The Art of the B: Riff-Raff (1947)

Riff Raff (1947) Riff Raff (1947)

Riff-Raff (1947) is a routine RKO comedy-adventure movie that has a certain flair with snappy dialog and an engaging cast. It would be  a stretch to call it a noir, but the opening sequence is so visually noir and accomplished that it should not be missed.  The movie opens at an isolated air-strip late at night in pouring run, as a plane waits for a passenger who finally arrives late.  This sequence running for 5 minutes  is totally without dialog, and brilliantly establishes a mood of dark mystery.

The kudos must go to DP George Diskant  (A Woman’s Secret (1949), They Live by Night (1949), Port of New York (1949), The Racket (1951), The Narrow Margin (1952), On Dangerous Ground (1952), and Kansas City Confidential (1952)) and first-time director Ted Tetzlaff  (The Window (1949), Johnny Allegro (1949), and Gambling House (1950)), who formerly had a long career as a cinematographer starting in the silent era.

I have edited the opening sequence  in this short clip to give you the flavor of this stunning opening.

11 thoughts on “The Art of the B: Riff-Raff (1947)”

  1. From the lizard to the tension, sans dialog, these are the films I enjoy, much more than the newer ones, although they are OK.

    You can always convey a lot, without a lot of action and dialog, to be sure!

    Nicely done and Cheers!

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  2. Hi! Tony,
    Tony said,”Riff-Raff (1947) is a routine RKO comedy-adventure movie that has a certain flair with snappy dialog and an engaging cast. It would be a stretch to call it a noir, but the opening sequence is so visually noir and accomplished that it should not be missed…”

    I have to agree with you, wholeheartedly, that the opening of the 1947 film Riff-Raff has a very “noirish” beginning.

    Unfortunately, I have never watched this film and most importantly, you’re not along when it comes to not classifying this film as a film noir…
    …neither do authors (Spencer Selby, in his book)Silver, Ward, Ursini in their new revised book.

    Personally, I thought it was a film noir after checking out singer andrewkarnavas…film noir website.
    By the way, what a nice trailer, and nice poster/photograph of actor Pat O’Brien and Anne Jeffreys too.
    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;-D

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  3. Alas I have not seen this one, but Tony has given this a vigorous treatment here. And as far as George Diskant goes, he simply one of the greatest of all cinematographers, and this is indeed an absolutely stunning opening, with superlative use of lighting. I also love the idea of extending your examination of film noir to include films that aonly partially qualify.

    I echo Dee Dee’s Best Wishes for happiness on Mother’s Day, if indeed you are celebrating it in Australia on this day. I know the UK has it at a different time.

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  4. I can see the ABC 1 logo in the bottom right corner. I must have missed this one…I didn’t know this was an Australian site.

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  5. Yes Reverend 😉 I am in Sydney.

    ABC week-nights can be a treasure trove of RKO noir. Last night for example, they had a noir double: The Company She Keeps (1951) and Woman on the Run (1947).

    Tony

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  6. …It’s true Tony, this opening ranks amongst the great movie openings. With a little more editing this could be a tight little gem! As it is, it’s still a very good watch.

    It owes a great deal to ‘The Maltese Falcon’ ’41 that it tries very hard to imitate, even with the private eye’s name ‘Sam Spade’ being changed to ‘Dan Hammer’. Script and Cinematography are top flight. Percy Killbride and a good general cast help a great deal.

    KenR

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