Article: There’s more to Gilda than just an iconic hair flip by Rita Hayworth

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Gilda is out on Criterion Blu-Ray and DVD! Mike D’Angelo has a nice article on the classic film noir over at A.V. Club on the film.

Read the full article here:

http://www.avclub.com/review/theres-more-gilda-just-iconic-hair-flip-rita-haywo-230796

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Article: 10 Great European Neo-Noir Films

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Jessica Kiang over at Indiewire has put together a nice little list of European neo noir films. I will be adding a few of these to my queue for sure. Is there any European neo noir films that should have been mentioned that were not?

Here is a link to the full list and article:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/10-great-european-neo-noir-films-20160121?page=1

Review: The Steel Trap

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The Steel Trap is a classic film noir from 1952, directed and written by Andrew Stone. This was the second time that Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright starred in a film together, following Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt 9 years earlier. In Shadow of a Doubt they played uncle and niece, in Steel Trap they play a happily married couple.

Cotten plays Jim Osborne, an employee at a bank, where he has worked for 11 years and has moved up the ranks some. The beginning of the film shows him doing the same routine going to work, every day, over and over again.

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He has a crazy idea in his head that just will not go away. He keeps thinking about how he could get away with robbing the bank and not get caught. He starts studying in the library different laws and extradition rules. When he decides to do it and run to Brazil, he takes his wife with him. His wife, Laurie, played by Teresa Wright, is our barometer of all that is good.

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Cotten does a great job with the internal dialog, thinking things out and deciding what the next step is. This film really gave a sense of claustrophobia, as Jim seems to get in a deeper hole all the time and the audience roots for him to get away with the money. In the end this film asks the questions, what really makes you happy in life? and does money equal happiness?

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Without giving to much away, I really liked how this film was structured. I also liked the moral questions it proposes. I guess most things noir asks this question, but Jim has a little more to lose then some of our noir protagonists.

This is a very good film, and different enough to be entertaining and fresh. If you are a fan of either of the stars, or just a fan of classic film noir, this movie is worth your time.

 

Article: ONE OF THE GREAT UNSUNG CRIME NOVELS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

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BARRY GIFFORD ON THE LONG WAIT FOR ELLIOTT CHAZE’S BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL

Here is an article by Barry Gifford, a former editor over at Black Lizard Books about the forgotten classic Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. Another interesting author and book that time has forgotten. I actually heard about this book over on Goodreads and have it downloaded on my Nook. I hope to read it out soon after reading this article. It also looks like a film adaption is in the works. Maybe this book and author will be rediscovered by a new generation of noir fans. Read the full article here:

http://lithub.com/one-of-the-great-unsung-crime-novels-of-the-20th-century/

Book Review: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

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The Long Goodbye is the 4th book I have read by Raymond Chandler and I have loved all four. This one was published in 1953 and is the longest and I got to admit, towards the end I wondered why Chandler didn’t just end the book at a few different points. I got to say I’m glad it continued on and the ending was worth it. Those that have seen the Altman film and read this book have argued through out the years which ending is better, the original book or the updated film? I got to say as a big fan of Chandler and the Marlowe character the book is my choice.

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I watched the film last year and here is my review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/19/review-the-long-goodbye/

The Long Goodbye of course revolves around the hardboiled private detective that all hardboiled private detectives to come would be influenced by, Philip Marlowe. In this book Marlowe is in his early 40’s but hasn’t changed much over the years. He is still a quick to respond smart mouth that can get him in trouble from time to time. He is still as tough as they come and mix that with his genius level of street smarts makes for an interesting character. Marlowe is still single and I think he prefers it that way. Marlowe is still in his world of Southern California mixing it up with street level crime and the rich that hire him.

The story starts out with Marlowe getting to know a new friend, Terry Lennox. Lennox likes his drinking and is married to a wealthy woman. Lennox has a mysterious past and the scars on his face to prove it.

Lennox calls Marlowe late one night asking for a ride to Mexico. He tells Marlowe not to ask any questions and Marlowe doesn’t want any answers anyway. When Marlowe gets back to L.A., he is thrown in jail after not giving any information about Lennox’s whereabouts. Lennox is wanted for the murder of his wife and the police are looking for him.

When Marlowe gets out of jail he is soon on to his next case, but he still has questions about Lennox and his guilt.

