Last Chance...Film Noir HoF V

Tools    





No, I've seen it a couple of times long ago. But I did watch it again on Friday afternoon. Very strong noir.
Glad you liked it. I'm watching your nom tonight.

Congratulations on finishing first! You can send in your ranked voting ballot for this HoF to me whenever you get a chance.



Glad you liked it. I'm watching your nom tonight.

Congratulations on finishing first! You can send in your ranked voting ballot for this HoF to me whenever you get a chance.
Oh, I forgot about that. Will PM them to you now.




Double Indemnity (1944)
Billy Wilder

Each time I watch this I find something new to appreciate. I believe this might be my third or fourth watch and this time I focused on two different aspects. I focused on the close knit relationship between Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) and Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). They're quit close to each other and the older & wiser Keyes is both a mentor and father figure to the younger & brass Neff. I noticed how MacMurray was always lighting Robinson's cigars...a sign of respect. At the end of the film when a weakened MacMurray stumbles and tries to smoke one more cigarette, Robinson lights it for him. All of that gives more depth to the movie and the characters relationships.


My other focus was on Barbara Stanwyck, no surprise there! I watched the scene where she asks for a double indemnity insurance policy on her husband without him knowing about it. Then MacMurray recoils from the situation saying he doesn't want any part of a murder plan. I watched that scene twice and carefully watched Stanwyck's facial expressions, she never hints that she was planning a murder. In another movie she would've half heartily denied planning murder as a wink to the audience, so that we know she's up to no good. Later in the film she says that Neff planted the idea of murder in her head...and I believe her. That's one of the strengths of Double Indemnity it has one of the tightest, well thought out scripts in noir.



Sweet Smell of Success

I admit that this got harder to watch at the end because the villain was everything I'm against: a man who uses a supposedly calm face and fancy lawyerifics to hide his boiling need for revenge against anyone who wrongs him slightly. He's basically the male counterpart to Umbridge. That's why I couldn't wait for little Susan to finally say the one thing to really eff him in his smug face. It was a pretty damn detailed story, but I felt like it needed a little more plotting to go with the characterization, as events didn't really seem to altar the plot as they could easily just be erased with the snap of a finger and the pulling of strings. Every plot device was used solely for the character development so that these people would hate each other more, but didn't really have a say or effect on the world they live in. Thankfully, we have some very strong character dynamics and a couple of brilliant actors at the lead. Lemme tell you, this is probably the best Curtis role I've seen so far, and Lancaster was just the most punchable person on Earth in this movie. There was quite a bit of suspense just based on the fact that you didn't fully know what these characters were thinking. One element of the movie which is both a pro and a con is its excessive usage of lingo at the time, which is cool to hear but occasionally went over my head. Overall, I enjoyed this dark and almost eerie movie about humans feeling threatened by the world.

Now I'ma watch Cheers.




Sweet Smell of Success

I admit that this got harder to watch at the end because the villain was everything I'm against: a man who uses a supposedly calm face and fancy lawyerifics to hide his boiling need for revenge against anyone who wrongs him slightly. He's basically the male counterpart to Umbridge. That's why I couldn't wait for little Susan to finally say the one thing to really eff him in his smug face. It was a pretty damn detailed story, but I felt like it needed a little more plotting to go with the characterization, as events didn't really seem to altar the plot as they could easily just be erased with the snap of a finger and the pulling of strings. Every plot device was used solely for the character development so that these people would hate each other more, but didn't really have a say or effect on the world they live in. Thankfully, we have some very strong character dynamics and a couple of brilliant actors at the lead. Lemme tell you, this is probably the best Curtis role I've seen so far, and Lancaster was just the most punchable person on Earth in this movie. There was quite a bit of suspense just based on the fact that you didn't fully know what these characters were thinking. One element of the movie which is both a pro and a con is its excessive usage of lingo at the time, which is cool to hear but occasionally went over my head. Overall, I enjoyed this dark and almost eerie movie about humans feeling threatened by the world.

Now I'ma watch Cheers.

