Film Noir : Neo-Noir Quest 2

Re: The True neo-noir list

I like Devil In A Blue Dress also, a solid PI flick, but I didn't get that Noir buzz from it the first go round, it seemed too brightly lit, and all the locations had that new penny feel rather than lived in, know what I mean? I feel the same about The Long Goodbye just not enough Noir-ness and After Dark My Sweet seemed the same along with being very sparse in sets and location it looked very low budget (I wish to would have stayed the period of the original novel), I'll give all another screening though.

And when I say True Noir I'm talking visually.

I beg your pardon!

The Long Goodbye is on my list, I loved it


I have both Devil in a Blue Dress and The Two Jakes in the huge pile to watch, so they will definitely be part of Quest 2. As will Chinatown since I haven't reviewed it yet.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: I beg your pardon!

Re: Devil in a Blue Dress here was my initial review- Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) Director: Carl Franklin, Writers: Walter Mosley (book), Carl Franklin (screenplay), Stars: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals. Great film, a good Neo Noir/PI genesis flick (Easy Rawlins), finally got around to seeing it last night. The recreation of 48 LA was very believable, and the story was interesting. All actors involved were excellent I gave it an 8/10. If it had just turned up the sleaze factor a notch, added a little GRATUITOUS nudity, delved more into the jazz scene, and toned down the shiny "new penny" look of all the automobiles it would have been a 10/10

Compare it with Farewell My Lovely (1975) which also recreated late 40s early 50s LA to see the difference and the buzz I mentioned.

Speaking of sleaze and gratuitous nudity...

I stumbled across a 1983 Charles Bronson film (on the Epix Drive-in channel, naturally) called Ten To Midnight which wallowed in it. In fact, the psycho killer stripped completely nude before each attack no matter where he was. It's a crime drama/thriller, not a horror film, and it really isn't all that bad. It brims with that trashy, bottom-of-the-barrel feel that was rather common in many 70s and 80s films of this kind.

Re: Speaking of sleaze and gratuitous nudity...

Never heard of it thanks!

Re: Speaking of sleaze and gratuitous nudity...

Ah, it's the last Chuck Bronson film I own that I have yet to watch and review. Your last line pretty much calls it for most of Bronson's movies with Thompson, but that's why we like them!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: I beg your pardon!

Oops! Sorry.

I was pretty ambivalent about The Long Goodbye myself, mostly because - I'm sorry - that is not Phillip Marlowe. But conceptually it wasn't a bad idea to put Marlowe in 1970s Los Angeles and the story is sufficiently complicated. And it is a bit quirky, which I like.

I'll be interested to see what you think of The Two Jakes. Here's a review I wrote for it a few years ago:


The sequel to Chinatown was pretty much panned by critics and fans alike, but has proven over time to be a great film in its own right. Ten years after the events that ended so badly in Chinatown, private detective Jake Gittes stumbles onto a case that takes him back to some of the skeletons in his closet. A scandal that is reminiscent of what happened ten years earlier, this time with real estate and oilfields, is at its center.

While many post WWII noir protagonists are haunted by the war, Jake is haunted by a different past: the part he played in the death of Evelyn Mulwray and his inability to save Evelyn’s daughter, Katherine. And while there is some redemption in this story it is of little value to him. In the last scene, Jake pretty much sums up the critical sentiment of the noir protagonist: “The past never goes away.”

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Because I have an affinity for the strange and bizarre in cinema - and this definitely is that - I will be generous and give this 7/10. But if someone said they thought it was one of the worst films they've ever seen, I wouldn't go too far in defending it. I do like Peckinpah, having seen 7 or 8 of his films, but I would have to be careful recommending any of them. You have to be prepared for very unconventional stories and acting. I'm pretty sure that after watching this one most people would say "what the hell was that?"

This film features a couple of very bizarre performances. Isela Vega gives a performance that completely baffled me. It was either brilliant, which means I did not understand it, or it was one of the worst I've ever seen. And Warren Oates was absolutely channeling Sam Peckinpah and I suspect that the clear liquid in the tequila bottles he was constantly drinking out of were not full of water.

Technically, the film had bad sound quality (at least the dvd I watched did), the camera direction was good, the lighting didn't matter as it was a daylight film, the locations were Peckinpah's kind of Mexico, and the sets were sparsely decorated at best. And the cars were the worst collection of junkers I've seen in a film.

There are a lot of genres that this could be considered a part of - action, drama, crime - but noir isn't one of them for me. Simply being motivated by money, then later by revenge, doesn't make Bennie a noir anti-hero and neither does having a prostitute girlfriend. While I'm not ready to call Oates performance great or even good, the character does become interesting.

