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Noir City Visits Chicago

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RedRiver
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby RedRiver » August 23rd, 2012, 12:29 pm

In Act I, Ray provides the near-perfect film noir, using every convention and making them fresh. In Act II, he subverts every convention and provides a new outlook on how film noir can be visualized.

Absolutely. I find the first half a little more exciting than the main story. Grittier, creepier urban drama I've never seen. But the outdoor part is good too. As you've pointed out, it's a fascinating contrast. It's almost two movies!

I'm having trouble remembering if I've seen CAUGHT. Surely, I have. But it's not coming back to me.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby ChiO » August 23rd, 2012, 12:43 pm

Red -- Maybe this will refresh your recollection.
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

RedRiver
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby RedRiver » August 23rd, 2012, 12:51 pm

Not ringing a bell.

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CineMaven
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby CineMaven » August 23rd, 2012, 12:52 pm

ChiO wrote:After a week's vacation in the glorious Southwest (of Canada), what's a poor boy do (who doesn't play in a rock 'n' rock band) except head to the Music Box to catch the end of Noir City 4.

:oops: :oops: :oops: I come to you, ChiO, with hat in hand, my head bowed in shame :oops: :oops: :oops: after my big build-up.

If anyone wants to claim that this is Robert Ryan's greatest performance, I won't argue. Ditto for Ward Bond. And the soft side of Ida Lupino is a joy to watch. Ditto -- as to any side -- for Cleo Moore.

I'm with you on ALL your dittoes.

I recognize that I'm the outlier in these parts, but, while Smith Ohlrig ( Ryan ) is obviously a rapacious viper, to my eyes Dr. Quinada ( James Mason ) is a vile little snake-in-the-grass. On the big screen, his gleeful smile at the end, in combination with Dr. Hoffman's ( Frank Ferguson ) similar expression and Leonora's ( Barbara Bel Geddes ) vacuous smile, is even more sinister on the big screen than on a small or medium screen.

Now what makes you say that about Mason? Wasn't he trying to get her out of harm's way...and admittedly, for himself? And wasn't Ferguson just trying to keep Mason on the straight and narrow? What did you think of Ryan's little man-servant? Talk about sneaky snakey. And wassup with you and smiles??? :mrgreen:

If anyone wants to claim that this is Robert Ryan's greatest performance, I won't argue...

I wish you'd say that about my New York pizza. But I digest digress...

The only disappointment of the evening was the intro and outro to each of the films. I fear that relating the failings would lead me into a violation of the SSO Code of Conduct.

Now see man, THAT is the most intriguing thing you've said in your post. Give...give.
Last edited by CineMaven on August 23rd, 2012, 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CineMaven
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby CineMaven » August 23rd, 2012, 12:54 pm

Oh...okay. I read your "this" and got my answer.
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ChiO
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby ChiO » August 23rd, 2012, 3:23 pm

Wednesday night --

You are trying to make me go soft. Well, you can save it. I don't go soft for anybody.

I'm of two minds about THIS GUN FOR HIRE (Frank Tuttle 1942). It certainly is important historically. Coming at the start of the classic noir cycle, it establishes several of the conventions of the noir to following: John Seitz's lighting, Albert Maltz's hard-boiled dialog, the psychologically and physically injured obsessed and alienated killer for whom one has some sympathy (Alan Ladd), the femme fatale (of sorts) (Veronica Lake), the socially respectable man who is a perverse bad guy (Laird Cregar), the cop who is always a step behind (Robert Preston). And, yet, it just doesn't quite hold together for me. Perhaps it has too many interludes that bring the action to a halt. Perhaps Lake's character has too many roles to fill -- femme fatale, but not really; legitimate love interest, but not really; undercover government agent (really?) -- making the character too complicated for the guts of the story. Perhaps I keep envisioning a Paramount executive saying, "Look at those damn Warner Brothers. They got a short, homely guy with limited range and they put him in a trench coat and fedora, have him talk hard-boiled through immobile lips, and he'll be a star. We got one of those, except ours is good lookin'. We'll crush'em." And, for me, Ladd is no Bogart. Good enough, but not great. And that's the movie -- good enough, and even great at times (the opening 2-3 minutes; the final 15 or so minutes), but inconsistent. But it is the third consecutive film at Noir City 4 with Frank Ferguson.

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.

When is a movie with noir icons and near-icons Alan Ladd, Barry Sullivan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Ed Begley, Howard da Silva, Shelley Winters, MacDonald Carey and cinematography by John Seitz not a noir? When it's THE GREAT GATSBY (Elliot Nugent 1949). And, no, the above Fitzgerald quote is not from the novel or movie, but it seems appropriate.

