What may come as a surprise to some readers and fans, some excellent movies were not restricted to black and white film material. Color film and new technical gadgets 3D, 4 track sound altered not just production but also presented new stereotypical noir types. The Red and the Black clearly denies the often-made statement that the genre vanished in the s.
Instead, Miklitsch argues that the new technologies and new subjects and themes were used to emphasize certain important statistical aspects of the s noir style, while some new characteristics — as the use of certain colors and extra lighting — simply added more varieties for the director. Robert Miklitsch. University Press of Illinois, , p.
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Hajduk, professor of history at the University of Montana Western in the book at hand. This peculiar culture was a compelling force […]. The hard-boiled fiction from the s and the many films noir later, apart from several other similarities, shared a special gangster jargon and street-wise language that lent an extra air of authenticity to those works. But then The Third Man is about more than plot. The morally fermented atmosphere of Vienna mapped out by Graham Greene's screenplay based on his own story is sustained beautifully by Robert Krasker's cinematography, with top notes of mischief introduced by Anton Karas's sprightly zither playing.
The Red and the Black: American Film Noir in the 1950s
An unassuming actor named Orson Welles also puts in an appearance, skulking in a doorway in one of the wittiest of all movie entrances, then delivering a speech full of humble horrors from the vantage point of a ferris wheel overlooking the city. The key to the picture's genius is undoubtedly the mutually nourishing collaboration between Greene and the director Carol Reed. Reed is not only alert to every nuance in Greene's writing but adept at finding pointed visual equivalents for his prose.
Back to Soderbergh: "Disillusion, betrayal, misdirected sexual longing and the wilful inability of Americans to understand or appreciate other cultures — these are a few of my favourite things, and The Third Man blends them all seamlessly with an airtight plot and a location that blurs the line between beauty and decay. No one ever smoked and brooded and loomed like Robert Mitchum. And he never did it as definitively as he does in Out of the Past, a stylish and devastating noir that was one of a hat-trick of perfect genre pieces directed by Jacques Tourneur in the s along with Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie.
Viewers not enamoured of the actor's somnambulant manner might take the latter title for a description of what it must be like to act alongside Mitchum.
Red and the Black: American Film Noir in the s - Illinois Scholarship
But that would be to miss the bitter, internalised hurt and wounded hope he brings to his performance here; just because he's still, that doesn't mean he's not suffering. Oh, and shooting him. It may not be any surprise that when Jeff catches up with the fugitive femme fatale, there is a crackle of attraction between them.
The seductive skill of the movie lies in its masterful evocation of that sensual, fatalistic bleakness crucial to noir. From Nicholas Musuraca's chiaroscuro cinematography "It was so dark on set, you didn't know who else was there half the time," said Greer to Roy Webb's plangent score and the guarded, electrifying performances, it's nothing short of a noir masterclass. But the sharpened splinters of dialogue also bear the mark of Cain — James M Cain, that is, the legendary author of noir landmarks The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, who performed vital but uncredited rewrites.
According to Mitchum's biographer, Lee Server, it was Cain who expunged Kathie of any traces of lovability. To which Jeff shoots back: "She comes the closest. Cameron Crowe called Double Indemnity "flawless film-making". Woody Allen declared it "the greatest movie ever made". Even if you can't go along with that, there can be no disputing that it is the finest film noir of all time, though it was made in , before the term film noir was even coined.
Adapting James M Cain's novella about a straight-arrow insurance salesman tempted into murder by a duplicitous housewife, genre-hopping director Billy Wilder recruited Raymond Chandler as co-writer. Chandler, said Wilder, "was a mess, but he could write a beautiful sentence".
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Noir's visual style, which had its roots in German expressionism, was forged here, though Wilder insisted that he was going for a "newsreel" effect. And we do. Fred MacMurray, who had specialised largely in comedy until that point, was an inspired choice to play the big dope Walter Neff, who narrates the sorry mess in flashback, and wonders: "How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle? But the ace in the hole is Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, a vision of amorality in a "honey of an anklet" and a platinum wig.
She can lower her sunglasses and make it look like the last word in predatory desire. And she's not just a vamp: she's a psychopath. There are few shots in cinema as bone-chilling as the closeup on Stanwyck's face as Neff dispatches Phyllis's husband in the back seat of a car. Stanwyck had been reluctant to take the role, confessing: "I was a little frightened of it.
