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Noir Films

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » February 18th, 2014, 6:12 pm

I love that story, Masha! They should make a movie of it. Working in a bank and keeping your nose completely clean sounds harder to me now than digging your way into a vault with a spoon. I have to say, for the first 8 years, it was not a bad job. We were a small local bank that genuinely tried to help the customers and know them (think Fredric March in Best Years of Our Lives). After that, our branch manager quit, and the upper management started trying to compete with the big bank conglomerates, trying to emulate their practices and policies, hiring bigwigs who wanted to be cutthroat business men. It was not a good thing. The only thing we really had going for us in the first place was our position as 'the friendly neighborhood bank' (which was our slogan up to that point). When they decided to get rid of the slogan, I should have known it was the beginning of the end. I was never so happy to quit a job 5 years later.

Hey, wait a minute... your story sounds a bit like The Lavender Hill Mob! Without the Eiffel towers.

I hate to think what my bosses would have thought had they known of my passion for heist films. For years, I also carried a well written piece on Pretty Boy Floyd in my wallet. I would have had to admit I admire and empathize with outlaws far more than bankers, had anyone bothered to ask my opinion.

RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Postby RedRiver » February 22nd, 2014, 3:58 pm

Wendy, there's a James M. Cain book that centers largely around a bank and its emplotees. It's called MONEY AND THE WOMAN. It's not one of the great crime novels. But you might enjoy it, given your professional experience.

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » February 22nd, 2014, 5:07 pm

Thanks Red! I'll have to check it out, you know your stuff!

I knew it was time to quit the bank when I saw DOG DAY AFTERNOON for the first time. In the film, the bank tellers were allowed to wear pantsuits and nice slacks. My bank's dress code was so strict, women could not wear the outfits that were popular in 1971. :roll: :roll: :roll:

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » February 24th, 2014, 8:07 am

Hahahahaha! That is too funny. :D

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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » February 26th, 2014, 9:36 am

Finally I saw HELL DRIVERS (Cy Endfield 1957). In spite of some positive reactions here on SSO over the past two years, I was prepared to be disappointed, fearing that it would be a rehash of THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, THIEVES' HIGHWAY or WAGES OF FEAR. Although there are certainly elements of those movies (speeding trucks and much tension), I was very pleasantly surprised. It can withstand any comparison to those films. The more appropriate comparison to my mind is ON THE WATERFRONT - perhaps inevitable when one considers the two directors' respective reactions to HUAC and the blacklist. A fabulous work with excellent performances by Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan, Peggy Cummins, Herbert Lom, et al.
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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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: Noir Films

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 26th, 2014, 11:28 am

ChiO wrote:Finally I saw HELL DRIVERS (Cy Endfield 1957). In spite of some positive reactions here on SSO over the past two years, I was prepared to be disappointed, fearing that it would be a rehash of THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, THIEVES' HIGHWAY or WAGES OF FEAR. Although there are certainly elements of those movies (speeding trucks and much tension), I was very pleasantly surprised. It can withstand any comparison to those films. The more appropriate comparison to my mind is ON THE WATERFRONT - perhaps inevitable when one considers the two directors' respective reactions to HUAC and the blacklist. A fabulous work with excellent performances by Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan, Peggy Cummins, Herbert Lom, et al.


Glad to have you on board. A good companion piece to Hell Drivers might be The Long Haul (1957):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg8BzCjngS0[/youtube]

kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » February 26th, 2014, 4:16 pm

ChiO, welcome to the Hell Drivers fan club. Glad you got to see it. Endfield probably intends a political allegory of sorts--the bosses want the workers to compete with each other rather than uniting to improve working conditions--but there's plenty of excitement and, as you mentioned, good performances.

kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » February 27th, 2014, 2:26 pm

I enjoyed The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), even if there was less noir styling than you would expect from a Robert Siodmak film. A good story and a top-notch cast. George Sanders is cast against type as the shy guy who appeals to the young and lovely Deborah (Ella Raines). The problem is that his sister Lettie (Geraldine Fitzgerald) has absolutely no intention of letting any woman take him away. She’s clever and manipulative, and Fitzgerald makes her pleasing and sweet at times, and thus a more formidable opponent. Some actresses would make Lettie eyeball-popping evil from the get-go, but that wouldn’t be nearly so interesting.

Moyna MacGill (the real-life mother of Angela Lansbury) plays the widowed sister Hester, who’s under few illusions about her sibling. Sara Allgood is the Irish maid, and Harry Von Zell plays the pharmacist who’s part of the barber shop singing group Uncle Harry plays for (and yes, it’s George Sanders playing the piano). The plot takes several interesting twists, and though I wasn’t crazy about the ending imposed by the Production Code, there are even elements to like in that. Sanders is believable as the nice shy man who enjoys small-town life.

I also liked Dark Waters, which ChiO named his favorite film for 1944. This is the best of the four Andre De Toth films I’ve seen: I liked Pitfall quite a bit, whereas the two westerns, Springfield Rifle and Carson City, were good enough though not really special. Dark Waters is set in the swamps of Louisiana, and De Toth sets up many interesting camera shots, along with plenty of noirish shadows. This would be a great example of the “house noir” ChiO was telling us about a couple of years ago. Contemporaries would probably have called it a Gothic thriller or a “damsel in distress” story. It has much in common with Gaslight.