Not a great movie -- stage bound (apparently based more on the play than the novel), too talky for my taste (its stage roots?), with characters' motivations compressed into exposition and leaving some of the action (of which there's not much) almost meaningless, and generally uninteresting visually -- but definitely worth seeing because it is still an interesting failure. (Note: It's not really a "failure" except if viewed solely through the relatively narrow prism of film noir. But I'm not bogged down with any baggage from the book. Read it 45 years ago -- yeah, I know, too young to appreciate it -- and don't remember a thing.) What did give me a glimpse of what coulda been is the last 15 or so minutes when it really gets into noir territory. The talk lessens and the camera moves and the tone is dark. For my money, Shelley Winters was the highlight (she often is for me) in a small, but pivotal, role. Yes, she dies -- but she never gets near the water (see A PLACE IN THE SUN, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, HE RAN ALL THE WAY, LOLITA, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE for Ms. Winters' way with water). Howard da Silva is good, but not his usual great, and is the deus ex machina of sorts that makes the ending noir. Unfortunately, the first 70-75 minutes isn't even in the nearest noir area code.
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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JackFavell
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby JackFavell » August 23rd, 2012, 9:12 pm

Hey, can you tell me how Ray wanted On Dangerous Ground to end? Was it with the driving/voices sequence? I never knew the ending was done by the studio...I still love it, the hands reaching, so difficult a connection for Ryan to make.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby ChiO » August 23rd, 2012, 11:24 pm

When is a movie with noir icons and near-icons Alan Ladd, Barry Sullivan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Ed Begley, Howard da Silva, Shelley Winters, MacDonald Carey and cinematography by John Seitz not a noir?

That sentence should have also included: voice-over narration and flashbacks within flashbacks.

JackFavell asked:
can you tell me how Ray wanted On Dangerous Ground to end? Was it with the driving/voices sequence?

I don't know whether Ray and Bezzerides wanted it to end right there, but they wanted Wilson to go back to the Corrupt City and, having confronted himself (in the form of Ward Bond's character), appear to be unchanged. The driving/voices sequence is as close to that as the movie gets. In short, they wanted an ambiguous -- and, therefore, a superior ending for me -- rather than the rather pat and sentimental ending.
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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JackFavell
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby JackFavell » August 24th, 2012, 9:08 am

I understand, it might have been a greater, much sadder film without that tacked on ending, but don't think it's pat. I find it a very tenuous ending, it leaves them up in the air, since there is no saying whether he can ever actually get over his past, nor she get over her brother's death.

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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby kingrat » August 24th, 2012, 11:50 am

Gosh, I'm apparently on the same page as the studio. I've always assumed that Ryan and Lupino have found love, and to me that's the logic of the story, that it is a redemption film. But then I find the first act about the cop's life, where Ray and Bezzerides expanded, too long for the structural good of the film. Perhaps the whole "cop on the edge" theme was fresh in the early 50s, but it's so familiar from TV and novels, let alone movies, that it doesn't fully engage me. It's done well, but the fresh and original part is the story in the snow country. Perhaps I'm more sympathetic to the audience's desire for a happy ending than I used to be.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby ChiO » August 24th, 2012, 12:35 pm

Thursday Night, the final night, aka The Big Bang Theory --

You don't taste like anyone I know.

That goes not only for Mike Hammer, but for the entirety of KISS ME DEADLY (Robert Aldrich 1955). Aldrich, with screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides and cinematographer Ernest Laszlo (what is it about Hungarian cinematographers?), dish out a delirious catalog of brutality and perversity without one iota of sentimentality to be found anywhere (OK -- Hammer does have a soft spot for Nick, but it's a guy-thing). It's the end of the world as we know it. And along the way, Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) provides a guided tour through the world as he knows it: sadism, misogyny, nymphomania, prostitution, homoeroticism, treachery (personal and national). And with Hammer and Velda as the only two survivors of the Apocalypse, just think about the world that follows.

I suddenly realized last night that I have been in denial...that all of the noir that I prefer over KISS ME DEADLY are very likely in that position because of some sentimental, nostalgic, or extra-cinematic reason. Noir gets no better than KISS ME DEADLY.

He finally got to the top of the world... and it blew right up in his face.

Sometimes I wonder if WHITE HEAT (Raoul Walsh 1949) is considered noir only because Borde and Chaumeton included it in A Panorama of American Film Noir: 1941-1953. I don't place it there (and there was an indication that the Noir Foundation folks are not in unanimity), but that's a small nit. Noir or not, it is a glorious movie, and certainly enhanced on a big screen. Watching Steve "Big Ed" Cochran, it is hard to believe that he didn't become a huge star. And for all the discussion of Cody's obsession with Ma Jarrett and its implications, have I just missed the discussion of Cody's relationship with Vic Pardo aka Hank Fallon (surrogate mother?) and its implications?

