Nov. 2, 2008, 3:04 a.m. CST
Nov. 2, 2008, 4:38 a.m. CST
Enjoyed October. Something I'll tell my grand kids about. Black Widow added to the Q. I should get to it in a year or so.
Nov. 2, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST
by greigy just wanted to say
... not the film stock, coined by the French to catagorise film with a moral ambiguity. Anyhow if you don't love The Ghost and Mrs Muir.. check your pulse you're probably dead or a McG fan... same thing.
Nov. 2, 2008, 8:21 a.m. CST
Thanks for the review. I'm familiar with the 1980s Black Widow with Debra Winger and Theresa Russell, but not this one which looks to be quite different. I'm also going to add this one to my queue. Another color noir with Gene Tierney is "Leave Her To Heaven." She certainly does not just sit on a couch looking pretty in this. The Technicolor enhances her beauty but her character is really disturbed. I think you'll enjoy it.
Nov. 2, 2008, 8:51 a.m. CST
"Neo Noir" as some call it, is often in color (Chinatown, Blade Runner, The Long Goodbye, Twilight, The Hitcher, Blood Simple, etc) Though historically, the film is positioned quite awkwardly early in the grey zone of the time line to fall easily in that realm. It's true though that a noir can be in color if it contains enough other elements essential to the genre, they are just really really rare. Considering the surreal qualities that German expressionism brought to the genre, I would argue that Vertigo is VERY MUCH a Noir film, though again, that's sorta on the later end of things (1958) it still came out the same year as Touch of Evil and any kind of real point where Noir ends and Neo Noir begins is highly disputable. There's another famous Noir in technicolor that takes place outside of the city that I can't remember the name of that has this really famous scene where a woman in a boat drowns a girl in a kid in a lake. Really evil stuff. But yeah. I've never seen this to argue it, but color isn't everything, nor the hard boiled elements of the Marlowes and Spades, or even the more existential ooze of rotteness that a Walter Neff brings to the pot. Some people argue Casablanca is absolutely not a noir, others argue Gilda is without question. It's never easy to frame the genre because there are too many different themes and elements that collided around the same time. Thus, prototypes can be traced back as far as M (Expressionism) and Pandora's Box (sexually dangerous woman), perhaps further. The Hard Boiled stuff is rooted in dime novels that go back to the late 20s and 30s where the last war's disenfranchisement met with various themes addressing or masking masculine crisis. So many of the films made during WWII (Maltese Falcon) and after (Double Indemnity) are radically different in tone and style, yet still fall under Noir. So it's a tough call. What is or isn't noir. Looking forward to checking Black Widow out, should be interesting to see what works and what doesn't.
Nov. 2, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST
by lex romero
It's just too fluid a style to have any definitive list of "this makes a noir film". THere are certainly similarities, but you could have a list of 10 things that make a noir film, and then have one film with 5 of them and another film with the other 5 and they could still both be noir.
Nov. 2, 2008, 10:16 a.m. CST
I haven't seen him in a lot of stuff but what I've seen he's top notch.
Nov. 2, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
pilotgrl, You are so right. Excellent film.
Nov. 2, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST
by Some Dude
I hope we did not cause you any trouble.
Nov. 2, 2008, noon CST
i was gonna suggest the amazing Body Heat as "noir in color", but i think neosamurai just convinced me i have to reevaluate and call it "neo-noir".
Nov. 2, 2008, 1:46 p.m. CST
Well, like lex romero said, calling noir a genre is very problematic. Films give or take after Touch of Evil that look/feel/act like noir are called a variety of things, "post-noir, post war noir, modern noir" Foster Hirsch uses Neo-Noir, which becomes just as problematic as old noir. Saying one group of films was made over a span of 25-30 years, and another "neo" version of those films has proceeded on for almost 60, proves a little tiring on the sense of newness. It's sorta like modernism and post-modernism. The important thing to remember about classic noir, is that the films were not noir until a group of French cinephiles were able to sit down awhile after the fact and observe these reoccurring trends in the films made between the late 30s and the early 50s. The film makers working on T-Men, Maltese Falcon (remakes or original) and The Killers were not aware that they were making noir until long after the fact, where film makers in the 60s (after the French criticism caught on) were VERY aware that they were making noir. Look at all the in jokes and nods within Body Heat, the way it builds suspense though the conventions of the noir "genre" (how the fedora's appearance becomes foreboding... there is a way this story is going to go, like the slasher movie rules in Scream). So however you frame it, that the key thing to consider. The war is commonly argued as definitive of noir, but the shift between accepted wartime and post war films makes it difficult to argue that the third, forth and possibly fifth waves are not all part of noir by that rational. Which is arguable.