I think it's probably Curtis' best acted role. Even Burt Lancaster said that he Curtis should have gotten the Oscar for it. Believe it or not he wasn't even nominated! I don't think the public nor the Academy knew what to think about that picture. Maybe Walter Winchell threatened the Academy...




The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Charles Laughton

Visually this is awesome, truly a unique looking film for 1950s Hollywood. It's a pity that this was Charles Laughton's first and last movie that he directed. If memory serves me it was panned by the critics and didn't do well at the box office either. I'm sure that was a disappointment for Laughton and may have been the reason he never directed again. I think Laughton achieved great success with the look and style of his film.

I do admire this film and on my first watch I wrote a glowing review, rating it at
. After my third watch I'd still rate that high but this is not the type of film I like. It functions like a horror thriller where first Shelley Winters and then the children are in constant danger from the preacher. I know alot of people love horror films because they deliver tons of tension which equates into excitement for most, but not for me. For me a horror film where helpless innocent people have to flee and fight to survive throughout the movie only serves to make me both anxious and annoyed at the stupid decisions the victims always make. So in a nutshell, great film, amazing cinematography and direction. It deserves lots of praise but it's not the type of film I love to rewatch.

Link to my old review of The Night of the Hunter.



I forgot the opening line.


The Strange Love of Martha Ivers - 1946

Directed by Lewis Milestone

Written by Robert Rossen
Based on the novel "Love Lies Bleeding" by John Patrick

Featuring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas & Judith Anderson

Returning to the town you grew up in. Where it all started. Chances are, you won't just accidentally stumble through it like Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) does. I'd be well aware, if I were heading towards the town I grew up in, but in fiction it never hits a protagonist before they see a sign - and for Sam it's Iverstown. Home to a tumultuous childhood for all of the characters in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers - a film with a title that is such a great head-scratcher. I take it the source novel's title of "Love Lies Bleeding" was too icky-sounding for studio heads and distributors, because otherwise it sounds like the perfect title for this. The titular Martha Ivers is played by Barbara Stanwyck - who can play poisonous, and as such is perfect for the role of a woman spiritually contorted by guilt, grief, wealth, greed and a loveless marriage. Before Van Heflin and Stanwyck take up their roles however, the action is set up with a prologue set during their characters' childhood days.

Martha (Janis Wilson) and young Sam Masterson (Darryl Hickman) are running - from the law, their relatives and their respective fates it seems. Stealing away like hobos on a train out of Iverstown, it's not long before they're spotted, and Martha caught. Sam manages to get away. When Martha is dragged back home we learn that she lives with her ultra-wealthy aunt and a tutor by the name of Walter O'Neil Sr (Roman Bohnen) - who has a son Martha confides in, snivelly sycophant Walter O'Neil Jnr (Mickey Kuhn). When Sam makes his way back to the place, and organises another escape with Martha, her aunt happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - during a blackout. Martha clocks her one on the head with a cane, whereupon her aunt falls to the foot of the staircase, dead. The crime is to be blamed on an intruder, and as such Martha will inherit her vast wealth. Once O'Neil Snr dies, it's assumed only three people know the truth - Martha, Sam and Walter.

From there we're transported to the present day with adult Sam driving into Iverstown (he has a young Blake Edwards as a passenger - playing a hitchhiking sailor), and meeting sensual flame Antonia "Toni" Marachek (Lizabeth Scott) after stranding himself by wrecking his car in a moment of sheer stupidity. It sets up a love story within a more toxic love story for Sam, for it's not long before he finds out that Martha ended up marrying Walter O'Neil Jnr (Kirk Douglas, in his feature film debut), and that the latter ended up becoming Iverstown's district attorney. O'Neil has become an alcoholic as well, and his suspicions reckon that Sam has come to town to blackmail Martha and himself about the murder years before. In the meantime, when Martha encounters her old friend from all of those years ago, she finds that it's like a fire has been relit inside of her - and she yearns for the life she could have had. With Antonia on probation, Walter paranoid, Martha scheming and Sam in the middle the volatile mixture won't do anything but explode.

