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Here comes Film Noir! So, what's Noir, anyway?

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Brute Force is considered a noir (e.g. the film is in the book Film Noir (Ward \ Silver),  because the Hume Cronyn is obsessed.  Obsession is a key noir character trait as is how those around them deal with this person.  


It is a fairly common noir theme;  e.g. Leave Her To Heaven.           


I don't think Brute Force is a noir any more than I think The Birdman of Alcatraz is as a prison is a horrible setting to attempt this.


Leave Her To Heaven is more about her having a Borderline personality disorder. Play Misty For Me is very much the same issue.


i don't see any connection between those and Brute Force.

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Imagine growing up in NYC in the early 1950s. Must have been wonderful.


Especially if you grew up as a baseball fan.  Between 1947 and 1956 New York teams played in 7 subway Series (6 against Brooklyn and 1 against the Giants),  and 2 other Series against outlanders.  For 10 glorious years, that Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover bore a fair resemblance to the truth, at least on the baseball diamond.


Unfortunately I was kidnapped by my parents in 1951 and forcibly removed with them to Washington, which was like being taken from a circus to a rest home. :angry:



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I'm with jamesjazzguitar--Brute Force, Leave Her to Heaven, & Play Misty For Me all revolve around obsession. Obsession is the driving theme behind these three films.  Play Misty For Me is very arguably a noir.


 These films have to be taken in historical context also.  Brute Force (1947) & Leave Her to Heaven (1945) were produced in an early phase of psychiatry.  The term"borderline personality disorder" wasn't even coined until the 1960's or later.  These are two definite noirs and one probable noir, IMHO.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I always thought I was born to late in time. Love everything 40's and thanks to old relatives

I have a lot of old furniture, floor lamps, and other period items I actually use.


My favorite is an old cigarette ceramic box.


Great environment to indulge in my favorite - film noir. My best friend said "Your house looks

like an old movie set. What could I say except "Thank you."

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Sleazy detectives and dangerous dames, filmed mostly at night.

Or, I'd say, not quite night, as film speeds weren't that fast when most of the earlier NOIRS were made.  But, it's amazing the results you can get with a dark sienna filter with B&W film at mid day!  Or Blue.  Or RED.


I've read accounts where some say it's the subject matter that has to be dark to be noir.  Others just say it's the LOOK that has to be dark.  MY take is, one accentuates the other. 




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It would almost be better to say that, rather than call these Noir films a genre call them a style/tool of film making used in certain film/plot sequences or for a films entirety that was used to convey claustrophobia, alienation, and obsession, of the films characters or of events spiraling out of control, predominantly in Crime, Thriller, Horror and Suspense films (but also occasionally in other genres). This style came to fruition in roughly the period of the last three decades of B&W film (though there are some color examples). 


Then you can say we have this Film Noir Style that can have two opposite poles one would be Films de la nuit, Films of the night, the opposite would be Films Soleil, films of the sun, those sun baked, filled with light Noirs, then all the rest would fit in the spectrum in between being various shades of grey or Films Gris. No? ;-) 


A few Examples:


Films de la nuit 


Armored Car Robbery 

The Asphalt Jungle 

The Big Combo 

Black Angel 

Crime Wave 

Criss Cross 

The Crooked Way 


The Dark Corner 

Dead Reckoning 


Double Indemnity 

Edge of Doom 

Fallen Angel 

He Walked By Night 

Killers Kiss 

The Killers 

The Killing 

Kiss Me Deadly 

The Narrow Margin 

Night And The City 

99 River Street 

The Phantom Lady 

Raw Deal 

Red Light 

Scarlett Street 

The Strange Lives of Martha Ivers 

Sudden Fear 

Storm Warming 

T Men 

The Set Up 

They Live By Night 

They Made me a Fugitive 

Touch Of Evil 

Where Danger Lives 

Where The Sidewalk Ends 

The Window 


Films Soleil (a lot of light in these comparatively to those above) 


Ace In The Hole 

The Hitch-Hicker 

High Sierra 

Gun Crazy 

Bad Day At Black Rock  (color)

Highway Dragnet 


Inferno (color)

Desert Fury (color)

Niagara (color)

The Naked City 

Violent Saturday (color)


The Lineup 


Down Three Dark Streets 

The Breaking Point 

Cry Vengeance 

The Phenix City Story 


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I agree with CigarJoe.  In my opinion, film noir isn't a genre.  It's a style of storytelling and filmmaking.  There are many different films from numerous genres that can be considered a noir.  The film noir style really hit its stride during and right after WWII.  I believe that that is partly a result with people becoming disillusioned with the state of the world at that time.  These stories were being written to show the seedy side of society, to show that life is not always like the MGM family movies and musicals that had been showing in the theaters prior.  These darker stories often dealt with the more common man who ends up committing a crime out of frustration, is framed for a crime he didn't commit, gets in over his head in some situation, just to name a few examples.  While it's unlikely that an audience member him/herself would get in this situation, they can relate to the character's situation and even sympathize with him/her.  While The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis are great films (and ones that came out during WWII) they definitely rank as escapist entertainment. 


With each and every so-called noir film, I think both sides could probably argue for (or against) inclusion in the pantheon of great films noir.  It seems that there is no hard and fast rules for classifying something as noir.  For me, I get an overall noir vibe from a film (or I don't).  I can't articulate how or why I get this vibe, but when I do, then that's what I'll consider the film.  I think it's up to the individual to decide for him/herself.  The "Summer of Darkness" presentation that TCM is airing this summer is a collection of films noir that the programmers (and perhaps with input from Eddie Mueller and maybe even the instructor from the noir class?) have deemed to fit the overall style. 


There are obviously tons of other films out there that also have noir traits, but are not included in the marathon.  There are also some films that might not be considered noir, but others would.  For example, I'd consider Niagara noir, but others may not.



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Film Noir is an attitude, also.  There is a overwhelming sense of cynicism,or disillusionment, or both in the same film. " Act of Violence" (1948), to pick one at random.  Van Heflins' & Robert Ryans' characters are both cynical & disilusioned after WWII, & Janet Leigh is the perfect wife, who goes from happiness to terror, to disillusionment.  Film Noir is so much more, but it has to have that attitude of discontent or worse.


Edit:  Yes, there are Technicolor Noirs.  In the Film Noir Forum, they are called "Films Soleils"-- "sunny films"--films with a lot of light/color, but with the Noir attitude.  I think the Ball State Instructor includes "Niagara" (1953) in these.

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If you think about the introduction of the Clantons in My Darling Clementine is exactly what speedracer5 is talking about, it's a very noir-ish sequence in an obviously non Noir film, like the Potterville sequence in It's A Wonderful Life, though there are definitely Noir Westerns.

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A wonderful Noir Western is "Pursued" (1947) with Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, & Judith Anderson.  I found it 15 years ago, by accident, & it's a rather grim story of who loves who, whose child is whose, and Anderson is the key to knowledge for all this.  I've made it sound a confused mess, but it's one of the few Noir westerns I've seen, & the plot is clearer than my summation (I obviously need to see it again, LOL)

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A wonderful Noir Western is "Pursued" (1947) with Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, & Judith Anderson.  I found it 15 years ago, by accident, & it's a rather grim story of who loves who, whose child is whose, and Anderson is the key to knowledge for all this.  I've made it sound a confused mess, but it's one of the few Noir westerns I've seen, & the plot is clearer than my summation (I obviously need to see it again, LOL)


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