Noirsville: New film noir blog

Arouse (1966)
Arouse (US 1966) an intruiging neo-noir featured at Noirsville


Film noir aficionado Ray (“Cigar Joe”) Ottulich has launched a new blog where he will collect his film noir reviews from various forums, and post new reviews and noir-related snippets. The blog is appropriately titled Noirsville.

Ray over the past few years has introduced me to a number of b-movies and little-known neo-noirs, and Noirsville is a very welcome addition to the film noir blogosphere.

Click here to read his latest post on Arouse an intruiging and very obscure neo-noir from 1966.


NOIR CITY DC: The 2009 Film Noir Festival

Alias Nick Beal (1949)

The Film Noir Fndation is presenting the NOIR CITY DC: The 2009 Film Noir Festival  over October 24 – November 4.

The program features new 35mm prints of these classic noirs:

  • ACE IN THE HOLE (1951)
  • GUN CRAZY (1950)
  • ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949)
  • THE BIG COMBO (1955)
  • SHAKEDOWN (1950)
  • OUT OF THE PAST (1947)
  • THE KILLERS (1946)

Full details here.

The First Rule of Film Noir: “A Dame With a Past and a Hero With No Future”

Out of the Past

Check out this recent primer from BBC4:  The Rules of Film Noir.  Odd that it makes no mention of British Noir. I was also disappointed that little attribution was given to the film-makers with most of the attention on the stars.  The talking heads also spoke in generalities.  The best sequence is where a British cinematographer takes you through a series of tracking shots from The Sweet Smell of Success with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in conversation as they walk-stop-walk on a Manhattan street. Pure artistry. But zero credit to the brilliant work of DP James Wong Howe!

A Lighter Shade of Noir: Matinee Double-Bill

A Woman's Secret (1949) Hollywood Story (1951)

A Woman’s Secret (1949) and Hollywood story (1951), two flicks that carry a film noir classification on IMDB which I watched in the past week, I found  to be hardly noir at all.

A Woman's Secret (1949)

A Woman’s Secret, an RKO-feature, has great credentials. The movie is directed by Nicholas Ray from a screenplay from Herman J. Mankiewicz, with photography from George Diskant, and starring Maureen O’Hara, Melvyn Douglas, and Gloria Grahame.  It starts off noir with a shooting off-screen, and the use of flashback in the narrative, but plays out as sophisticated melodrama with a biting wit, and some really funny slapstick when the wife of the investigating cop does her own snooping with a handbag carrying fingerprint powder and a giant magnifying glass. The story of the conflict between a naive young singer (Grahame) and her controlling mentor (O’Hara), has shades of All About Eve but this motif is not taken too seriously.  The two female leads are charming, with Grahame displaying an engaging gift for comedy.  Melvyn Douglas is as debonair as you would expect and takes the role of narrator and referee.  Great fun.

Hollywood Story (1951)

Hollywood Story is a programmer from Universal that has a 50s television feel.  Richard Conte is a producer in LA that wants to make a movie about the murder of a big silent movie director 20 odd years before, and his delving into the past has violent consequences.  A  strictly b-effort that plays well as a whodunit with noir atmospherics, and some really funny lines.

Huzzah!! NOIR: An exciting new graphic novel project

Huzzah!! NOIR
©2009 I.N.J. Culbard. Used with Permission.

A group of nine very talented graphic artists/writers have launched an exciting new blog project titled Huzzah!! NOIR.

Each contributor in turn will be contributing a page that develops the story of a washed-up 40s boxer searching for a dame in a dark noir metropolis. Shades of Murder, My Sweet?

So far four pages are up with stunning noir graphics and a promising pulp noir story-line.

The Sound of Film Noir

Phantom Lady (1944)

Robert Cumbow of the Parallax View blog has posted a very interesting article on film noir music scores discussing its origins, development,  and major composers from the early noirs to recent neo-noirs:

The sound of noir—plaintive sax solos, blue cocktail piano, the wail of a distant trumpet through dark, wet alleyways, hot Latin beats oozing like a neon glow from the half-shuttered windows of forbidden nightspots. You walk the sidewalks of big, lonely towns, with no destination in mind, following only the sounds, guided by them, wondering where they come from, what hurt souls cry out with such tones.

Mr Cumbow also highlights CD compilations of note.

Angel Eyes: Femmes-Noir

This is an elegant homage by Rob in L.A. to some of the iconic femmes-noir. Make sure your speakers are on as the haunting rendition by Bruce Springsteen of Angel Eyes is integral to the experience.