Nov. 2, 2008, 2:28 p.m. CST
The movie with the girl in the boat is Leave Her to Heaven, which ironically enough is the film pilotgrl is mentioning above your comment. As for your comments of Noir vs. Neo-Noir, I think the simple explanation is that Film Noir was a movement, while Neo-Noir is Film Noir as a genre. Ok, maybe not that simplest explanation.
Nov. 2, 2008, 2:43 p.m. CST
hey HMAD fans, I'm hosting an all-day horror film fest next weekend, and I need some suggestions for really solid, obscure horror films. The HMAD flicks Quint put on the list are the right level (worse than "The Changeling" but better than "The Thirsty Dead") but I watched em all during October. Who has some other ideas? I tend to really like the nightmare sort of horror films (Jacob's Ladder, Uzumaki, Kwaidan, Rosemary's Baby, Suspiria, Prince of Darkness, Dead Ringers) but anything worth watching will do. Any Takers?
Nov. 2, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST
Silent era: Vampyr. Foreign classic: Hour of the Wolf. 80's gore and monster effects: The Deadly Spawn. 90's underrated/becoming tragically forgotten: Candyman and Frailty. Straight to video but isn't shit: The Dark. Enjoy!
Nov. 2, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST
Thanks! Been wanting to see that film for a while now.
Nov. 2, 2008, 3:47 p.m. CST
I don't want to repeat Neosamurai85 (damn it, he had to choose Vampyr) but I will say: Silent era: Waxwork; Foreign Classic: Eyes Without a Face; New Hollywood: Targets and Martin; 80's gore and Monster effects (and method acting in a horror movie): Q; Hammer or English Horror Film: Witchfinder General; Guilty Pleasure: Slumber Party Massacre.
Nov. 2, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST
good suggestions. Haven't see "howl of the wolf" or Deadly Spawn, will now. Frailty is great but I think the final twist really ruins the film for me, since it kind of undoes the main tension in the rest of the film. Thanks for the ideas!
Nov. 2, 2008, 3:51 p.m. CST
Eyes without a face is an absolute favorite of mine. Really, really creepy and elegant. Good suggestions.
Nov. 2, 2008, 3:55 p.m. CST
Nov. 2, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST
House of Bamboo is a noir shot in Technicolor. There are plenty of pure Noirs in color both new and old. Color or lack of it has nothing to do with Noir nor does lots of shadows and harsh lighting. Noir refers to the darkness of the story, not the visual aesthetic, although that is what one would usually think of when thinking of it. There are also comedy Noirs.
Nov. 2, 2008, 4:48 p.m. CST
She didn't do much in the movie because she was going nuts in her personal life. After making this movie she was more or less put away for a while and given electroshock.
Nov. 2, 2008, 5:43 p.m. CST
by jimmy rabbitte
Yup. It was called Blade Runner.
Nov. 2, 2008, 6:23 p.m. CST
Blade Runner and Chinatown for some reason didn't jump to mind... I think I was trying to think of films like Black Widow, more that era and those were too obvious for me to see... right in front of me, as they say. Thanks for the interesting discussion on Noir vs. Neo-Noir. I especially like the idea that you can't really classify noir as a genre because it's right on that a lot of these movies have one or two elements of a noir, but aren't full on. And as for Casablanca, I don't think you can get any less noir than Casablanca. There are a lot of grey characters, that's for sure, ambiguous characters, but the heart of the movie is one of sweetest romances of all time. I'm still touched by that film when I watch it today.
Nov. 2, 2008, 6:25 p.m. CST
but I'd also say that Blade Runner is NOT Technicolor. It's beautiful, but certainly not the technicolor process which stopped... I believe in the late '60s or early '70s.
Nov. 2, 2008, 7:06 p.m. CST
As others, including myself, have mentioned Film Noir was a film movement/style that developed in the United States during the 40's. The term wasn't coined until French critic Nino Frank saw how much darker America finally playing in France after WWII had become, and many French film critics began to notice certain similarity between these films. Many of those involved in the making of these classic noirs were unaware of making a distinctive type of film, and the term film noir didn’t become popular in the US until sometime in the 60s amongst film students and scholars. After that, it became a genre - or more aptly, it created a genre called Neo-Noir. Therefore, while most film noirs are black and white, you can have film noirs in color, just as you can have a French New Wave movie be in color, despite the fact that the majority of them where shot in black and white (one of the defining elements of La Nouvelle Vague was the use of lighter, cheaper equipment and tight budgets, hence the use of b & w film). As for what elements made up a film noir? Well, critics disagree, and are still trying to come up with a definitive definition, most agree that they contain several unifying elements: Distinct visual style (low key lighting, exchange camera angles, deep focus); complex narrative structure (flashbacks, voiceover narration, nonlinear story-telling); certain types of plots (crime, murder, an investigation), settings (urban cities) and character (femme fatales, detectives, gangsters, fall guys); and normally a bleak, pessimistic and/or ambiguous tone and morality for the film. Film Noirs are not required, however, to possess all of these traits, just some. Neo-Noirs (the modern Noir genre) consciously try to have as many of these elements as possible, and usually focus on the better-known elements and devices (femme fatales, PI’s, crime stories, voice over).
