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Noir Films

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Re: Noir Films

Postby klondike » April 27th, 2011, 12:47 pm

ChiO wrote:Whereas Fuller portrays American society as an insane asylum, Conrad focuses more on the individual's pursuit of the American Dream as a form of insanity.


I have to wonder, Owen, if the themes of this plot might have been at least a small part of the media-culture inspiration for Norman Mailer's novel "An American Dream", especially as his protagonist, secretly responsible for the manslaughter demise of his wife, manages to sidestep acceptance of his own guilt for her death, and the nearly syncronous affair with his immigrant housekeeper, by forging it all into his new Life Plan for dominating everyone through belligerent self-justification.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » May 20th, 2011, 9:47 pm

"Shockproof" is a film directed by Douglas Sirk from a Samuel Fuller script. It involves Cornell Wilde as a parole officer that falls in love with one of his parolees played by Patricia Knight, his then real wife.

A rather misleading title gives us what happens when a man can't live by the rules he expects others to abide by. Everyone winds up in a world of trouble that no one could see coming but should have. Not nearly as tense as I was expecting but held up better as straight drama more than a real noir film. And then there was that ending. For me it undid all the film goodwill it had built.

A real fine performance from Knight in what must be the highlight of a very short career. I think she does a better job than Wilde. I think he plays a sap.

Compact and quickly paced it has some parts that are hard to buy. It also has one of the worst decorated houses I've seen in a film. I couldn't decide if it represented the confusion in the house or whether they had a load of wallpaper they had to use. Come on, who papers the ceiling?

It's worth it just to watch Knight.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » May 24th, 2011, 1:26 pm

If there were truth in advertising, Crime in the Streets (1956) would be called Crime on the Set. It's a Reginald Rose TV play expanded for the movies in the wrong way--that is, by giving us more of the same instead of expanding the focus. Director Don Siegel gives us an exciting but not bloody rumble to open the film, but then the crime story morphs into, bogs down into, a problem drama. The ending is definitely not noir. Siegel has trouble staging the personal scenes, such as the ones with gang leader Frankie (John Cassavetes), his mother (Virginia Gregg), and his little brother. A gesture, a prop, a look out of the frame, a cutting rhythm, could go a long way toward turning the earnest dialogue into believable speech. (Seeing part of Kazan's Splendor in the Grass the same day pointed up what these scenes lack.)

However, Crime in the Streets can be recommended to fans of John Cassavetes, brooding and very intense if too old to play an 18-year-old gang leader, and Sal Mineo, alarmingly pretty as 15-year-old Angelo, called Baby by everyone. Mark Rydell is just alarming as Lou, a psycho gang member with a king-sized crush on Cassavetes. Lou gets turned on by the idea of helping Frankie commit murder. James Whitmore gets top billing as the social worker who tries to help the neighborhood boys, and he does all that anyone could do with the part, making the guy human and not naive. Too bad the writing and directing don't match the level of the performers. There's one scene between Mineo and his father, a long-held close two-shot with the light pouring onto Mineo's face, that suggests what the movie might have been.

Virginia Gregg has the most screen time I can remember her having--too bad she has to keep complaining about how tired she is--and soap fans will recognize Denise Alexander as Sal Mineo's older sister.

feaito

Re: Noir Films

Postby feaito » May 31st, 2011, 9:00 am

On Sunday night I saw “Johnny Apollo” (1940). This Noir directed by Henry Hathaway was a pleasant surprise for my wife and I (she loved it). Tyrone Power plays a rich young lad who has to come to terms with his father’s (superbly impersonated by Edward Arnold in a performance that deserved an AA nomination) conviction for embezzlement and the ostracism to which he is subjected by his father’s circle, which leads him to the dark side of life; enter Gangster Lloyd Nolan and his peers: some menacing hechmen, an alcoholic lawyer expertly played by Charley Grapewin and Nolan’s sweetheart, nightclub entertainer Dot Lamour. An engrossing film which features one of Tyrone Power’s finest performances.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » June 7th, 2011, 4:04 pm

As a fan of John Brahm's The Locket, The Lodger, and Hangover Square, I wanted to see Let Us Live (1939) with Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Sullivan. Let's just call this film noir, 'cause if it looks like a duck, etc . . . . Henry Fonda warms up for his performance in The Wrong Man, only this time he's a hard-working young cabbie accused of murder. Brahm and cinematographer Lucien Ballard do a great job with the first half of the film, especially in a memorable scene where thieves come out of hiding in a car showroom and in an even more memorable line-up scene where Fonda is wrongly identified. Although there are some nice shots in the second half, this turns into a rehash of the modern story from Intolerance, with Maureen O'Sullivan as the Dear One trying desperately to get evidence for a pardon from the governor. She and Ralph Bellamy have to do some overacting, which is unusual for either actor.

Well, the first half of this 68-minute film hits all the right noir notes, and Fonda and O'Sullivan are charming.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby moira finnie » June 7th, 2011, 4:30 pm

I thought that Let Us Live was a bit too similar to Lang's proto-noir, You Only Live Once (1937) with Fonda and Sylvia Sidney, but I have a real soft spot for Maureen O'Sullivan and her plaintive, tremulous voice that slides so easily into a giggle, so I stayed with it and found it beautifully acted by the leads (even if Maureen and Ralph do go OTT a bit).