Well, as Nick in KISS ME DEADLY would say, Va-va-va-voom! Ka-pow! The series is over.
Last edited by ChiO on August 24th, 2012, 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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

RedRiver
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby RedRiver » August 24th, 2012, 12:56 pm

THIS GUN FOR HIRE is not one of the very best members of this scintillating genre, but it's perfectly entertaining. Dark, moody. The characters intrigue me. No complaints.

The relatively happy ending of "Dangerous" doesn't stand out as badly as some. LOST WEEKEND is flat-out harrowing, save a clearly tagged on "comfort call." RED RIVER would show more substance if the two nemeses didn't kiss and make up. I consider these superb movies with awkward, and clearly forced, finales.

Finally, is nemeses really a word? Or did I make that up? Nemesises...sis...

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby JackFavell » August 24th, 2012, 4:39 pm

I love This Gun for Hire, Red! It's one of my favorite noir films.

I think White Heat is more police procedural at the beginning, but man! What a nihilistic vision by the end! I think it's only noir if you sympathize with Cody the least little bit. And I do.

Love that you brought up the relationship between Cody and Vic/Hank. Cody immediately trusts him more than he trusts his own wife, which is weird. Well, maybe not, considering her character. For me, Vic/Hank is the worst lowlife scumbag who ever lived. He puts James Mason in CAUGHT to shame.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby ChiO » August 24th, 2012, 4:49 pm

For me, Vic/Hank is the worst lowlife scumbag who ever lived. He puts James Mason in CAUGHT to shame.

To quote Arte Johnson, Verrrryyy intereeesting.

Tell us more (about Vic/Hank, not Mason in CAUGHT).

(Please note that your response may be reported if it is suspected that you believe that stopping a psychopathic killer is something only a lowlife scumbag would do.)
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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JackFavell
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Re: Noir City Visits Chicago

Postby JackFavell » August 24th, 2012, 6:10 pm

ChiO wrote:
For me, Vic/Hank is the worst lowlife scumbag who ever lived. He puts James Mason in CAUGHT to shame.

To quote Arte Johnson, Verrrryyy intereeesting.

Tell us more (about Vic/Hank, not Mason in CAUGHT).

(Please note that your response may be reported if it is suspected that you believe that stopping a psychopathic killer is something only a lowlife scumbag would do.)


I understand that the cops have to stop Jarrett the psychopathic killer, but they are so lame, it's like they actually set him loose on the public! They are just AWFUL, right from the start. Incompetent and stupid, but worst of all BLAND, letting Cody get out of jail and then deciding that they want his fence more than they care that a cold blooded killer is loosed on the populace. They don't know what to do, so they send for Vic/Hank. He knows what should be done and he's not afraid to do it.

Cody is paranoid, but has a right to be, don't you think? Not one person in Cody's life has been loyal to him, except his Ma. According to Cody (and maybe to Hank Quinlan), betrayal is the worst sin a person can commit, but poor Cody is betrayed right and left, over and over again and without his knowledge. Kind of like the Prince at that rager in Vegas.

Hank knows how sensitive Cody is to betrayal of any kind, so Vic shows Cody how trustworthy he is. He plays on Cody's paranoia, mimicking it, pretending to want only what's best for Cody. He starts to take care of him. Tells him he's worried about him, mentions his suspicions about everyone and everything. He uses all his psychological training in order to gain Cody's friendship and trust. Cody comes to rely on Vic.

So Hank purposely takes over from Ma when Cody finds out Ma is dead. Cody suffers a blinding headache, and Hank, like Ma, massages his head, and comforts him. He's more than a friend by now, Cody treats him as a member of the family, a surrogate Ma, as you said.

But Hank is a dirty stool pigeon. He doesn't care about Cody. Hank purposefully steps over Cody's other henchmen until he seems like Cody's only real friend, the only one smart enough for Cody to respect and feel comfortable with.

Hank betrays Cody, easily, with no qualms, even after getting to know Cody and his weaknesses and his fear of being betrayed. He stalks Cody's moves all the time becoming closer to him. He tells the cops. Cody will go to the chair if he's caught but Hank doesn't care. He has pretended to be Cody's BEST friend, betrayed him in a worse way than anyone else in Cody's life.... Verna or Big Ed or Parker or Cotton. Why? Because he's paid to. For Money. Oh yes, I know he's idealistic and that's supposedly why he did it, but the bottom line is, he did it for the paycheck.

No wonder Cody finds it preferable to go up in a nuclear explosion than live with human beings who are whores and traitors. How comfortable would you be having Hank as your friend after Cody goes up in flames?
Last edited by JackFavell on August 27th, 2012, 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.


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