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Peace through
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Is Casablanca film noir? Not in my book.

And you may be shocked to hear me say that I do not consider The Maltese Falcon to be film noir.

Early film noir? William Wyler's version of The Letter, and Citizen Kane

There are two basic camps for students of film noir- those who consider film noir to be a genre, and those who consider film noir to be a style. I am firmly and for all time in the latter camp. To illustrate this, I'll point out that there are film noir Westerns. The argument for or against goes much, much deeper than that, but my single observation should suffice.
quote:
Originally posted by GWbiker:
"Nightmare Alley"
Man oh man. Now we are into the realm of something special. I could write paragraphs on this film.

Tyrone Power was a film star who played dashing leading men in just about all of his films and he had wearied of it. He read William Lindsay Gresham's novel Nightmare Alley and used his star power to bring the novel to the screen so that he could play the morally ambiguous protagonist Stan Carlisle.

Tyrone Power's star status meant that the film would get A-list everything- director, cinematographer, film editor, production crew.

Edmund Goulding directed the film with great intelligence and did not talk down to his audience. The film assumes the viewer to be perceptive and savvy. The film has a feel to it like much of Stanley Kubrick's work and that of Welles' Citizen Kane- which is that the film feels like it's being made a decade ahead of its time.

Cinematographer Lee Garmes was a true pioneer in Hollywood, He was Marlene Dietrich's favorite cinematographer and was cinematographer for those Josef von Sternberg films that starred Dietrich- Morocco and Shanghai Express, for example. He photographed the 1932 version of Scarface and showed his chops in the absolutely gorgeous color Western film, Duel in the Sun. In Nightmare Alley, the scenes of the seedy carnivals are all inky black and just gorgeous.

Fox studio head Daryl F. Zanuck hated the film and forced an ending on the film which packs no punch, unlike the final lines of Gresham's bleak novel. Zanuck pulled the film from circulation prematurely. Then a long battle with the estate of the film's producer took this film out of circulation for many years. I did not see the film until 2005, when it was finally released on DVD.

There is so much to say about this film and its characters.



A randomly chosen screen cap from Nightmare Alley

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Posts: 84935 | Registered: January 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For those of you confused about the plot of The Big Sleep, you can thank the production code office and censorship.
Raymond Chandlers book, which the movie was based on, is a gritty story of homosexuality, teenage pornography, drug use and violence. All these themes were deemed inappropriate for movie audiences of the time.
Read the book. It will help you understand the movie. Kinda.


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The third man. Orson Welles performance was superb.


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OK para, why do you not consider The Maltese Falcon film noir? If you care to, please explain. (I'm among the shocked ones. Eek)



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Posts: 1394 | Location: Washington (State) | Registered: August 30, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by parabellum:
That's not film noir.

The term Film Noir refers to a stylistic movement in films made from 1940 to 1959- if a film does not fall within this time range, its not film noir, no matter the style or subject matter of the film. End of story.

I would presume that if you think of film noir as a style (I agree with you by the way) that you would think that any film from any year could be filmed in the noir style?

For instance, the "international style" is an architectural style that came to prominence in the 20's. But imo, if I design a building in that style today, it is still an international style building. Or say, I play bebop-style jazz, regardless of it's the 1940's or 2018.

Although I do understand the creation of the style "neo noir" to mean more like a revival, as in Greek Revival, to use an architectural term describing a new building that uses Classical Greek details.



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quote:
Originally posted by parabellum:
That's not film noir.

The term Film Noir refers to a stylistic movement in films made from 1940 to 1959- if a film does not fall within this time range, its not film noir, no matter the style or subject matter of the film. End of story.


So the newer stuff, that is reminiscent of Film Noir......what do we call that? I think I've been calling it "noir style". Is there an official term?


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"The Lost Weekend". Ray Milland, 1945.

The Sherlock Holmes movies made during WWII. Basil Rathbone.


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quote:
Originally posted by YellowJacket:
I would presume that if you think of film noir as a style (I agree with you by the way) that you would think that any film from any year could be filmed in the noir style?
No.

Why is it called "film noir"? This stylistic movement has a French name because it is an ex-post facto classification for films that were already being made.
Because of WWII, the French did not see American films for about 5 years. It's just as with not seeing a friend for a long time; gradual, day-to-day changes are not apparent, but if you don't see your friend for 5 years, then any changes to their appearance or their character are immediately apparent. In the summer of 1946, films from Hollywood began being shown in France.
In short order, French film critics viewed The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Woman in the Window, Laura, Murder My Sweet and The Lost Weekend. These critics noted what Borde and Chaumeton referred to as an "unusual and cruel atmosphere". What they were noticing was the maturation of film in the post-silent film, post-economic depression era.
These films were already being made when the French gave this stylistic movement its fancy name.
Were there no films bearing noir characteristics before 1940? Of course there were. For example, a Warner Brothers film from 1932(!) called Two Seconds. Were there no films bearing noir characteristics being made after 1959? Of course there were. For example, Cape Fear in 1962.

But...


