Archive for the Film Noir Category

Try This, Kids at Home!

Posted in Film, Film Noir, Nothing Really with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20 October, 2008 by Ally

I’m sure we all remember, or at least know of the controversy surrounding colorization. You know, when Orson Welles told Ted Turner to keep his crayons away from Citizen Kane, and film critics dedicated entire shows to preaching about the evils of colorization. As well as it being completely at odds with the artistic vision of the filmmakers, colorization’s biggest crime is somehow managing to look simultaneously garish and washed-out. Especially when it’s done wrong, giving Frank Sinatra brown eyes for example.

In short, it’s shit.

But have you ever considered viewing a colour film in black and white? I believe it was Billy Wilder that claimed black and white photography was best suited to performance-based films, as there are no colours to distract you from the acting. All you need to do is turn the colour down on your television and you have an instant decolorized film.

It’s a mere novelty, but sometimes it can allow you to appreciate certain aspects of a film that were previously hidden to you behind dazzling colours and effects. I tried it last night whilst watching The Big Lebowski, and you know what? It’s actually quite fun. The noir flourishes are more apparent in black and white, highlighting the Chandleresque plot rather nicely. I’m sure the Coen Brothers would be mortified to learn that their film was being viewed improperly, but fuck them. It’s my telly.

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Crossfire

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16 September, 2008 by Ally

Edward Dmytryk, 1947

Crossfire is a dark and gritty film noir, brimming with the kind of expressionistic shadows and sardonic repartee you would expect from that style. It tackles some controversial issues of the time, depicting an anti-Semitic murder committed by a soldier unable to reintegrate into post-war civilian life.

A group of demobilized soldiers go out to share a drink, but listless Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) befriends a kindly Jewish man named Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene). They go back to Samuels’ apartment for a drink, closely followed by two of Bowers’ old army buddies. When Samuels is found dead later that evening, world-weary Captain Finlay (Robert Young) investigates the last people to see him alive. The imposing and outspoken Montgomery (Robert Ryan) points the finger at Bowers, who is conspicuous by his absence, but Sgt. Keeley (a reliably acerbic Robert Mitchum) is convinced of his innocence. Continue reading

Angels With Dirty Faces

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , on 9 September, 2008 by Ally

Michael Curtiz, 1938

There’s these two kids, see, Rocky and Jerry. They’re up to no good, pickin’ on girls and gettin’ into mischief. One day these two kids try to rob a railroad car full o’ fountain pens, but the guard spies ’em and they gotta make a break for it. Jerry can run just a little faster, so he gets away, but Rocky ain’t so lucky. He’s packed off to reform school and grows up to be a notorious gangster. Jerry’s life takes a completely different path.

All grown up, Father Jerry Connally’s (Pat O’Brien) pet project is a bunch o’ kids he’s hoping to keep on the right side of the law. When Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) gets outta the slammer, he heads back to his old neighbourhood and meets up with Jerry for old times’ sake. The kids get a kick outta Rocky, see, they start to idolize the guy. Well what can he do? He’s a charismatic guy fergodssakes! Continue reading

The Lady From Shanghai

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5 September, 2008 by Ally

There is a story that John Lennon, upon hearing that Beatles lyrics were being analysed in University classes, wrote I Am The Walrus just to fuck with the scholars. I can’t help but wonder if Orson Welles made The Lady From Shanghai with similar motivations. The plot of this film noir is notoriously complex and deliberately disjointed, so much so that even Welles himself could not summarize it for a furious studio boss, and iconic Rita Hayworth appears with her trademark red hair cut short and bleached.

"And they all lived happily ever after... The End."

To cut a shaggy-dog story short, Michael O’Hara is an Irishman who freely admits he’s not the fastest ship in the fleet, but he is what you’d call an able-bodied sailor. He is played by Welles with a comically thick Irish brogue and rugged good-looks from particular angles. After a chance meeting with Elsa (Rita Hayworth), he is employed to run her husband’s yacht. The husband is Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloan), an “elaborate cripple” with two canes and a silly walk that would make John Cleese weep. He also happens to be the world’s greatest criminal lawyer. Continue reading