Lovely Merle Oberon plays a shipwreck survivor who goes to live with her only living relatives, whom she’s never met. Fay Bainter and John Qualen play her aunt and uncle; Thomas Mitchell actually runs things; and Elisha Cook, Jr. has somehow weaseled his way down to Louisiana to be the overseer of the plantation. The dude even thinks that Merle would be a nifty conquest for him. Merle begins to believe that she’s going mad from the trauma of the shipwreck—or is someone trying to drive her crazy?

Help for our heroine comes from the local doctor (Franchot Tone) and, secretly, from a servant (Rex Ingram) who has been discharged. Rex Ingram plays his role with immense dignity; he’s the moral center of the film. Nina Mae McKinney has a small part as the maid. It’s fun to see several actors play villains who are not usually cast that way. There’s not much doubt about what’s happening or who the baddies are, but Dark Waters still held my interest throughout. Thank you to ChiO for the recommendation. One of my favorite touches was right at the beginning, as headlines about the shipwreck are superimposed on Merle Oberon's face.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » February 27th, 2014, 3:14 pm

This is the best of the four Andre De Toth films I’ve seen: I liked Pitfall quite a bit, whereas the two westerns, Springfield Rifle and Carson City, were good enough though not really special.

There is one that is arguably better (yes, it has Timothy Carey AND Sterling Hayden): CRIME WAVE (1954).

My favorite De Toth film is a Western, but it is also noir to the core (that happens when a movie has Robert Ryan AND Elisha Cook, Jr.): DAY OF THE OUTLAW (1959). In fact, put it with THE NAKED SPUR and JOHNNY GUITAR as one of my three favorite Westerns.
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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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » February 28th, 2014, 6:10 am

One of the more difficult things for me is to figure out why I find a movie boring.

Wednesday night I saw, on the big screen, KISS THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS (Norman Foster 1948). Joan Fontaine is not nearly as engaging as she was in a Max Ophuls film earlier in the year. Lancaster's eighth film and sixth film noir, his performance was okay. Maybe it was the writers, from whom I expected much: the soon-to-be blacklisted Walter Bernstein and Ben Maddow, but their best writing was yet to come. Overall, the movie was more romantic melodrama* than film noir, and not nearly as dark as the romantic melodramas of Max Ophuls and Douglas Sirk.

But there was one thing that justified the $5 admission price: the cinematography. Russell Metty. I tend to set Karl Freund, Rudolph Mate and James Wong Howe over to the side - three early masters with long and deep filmographies who approach the "beyond criticism" category. John Alton and Burnett Guffey have been next in line, especially in the Noir world, but I'm ready to have Metty join them on the basis of this movie (oh, and THE STRANGER, RIDE THE PINK HORSE, NAKED ALIBI, CRASHOUT, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, WRITTEN ON THE WIND, TOUCH OF EVIL, A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO DIE, THE MISFITS). Angular shadows from nowhere criss-crossing the frame, set and faces. Beautiful.

* Maybe it's the title, which ranks with KISS ME DEADLY, TOUCH OF EVIL and BLAST OF SILENCE as the most evocative in Noir. Seeing that title and being told it's a film noir results in one interpretation of it and creates a certain image in my brain. If I were told it's a romantic melodrama, I would interpret the title differently and have another image in my mind. Think of it as the title of a Horror movie and see what that gets you.
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 Films

Postby JackFavell » February 28th, 2014, 9:37 am

I fell into immediate love with Kiss the Blood Off My Hands. I think you are right when you say it has to do with expectations. I had none when I saw it. Absolutely nothing was known to me about this movie.

I agree that it is romantic melodrama, and if you are expecting noir, perhaps you'd be disappointed. But I'm very glad you got to see it, with all those caressing velvety deep shadows of Russell Metty's. I am quite sure he is one of the reasons I fell so hard for this one. The feel and tone of the film spoke to me deeply, almost subconsciously. It was like falling into the black... we all know how warm and friendly it is.

And then there's Robert Newton...one of my favorite actors. Not warm and friendly.

For me, this is one of Burt's most appealing performances. I guess I like that caged animal quality he had in this one and The Killers. I like watching him run and move. And yeah, it's lushly romantic. That doesn't hurt at all.

I also love the running, jumping start it has. It immediately puts you inside the film, Burt's eye-view. Some of those camera angles are sooooooooo GORGEOUS. Burt running and jumping over the fence for instance, or his leap across the ledges, or his rushing right at the camera down a dark alleyway. Just spectacularly beautiful. Yes, I think I can say that the camera work and lighting work to create such an exciting moody, sombre view that I was blinded to any defects within the picture at all.

Where did you happen to see this one ChiO? I know it's available on youtube in parts.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84v8-rx228A&list=PL58D3A966FA1944D2[/youtube]

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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » February 28th, 2014, 10:04 am

At a theatre just down the street a few blocks, The Patio.

It is now the occasional home to the Northwest Chicago Film Society, which screened the film, a beautiful 35mm print from Universal.
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 Films

Postby JackFavell » March 2nd, 2014, 11:32 am

Gaaaaah.... I'm jealous you got to see a 35 mm print of it. I'd swood dead away at the beauty of it.


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