Like I said, 7/10 is generous (and I gave it an extra point because Michael Medved called it one of the 50 worst movies of all time) and I'm not sure what a second viewing would do for me.

Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Au contraire, a 7/10 is criminal....

Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) updates Film Noir's obsessed looser and alienated anti-hero from the traditions of Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", Bogart's "Casablanca", Mitchum's mercenary in Mexico flicks, Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy", and re-incarnates him as "Bennie" a decadent, gonzo, sleaze-ball piano-player/tourist clip-joint bar owner cum looser, on a quest for a $10,000 bounty on the head of an old acquaintance. The quest that becomes a spiral into Noir madness.

A family scandal (a unwed pregnant daughter) causes a wealthy and powerful Mexican rancher (Fernandez) to make the pronouncement--'Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!' Causing a flurry of activity. Two of the bounty-hunters dispatched Robert Webber and Gig Young encounter a local piano-player Bennie (Oates) in their hunt for information. The piano-player does a little investigating on his own and finds out that his hooker girlfriend Elita (Vega) knows of Garcia's death and last resting place. Thinking that he can make some easy money and gain financial security for he and his (now) fiance, they set off on this goal.

You just feel, after watching this, that all the over extravagant Hollywood versions of expat Americans in far off lands and their bars/nightclubs are way way too antiseptic and safe and the women in them way too virginal. This film made between the end of the Hayes Code and before PC hits the nail on the head. You get a feeling that this was more like it would have been.

Peckinpah's twisted take on Rick's Place in "Casablanca", Bennie's Tlaquepaque tourist bar sequence. Bennie in control perched back against the wall playing the piano singing the tourists out and watching the impeccably dressed Sappensly(Webber) and Quill (Young) enter and question his cartoonishly costumed staff and watching their reactions to the photo of Alfredo. Bennie in total control "First drinks on the house, gentlemen" calling them over to see what they want, waiter arrives and Bennie saying to Paulo "take care of those gentlemen" giving the cue signal, prompting his bar crew into what looks like a well rehearsed course of action, the two whores arrive one for arm of each hit man. The first hint of trouble registering when he asks Sappensly and Quill "something for the ladies" implying they buy the whores a drink and Quill replies questioningly "burro piss"?

What Eastwood & Leone did for "Joe, Manco & Blondie" in the "Dollars trilogy"... an unshaven face, a squint, a cigar, and a poncho. Peckinpah & Oates do for a hard drinking "Bennie", a bell-bottomed leisure suited mustachioed, small timer club owner wearing a ridiculously large pair of shades, that manage too look very cool. Think of a cross of between a lounge lizard and a used car salesman. A Tom Waits who's also surprisingly, very good with a pistol, on a bargain basement quest for a bit of immortality. Benny can be elevated to the Pantheon of Anti-Heroes.

No product placement here, instead of a horse, Bennie's pimp mobile of choice is what-else man...., a beat to sh*t mid 60's, oil burnnin', red Chevy Impala convertible that's seen way better days, and leaves a contrail of blue smoke as it barrels Benny down the black tops and dirt tracks of rural Mexico straight down on a decent into hell.

What really elevates this film are the Mexican locations, the writing (the high points being Bennie's and Elita's tragic love story, Oates' one liners, and the absolutely from the heart great dialog's that ring true and are unforgettable) and finally Oates' & Vega's inter acting.

Its got a lot of references to Film Noir and Spaghetti Western iconography, that cinematic memory magic, is working in this flick, so any Western & Neo Noir aficionados will feel right at home in this updated version of the Noir Film Soleil/Western. There are enough plot twists, bizarre and surreal situations that any David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Cohen Brothers fans will get a kick out of this film too, Bravo!

<spoilers>











Everybody he cares about dies, hell even he dies. It doesn't get any noir-er than that a 10/10

Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Ouch!

Like Bloody Sam himself, I feel it's one of his best films, also the one film he made where he had control of things. I can see you are irritated by it, yet fascinated, I think SP would enjoy that reaction.


One man and his quest for meaning turns into a Peckinpah classic.

El Jefe is outraged to find that his daughter has fallen pregnant to a man who has upped and gone, after learning the identity of the rascal (Alfredo Garcia), he offers one million dollars to anyone who can bring him the head of the Lothario running man. On the trail are hit men Quill & Sappensly, Bennie & his prostitute girlfriend Elita, and some other Mexican bandit types, all of them are on a collision course that will bring far more than they all bargained for.

