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Noir Films

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Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » December 8th, 2010, 10:08 pm

With a lot of topics for specific movies maybe a catch-all thread may work for some lesser known noir films.

Tonight it was "Pushover" with Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak. After the first ten minutes this looks like this will be a standard police grunt work type drama. Not exactly. This becomes a bigger, more involved and trickier film than you would think.

Borrowing, sort of, from "Double Indemnity" MacMurray picks up Novak after a movie that has to rank as one of the quickest pairings and one of the sexiest to come across my screen. Shortly after they figure out who is who and what is going on. The first half-hour moves at a pretty good clip. Dorothy Malone plays the girl next door - literally.

Some nice twists come through the script. A couple of things I noticed of no particular importance are that this film may have more rain in it than anything that doesn't involve a flood and more trench coats than you will find anywhere outside of a London Fog factory. A pretty good "B" film I have never heard of but am glad to have found.

If this is redundant let me know and we'll go another route.
Chris

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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » December 9th, 2010, 10:48 am

Great idea, Chris, to start a thread devoted to noirs that are seen less often or are not a part of the commonly accepted canon. And, a very nice choice to kick off with. Although comparisons with DOUBLE INDEMNITY are unavoidable, one could make a case that thematically PUSHOVER is "more" noir. Having the male lead, MacMurray, be a cop adds the element of institutional corruption along with the personal corruption. Next debate: Does a Novak and Malone trump a Stanwyck?

Yesterday's film noir viewing was ANGEL'S FLIGHT (1965). There's noir, forgotten noir, and who-knew-this-was-ever-made noir. This is in the last category. Directed by Raymond Nassour and K.W. Richardson, their other minimal credits were unfamiliar. For the cast, their resumes include a lot of TV work, but the few film appearances are predominated by "uncredited." Probably the best known cast member (and also the producer) is the male lead, William Thourlby, the original Marlboro Man.

Shot on location in L.A.'s Bunker Hill neighborhood, Ben (Thourlby) is a down-on-his-luck alcoholic ex-news reporter, now writing for pulp magazines for his whiskey money, who stumbles, passes out and knocks over garbage cans one night just as Liz, the sweet and pretty neighborhood stripper, slits a suitor's throat on a nearby park bench. The noise brings out a local resident who screams when she sees the dead man. And now we know: This is the third (!) "pretty man" whose throat has been slashed in Bunker Hill in the past few weeks. Hysteria! What are the police doing about this?

Ben -- as a "pretty man" and former crime reporter -- is, of course, pals with the Lt. in charge, so...he goes on the wagon and becomes bait for catching the killer. And, of course, he does, but only after falling in love with her and learning that her behavior is due to her brutal rape next to the Bunker Hill funicular on her prom night by her date who became a serial rapist.

A tale of the angel's flight from the regular world into the sordid world of stripping and revenge. A tale of the angel's attempted flight from that world and to find redemption. A tale revolving around the focal point of the Bunker Hill funicular known as...Angel's Flight.

This would make a swell double feature with BLAST OF SILENCE (1961). Both start with trains and both capture the loneliness -- and potential for a nihilistic outlook -- in the Big Cities on the Coasts. And both had unknowns working with ultra-low budgets in the early- to mid-'60s lending the movies a real life air of sleaziness. Oh, Dewey....

Late addition: I foolishly forgot that there is one now-known name in the cast. A small role of a drunken floozy barfly is portrayed by Rue (billed as "Rhue") McClanahan.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » December 9th, 2010, 11:56 am

I'm glad you agreed with the idea. It has worked well in the westerns forum so I thought this would be good too. Besides it could be a one stop place to get my suggestions.

Novak and Malone vs. Stanwyck? Difficult to say as they play different types but all interesting.

Keep 'em coming.
Chris

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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » December 18th, 2010, 10:19 am

Two noirs worth noting this past week.

ROGUE COP (Roy Rowland, 1954) has Robert Taylor as the big city police detective whose protection of the Outfit is an open secret. His baby brother, Steve Forrest, is the straight-as-an-arrow beat cop who, purely by happenstance, can identify a killer fleeing the scene of a murder. When Taylor learns that it was an Outfit killing, torn between his love for his brother and his source of extra income, he convinces mobster George Raft that he can turn his brother to the dark side. Forrest won't do it. Taylor negotiates more time with Raft, after a tussle with the lovable thug Alan Hale, Jr. and witnessing Raft's abuse of his drunken floozy gal, Anne Francis. Taylor uses his brother's girlfriend, Janet Leigh, to turn him around. No dice. When Forrest is killed, it turns to a tale of revenge and redemption.