I love the quiet air of Let Us Live (1939) in the opening sequences. It almost makes me wonder if Columbia's Harry Cohn pulled one of his fast ones on John Brahm and brought in another director to goose the story along for the latter part of the movie. Cohn reportedly used to do that to everyone but Frank Capra!
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » June 7th, 2011, 6:57 pm

I agree, it just fell apart and got predictable.

I'm glad someone else loves Maureen. She's near the top of my favorites list because she could make any role, no matter how stupid or trivial, convincing and in fact, charming. She worked very hard and seems to have appeared in everything from top notch productions to B's, all with the same energy and dedication.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby moira finnie » June 8th, 2011, 9:43 am

JackFavell wrote:I agree, it just fell apart and got predictable.

I'm glad someone else loves Maureen. She's near the top of my favorites list because she could make any role, no matter how stupid or trivial, convincing and in fact, charming. She worked very hard and seems to have appeared in everything from top notch productions to B's, all with the same energy and dedication.

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I have the feeling that she might have been fun to know. In between working very hard for a very long time, she was also married to talented but fairly profligate director John Farrow, (who appears to have had a rampant case of satyriasis), had seven children, nursed Mia through polio as a child, buried her eldest son in 1958 after he died in a plane he was piloting, and worked for years with "that damned Cheetah," whom she also called "that ape son of a b***h," (her words, not mine). According to one quote about the Tarzan experience, "Cheetah bit me whenever he could. The [Tarzan] apes were all homosexuals, eager to wrap their paws around Johnny Weismuller's thighs. They were jealous of me, and I loathed them."
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While she may have found them tedious, I've been enjoying the recent number of Tarzan movies on TCM on Saturday. There's a very healthy sensuality between Johnny Weismuller and O'Sullivan, even after the Production Code made them wear more duds and get hitched. She, Weismuller, and Johnny Sheffield were great together...though I am tempted to advise marital counseling for the pair at times while watching repeated rifts between the couple when those stuffed shirts from civilization pop up beneath their jungle tree house--tempting Jane away. Here's an interesting article on Salon about their match.

Oh! And after both their spouses had died, Robert Ryan and Maureen O'Sullivan were reportedly quite happy together for a spell. Once again, fate was unkind, after Ryan died much too early in 1973. Maureen went on to marry a "civilian," James E. Cushing.

Two favorite Maureen movies:
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Woman Wanted (1935): McCrea and O'Sullivan had phenomenal chemistry together from the first scene, when he mimes asking her for a date through the window--not realizing that she is on trial for her life.

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The Tall T (1957): Loved her character's discovery of her own spunkiness, thanks to circumstances and Mr. Scott.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby movieman1957 » June 8th, 2011, 9:46 am

That first picture is beautiful. I didn't recognize her at first.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » June 8th, 2011, 10:18 am

That's one of my favorite pictures! She looks like such a hothouse flower in it. Here's another quite different one:

Image

I LOVED Woman Wanted..I agree, her chemistry with Joel was wonderful (whose wasn't?), I especially liked the scene when they are in the closed up diner making hamburgers.

Her stories of the loathsome Cheetah are pretty hilarious, I suspect a much more sharp tongued and ambitious woman hid under the sweet, youthful characterizations of Dora in David Copperfield and Nick Charles' despairing niece, Dorothy Wynant.

She had a surprising range - I was shocked watching The Tall T, because I had spent at least 30 to 45 minutes watching the film before I realized that the bland Mrs. Mims was O'Sullivan. Wasn't she also a sad, rather dull young woman whose friends all turn out to be fortune hunters in some other movie? I wish I could remember. But anyway, she was equally adept at playing flibbertigibbets.

I love her in Tarzan movies, Her mischievous, sexy side really makes Johnny Weissmuller look even better than he already does.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » June 8th, 2011, 10:36 am

Hey, I'm really kinda loving visiting here. Moira, you are quite a riot...and JackaaaAaaay your descriptions of stars are gentle and lovely and subtle. ("A hothouse flower"). Maureen always looked and sounded delicate and tremulous. Her Jane days she looked pretty good. She must've brought out "something" in John Farrow.
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » June 8th, 2011, 10:40 am

Thanks! You ain't so bad yourself! :D

I remember the movie I was talking about - It's Maisie Was a Lady, with Lew Ayres, and Ann Sothern as Maisie. One of my favorite entries in the series. She's really super in it.
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feaito

Re: Noir Films

Postby feaito » June 8th, 2011, 10:44 am

Moira, very interesting post and the Salon article is great. I recently saw the three first entries of the MGM Tarzan, which IMO are the best and I had lots of fun watching them. Maureen looks so beautiful in these early films, she was quite a knockout beauty with class. I recently saw her perform in the MGM B picture "Sporting Blood" (1940) with Bob Young and I liked her spirited performance as Lewis Stone's daughter, falling in love with the "wrong man" impersonated by Young, whose father ran away with O'Sullivan's mum some 20 years ago. Good flick. I also liked her very much in Bob Montgomery's "The Hide Out" (1934), looking equally lovely and tacking a different role, as the naïve daughter of a simple, honest, hard-working and good-natured country couple, who falls for this other Bob -impersonating a Cad.

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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » June 8th, 2011, 10:45 am

Hide-Out is awesome!

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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » June 8th, 2011, 10:46 am

Thanx Jack. D'ya think Maureen O'Sullivan has enough of film oeuvre to make her TCM's "Star of the Month"? If so, what would you want them to program?
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