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 The Film Noir Thread

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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:01 am

I wouldn't consider a voice over an absolute necessity. The shadow photography, tough protagonist, femme fatale are all key. I would replace flashbacks with any non-linear story-telling. "Laura" is a good example of this.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:06 am

The absurdity of these lists is that if that's the criteria it makes Blade Runner a film noir.
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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:44 am

Well Blade Runner certainly has a lot of noirish elements. I think the reason why you might resist qualifying it as such is its science-fiction setting.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:48 am

Well, SF noir is something of a sub-genre. Funny, how the human instinct is to categorise everything.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:56 am

I haven't done a whole lot of reading on film noir as a genre, but I really admire Paul Schrader's "Notes on Film Noir." (I stumbled on it when I picked up SCHRADER ON SCHRADER at Ambler's recommendation.)

In the essay, Schrader identifies four elements that played into the rise of film noir:

1. War and post-war disillusionment
2. Post-war realism
3. The German influence
4. The hard-boiled tradition

Schrader notes that 2 and 3 would seem to be incompatible--German Expressionism is at odds with realism--but then goes on to note that "it is the unique quality of film noir that it was able to weld seemingly contradictory elements into a uniform style," noting that film noir exhibits an "exhilarating combination of realism and Expressionism."

For Schrader, true film noir ended in the mid-fifties, and TOUCH OF EVIL was the genre's epitaph.

It's a view I can accept (though I haven't read too many competing claims in-depth), but it leaves open the even trickier question: "What is Neo-Noir?"
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:52 am

Noir isn't a genre, it's a style, and one that died in the 50s. There's no such thing as Neo-Noir.
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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:18 am

Then how would you categorize "Chinatown"?
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:21 am

A New Hollywood thriller.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:31 am

Style or genre, there doesn't seem to be any consensus on what noir is. However,I think Schrader's comment that there was often a fascinating contrast between the downbeat storytelling and highly stylized visuals is key to me.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:53 am

Largo's Shark wrote:
Noir isn't a genre, it's a style, and one that died in the 50s. There's no such thing as Neo-Noir.
That there is a set of films from after the 50s that consciously draws on the heritage of noir is undeniable. To me, the label neo-noir seems quite suitable for those films.
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:57 am

Harmsway wrote:
Largo's Shark wrote:
Noir isn't a genre, it's a style, and one that died in the 50s. There's no such thing as Neo-Noir.

That there is a set of films from after the 50s that consciously draws on the heritage of noir is undeniable.

They're post-modern thrillers and drama, since most of them don't just draw from noir or strictly American cinema.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:09 am

Many of them draw predominantly from noir, even if there are other influences.
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:11 am

Still doesn't qualify them as neo-noir.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:18 am

Largo's Shark wrote:
Still doesn't qualify them as neo-noir.
Why not? If noir doesn't have a hard-and-fast definition--and it doesn't, even if you want to act dogmatically as though it does--then this is even more true of neo-noir.

One could easily define a neo-noir film as a film that predominantly draws from the heritage of noir. I don't see the problem with using the label in that way (and that's largely how the label is applied, anyhow).
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:25 am

Harmsway wrote:
(and that's largely how the label is applied, anyhow)

I thought you knew me, Harmsy Baby.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:20 am

You're killing this thread all over again, Sharky. Put your teeth away.
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:32 am

Harmsway wrote:
Largo's Shark wrote:
Still doesn't qualify them as neo-noir.
Why not? If noir doesn't have a hard-and-fast definition--and it doesn't, even if you want to act dogmatically as though it does--then this is even more true of neo-noir.

One could easily define a neo-noir film as a film that predominantly draws from the heritage of noir. I don't see the problem with using the label in that way (and that's largely how the label is applied, anyhow).

agreed, close enough is good enough in this case

it comunicates the idea that if you enjoy the original 40s film noir, you may also enjoy this

"neo" anything is usually not purely a restatement of the original, it will incorporate some subsequent developments in taste and style

speaking of noir, I watched "Angel Face" last week, big Bob Mitchum and young Jean Simmons, very good
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:37 am

Anyone here seen Aldrich's THE BIG KNIFE? It's on instant and I was wondering whether it was worth a look or not.
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The White Tuxedo
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:14 pm

Harmsway wrote:
Anyone here seen Aldrich's THE BIG KNIFE? It's on instant and I was wondering whether it was worth a look or not.