Just try explaining this film's plot in quick-time - it's far from unfathomable, but there are many chess pieces all making their specific moves once the game has been carefully set up. You could almost say that Toni's (Antonia's) part in everything is extraneous, but she fits in well when you consider the power O'Neil has over her, and thus the way that translates to power over Sam. O'Neil is one of the more fascinating characters in this because he's the most jittery, uncertain district attorneys I've ever seen. It helps that Kirk Douglas is playing him - and that makes it so interesting, because I've never seen Douglas portraying such a character before. It wouldn't be too long before he found his niche in tougher, capable, headstrong roles - so getting a glimpse of him starting his career in this way is a definite reason to watch The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. You could almost say he lays it on a little too thick - but it's forgivable, and he does play a great drunk in any event.

All four performances are strong - Barbara Stanwyck, not long after her stellar performance in Double Indemnity as femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (in that wig), just oozes cyanide, strychnine, nicotine and sickly sweet honey. Just looking at her is enough to send O'Neil fleeing for a bottle of scotch. Sam is the "man" in this noir-type drama, his confidence more than enough to meet any challenge at all - no matter how deadly or consequential. Lizabeth Scott is a picture of perfection, and not anything like a real lady on probation and having troubles with the law would look like in a million years. I mean, her fashion sense, make-up, general health, hair - she looks like a wealthy, healthy, steady woman with a good income and much means. Movies from this era weren't all that interested in making their characters look realistic - they had to look fabulous. Douglas is pale and shaky, but still handsome with a good physique. This is a film that lives or dies on it's four major characters, and the story that plays out.

As a story, the movie really pits wealth and corruption up against honor, truthfulness, and most importantly inner strength and conviction. Money really is the root of all evil in many of these films, and as such it's no surprise that the wealthy Martha Ivers of Iverstown is something akin to Medusa. There's a marked difference between the childhood Martha we see in the prologue, and what she has become later in the film - a shock that money has corrupted her so thoroughly, and that the guilt over what happened seems to have slid right off her back and onto the very soul of Walter, who walks around as if a hangman's noose is around his neck the entire time. The whole concoction really feels like a mix of noir and melodrama - the mysterious component protagonist Sam, who Walter identifies as a gambler and ex-soldier. Walter always gets out of every fix he gets into as only a man of extraordinary experience can. Wealth has made Martha and Walter less quick-minded, smart and adaptable than Sam, who is used to using his mind and exercising it in pursuit of his freewheeling existence.

There's a sense in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers that the easy life has stunted the growth of the likes of Walter, and choosing expediency over the life she wanted to live has poisoned Martha's soul. All of this is exposed by the return of Sam to Iverstown, where it's as if Martha and Walter have advanced but lived their lives in stasis while he was away. The old class system which involves the inheritance of wealth is squarely in this film's eyes - Martha and Walter should have been made to earn the positions they have been granted within society, and that's the most interesting aspect of the film. The way it favours Sam's choice of getting out into the world and truly experiencing it - whereas it seems Martha and Walter have been stuck in this one town their whole lives. His accidental return seems to have been foreordained, and his life the path best chosen. Wealth can trap you, and power in the face of truth an illusion uncovered by someone willing to just be themselves without ulterior motive. At the very least for Martha and Walter - for whom it seems love no longer enters the equation.

Overall this is a film that doesn't do much to excite or thrill, but one that nonetheless is interesting enough in it's characters and story that it's compelling to watch. The cast of first-rate actors give it enough power to be worthwhile watching for fans of this genre and films made during this period. Especially significant for being the film that provided Kirk Douglas his big break.

__________________
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
We miss you Takoma

Latest Review : Le Circle Rouge (1970)



@Diehl40 @ KeyserCorleone @PHOENIX74 @Siddon @Wyldesyde19

I'm sure you guys already know this, but the Deadline is February 18th which is 19 more days left.

I need this to wrap up BEFORE I start the Top Film Noir Countdown as it will take all my free time to post the noir movies daily for the countdown.




@Diehl40 @ KeyserCorleone @PHOENIX74 @Siddon @Wyldesyde19

I'm sure you guys already know this, but the Deadline is February 18th which is 19 more days left.