When she plumped for the former, he shot back: "Then take the part.
In the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson — the source material for this movie — the hero is an American man who has been married to a Mexican woman for nine years. It was Orson Welles who flipped the racial mix, and made the marriage brand new.
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Welles intended a story of three frontiers: the rancid Mexican-American border; the way a good detective becomes a bad cop; and a provocation on interracial sexuality. To be sure, it's a recognisable Charlton Heston in makeup as Mike Vargas, with Janet Leigh as Susie — but in , that bond disturbed a lot of viewers. Moreover, the overtone of honeymoon is a wicked setup for threats of rape. Will the horrendous border scum get to Susie before Mike? If you doubt that suggestiveness, just notice how the car bomb explodes as the honeymooners are ready to enjoy their first kiss on US soil.
This is a crime picture in which coitus interruptus has to be listed with all the other charges. Metaphorically and cinematically, it's a picture about crossing over — in one sumptuous camera setup we track the characters over the border. That shot is famous, but it's no richer than the single setup in a cramped motel suite that proves how Hank Quinlan Welles himself plants dynamite on the man he intends to frame.
These scenes were a way for Welles to say, "I'm as good as ever", but they are also crucial to the uneasiness that runs through the picture and the gloating panorama of an unwholesome society. The aura of crime has seeped into every cell of ordinary behaviour: the city officials are corrupt, the night man Dennis Weaver needs a rest home, and the gang that come to the motel to get Susie are one of the first warnings of drugs in American movies.
Not least, of course, Quinlan — a sheriff gone to hell on candy bars. So evil is not just a "touch". It is criminality in the blood.
A Dossier of Challenges to the Film Noir Hardboiled Paradigm
Marlene Dietrich's Tanya watches over this doom like a witch or prophet, a bleak reminder that there is no hope. Fifty years later, that border is still an open wound. David Thomson. The movie ends equally unforgettably with the line, "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown! Behind the angst-ridden noirs of the 40s and 50s lie the social and political tensions of the second world war and the postwar decade. Similarly, Chinatown was conceived, written, produced and released in the troubled period that included the last years of the Vietnam war, Watergate, and Nixon's fraught second term in the White House.
But it retained its freshness, vitality and timelessness by being set so immaculately in an earlier period — Los Angeles in the long, hot summer of — and it deals with the scandals of that era, those touching on the complex politics of water in the arid west.
While gathering divorce evidence on behalf of a suspicious wife, Gittes Nicholson is sucked into a world beyond his comprehension involving municipal corruption, sexual transgression and the power of old money. He encounters the rich, ruthless capitalist Noah Cross John Huston and his estranged daughter, the beautiful Evelyn Mulwray Faye Dunaway , whose husband, head of the Los Angeles Water and Power Board, dies under mysterious circumstances.
In his screenplay, Robert Towne develops two dominant metaphors; the first centres on water. During a period of drought someone is dumping water from local reservoirs, and it becomes clear that this most precious of human resources is being manipulated by land speculators in their own interests. The name of Evelyn's husband, Hollis Mulwray, evokes William Mullholland, the Los Angeles engineer responsible in the 20s for the deals that, in the old western phrase, "made water flow uphill in search of the money".
The name Noah Cross suggests the protective Old Testament patriarch played in the blockbuster The Bible by John Huston , but here reprised in a less benevolent mode as a self-righteous plutocrat who has harnessed the flood in his own interests. The other metaphor is that of Chinatown, an inscrutable place that outsiders either stand back from or misread in a way that demonstrates the futility of good intentions. Jake worked in Chinatown during his days in the LAPD and, at the end of the picture, returns there in a bid for redemption that turns out to be an act of tragic pointlessness.
He's in every scene, frequently with the camera just behind him. We see and experience everything from his point of view, with Polanski composing every frame, dictating each camera movement. The movie captures the city in a summer heatwave: the blinding exteriors dazzle the eye and blur the judgment; shafts of light create a sinister atmosphere as they penetrate the dark interiors through venetian blinds.
Jerry Goldsmith's superb score uses strings and percussion during moments of suspense and a distant, and bluesy trumpet for elegiac, contemplative scenes. Above all there is Nicholson's Gittes, a cocky, confident operator losing his social moorings and ending up as the proverbial drowning man reaching out for straws. Philip French.