Song: “Angel Eyes,” music by Matt Dennis, lyrics by Earl Brent. Performed by Bruce Springsteen.

Film clips:

Marie Windsor in THE NARROW MARGIN (1952)
Cleo Moore in ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951)
Claire Trevor in BORN TO KILL (1947)
Veronica Lake in THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942)
Ella Raines in PHANTOM LADY (1944)
Louise Brooks in PANDORA’S BOX (1928)
Jean Gillie in DECOY (1946)
Jane Russell in HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1952)
Anne Baxter in THE BLUE GARDENIA (1953)
Lauren Bacall in THE BIG SLEEP (1946)
Jane Greer in OUT OF THE PAST (1947)
Rita Hayworth in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948)
Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann in PERSONA (1966)
Simone Simon in CAT PEOPLE (1942)
Clara Bow in MY LADY OF WHIMS (1925)
Ingrid Bergman in ARCH OF TRIUMPH (1948)
Monica Vitti in L’ECLISSE (1962)
Marie Windsor in THE NARROW MARGIN (1952)
Anna May Wong in PICCADILLY (1929)
Ella Raines in PHANTOM LADY (1944)
Gloria Grahame in THE BIG HEAT (1953)
Ava Gardner in THE KILLERS (1946)
Lizabeth Scott in DEAD RECKONING (1947)
Hedy Lamarr in ALGIERS (1938)
Ella Raines in PHANTOM LADY (1944)
Gene Tierney in LAURA (1944)
Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE (1945)
Dorothy Dandridge in ISLAND IN THE SUN (1957)
Constance Dowling in BLACK ANGEL (1946)
Mary Meade in T-MEN (1947)
Rita Hayworth in GILDA (1946)
Peggy Cummins in GUN CRAZY (1950)
Lizabeth Scott in DEAD RECKONING (1947)
Fay Helm in PHANTOM LADY (1944)
Louise Brooks in PANDORA’S BOX (1928)
Marlene Dietrich in SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932)

Film Noir Digest: News from Noir City 7

While the City Sleeps (1956)

Noir City 7: Best Essay

San Francisco Bay Guardian critic Max Goldberg has written what I think is the best essay to come out of Noir City 7 –  Late Edition posted on his text of light blog:

“… The newsroom is as much a part of noir’s topography as the police station, boxing ring or nightclub. Deadline-U.S.A. (1952), Scandal Sheet (1952), The Big Clock (1948), While the City Sleeps (1956):  the titles bow to the newspaper’s ubiquitous pulse by slinging shop-talk into nighthawk poetry. The press curries a surplus of centralized power in this cycle of films, exerting a primary influence over the whole urban mechanism…”

Noir City 7: Reports from Alexander Coleman

Noir fan and erudite film blogger Alexander Coleman has posted at Coleman’s Corner in Cinema some outstanding reports from and reviews of noirs screened at Frisco’s Castro Theatre at Noir City 7, including:

These posts and other noir reviews are also hosted at Dark City Dame’s Noirish City.

Noir City 7: Report by Hell on Frisco Bay

Brian from Hell on Frisco Bay in his report on Noir City has a lot of interesting news on upcoming noir-related events and impressions of some of the noirs screened this year.   Particularly exciting news is his report that Eddie Muller is working on an international noir series, and that while Muller was in Buenos Aires to meet the archivists who made last summer’s announcement of rediscovered footage lost from Fritz  Lang’s Metropolis, he came across a trove of  Argentine films from the 1930s made by the great noir cinematographer John Alton.

From The Vaults of Universal: Seven Classic Films Noir

Starting Monday February 16, the Heights Theatre in Minneapolis is screening a short series of classic films noir:

February 16 7:30pm This Gun For Hire (1942)
February 23 7:30pm Criss Cross (1949) | 9:15pm The Killers (1946)
March 2 7:30pm The Big Clock (1948)
March 9 7:30pm The Blue Dahlia (1946) | 9:15pm The Glass Key (1942)
March 16 7:30pm The Phantom Lady (1944)

Jean-Pierre Melville, Director: Notes on the French Auteur’s Career

This month’s edition of  Bright Lights Film Journal features an article by Garry Morris on Melville, whose noirs include Bob le Flambeur, Le Doulos, Le Samourai, & The Red Circle .

Robert Ryan: A Moon for the Misbegotten

This month’s edition of  Bright Lights also  features an article by Dan Callahan on noir icon Robert Ryan.