Nov. 2, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST
I agree that is NOT a film noir. Besides the visual style (romantic and adventurous instead of dark, mysterious and dangerous) it is the tone and morality that excludes it. Casablanca is about overcoming your pessimism and cynicism and realize that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for a greater good. The Film Noir version of Casablanca would have Rick sell out Victor Lazlo to Captain Renault and Major Strasser so he can have Isla to himself, only to have one of his employees who are loyal to the Resistance discover this and kill him afterwards.
Nov. 2, 2008, 8:30 p.m. CST
is that many war time or Hollywood Noirs were optimistic. Compare with the Maltese Falcon (1941) or The Big Sleep. Cynicism is everywhere in both films, yet especially in the later we find happy endings do await. The grimness is toned down, but Casablanca is a world where people die and anyone might stab you in the back, much like that of The Third Man, which opens on a less screwball, but nonetheless black humor note. I bring it up because (like Citizen Kane, which welcomes a stronger argument) it embraces some of the look of noir, but clearly goes against the tonal feel, further complicating the argument between noir as style and noir as genre.
Nov. 2, 2008, 8:44 p.m. CST
Is that the elements of early noir which we use to identify it were often established styles of their own which predated it. German Expressionism is often credited for both the lighting and cockeyed angles, and while there are grounds for this, the B reel budgeted circumstances led to many early filmmakers who were not german refugees to use similar technique to hide an awkwardly bare mise-en-scene. In the case of the later, you can see it as a predominantly original style, but we cannot abandon the Expressionist roots behind so many of the more well known classics. The hard-boiled tone is also rooted in both Hemingway modernism (The Killers) and in the dime novels a decade prior to many of the films based on them. While in this case, shifting from one medium to another does allow the tough guy tone to become a new style in cinema, we cannot forget that the tough guy tone is just as comfortable in the gangster genre as the noir. I won't even get started on femme fetals, they've almost always been around in one form or another. Overall though, I agree that it is better to look at classic noir as a cinematic style, but ultimately what that style is depends on what we accept up front as noir and what we don't. What does it mean to say The Stranger on the Third Floor is the first versus Citizen Kane or M? Anyway, great discussion everyone. Peace.
Nov. 2, 2008, 8:54 p.m. CST
I agree with everything that you said Neosamurai85, but I wanted to comment on one difference between the films. In Casablanca Rick is a bitter, cynical, hurt man who "sticks his nose out for nobody", but by the end of the film he has undergone a character arc and has regained his idealism again. Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, however, does not undergo any sort of arc, and by the end of the film his character will still be the same tough, cynical, hard-boiled detective he was at the start, even if he continues to see Lauren Bacall's character. His worldview hasn't changed at all. The first movie is about optimism, hope and sacrifice; the second one is about how the world is dark and shadowy, and what type of person you have to be to survive in it.
Nov. 2, 2008, 9:07 p.m. CST
I think a better term would be movement. A movement expresses the idea that certain styles, techniques and ideas, as well as innovations, seemed to become popular at the same time; a zeitgeist moment such as what happened during the Italian Neo-realism, the French New Wave, and New Hollywood. Of course this still creates a problem with the categorizing of films (such as, why is the Godfather part of New Hollywood but not the Poseidon Adventure?). Well, that is it for now.
Nov. 2, 2008, 9:18 p.m. CST
Called Neo-Noir, and there are tons of them. Just wiki the word Noir. You will see that the films that fall under the Terminology Neo Noir are films like china Town and L.A. Confidential Blade Runner, and lots more. JGL did a Neo Noir film that took place in a highschool setting a few years back. Styles constantly are brought back into fashion and reused. Crime Dramas are no different
Nov. 2, 2008, 9:38 p.m. CST
The term has been abused in recent years - just scan through IMDb, to see some ludicrous applications.
Nov. 2, 2008, 11:09 p.m. CST
because of how poorly the requirements for genre have been drawn. Epic, Tragedy, Lyric and Comedy (within comedy Infernal, Purgatorial, Paradisal). Call me old school, but I find that a far more useful way of delineating genre than fast and loose terms like "noir", "meta" or, worse still, "dramedy."