I need this to wrap up BEFORE I start the Top Film Noir Countdown as it will take all my free time to post the noir movies daily for the countdown.

I'll speed it up



The trick is not minding
Double Indemnity


Planning the perfect murder is difficult. Thereís a lot that could go wrong. You have to plan for witnesses, evidence, investigators, and sometimes a little man inside a insurance claims manager that ties him up in knots.
Walter Neff (Played by Fred McMurray) is a straight arrow insurance salesmen. Until he meets Phyllis. Phyllis is the classic femme fatale, played brilliantly by Barbara Stanwyck.
Stanwyck oozes sexuality throughout this film, the way she crosses her legs, converting her intentions. The icy stare that she gives. I find myself drawn to her face, one that looks so innocent yet hides her darker impulses.
To me though, Edward G Robinson is the best in this film. Can you believe he never so much as garnered a oscar nomination in his entire career? Itís sacrilege!
The director, Billy Wider, does a great jobs of closeups on everyoneís faces at the right time, and his use of shadows. His attention to detail is also spot on. Watch at the beginning when Neff has been shot. It starts off as a small stain, at the entry wound. As time goes by, the stain grows larger. At the end, itís dripping down his hand.
One of the best noir and a sure fire entry in my ballot.



The Night of the Hunter

Now THIS one was exciting. Our plot was simple but packed with character and realism. These two kids in the center were all the more adorable thanks to their grim situation, and much of that was because Robert Mitchum played such a hellish villain that now I'm almost scared of his calypso album. I've already heard it twice. Lemme tell you, it was difficult watching this crapbasket get his way so much. And I loved that old woman who takes them in. As a stark contrast to the two irresponsible parents, she's the strict but loving mother that a person should really want, a refuge from the domestic and public horrors of the world. She also operates as a healthier metaphorical foil to the other old woman who's constantly on the preacher's side. This was a real look at humanity and the various ways that religion not only affects the community but even children, the pros and cons shoved in our faces without the direct preachiness of movies like God's Not Dead unless it wants to unsult us for not THINKING about what's being said. In other words, it acts as a metaphor for opinion.

However, I feel it was more of a thriller than a noir movie. It didn't have as much intrigue involving several untrustworthy characters, or even the high number of untrustworthy people involved, cynical would-be heroes questioning morality, etc. etc. The morality was pretty obvious and had less to do with questioning right and wrong rather than telling us how to interpret something wrongfully. It had SOME similarities, like the dark tone and lighting, but that's about it for me. Otherwise, it was no more a noir to me than Fritz Lang's Fury. Once the old woman comes into play, it basically becomes Lassie with Guns. So I'm gonna give this a five-star rating. But I do not consider this "noir."



Double Indemnity

Now THIS is a noir movie. Right from the getgo you're drawn into the intrigue of the challenge between right and wrong. Thanks to the flashback nature, there's this stronger grip on wanting to know what's gonna happen next, and this also helps us care more about our well-fleshed out characters. The plot's always going somewhere, which I really appreciate, especially for crime stories. This is a how-to on how to make a crime story constantly interesting, especially since it's acting more as a commentary on how to properly lawyer your way out of a complex crime. On top of that, the twistiness isn't really shoved in your face. It's incredibly consistent and never confusing. This is a very healthy outlook on noir storytelling, one that doesn't quite reach the heights of Sunset Boulevard, but showed Billy Wilder's excellence at working with tropes. This is the third best noir movie of his, and the third best overall for me so far, further proof that Billy Wilder was the master of noir.






I'm done! Sending in my ballot now.



Kiss me Deadly 1955

From the opening scene the protagonist, and we the audience, are hooked. What is up with the lady in the trench coat, why was she in a mental institution, and why did they kill her, were all questions that are raised from the very beginning of the story. Although the story is disjointed in how it moves from plot point to plot point, it still is an effective noir story. it establishes a stark opening sequence, there are several Femme Falale characters, and a bunch of low-life gangsters, with many expressionistic lit scenes.

I read that this film is considered the last Film Noir. Supposedly everything "noir" after the production of this film is to be considered neo-noir.