Surprisingly engaging noir out of MGM's B-unit. With OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES (1945), THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T (1952) and WITNESS TO MURDER (1954) on his resume, Roy Rowland is a director that is worth taking a chance on. And, stump your friends with: Name a Janet Leigh movie where a beautiful blonde is murdered in a bathtub and it's not Janet Leigh.

Steve Cochran, having spent most of his life in prison, is released and has trouble fitting into society in TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY (Felix Feist, 1951). He meets dime-a-dance dame Ruth Roman and we get: sexual obsession, fetishism, killing, frame-up, deceit, couple-on-the-lam, paranoia, love, paranoia, treachery and paranoia. All while subverting legal and family institutions. In short, it's GREAT! In spite of an unambiguous happy ending. Who woulda thought?

Because of HOW TO BE A DETECTIVE (1936, short), THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE (1947), THE THREAT (1949), THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF (1950), THE BASKETBALL FIX (1951), THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS (1952) and now this, Felix Feist has become another of my minor obsessions.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » December 18th, 2010, 10:48 am

Roy Rowland has been an obsession of mine recently because of a dumb coincidence - my childhood best friend's dad was also named Roy Rowland.

Thanks for the heads up on Rogue Cop. It can also be seen here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljG_bQIbuv0&feature=BF&list=PLEE9996FA84AE6CCC&index=1[/youtube]

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Re: Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » December 21st, 2010, 9:52 am

"He Walked By Night" stars Richard Basehart as a cop killer and robber that is the subject of a police manhunt. The film deals with the process of gathering evidence to put together something to work on. As police procedurals go this has to be among the best. Or at least it seems the most detailed. They have little to work with but methodical work (and a lucky break, to me) helps win the day.

Basehart is tough and not afraid to do what he needs to do. My only problem with the movie is that we really learn very little about his character. Most of what we do know is what the police think they know. Dark, climactic storm drain chase is tense but the film ends rather suddenly.

Everyone's favorite, Whit Bissel, shows up to play man Basehart plays for a sucker. Jack Webb plays forensic scientist and even smiles once or twice.

I enjoyed it but I couldn't help but think something was missing. Some over-the top narration didn't help but it was not a problem.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » December 21st, 2010, 4:44 pm

HE WALKED BY NIGHT is one of my faves (#5 on my list in the Noir poll...over 2-1/2 years ago, if you can believe that). It wouldn't be as high today, but still Top 15. The Anthony Mann (uncredited director of almost all of it) and John Alton collaboration is one for the ages...though I wouldn't argue with anyone who prefers RAW DEAL from the same year and same combo.

My only problem with the movie is that we really learn very little about his character. Most of what we do know is what the police think they know.


For me, that is one of the movie's many virtues. We don't know him. We just kind of know about him. He could be anyone, a bland nondescript everyman, which makes the proceedings all the more sinister.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
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Re: Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » December 21st, 2010, 9:31 pm

I guess that since this is really following the police that would make sense. However, if he is going to go to the trouble to beat up Bissel then, for me, some background gives it some more meaning but I see your point. He was brutal.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » December 22nd, 2010, 8:12 am

if he is going to go to the trouble to beat up Bissel then, for me, some background gives it some more meaning but I see your point.


And for me, the background would give it less meaning. Background might provide it with the meaning. Lack of background allows the viewer to project or imagine what the possible backgrounds may be. Or, as a noted Tralfamadorian film noir scholar put it: Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: Noir Films

Postby Mr. Arkadin » December 28th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Mickey Rooney might be unloved at the TCM forum, but I've really enjoyed his turn as star of the month.

This week we're getting three of his best works with Drive a Crooked Road (1954), a crime flick that seems to have had some influence on the 1964 remake of The Killers, the hilarious detective comedy Pulp (1972), where he plays a washed up movie star (with a final performance by Liz Scott and score by George Martin), and possibly his best dramatic role as a boxing cut-man in Ralph Nelson’s Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962).

Are these films noir? I guess that depends upon what you see in them, but I highly recommend all three.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby klondike » December 28th, 2010, 9:55 pm

ChiO wrote:Or, as a noted Tralfamadorian film noir scholar put it: Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.


Just stay out of laundry rooms with strange women, Owen, even if you've never almost been to Dresden . . yet . .

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Re: Noir Films

Postby moira finnie » December 29th, 2010, 4:29 pm

Mr. Arkadin wrote:Mickey Rooney might be unloved at the TCM forum, but I've really enjoyed his turn as star of the month.