This book has a lot of twist and turns and Chandler’s writing is amazing as always. The reason I have not read this book before is because I was reading them in order. I read this one out of order and did not feel it mattered. I plan on going back and reading everything by Chandler in time. If you are a fan of noir and hardboiled fiction, it doesn’t get much better then this classic. A must read for everybody that reads books in my opinion, you will not be disappointed.

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I really wish a classic film noir adaption of this book was made in the 1950’s. Could you imagine Bogart reprising his role as Marlowe, with Sydney Greenstreet playing Lennox’s father-in-law. Maybe Robert Ryan as Rodger Wade and Lizabeth Scott as Eileen Wade? Oh the possibilities!

True Detective Season 2-What Went Wrong?

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I don’t have H.B.O., so I had to wait 6 months for the Blu-Ray release of Season 2 to get a chance to watch this. In that 6 months I have seen reviews from critics and other looks at the series from novelists and fans. All of these reviews were negative, I did not read one thing about this second season that was positive. Some of these looks where things like how Ray Donovan was the better show on Sunday nights or how Fargo Season 2 got it right and True Detective got it wrong, etc. Needless to say, I had low expectations of this when I started watching it.

Season 1 of True Detective may have been the best first season of a television series in history, it maybe the best season of television ever. I really was amazed by Nic Pizzolatto story and the acting was second to none.  Here is my look at Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/23/re-watching-the-best-of-2014-true-detective-season-1/

Season 2 is a totally new cast, story and location, the only thing that is the same is Pizzolatto is in charge again and we are going to cover another story of crime. From this alone Pizzolatto was set up to fail. How could he ever match his masterpiece of season 1? How could he create a completely new world with no connection to season 1 and make it just as good?

I don’t believe Pizzolatto failed at all! Where Season 2 fails is only when it is compared to something else. Stop comparing this 8 hours to something else and just enjoy it for what it is.

For me Season 2 was a great modern take on California’s noir world, a homage to noir of the past. I think Pizzolatto took cues from past greats and put them in a big stew and threw them into modern Southern California. I seen hints of Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald and a lot of Ellroy in the story. I seen scenes that looked a lot like scenes from High Sierra, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Confidential, and others. The best thing I liked about this series is he took some of classic film noir tropes and characters and threw them into a modern setting and gave them an original spin.

Lets break down each of the four main characters:

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Colin Farrell is Detective Ray Velcoro

Ray is our classic hardboiled detective for this story. He takes a bit of the cop looking for revenge, and a pinch of dirty cop, add a man that has lost his way and his family. The twist here is we learn what set this good guy into a downward spiral of evil.

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Taylor Kitsch is Officer Paul Woodrugh

Woodrugh is a motorcycle cop who is part of a tabloid news story involving a famous actress. Woodrugh maybe the most classic film noir style character of the group. He is back from the war and that war has effected him. He is trying to fit into a society, he no longer recognizes. He is trying to hide his homosexual tendencies by making a nice family life everybody expects of him.

 

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Rachel McAdams is Detective Ani Bezzerides

Ani is the cop with the dirty mouth. The cop that uses the opposite sex and throws them away. The cop that is as hard as nails and you want by your side in a knife fight. In today’s world this is the cop that needs to go to sexual harassment meeting for their affairs with co-workers. Pizzolatto flips the scrip here and makes this cop a female.

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Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon

Frank is a gangster who has worked his way up to the top and used his life savings to go legit with a land purchase. Frank is our classic gangster getting out, but never really does. He made it to the top by surrounding himself with loyal guys he trusts, and that may be his downfall.

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Kelly Reilly and Abigail Spencer play opposites. One will do anything to stay with her husband and the other will do anything to get as far away as possible from her ex-husband.

Pizzolatto uses a lot of classic film noir tropes in this basic 8 plus hour movie. We see the heist film, the gangster film, the hardboiled cop film, and the revenge film all rolled into one. There is a couple McGuffins, one in the form of some rare blue diamonds and another in the form of a hard drive with some compromising films on it. We have double crosses, corrupt politicians and police, a prostitution ring, a freaky psychologist(played by an almost unrecognizable Rick Springfield), a dark and dingy bar, a night club where it is easy to get whatever you want, a semi legit casino and it goes on and on.