Kiss me Deadly 1955

From the opening scene the protagonist, and we the audience, are hooked. What is up with the lady in the trench coat, why was she in a mental institution, and why did they kill her, were all questions that are raised from the very beginning of the story. Although the story is disjointed in how it moves from plot point to plot point, it still is an effective noir story. it establishes a stark opening sequence, there are several Femme Falale characters, and a bunch of low-life gangsters, with many expressionistic lit scenes.

I read that this film is considered the last Film Noir. Supposedly everything "noir" after the production of this film is to be considered neo-noir.
As I understand it the lady in the trench coast, Christina (Cloris Leachman), was put in the mental institution in order to force information out of her about where the mysterious box is. She had escaped and was running away, but she got caught and tortured to death anyway.

As far as when classic noir ended, it's almost a matter of opinion. Touch of Evil was in 1958, and Odds Against Tomorrow was in 1959. But I think it's trustworthy to say that noir as an acknowledged Hollywood movement ended in the late 1950s.



Breaking Point


This was the second attempt to make a movie from a Hemingway story. The first starred Bogey and Bacall, and it was a successful movie but it left out much of what Hemingway included in his story. In Breaking Point we have Curtiz taking a shot and although he did make a few changes (location, added a character, etc.), he did much better with the source material. Heminway said he preferred the Curtiz version best. It dispenses with some of the traditional Film Noir tropes in order to tell a straight forward story, even if it might not be the most noble of all stories.



The trick is not minding
Ace in the Hold

Chuck Tatum is a newspaper reporter who has been fired from several previous jobs and finds himself Albuquerque, NM. He senses this is his last chance. His behavior, notably his temper, has cost him his previous jobs and he seems on the way down in his career as a result.
Bored with his job, and his current assignment (I canít even remember what his original assignment was) he comes across a local man trapped in a cave of sorts, and comes up with an idea to exploit this for his own benefit. A means to revive his career, as it is. He gets the trapped manís wife and the local sheriff to play along and as such, proceeds to cause the rescue attempt to be prolonged. Eventually this all becomes one big ďcircusĒ.

This film is remarkably prescient for its time, as the media would eventually sensationalize later similar events in real life for the ratings.

Itís well acted and well directed, and like Sweet Smell of Success, is a morality tale, butÖ..is this really noir? For some reason it didnít seem like it to me, unless I missed something here. It doesnít come off as one so much as a drama. A well directed one one at that.



Ace in the Hold
...is this really noir? For some reason it didnít seem like it to me, unless I missed something here. It doesnít come off as one so much as a drama...
Spoilers***
We all have to define noir by our own measure. For me, a hallmark of noir is that the lead character often ends up destroyed in some manner, either due to their own character flaws or random outside forces. This often occurs by morally ambiguous means.

Ace in the Hole
has the reporter (Kirk Douglas) consumed by his own self serving interest and his lack of concern for his fellow man, resulting in destruction for him and the man in the hole. But yeah I get that it doesn't feel as much noir as say Double Indemnity or other noirs, but it is eligible for the noir countdown.



The trick is not minding
Spoilers***
We all have to define noir by our own measure. For me, a hallmark of noir is that the lead character often ends up destroyed in some manner, either due to their own character flaws or random outside forces. This often occurs by morally ambiguous means.

Ace in the Hole
has the reporter (Kirk Douglas) consumed by his own self serving interest and his lack of concern for his fellow man, resulting in destruction for him and the man in the hole. But yeah I get that it doesn't feel as much noir as say Double Indemnity or other noirs, but it is eligible for the noir countdown.
Yeah, I was looking it up and apparently fans are divided over it being a noir or not.
Not really complaining, but rather musing out loud about it, but I have no objections to it regardless. *
Great film anyways.



Yeah, I was looking it up and apparently fans are divided over it being a noir or not.
Not really complaining, but rather musing out loud about it, but I have no objections to it regardless. *
Great film anyways.
Oh yeah, I knew you weren't complaining about it, I just wanted to talk about it Anyway I'm a huge fan of Wilder. I've seen a lot of his work and been impressed by most of all of it. I should check out more of his work, will maybe after the noir countdown is over.