This week we're getting three of his best works with Drive a Crooked Road (1954), a crime flick that seems to have had some influence on the 1964 remake of The Killers, the hilarious detective comedy Pulp (1972), where he plays a washed up movie star (with a final performance by Liz Scott and score by George Martin), and possibly his best dramatic role as a boxing cut-man in Ralph Nelson’s Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962).

Are these films noir? I guess that depends upon what you see in them, but I highly recommend all three.

I don't know if they are really film noir, but one oddball Mickey Rooney movie I enjoyed earlier this month and that is being re-broadcast on Thursday at 8pm ET is The Strip (1951). Mickey is a jazz drummer, (and proves he really could play superbly). His character is just out of the VA hospital (for some vague reasons) who runs into (literally) gangster (and former MGM colleague) James Craig and his moll. Rooney becomes an enforcer for Craig, a job he describes as being "in insurance," but the drummer finds it hard to move on to a more creatively stimulating position after proving himself adept at leg-breaking and twisting arms. There are oodles of street scenes shot in LA with glimpses of the Sunset Strip, clubs like Ciro's and in a remarkable coincidence, all the girls are shorter than Mickey, the star. Go figure, huh?

There is alot of great music from Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden (which is good) and less wonderful but strangely interesting numbers from Vic Damone and others.

Two unlikely actors ought to get the blue ribbon for acting in this one: Tommy Rettig and William Demarest. Demarest actually gets to play a character instead of an attitude in this movie. In a nice, generous gesture from Mick (who is frankly a bit of a camera hog usually), the little dynamo lets Demarest go in each of their scenes together.

Rettig is an excellent manic brat who is probably a neglected tyke since his Mom is running after a Hollywood dream while he turns into The Bad Seed. Tommy inspires a key scene later in the film as well.

I find Mickey Rooney a fascinating performer despite all the weird movies he was in. Every time I think that Rooney is just a creature of Hollywood and a real ham, I come across the man confounding me and my assumptions about him with a remarkable bit of acting--even in a small part such as his role as bombastic, crazy "Gus" in Night at the Museum (2006) in recent years.

I am curious to see what The Last Mile (1959) which is on TCM on Thursday at 9am ET is going to be like. This was the John Wexley play that helped to launch both Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable's movie careers when they were each spotted in different productions of the show on different coasts in the same role that Mick plays in this movie--"Killer" Mears! Those are pretty big boots for Mickey to fill, thirty years after those actors were in them.

I'd love to read what others thought of The Comedian (1957), a television drama from Ernest Lehman and Rod Serling that is harrowingly good and was supposedly based on Sid Caesar. Rooney is relentless, and a monster but fascinating.

Btw, did anyone see how fantastic he was in Young Tom Edison, especially in his scenes with Virginia Weidler as his little sister? No, I know it is not a noir either, but what a remarkable performance he and Weidler gave!
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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » December 30th, 2010, 6:22 pm

I'm a fan of the Mickster. No, I can't watch all of his movies...but maybe what I should say more accurately, is that
I respect Mickey Rooney's talent. He's comedic (and frankly mugs his way) in Andy Hardy...but look at his acting when he realizes his drama teacher loves another. It tore my heart out. And he can tone down his bombasticity. I enjoyed him in "The Human Comedy." Working with Judy Garland he is so energetic, has a puppy love for her (boys are so immature), and we can see that he can dance and play instruments.

I'm a fan of Mickey Rooney...I should say, more accurately, that I respect his talent. His career at M-G-M spans a good twenty-year chunk of M-G-M history.

Oh...and he was married to Ava Gardner. I'm giving him 90 points just for that.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » December 30th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Did you get to see The Last Mile? I walked in on the last half hour or so, and was riveted to the screen... he was just great as Killer Mears, and the movie itself looked really good, lots of cool lighting effects! I want to see the rest of the movie now, just to see if it was as good as the last part. Mickey was incredibly brave - there was a HUGE closeup of him, scary, at his most emotional moment.... incredible. I really liked his performance, or at least what I saw - I believed he was a killer. Just for the record, my daughter did not believe it really was Mickey Rooney, or "the weirdie guy" as we fondly call him since we saw Night at the Museum. I think that says a lot for his acting.

The Human Comedy is heartwrenching, and he gives a wonderful performance, also Requiem for a Heavyweight.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » December 30th, 2010, 6:59 pm

No I didn't. I'm not too into later/older Mickey (dumb of me). I did catch some of his western with Robert Preston / Robert Stack. Oh my achin' psyche. Yikes! But you've intrigued me with your post and I'll have to catch it some time. I think Mickey Rooney is one of the most fearless actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. (Sorry Gable...you're my sexy guy...but you played it safe).

Ya know...I'm about to get my < Maven > stripes ripped right off my lapels. :-(
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