Pizzolatto’s plot is not easy to follow and doesn’t take you on simple A to B trip. This series takes some thinking and may even need to be watched more then once to get everything out of it. Some didn’t like how all the questions are not answered, but I think it is more like the answers they got are not the ones they wanted. This may upset the average viewer, but is right up the noir fan’s alley. Not having a clue on how a show is going to end is half the fun of the ride. So what went wrong with Season 2? Personally I don’t think anything went wrong. I really enjoyed this season. I think what went wrong is when it is compared to the first…or a totally different show. No Season 2 is not as good as Season 1, but it is still very good. I look forward to a third season and hope Pizzolatto takes on some different film noir tropes, like a really interesting femme fatale, maybe a location in New York, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. How about taking on the subject of drug dealers and using the Canadian/American border as a focal point? Whatever you do, Mr. Pizzolatto, I look forward to watching it.

Film vs. Film: M(1931) vs. M(1951)

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Here we look at the German Expressionist all time classic M and the 1951 Hollywood film noir remake M. A story about a serial killer of children and vigilante justice. Can a re-make hold a candle to one of the all-time greatest films ever? Well let’s step into the cage for an all out noir brawl.

Round 1: Direction and Cinematography

M from 1931 is directed by one of the all time greats, Fritz Lang. Even Lang has said this is his favorite film of his career. Released in 1931, this film broke new ground in so many ways. This movie also used filming techniques that all film noir would crib from over 9 years later.

M from 1951 is directed by one of film noir’s favorites as well, Joseph Losey. This was Losey’s third film and one he didn’t want to do. He didn’t figure he could re-make a work by Lang, but was broke and took the job. He would go on to make many more classics after this film. The cinematography of this film is very good looking. The street scenes of Los Angeles are a great time capsule to see. Some of the scenes might even be more creepy then the original, like the mannequins scene. Though there is nothing wrong with Losey’s direction, we are talking about Lang and one of the most influential films ever, so we need to give this round to the original. M(1931) 1-M(1951) 0

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Round 2: Screenplay 

M(1931) is written by Fritz Lang and his then wife Thea von Harbou. They really wanted to make a film about the most horrifying criminal they could imagine. Loosely based on a real case of a serial killer targeting children, Lang and Harbou could not think of anything more scary to make a film about. Still to this day, this subject mater is fairly taboo in film and television. Can you imagine how shocking this story would have been in 1931?

M(1951) Leo Katcher, Norman Reilly Raine and Waldo Salt took the original script and revised it for an American setting and audience. They added another dimension to the script with the drunk lawyer character played by Luther Adler. They did take away the element of the beggars union hunting to find the killer, which did take a bit away from the story.

I have to go with the original again in this round. Though the remake made some interesting changes, those changes are not enough or good enough to sway the judges. M(1931)2-M(1951)0

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Round 3: Male Lead

Peter Lorre became a household name around the world from this film. He is so scary, yet you feel sorry for him at the same time, it is a brilliant performance from one of the all time greats.

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David Wayne steps into some big shoes and bravely does the character totally different then Lorre. It is a great performance where he actually seems a bit scarier then Lorre in a few scenes. Maybe the scariest part of Wayne’s performance is that he looks a lot more normal then Lorre when he is hunting for his next victim.

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This round has to go to Lorre, though I liked Wayne’s performance. Lorre just has that it factor that makes him so watchable in almost anything. M(1931)3-M(1951)0

Round 4: Supporting Cast

The original film used real life criminals and the beggars had some amazingly interesting looks. Small people, men with wooden peg legs, and the blind are very interesting to watch.

The 1951 version has Raymond Burr, Howard Da Silva, Jim Backus and Norman Lloyd just to name a few of the cops and gangsters that appear in this film. Though this is a close one, but I have to give the round to the remake. M(1931)3-M(1951)1

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Though the remake showed a bit of brilliance in the last round, the fight goes to the original by a landslide. Though both films are good in their own right and the remake is a very good film noir the original is a masterpiece. Both are worth your time to seek out and watch. Now that a remastered version of the 1951 film is available, look for a copy.

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Favorite Tidbit: Both of these films where banned at one time or another. The original was banned a few years after its release in Germany by the Nazi party. Both Lang and Lorre fled Germany because of their Jewish heritage. The remake was basically shelved after some of the crew was put on the Communist Blacklist. Losey would soon flee to Europe after this film.