Nov. 3, 2008, 5:28 a.m. CST
by Mace Tofu
and watch it in Black & White. Should be cool.
Nov. 3, 2008, 8:35 a.m. CST
Tierney has never looked more beautiful - absolutely stunning!
Nov. 3, 2008, 12:10 p.m. CST
well, although I don't necessarily go in for the 'epic, comedy, tragedy, lyric' stuff, I do agree that trying to come up with some sort of absolute terms for genre is arbitrary and absurd. Now, some types of film styles ARE clearly deliniated (we've been talking about dogme cinema, but french new wave, italean neo-realism, etc all are specific schools of thought, with clearly stated rules and directors who rigorously apply them. But genre, particularly since it has so much to do with plot, will always be to some extent unclassifiable. There are a few things which are sort of paragons of genre (ie, Shane is a Western, Nightmare on Elm Street is a Horror, Double Indemnity is a Noir) but most films dabble a bit, and trying to apply rigid rules to make them one thing or another actually diminishes what we can learn from them. Actually, I disagree with the person who said that noir is overused as a term on IMDB. The IMDB genre bar seems to me to indicate that the film has ELEMENTS of one genre or another. Hence, Blade Runner has elements of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Noir, thriller, action... um, if you go down the list it gives about 50 genres, including some questionable ones like "person gets thrown through a window" and "cyborg". Still, I imagine a serious scholar could build a case around the "cyborg" genre... (a professor I had in college wrote a great deal, very seriously, about a genre he called the "mind-fuck." It included films like the Matrix, Videodrome, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Total Recall, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He had a fairly narrow definition of structural similarities in plot and style which linked these films. It was interesting, but, again, I think just proves how arbitrary any genre definition is. Many great films have things in common because directors watch films and borrow stories and styles from other places. Rather than speaking in terms of genre, I think it more useful to think about specific effects movies have on each other, and overall trends which are observable over time. Just my 10 cents.
Nov. 4, 2008, 9:53 a.m. CST
The impression Ive gotten was it was a play on both the dark look/dark them of the pictures as well as a line of French pulp novels (not all of them French authors - many American novelists inc Hammett and Postman Always Rings twice guy - forget his name - were published by this publisher) that were cheaply produced and put under the "noir" label because their covers were ... well ... black. This same publisher - as Ive been lead to believe - also put out cheap horror novels under yellow covers, thus popularizing the term giallo.
Nov. 4, 2008, 10 a.m. CST
I first noticed Heflin in a 1940s Robert Taylor crime film called "Johnny Eager" where he played the crime boss second-in-command-consigliere-whatever. What was odd was the way they filmed him as having a crush on his boss - a real eye-opener in how Hayes-code era films dealt with homosexuality. I didnt see Shane til years later - two years ago in fact - and while he was fine in that film he'll always be that love-smitten gangster in Johnny Eager to me.
Nov. 4, 2008, 10:22 a.m. CST
I think you mean "implicated". Nice review though. I've not seen this, but any movie with Rogers (Ginger, not Ted) is a must for me, so I'll check it out. That is all.
Nov. 4, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST
With respect to your use of the word "nearly" I'd have to say yes, and no. It's true that genre can never be perfectly defined as films react to the emergence of formula (and cliche) by deviating from it. Playing on expectations is a well established past time of storytelling evident in the prevalence of red herring femme fatals that show up in later films. Film genres are particularly problematic due to the shift from attraction cinema (see Gunning) to narrative as the dominate form of the medium occurring roughly at the same time as modernism, making the discourse between the literary and cinematic highly intertextual. Cinema was growing up and coming of age during a period where the dominate narrative mediums where breaking down and mixing up just about every convention of storytelling available. So yes, categorizing films into neat unproblematic boxes is somewhat of a futile endeavor. HOWEVER, the same could be said for the interpretation of history in general. There is always an aspect of story telling at the core of string any series of observed facts into something with meaning. The important thing becomes ultimately understanding how shape those things and what that says about the ideology of any given period of criticism. Why we exclude Casablanca and/or Citizen Kane from noir says things about the value system with which we we define noir. Splitting "classic noir" from "neo-noir" on the grounds of the latter's awareness of itself indicates self-awareness as something valued differently, just as framing classic noir as movement set within the context of WWII which cannot be continued long after the direct effects of the war passed. We'll never get it right (though I agree that movement is the best way to describe the early period), but through the effort we learn more about current values and how we look at film, and history in general.
Nov. 4, 2008, 12:31 p.m. CST
true true. It's all about thinking about the way that films and movements impact each other, and asking ourselves about similarities and differences between them help us understand what forces shaped the films of the time and what forces shape the way we currently think about narrative and storytelling.