Noir Digest: Bad Girls Behind Locked Doors

They stopped making noir movies over 60 years ago, but the books on film noir keep on coming… and capsule reviews of four classic noirs

Budd Bottiecher's Behind Locked Doors (1948)

Books

They stopped making noir movies over 60 years ago, but the books on film noir keep on coming.  A slew of new titles will be published before year’s end:

Gloria Grahame, Bad Girl of Film Noir:  The Complete Career
Robert J. Lentz
Binding: Paperback
Release Date: July 5th, 2011

In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City
Imogen Sara Smith
Binding: Paperback
Release Date: July 5th, 2011

The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture)
Richard L. Edwards & Shannon Clute
Binding: Paperback
Release Date: December 13th, 2011

What Is Film Noir?
William Park
Binding: Hardcover
Release Date: September 16th, 2011

Movies

Noirs I have recently watched – those marked with an * be added to my list of essential noirs (!):

Des gens sans importance (People of No Importance – France 1956)
French fatalism meets neo-realism in a tragic story of working-class life.  A long-haul trucker falls for an aimless young waitress from a road-side café.  Great acting from Jean Gabin and the earthy Françoise Arnoul.  4½ stars


Senza pietà (Without Pity – Italy 1948) *
Black GI and a local girl on the skids in a doomed love triangle cannot escape tragic entrapment. Compelling neo-realist melodrama with a decidedly noir denouement.  4½ stars


Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice – Italy 1949)
Classic neo-realist socialist melodrama.  Homme-fatale destroys a passionate innocent.  A bad girl is redeemed and homme-fatale meets a gruesome noir end in an abattoir. 5 stars


Guele d’Amour (Ladykiller – France 1937) *
A fatalistic tale of amour-fou fuelled by a callous femme-fatale.  Hunk Jean Gabin and the luminous Mireille Balin star.  Looks decades ahead its time. 4½ stars


Klute (1971) *
Alan J. Pakula’s signature reworking of classic noir motifs in a masterly study of urban paranoia and alienation.  Jane Fonda earned an Oscar for her brilliant portrayal of articulate b-girl the target of mystery psychopath.  5 stars


Behind Locked Doors (1948)
An entertaining Bud Bottiecher b-movie.  PI Richard Carlson enters a sanatorium undercover to flush out a crook.  A feast of metaphors for Bottiecher aficionados and good entertainment for the rest of us.  Moody lensing from Guy Roe (Railroaded!, Trapped Armored Car Robbery, The Sound of Fury).  3½ stars


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