Classic Film Noir

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob Tomlin, Nov 6, 2002.

  1. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Although not a "genre" itself, I really do like "Film Noir" films. So, what exactly constitutes "Film Noir"? This isn't really an easy question, but here is one of the better definitions that I have seen:
    "The primary moods of classic film noir are melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt and paranoia. Heroes (or anti-heroes), corrupt characters and villains include down-and-out, hard-boiled detectives or private eyes, cops, gangsters, government agents, crooks, war veterans, petty criminals, and murderers. These protagonists are often morally-ambiguous low lifes from the dark and gloomy underworld of violent crime and corruption. Distinctively, they are cynical, tarnished, obsessive (sexual or otherwise), brooding, menacing, sinister, sardonic, disillusioned, frightened and insecure loners (usually men), struggling to survive and ultimately losing.
    The females in film noir are either of two types - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women; or femme fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women. Usually, the male protagonist in film noir has to inevitably choose (or have the fateful choice made for him) between the women - and invariably he picks the femme fatale who destructively goads him into committing murder or some other crime of passion.
    Film noir films (mostly shot in grays, blacks and whites) show the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love, and they emphasize the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience. An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion that anything can go wrong, dingy realism, futility, fatalism, defeat and entrapment are stylized characteristics of film noir. The protagonists in film noir are normally driven by their past or by human weakness to repeat former mistakes.
    Film noir is marked by expressionistic lighting, disorienting visual schemes and skewed camera angles, circling cigarette smoke, existential sensibilities, and unbalanced compositions. Settings are often interiors with low-key lighting, venetian-blinded windows, and dark and gloomy appearances. Exteriors are often urban night scenes with deep shadows, wet asphalt, rain-slicked or mean streets, flashing neon lights, and low key lighting. Story locations are often in murky and dark streets, dimly-lit apartments and hotel rooms of big cities. [Oftentimes, war-time scarcities were the reason for the reduced budgets and shadowy, stark sets of B-pictures and film noirs.]
    Narratives are frequently complex and convoluted, typically told with flashbacks (or a series of flashbacks), and/or reflective voice-over narration. Amnesia suffered by the protagonist is a common plot device. Revelations regarding the hero are made to explain/justify the hero's own cynical perspective on life."
    How's that for a long ass definition? [​IMG]
    Anyway, what are some of your favorite Film Noir Films?
    Some of mine include:
    The Night of the Hunter
    Odd Man Out
    The Third Man
    Double Indemnity
    The Man Who Wasn't There
    Touch of Evil
    The Maltese Falcon
     
  2. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    There are literally tons of noirs that I enjoy. Noir and gangster / crime films are probably my favorite category of film. Some of my favorites include:
    On DVD:
    The Big Heat - Fritz Lang's powerhouse from 1953 that features solid performances by Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame and a fairly young Lee Marvin ( who is a complete bastard in this film. )
    Gilda - not sure if this is a noir, but it has some of the traits, and cinematography that evokes the feeling of noir. Probably my #2 film of the '40s in terms of cinematography only behind Mildred Pierce - which will be released in February '03. ( Yeeaa! )
    Un Flic - probably one of the weaker films of Jean Pierre-Melville; hampered somewhat by a laughable FX sequence in the middle of the film, but still quite effective. Especially the opening 10 minutes of the film.
    Kansas City Confidential - more of a gangster film, but has some of the traits of noir. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to hear that this film influenced Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Not a great film, but an enjoyable entry in the crime / noir class of films with some terrific bad guys including Jack Elam, Neville Brand, and Lee Van Cleef.
    Some that I have on LD:
    The Set-Up - A terrific 1949 Robert Wise film with one of my alltime favorite actors of the 40's to 60's - Robert Ryan in one of his best roles.
    Out of the Past - One of the definitive noirs. A must see for fans of noir. Solid from start to finish with great performances by Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer. ( Loosely remade as Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward, and a small supporting role by Jane Greer. )
    Only seen on TCM:
    99 River Street - a perfect little gem of a noir that never mis-steps. A great film that I hope eventually lands on DVD. Highly recommended.
    Kiss of Death - Great editing, pioneering (??) use of location shooting, and a breakout peformance by Richard Widmark as the grinning, psychotic gangster Tommy Udo. I believe that Fox will be releasing this on DVD in 2003 as part of their year long classics program.
    I could go on for awhile, but I'll leave it at that.
    - Walter.
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Not a genre. Sure. [​IMG] Laura.
     
  4. Elizabeth S

    Elizabeth S Producer

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    Body Heat
     
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    The Big Sleep
    The Big Heat
    Double Indemnity
    L.A. Confidential
    The Stranger
    Chinatown
    The Maltese Falcon
    Body Heat
    The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
    Sorry, Wrong Number
    Gilda
    The Killers
    Laura
    Dark Passage
    Out of the Past
    Crossfire
    This Gun for Hire
    They Won't Believe Me
    The Blue Dahlia
     
  6. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    My favorite noir films?
    Just about all of the above!
    Damn, I thought this was a tourney. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    My top 5 favorite Noirish films
    Point Blank
    The Killing
    White Heat
    Notorious
    Blade Runner [​IMG]
     
  8. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  9. Gabe D

    Gabe D Cinematographer

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    With a fairly broad definition, these are some of my favorite films noir:

    All the King's Men
    The Asphalt Jungle
    Basic Instinct
    The Big Clock
    The Big Heat
    The Big Sleep
    Blade Runner
    Blood Simple
    Blue Velvet
    Body and Soul
    Body Heat
    Call Northside 777
    Chinatown
    The Conversation
    D.O.A.
    The Desperate Hours
    Diabolique
    Double Indemnity
    Gaslight
    Gilda
    High Sierra
    Key Largo
    The Killers
    The Killing
    Kiss Me Deadly
    L.A. Confidential
    The Lady from Shanghai
    Leave Her to Heaven
    Laura
    The Lost Weekend
    M
    The Maltese Falcon
    The Manchurian Candidate
    Memento
    Mildred Pierce
    Murder, My Sweet
    Niagara
    The Night of the Hunter
    Notorious
    Out of the Past
    A Place in the Sun
    The Postman Always Rings Twice
    Pulp Fiction
    Rebecca
    Shadow of a Doubt
    Sorry, Wrong Number
    Strangers on a Train
    Sunset Blvd.
    Suspicion
    Sweet Smell of Success
    Taxi Driver
    The Third Man
    Touch of Evil
    White Heat
    The Wrong Man
     
  10. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    For vintage Widmark,
    -Night and the City
    Not the De Niro version.
    -Kiss of Death
    Not the Nic Cage version. [​IMG]
    Laura and The Big Heat are my personal favourites though.
     
  11. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    The Maltese Falcon
    L.A. Confidential
    The Third Man
    Double Indemnity
     
  12. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    Some great movies mentioned here. I also really like Detour.
     
  13. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The Maltese Falcon is one of the first, and IMO, the best.

    "You can't kill me, I have the falcon."
    "You may have the falcon, but we certainly have YOU."
     

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