Lost Anthony Manne B-Noir to be Restored

Strangers in The Night (1944)

Eddie Muller announced at Noir City 7  that  The Film Noir Foundation together with the UCLA Film and Television Archive will restore Anthony Mann’s lost 1944 b-noir Strangers in the Night.  When I read this I was thunderstruck –  I have this movie recorded from somewhere and have never watched it!  You now know which movie I have lined up next for viewing…

Film Noir and The Doors

The Doors - Strange Days
Cover of The Door’s album Strange Days

As a child of the 60s, my favorite rock band is The Doors. The band’s innovative music and the dark subterranean lyrics of Jim Morrison never cease to enthrall me.  In previous posts I have featured lyrics from the band’s last album LA Woman:

At this year’s Sundance Festival, veteran feature-filmmaker Tom DiCillo will release his first documentary, When You’re Strange (2009), which documents the LA band’s rise in the mid-60s.

In an interview on SPOUTblog, DiCillo said: “I’ve always, always been turned on by music, and by film. The Doors’ music is extremely cinematic. Their music is very dense and highly emotional. It deals a lot with character, and blood, murder and a lot of crazy things.”

Ray Manzarek, the band’s keyboardplayer, agrees that The Doors were inspired and influenced by cinema.  Both he and Jim Morrison came out of the UCLA film school. “That’s where we became friends”, Manzarek said, “We’re definitely cinematic.” Morrison and Manzarek took film classes taught by director Josef von Sternberg.  Manzarek said von Sternberg inspired many of The Doors lyrics regarding moral ambiguity and dark eroticism.

Film Noir Digest: Wicked As They Come

Wicked As They Come (1956)

Noir City 7: Wicked as They Come Trailer

NOIR CITY 7, the 2009 San Francisco Film Noir Festival, kicks-off this Friday, January 23, at the Castro Theatre. On Saturday night at 7pm, special guest Arlene Dahl will introduce the pulp noirs Wicked as They Come (1956), and Slightly Scarlet (1956), in which she stars.

The Noir City program blurbs on these movies:

Wicked as They Come: Columbia, 94 min. Dir. Ken Hughes.“What she wanted out of life… she got out of men!” Arlene Dahl is a sizzling sensation as Kathleen Allen, a woman who learns early that sex is how she’ll get ahead in the world.

Slightly Scarlet: 1956, RKO, 99 min. Novel-James M. Cain, Dir. Allan Dwan. Arlene Dahl steals the show as sexy kleptomaniac Dorothy Lyons (opposite titian-tressed “sister” Rhonda Fleming) in this eye-popping adaptation of Love’s Lovely Counterfeit. Camera virtuoso John Alton translates noir into lurid, saturated color. It’s 50’s paperback covers come to life!in which she stars.

Seattle International Film Festival French Noir Series

This French Crime Wave 1937-1981 series at the SIFF traces the history of French noir from 1937 to 1981. Full details here.

Friday, January 16—Rififi, 7 p.m. Pepe le Moko, 9:20
Saturday, January 17—Mississippi Mermaid, 2 & 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 18—Le Cercle Rouge, 2:15 & 7 p.m.
Monday, January 19—Garde a vue, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 20—Classe tous risques, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 21—Elevator to the Gallows, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 22—The Sicilian Clan, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 23—Bob le Flambeur, 8 p.m.
Saturday, January 24—Diabolique, 1 & 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 25—Coup de Torchon, 2, 4:30 & 7 p.m.
Monday, January 26—Pickpocket, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 27—The Champagne Murders, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 28—Riptide, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 29—La Piscine, 7:30 p.m.
January 30-February 5—Shoot the Piano Player, daily 7:30 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 2:15, 4, & 7:30 p.m.

Classe tous risques

Cornell Woolrich: Dreaming, then dying

Zac O’yeah has written an an interesting feature article on the life and work of noir novelist, Cornell Woolrich, for the Wall Street Journal.

More Film Noir at NY’s Dryden Theatre

New Yorkers can plunge into the murky waters of essential film noir every Thursday in January and February at the Dryden Theatre:

January 8 Murder, My Sweet
January 15 Ride the Pink Horse
January 22 Raw Deal | T-Men
January 29 Road House | The Hitch-Hiker

February 5 In A Lonely Place
February 12 Pitfall | Nightfall
February 19 Double Indemnity
February 26 The Lady from Shanghai

More info.

Deep Discount on Film Noir Classics Collection – Vol. 1 DVD Set is offering this 5 DVD set for half-price at US$24.95 – that’s a low 5 bucks for each movie!

The pack contains these classic films noir: