore in film: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/184588

 

I haven't seen the movie, yet, so users will have to explain where in the film she wore this thing.

(Some comments in this thread very interesting and useful if I do manage to catch re-airing of film on TCM.)

 

Another Travilla-designed hat Rogers wore in film here: http://bid.profilesinhistory.com/Ginger-Rogers-Carlotta-Lottie-Marin-navy-felt-hat-designed-by-Travilla-from-Black-Widow_i11436880

 

 

 

Travilla did many costumes for Marilyn Monroe:

 

 

http://www.marilynmonroe.ca/camera/galleries/costumes/

 

P.S. Happy Kwanzaa!!

 

Edited by: RMeingast on Dec 28, 2012 1:48 PM

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Well misswonderly, I have read the exchanges here and I agree with your take; Black Widow isn't a noir in my opinion. The main reason being the Van Heflin character is NOT a noir man. He is too mainstream. He didn't commit any guilty acts that would justify him being placed in a noir world (e.g. like Jeff in Out of The Past by hiding the girl from the gangsters).

 

So as you noted it isn't the lack of noir visuals in the movie but more the lack of noir characters.

 

I will say I did like the movie more than I felt I would (based on what I had read here before I saw the film for the first time last night). Hey, I see those weaknesses that others have pointed out but Van Heflin was good enough to keep me interested.

 

 

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

> THE LEFT HAND OF GOD, the film Tierney made with Bogart, has aired on TCM before. A few years ago...when Bogey was SOTM, I think.

Ah yes, it did. I guess that I presumed that I saw it on FMC as I did receive that channel back then. It still would have been preferable to have that one air first, at least to my eyes anyway since the Tierney content was greater.

 

 

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clore, I am shocked, shocked, that your photographic memory let you down on this one. :0

 

Oh well, I suppose even the sharpest memory can't be note perfect. Or celluloid perfect.

 

So, have you even gone on Jeopardy or anything like that?

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No, I wish that I could have gone on something like JEOPARDY or NAME THAT TUNE. But I was employed in the TV industry and there's that clause about how contestants can't be associated with companies that do business with the company that produces the show.

 

Yes, my memory let me down, but that may be because I didn't see the film during the Bogart fest, I haven't seen it since early 2008 and the fest was December 2009.

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Your interest in "Jeopardy!" is spot on, clore. The online exam is scheduled for three days during the second week of January.

 

 

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BLACK WIDOW doesn't look norish because it was filmed in Technicolor and Cinemascope. But it was made with a norish story and an experienced norish cast.

 

Ginger Rogers was in the norish STORM WARNING in 1951. Van Heflin was in several noirs in the 1940s, such as ACT OF VIOLENCE in 1948. Gene Tierney was in several in the 1940s. George Raft was in several. Otto Kruger was in several.

 

However, in this film they didn't look norish or act norish, because this film was a composite of two different styles of two different eras. It is a turning-point film in the history of Hollywood, because it was part of the sudden switch-over at Fox to Technicolor and Cinemascope films:

 

See this at Wiki:

 

CinemaScope was an anamorphic lens series used for shooting wide screen movies from 1953 to 1967. Its creation in 1953, by the president of 20th Century-Fox, marked the beginning of the modern anamorphic format in both principal photography and movie projection.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CinemaScope

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Fred, I don't disagree with what you posted here. In fact it supports the point I was making that the movie Black Widow shouldn't be considered as a noir.

 

The somewhat "norish" story still isn't "noir enough" in my opinion (as well as the characters as I mentioned before, regardless that many noir actors played these characters). As RO noted the plot is more of a combination of All About Eve and a typical 'who done it' murder mystery.

 

Thus even if this movie was filmed as a typical film noir I would still NOT classify it as a noir. Instead I would be discussion how there were many black and white movies made prior to this one that used film noir visual techniques but where the plot and associated characters where not 'noir enough' for me to classify the movie as a noir.

 

 

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

> Your interest in "Jeopardy!" is spot on, clore. The online exam is scheduled for three days during the second week of January.

Oh, thanks for the info. I'm no longer working, so I am not bound by the same clause. I just may give it a shot.

 

Goodness, I haven't seen the show in some time except for when I'm visiting someone's home. I go out of my way to avoid sponsored TV programs.

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You're right, it is an entertaining film.

 

THE ROBE was 20th Century Fox's first Technicolor bonanza in CinemaScope. Are we to say that THE ROBE marked a radical shift in biblical epics and that it does not compare to DeMille's SAMSON AND DELILAH simply because it was not filmed in the late 1940s in full screen? Or that Victor Mature, because he appeared in both movies was a biblical epic actor despite the fact he made many films in other genres...?

 

I think missw has made strong points about why BLACK WIDOW is not a standard noir. Her views have less to do with the technology and casting but more to do with the story and malaise.

 

Edited by: TopBilled on Dec 28, 2012 8:50 PM

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Fred, I can see what you're getting at, but I think when you** called it a transitional movie it's closer to the truth. IMO it was more like a B-movie with stars who, other than Heflin, were either over the hill or never going to get there in the first place. Peggy Ann Garner reminded me of a waifish version of Anne Baxter's Eve Harrington in All About Eve, or of Joan Fontaine's Christabel in the 1950 Born to Be Bad, not just in her multi-faced sinister character but also a bit resemblant (to Baxter, at least) in her physical appearance. Not that she had a fraction of those two actresses' talent.

 

I liked the movie in spite of its obvious shortcomings, probably because even if it clearly wasn't noir, in its own way it had a nicely specific time and place atmosphere that provided a certain amount of solidity to the plot.

 

I do agree, though, that Raft was absolutely dreadful, and Garner wasn't much better.

 

**At least I think it was you. Apologies if it was someone else.

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I felt that Ginger Rogers gave the worst performance in this movie. Her attempt to play a catty women just fell flat. Someone like Eve Arden would of been 100 times better; Arden would of made the catty comments sting and be funny at the same time.

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Yes, it is a transitional movie. With one foot in the 1940s (the older noir stars), and one foot in the 21st Century (wide-screen and color). :)

 

I think that was one of my main points.

 

If people like it as it is, that is fine with me. But I would have liked it with both feet in the 1940s film style, like SUNSET BOULEVARD was, even though SUNSET BOULEVARD was made in 1950. If SUNSET BOULEVARD had been made by Fox in 1954, it would have been in Technicolor and Cinemascope, and I don't think it would be a classic. If BLACK WIDOW had been made by Paramount in 1950, it could have been a noir classic. As it is now, it is a transitional movie. :)

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I see where RO is coming from. I may find a greater % of Gene Tierney's films to be gripping viewing than almost any other actress. Her filmography, though, was much more limited than Stanwyck, Crawford, Ginger et al. She also had minor roles in some of her films.

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 28, 2012 5:09 PM

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Moreover (while a subjective opinion, of course), Gene Tierney was an exceptionally beautiful woman. . . even among beautiful people she was a standout.

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Earlier in the thread I mentioned HELL'S ISLAND a color noir made by Paramount in '55. I think that if SUNSET BOULEVARD had been made five years later, it might very well have been produced in color and in VistaVision (the studio's version of widescreen).

 

With that excellent script, those actors (many of them old silent stars), and Billy Wilder's direction, would it have been less a noir due to advances in technology? Or would it have still had the same amount of malaise that missw mentions?

 

Edited by: TopBilled on Dec 28, 2012 8:48 PM

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>I think the poster in question is over-simplying and glorifying the past. There have been too many misleading statements in this thread that continue to be made, likely out of stubbornness.

 

I said stop insulting me.

 

If you want to talk about film, then do so, but without the insults.

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