After the publication of Panorama du Film Noir Americain in the 1950s, directors became aware of what they had been doing unconsciously, and once this happened, the style became stilted, self-conscious, and parodied and as a result, the style became cliched and began to fade. All the elements which can comprise film noir existed before film noir and continued to exist after film noir.

Films made after 1959 in the style of film noir are referred to as neo-noir.

The end marker for film noir is specified as Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow from 1959, or Welles' Touch of Evil from 1958. Looking at Welles film, one can easily see the self-consciousness of the style. Wise's film? Well, look at that opening title sequence. That Saul Bass title sequence belongs to the next decade- the 1960s, and not the 1950s.
Witness the preoccupation of the film with race relations. 1959 was on the cusp of "The New Frontier". Film noir did not disappear, but it either morphed into something else (Odds Against Tomorrow) , or it became self-parody (Touch of Evil).



Here's director Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly) on the set of Attack! in early 1956 with his copy of Panorama du Film Noir Americain. Take a look at Kiss Me Deadly and tell me that the makers of that film were not aware of a thing called "Film Noir". Self-awareness killed film noir.



BTW, the dust cover of Aldrich's copy of that book shows Richard Widmark in Dassin's Night and the City, which is just about the bleakest of the bleak in all of film noir.

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quote:
Originally posted by Jim Shugart:
OK para, why do you not consider The Maltese Falcon film noir? If you care to, please explain.
Because of the appearance and tone of the film. The interior scenes are all done in pre-war Hollywood high-key lighting. The tone of the film also is pre-war. To me, Huston's directorial debut- while a fantastic film- has more in common with Warner Brother's pre-war crime film cycle than it has to do with, say, Wilder's Double Indemnity or Lang's The Woman in the Window, in which the tone is deadly serious and in which the lighting is chiarascuro and not high-key.

Listen, if you put all film noir buffs in the world into one big room and posed the question "Is the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon film noir?", I would be in the smallest of minorities. Some would disagree with me because they can argue for this film being noir by citing facts about the film, and others would disagree with me simply because they have been told time and again that The Maltese Falcon is film noir, and they just parrot what they hear.

Either way, trust me, I know I am almost entirely alone in my opinion, but TMF does not look or feel like film noir to me. Simple as that.


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quote:
Originally posted by akcopnfbks:
So the newer stuff, that is reminiscent of Film Noir......what do we call that? I think I've been calling it "noir style". Is there an official term?
The accepted term is "neo-noir". Films made very early in the noir cycle, which bear some characteristics of film noir- are known as "proto-noir".


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quote:
Originally posted by GWbiker:
"The Lost Weekend". Ray Milland, 1945.
This film appeared on early lists made by the French in post WWII France, but as Naremore pointed out in More than Night, this film disappeared from lists later on. Naremore did not offer an explanation for this, but I can: In The Lost Weekend, no one dies. There is no homicide, which is almost an essential element of film noir, but not quite because of exceptions like The Lost Weekend and, say, Obsession. No one dies in these films, but they are most assuredly film noir, because they possess Borde and Chaumeton's "unusual and cruel atmosphere", which is, aside from the two decade time constraint, the only truly essential element of film noir.


It's like peeling an onion, isn't it? You keep peeling back layers until- well, until there's nothing. This is one of the reasons I have become a student of film noir- because it's so misunderstood and misinterpreted, and to truly understand it takes years, decades.
 
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Para at his best ! thank you , I have missed you ,

learning is the best reason I come here , you
impress with your camera knowledge your photog skills, and gun stuff and now your movie knowledge.
thanks .

for years I have thought that this movie was in the category

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026725/

but now I know, thanks

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Speaking of Widmark, his portrayal of Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death is hard core film noir villainy. Very creepy, even now.


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Posts: 7490 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Speaking of Widmark, his portrayal of Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death is hard core film noir villainy. Very creepy, even now.


Yeah I had forgotten about that role Widmark played. Have you seen Timothy Carey in The Killing? Ultra creepy and weird in a different sort of way.
 
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I just saw The Killing and Carey rates right up there on the creepy scale. One of the things I enjoy about Noir is the great bad guys. My two favorites are Cagney as Cody Jarrett and Widmark as Udo. Too bad Carey was not in more films.


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Posts: 7490 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's a Kubrick film, so it could only be so bad. I like Elisha Cook also. The little fucker acted in a lot of films. When I picture him, it's usually as Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon.



When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth. - George Bernard Shaw
 
Posts: 13526 | Location: Virginia | Registered: July 03, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I found an online scan of the English translation of Panorama du Film Noir Americain


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quote:
Originally posted by CQB60:
The third man. Orson Welles performance was superb.


Love the film. The zither is distracting, bordering on monotonous. I know I’m missing something, because people seem to love the score.
 
Posts: 904 | Registered: October 07, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The zither sets the tone of the film. I can't imagine The Third Man without it. The year the film was released- 1949- the zither theme was a big hit on the radio.

Carol Reed was a masterful film maker. If you like The Third Man, check out Odd Man Out.


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