Caged (1950): “the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face”

Caged (1950)

… the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
grave visitations
what is it that calls to us?
why must we pray screaming?
why must not death be redefined?
we shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
and whirl on a pane of glass
an afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
the hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women…”

Patti Smith – Dancing Barefoot (1979)

Caged (1950) is a gritty hard-hitting social problem picture from Warner Bros. A young woman is jailed after she is an unwitting accomplice in a gas-station robbery with her husband, who is killed during the heist.  The sheltered girl on admittance to a women’s prison discovers she is pregnant, but her condition does not protect her from the humiliation and brutalisation of prison life. Melodramatic but with a strong social conscience that targets corrupt authorities, the movie is downbeat and pessimistic.  Eleanor Parker in the lead is powerfully convincing, and is supported by a strong female cast, including Agnes Moorehead as a compassionate and crusading  superintendent, and Hope Emerson as a corrupt and sadistic block matron.  Though set-bound the regimentation and claustrophobia of incarceration is given a strong expressionist treatment by director John Cromwell and DP Carl Guthrie.  A moody evocative score from Max Steiner adds emotional depth.

The trailer which I have put together  is deliberately impressionistic and focuses on the anguished transformation of Parker’s character from scared girl to street-wise dame…

Blues in the Night (1941): Noir Counterpoint

Blues in the Night (1941)

Blues in the Night (Warner Bros 1941) is a fascinating musical noir melodrama about a budding white jazz band scripted by Robert Rossen, directed by Anatole Litvak, and atmospherically lensed by Ernest Haller, with a b-cast, including a very young Elia Kazan, as a dizzy jazz clarinetist. These impeccable leftist credentials are reflected in the plot and the resolution which talk to personal integrity and the values of solidarity and loyalty. Amazingly for the period an establishing scene in a police lock-up respectfully credits the music’s black roots. Tied up in all this is a noir arc with a hood played by Lloyd Nolan and a killer performance by Betty Field (an actress who sadly went nowhere) as a cheap femme-fatale.  The socially aware feel-good ending is tempered by the noir-like denouement for the hoods and the femme-noir.

This movie is a serious contender as a seminal film noir,  remembering The Maltese Falcon was made in the same year, Stranger On the Third Floor only a year earlier in 1940, and Double Indemnity a full three years later in 1944.  Check out the filmsnoir.net trailer:

Pristine Film Noir Trailers

I have prepared a compilation of high quality film noir trailers available on-line at TCM:

Ace in the Hole
Act Of Violence
Angels With Dirty Faces
Asphalt Jungle, The
Big Steal, The
Chinatown
Clash by Night
Criss Cross
Crossfire
Dark Passage
Detective Story
Dial M For Murder
Double Indemnity
Gaslight
Gilda
High Sierra
His Kind Of Woman
I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
Johnny Angel
Johnny Eager
Key Largo
Lady Without Passport, A
Macao
Maltese Falcon, The
Mildred Pierce
Ministry Of Fear
Mystery Street
Narrow Margin, The
Night of the Iguana, The
Nora Prentiss
Notorious
On Dangerous Ground
Petrified Forest, The
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946)
Private Detective (1939)
Public Enemy, The
Point Blank
Racket, The
Scarface
Scene of the Crime
Second Chance
The Seventh Victim
Shadow Of Doubt
Shadow On The Wall
Side Street
Split Second
Stranger, The
Strip, The
Sunset Blvd
Suspicion
Tension
Thin Man, The
Touch of Evil
Two Mrs. Carrolls, The
Vertigo
Where Danger Lives
Whiplash
White Heat
Woman On Pier 13, The
Wrong Man, The

Film Noir Trailers

Panic In The Streets

Film Noir Trailers:

Blackmail
Brick
Conflict
Crossfire
Dark Passage
Detective Story
DOA
Don’t Bother to Knock
Double Indemnity
Gilda
Hold Back Tomorrow
I Want To Live
In a Lonely Place
Lady in the Lake
Leave Her To Heaven
Mildred Pierce
Ministry of Fear
Peter Gunn
Private Hell 36
Slightly Scarlet
Strange Triangle
Sunset Boulevard
The Accused
The Big Clock
The Big Sleep
The Bribe
This Gun for Hire
The Lady From Shanghai
The Lost Weekend
They Drive by Night
To Have and Have Not
The Maltese Falcon
This Gun For Hire
The Third Man
Touch Of Evil

The Best Film Noir Trailers on DVD (2000 120mins)

The Best Of Film Noir DVD

From All Movie Guide:

“The films about the tough guys and the femme fatales. Films like The Maltese Falcon. Kiss Me Deadly, Double Indemnity, This Gun for Hire, Mildred Pierce, DOA, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Bad and the Beautiful, Detour, Touch of Evil, Out ot the Past, including the original coming attraction trailers for Rear Window, Notoruius, and Vertigo. Stars such as Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bsrbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant, John Garfield, Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Lee Marving, Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Ingrid Bergman, Fred MacMurray, Alan Ladd, Jane Greer, Ralph Meeker, and Cloris Leachmand.”

Buy from NY Times Amazon