I saw some of it, years ago. Memories are vague. It's not on par with KISS ME DEADLY or anything, but it's got Palance and Steiger.
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:57 am

The White Tuxedo wrote:
Harmsway wrote:
Anyone here seen Aldrich's THE BIG KNIFE? It's on instant and I was wondering whether it was worth a look or not.
I saw some of it, years ago. Memories are vague. It's not on par with KISS ME DEADLY or anything, but it's got Palance and Steiger.
It was the combination of Aldrich and Palance that got me interested. But I'm guessing that since you didn't finish it, it didn't exactly impress you.
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The White Tuxedo
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:23 am

Harmsway wrote:
The White Tuxedo wrote:
Harmsway wrote:
Anyone here seen Aldrich's THE BIG KNIFE? It's on instant and I was wondering whether it was worth a look or not.
I saw some of it, years ago. Memories are vague. It's not on par with KISS ME DEADLY or anything, but it's got Palance and Steiger.
It was the combination of Aldrich and Palance that got me interested. But I'm guessing that since you didn't finish it, it didn't exactly impress you.

Might not have been in the right mood. Don't let me dissuade you from seeing it.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:38 am

I'll probably still give it a look.
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HJackson
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:21 pm

Wonder if there's any life left in this thread.

I've been delving into the genre some more recently, trying to ration out the few cast iron classics I have still to see (Gun Crazy, They Live by Night, D.O.A. etc) by indulging in some of the less recognised entries and re-watching some of the classics that have slipped out of mind. Of the classics I'd not previously seen, Detour and On Dangerous Ground stand out. I pretty much agree with Ambler's criteria for an ideal noir in the OP, but even though On Dangerous Ground doesn't have any kind of femme fatale figure (Ida Lupino plays a completely helpless blind woman who draws Robert Ryan's brutal cop into some kind of romantic redemption) it still strikes me as prime noir even with the sappy ending added by Lupino after Ray left the project. Films that have sudden shifts in scenario halfway through usually strike me as disjointed, but Ryan's performance really lets the entire thing hang together flawlessly. The striking environmental transition from the dark alleyways and police offices of the first half hour to the brilliant, white, snow-covered terrain up north adds a great deal to his arc.



The Postman Always Rings Twice, by contrast, suffers a great deal from the several shifts in scenario, especially since the basic set-up with the cuckolded husband and murder plots is so well executed - I liked this one a lot more than I did the first time though. I'm not sure I'd call Lana Turner a femme fatale since she seems to be led on by Garfield much more than she leads him on, but this is clearly an iconic noir picture.

What's most interesting though is that even once you get past the greats and start watching the minor works, there's a lot more of value here than you'd find in most forgotten Hollywood fare. Beware My Lovely recouples Ryan and Lupino in a scenario that gets pretty boring pretty quickly, but maintains interest with Robert Ryan's sinister performance as a psycho amnesiac and some great weirdo shots like a view of Ryan coming down the stairs seen in the reflection of Christmas tree baubles. I want to say Budd Boetticher's The Killer is Loose subverts the Cape Fear revenge plot, but I can't because it was made a year before the source novel was even published. Joseph Cotten has to hunt down and stop an escaped prisoner - a total dweeb who gets caught up in a bank heist - before he can murder his wife. Cry of the Hunted descends into a dull buddy movie as Barry Sullivan and a rival lawman coast leisurely through the Louisiana bayou to track down a violent, escaped criminal, but it contains an excellent chase sequence early on and a weird nightmare brought about by swamp water consumption.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:43 am

HJackson wrote:
Wonder if there's any life left in this thread.

Or in this forum.

HJackson wrote:
What's most interesting though is that even once you get past the greats and start watching the minor works, there's a lot more of value here than you'd find in most forgotten Hollywood fare.

That's how it seems to me. Unlike current fare, these films were aimed at adults and have universal stories that resonate; betrayal never gets old. Couple that with higher production and artistic values than anyone might expect from an assembly line product and it's easy to understand why today's audiences still pay attention.


Last edited by Erica Ambler on Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: The Film Noir Thread   Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:49 am

"Detour" is certainly a film ahead of its time. Produced on a relative shoe-string budget as well, IIRC.
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