Favorite Noirs For Noirvember

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I count Film Noir as one of my favorite movie genres. I have viewed quite a few, but I know that there are so many more films for me to see in this genre. Considering that I really became a fan of this genre about eight years ago I have some catching up to do. That being said, in honor of Noirvember, here is a list of my favorite Film Noir movies.

Blade Runner  (1982) – A movie that I have seen countless times since 1982, yet to this day I still see new and different things with repeated viewing. A sci-fi  film that is noir to the core. Rick Deckard is one of Harrison Ford’s greatest movie characters.

Out Of The Past (1947) – “Why don’t you break his head Jeff?” One of the many great lines uttered by the lovely Kathie Moffat. Robert Mitchum, the second coolest actor in old time Hollywood, after Humphrey  Bogart, is the doomed protagonist. If someone asked me, “What is film noir?” I would show them this fantastic movie.

Dead Reckoning (1947) – Allegedly Bogart wanted Lauren Bacall for this movie. Bacall was a far better actress than Lizabeth Scott, however Scott was better suited for this femme fatale role.

In A Lonely Place (1950) – Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame have great chemistry here. As a viewer you really want their relationship to work out……but this is a film noir. Is it fate or just bad timing that rules in the end? Bogart plays Dixon Steele, a nice, likable  guy, when he’s not being cynical, sarcastic, hot tempered, paranoid, reckless and violent.

Double Indemnity (1944) – “I was thinking about that dame upstairs and the way she looked at me.” Walter Neff’s words after meeting Phyllis Dietrichson, one of noir’s great femme fatales. Little did he know where that fateful meeting would lead him. Contains some of the best dialogue of any film noir movie that I have seen.

Dark Passage (1947) – Bogie and Bacall together for the third time. A prison break, plastic surgery and a quest for justice. As outlandish as it is, I love premise of this film. Bogie and Bacall are great together, once again.

Conflict (1945) – There’s that man again, yes another noir featuring Humphrey Bogart. Sydney Greenstreet and Alexis Smith costar. One of Bogart’s lesser known movies, it features a great story, great performances and great production.

The Big Combo (1955) A great cast, great dialogue and fantastic,(in some cases iconic), visuals. Richard Conte is incredibly ruthless and sadistic portraying crime boss Mr. Brown. A surprisingly gritty and brutal film for 1955. Special mention must be made in regards to Ted de Corsia and Helene Stanton, both great in supporting roles.

T- Men (1947) A compelling story, a great cast and fantastic characters. Charles McGraw is great as one of the movie’s main tough guys, Moxie. Many great noir visuals and one of the most heartbreaking scenes in film noir.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) – Fantastic cast, great story. One of the best film noirs around. As in many noirs fate wins in the end.

Detour (1945) – A fantastic B-Movie and one of the best examples of what film noir is about. If educating someone new to noir I would show them Out Of The Past and then Detour.

Troy T.

Philip Marlowe, Private Eye

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Originally aired in 1983 and 1986, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye was an early attempt at original programing by HBO. It ran two short seasons and totaled 11 episodes. Powers Boothe stars as Philip Marlowe, a wise cracking, hard drinking, tough talking, out for justice P.I.

Each episode features a tale very loosely based on one of Raymond Chandler’s short stories. Overall Boothe’s Philip Marlowe is nowhere near as cynical as Chandler’s version. Boothe’s Marlowe is actually a very likable guy. But he is tough as nails and able to take a hard punch or two. Whether he’s shot at, sapped or beaten by the mob he stays on the case.

The eleven episodes are filled with dames, dolls and femme fatales. The bad guys include henchmen, mobsters, gamblers, hitmen, dirty cops, corrupt politicians and gangsters. In each episode Boothe delivers plenty of hardboiled voice over narration to move the stories along. And there is an abundance of snappy Raymond Chandler like dialogue. The following are some great examples from the show.

“I’m a bad girl Mr. Marlowe. I don’t need money, men bring it to me, tied up with a ribbon.”

“Beat it before I punch your teeth down your throat. “

“I’ve got great faith you could be rehabilitated. After they electrocute you,”

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Overall I really love each episode, some are better than others but they are all rather enjoyable. As a bonus a great jazz score helps to set the mood of the episodes. The only real downside, at times, is the show’s obvious low-budget. In places the show is a bit hampered by poor 1980’s production values and mediocre acting by some of the supporting cast. These are really just minor issues. The star here is Powers Boothe and his strong performances really carry the series. The second season vastly improved on the production values and featured a more film noirish look.

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I was fortunate enough to have seen the original episodes back in the 1980’s when they first aired. The series, and Powers Boothe, made a huge impact on me. Boothe as Marlowe  is my favorite portrayal of the character. A few years ago when I discovered that all of the episodes were collected in a three dvd set I was ecstatic. Of the eleven episodes my favorites include The Pencil, Spanish Blood, Guns At Cyrano’s and Red Wind. I would highly recommend this series for fans of mysteries, P.I. stores, film noir and Powers Boothe.

Troy T.

 

Inner Sanctum, An Obscure Film Noir

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I recently watched an obscure film noir titled Inner Sanctum. After watching the film, which was released in 1948, I realized why it is so obscure. The film contains a typical noir plot, typical noir themes, along with a typical noir protagonist, played by Charles Russell.  Overall it is an enjoyable, but average film.

Good points include a few scenes with some great examples of noir lighting and a solid performance by Russell. Not so good points include bits of misguided, misplaced humor and so-so acting by some of the supporting cast.

Despite the movie’s short comings it does contain one of the best lines that I have heard in a noir movie. Russell shares a scene with actress Mary Beth Hughes, the closest thing to a femme fatale in the movie. After some dialogue between the two Russell says to Hughes, “You’re very pretty when your lips aren’t moving.” Classic noir dialogue, in a not so classic movie. Although the movie is an average film noir, with a running time of 62 minutes it’s not a bad use of 1 hour.

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