Off Topic Messages

Great DVD series

Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:32 am

Maybe the best thing going right now on DVD and my current passion (so much so I feel compelled to share my enthusiasm) is Fox's film noir series. These DVDs are fantastic. They all include crisp prints, insightful audio commentary and usually other extras. Even more the series spotlights confirmed classics from the 1940s and 1950s like "Laura", "Kiss of Death" and "Calling Northside 777" as well as worthy forgotten pieces like "No Way Out", "The House on 92nd Street", "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Panic in the Streets". Most of these movies are tributes to the power and beauty of black and white photography.

Even more they throw often throw a spotlight on unjustly forgotten figures like Director Otto Preminger, who did many of his best features and whose best work was in noir. and actors Dana Andrews, Jose Ferrer, Richard Widmark and Linda Darnell.

The only real problem with the series is the fact that the definition of noir is so loose. One proposed title was "The Lodger" by common consensus a horror flick. Additionally something like Preminger's "Whirlpool" is just a straightforward mystery.

As much I hate to a corporate shill it's great to see the sense of history that went into this series. Someone at FOX clearly gets it though. The majority of these films were not massive hits and while many classics lay in the vault and others are just dumped on the market (Hello Paramount) it's great to see these valuable movies in print and done right.

Anybody else a fan?

Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:08 pm

LTB -

I think I know what it is.

But I'm not sure, and I'm usually too afraid to ask.

But here goes, anyway.

What exactly is film noir ?

Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:25 pm

"The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" are a couple of the finest examples of film noir.

You know the kind of thing Colin, loads of shadows to set the mood, a crime story, a hard boiled detective played by a leading man who is`nt too pretty looking, a curvy blonde and all often directed by a European on a shoe string budget.

Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:38 pm

ColinB wrote:LTB -

I think I know what it is.

But I'm not sure, and I'm usually too afraid to ask.

But here goes, anyway.

What exactly is film noir ?



ColinB..."More negative than positive...an over all dark and shadowy outlook..filmed in black and white"

However...I´m more familiar with the term "Renualt Carte NOIR"...
Thats a fine Cognac...Should anyone wonder...

Sat Apr 01, 2006 1:46 am

Well, thanks, guys.

I had an idea what it was.

But I'm still not entirely convinced I've got it.

Do thay have to be about a private eye ?

Do they have to be from the 40's ?

Do they even have to be in b & w ?

Sat Apr 01, 2006 7:41 am

ColinB wrote:Well, thanks, guys.

I had an idea what it was.

But I'm still not entirely convinced I've got it.

Do thay have to be about a private eye ?

Do they have to be from the 40's ?

Do they even have to be in b & w ?


Colin -
Not necessarily, but that's the noir standard by & large. The tough gumshoe usually falls for the dame during the course of the story. The dame frequently double crosses him. Throws him over for the dough. Never trust the dame! And why am I talkin' like a 40's gumshoe?

But seriously, the late 80's Mickey Rourke movie Angel Heart is kind of a noir with supernatural elements. Heck of a movie too!

Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:31 am

It most definitely does not have to be a private eye. The term film noir comes from a French phrase meaning "Dark Film". The term came after the second World War when French film critics who had not seen American films in some time noticed that during the war period a certain type of moody darker film had become prevalent. Nobody at the time called it noir until that moment. Common elements of a film noir movie are heavy use of shadows (almost a must) and of course lots of night time, a general seedy element, a morally conflicted hero or anti-hero (this is why private eyes are such a big part of it), an overall cynicism about the world (very few characters in a film noir are nice without a reason) and usually a femme fatale. Many times in a film noir a protagonist has very little control over his (occasionally her) destiny. There's also a lot of snappy dialogue often nasty or sexual in tone. They don't have to be in black and white but it helps. A good example besides "Angel Heart" of a color noir is "Chinatown". Many by the way see "King Creole" as something of a noir with the nasty tone of many of the characters, the great use of black and white, the seedy milieu and Elvis' morally conflicted hero.

Perhaps the most famous and celebrated is "Double Indemnity" although "Maltese Falcon" is close. "Doube Indemnity" though has a better femme fatale. Other famous ones include "Out of the Past", "Asphalt Jungle", "Kiss of Death" (This is the one where Richard Widmark pushes the invalid in a wheel chair down a flight stairs.) and "The Big Sleep".

The thing I like about it (besides the moody style) is the sense of moral ambivalence and conflict. It's very challenging and involving. Dana Andrews character in "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a great example. He's a cop and basically a good guy. However, he hates criminals so passionately that he can't control himself when he's around them and eventually he winds up accidentally beating a suspect to death. The action leads him to cover up which eventually accidentally leads to his girlfriend's father being the number one suspect in the murder. It's this good guy with a bad streak that makes him do something and then do something worse and it all ends up out of control almost outstripping the evil he wants to stop.

Sat Apr 01, 2006 2:22 pm

Bike.......I'm not certain this MB is the best place to air your views about recycled products.

I mean, really............what would an Elvis fan know about recycling products over,and over, and over............ :wink:

Sat Apr 01, 2006 6:23 pm

likethebike wrote: Common elements of a film noir movie are heavy use of shadows (almost a must) and of course lots of night time, a general seedy element, a morally conflicted hero or anti-hero (this is why private eyes are such a big part of it), an overall cynicism about the world (very few characters in a film noir are nice without a reason) and usually a femme fatale. Many times in a film noir a protagonist has very little control over his (occasionally her) destiny. There's also a lot of snappy dialogue often nasty or sexual in tone.


LTB -
You've just described the denizens and doings of Capital Hill to a T! :lol:

Sat Apr 01, 2006 7:53 pm

Sorry likethebike, but for my money, film noir has to be in black and white, it`s a must.

Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:14 am

Scatter wrote:Bike.......I'm not certain this MB is the best place to air your views about recycled products.

I mean, really............what would an Elvis fan know about recycling products over,and over, and over............ :wink:



lol!