This was the one film where director Sam Peckinpah felt he had the most control, the one where we apparently get his own cut and not some chopped up piece of work from interfering executives. Viewing it now some 34 years after its release, it stands up well as a testament to the work of a great director. On the surface it looks trashy, we have homosexual hit men, grave robbing, potential rape, murders abound, prostitution, lower than the low characters, in short the film is awash with Peckinpah traits. Yet it would be a disservice to even think this film isn't rich in thematic texture, for the journey that Bennie, our main protagonist takes is one of meaning, he is a loser, but we find him on this quest to find not only fortune, but respect and love. It's a bloody trail for sure, but it has much depth and no little Peckinpah humour to push the film to it's bloody yet triumphant finale. Warren Oates is rewarded by Peckinpah for years of sterling work for him by getting the lead role of Bennie, and he grasps it with both hands to turn in a wonderful performance that splits sadness and vibrancy with deft of ease.

Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia has a harsh quality about it, be it the violence, or be it the sadness of the characters, but what isn't in doubt to me is that it's harshness is cloaked in Peckinpah splendour. 9/10




The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

NIPO!

Nice!

I honestly hadn't heard of Underneath (1995) . I'd definitely watch it, but I do adore Criss Cross (1949) so I would have to try and view it on its own terms.

Thanks for that.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: NIPO!

and thanks for Le septième juré (1962) I'll look for it.

The Black Dahlia (2006)

The Black Dahlia (2006)


I have been pointing my gun at a lot of people this week.

A box office failure and a neo-noir film that confounded critics and fans alike, The Black Dahlia now appears to be a pic that has had its strengths ignored. As the clamour to kick Brian De Palma continues unabated to this day, and the point blank refusal to accept that Josh Hartnett is a better actor than the likes of Pearl Harbor suggests, it's a film worthy of a revisit by genre/style fans alike.

Plot revolves around the infamous murder of one Elizabeth Short in Hollywood, 1947. An aspiring actress who was found butchered and her murder to this day remains unsolved. De Palma and his writer Josh Friedman adapt from noir legend James Ellroy's novel of the same name, the crux of the story is about two hot-to-trot detectives who get involved in the Short case, and pretty soon there is a can of worms that has been shaken and opened, and there's dizzying worms everywhere - we think?

De Palma loves noir, he has dabbled with it for a long time, not all of it works, but often he delivers for like minded cinephiles. With expectation levels high and following in the slipstream of the critical darling that was L.A. Confidential, Black Dahlia never really had a hope of achieving its lofty ambitions, yet it's a tremendously realised picture from a noir stand point. Whilst it showcases the technical wizardry of the director.

The charges of it being convoluted are fair, it's a spinning narrative, stories within stories, characterisations obtuse, but so was The Big Sleep! I know, I know, this is not fit to lace the boots of Hawks' genius movie, but tricksy narratives have always been a fundamental part of many a film noir, so why the distaste for this one? Especially since the period design, costuming, styling, photography and characterisations are so rich in detail? For instance Hartnett's detective is gumshoe nirvana, while Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank fatale the femme with mischievous glee.

But of course De Palma then spells it out for the finale, explaining things, a sort of macabre wrap up for those that needed it. Either way he was never going to win, it's too complex, it didn't need spelling out, while Mr. De Palma we have to tell you that your characters have been too cold, we don't feel them?! Huh? This is noirville, a place frequented by bad people, idiots and hapless dreamers, of dupes and double crossers. Hell there's even a suggestion of necrophiliac tendencies in this, and that's before we even delve into the machinations of the two femme fatales, a family that's lacking Adams Family Values and coppers of dubious motives.

Yeah, it's cold, and yes De Palma is guilty of trying to please all parties by covering all bases, but it's far from being a stinker. Haters of De Palma, Hartnett and complex noir narratives can knock two points off of my own personal rating, otherwise it's 7/10.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

I'm not knocking any points off your rating, I agree with it. I liked this film the first time I saw it, and still like it after a recent rewatch. In fact it reawakened my interest in De Palma (whom I do not hate) and caused me to take another look at Body Double which is also very good. Dressed To Kill is up next.
Hell, I even liked the widely-hated Femme Fatale when it was released and may just take another look at it, too.

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

Well I'm a confirmed De Palma fan, so that obviously helps going into some of his more divisive films, but like yourself I really think Dahlia is a treat for noir heads. Far from perfect of course, we know that, but hell of a lot right as well Lot of love there from De Palma.

Not seen Femme Fatale (2002) yet, but I have it here as part of this quest.

Love both Body Double and the deliciously loopy Dressed to Kill

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

I read the book before I saw the movie and, believe me, that doesn't help at all. The book is a complete mess - The Big Sleep is a good comparison as Ellroy's book is as confusing as Chandler's - and, if anything, De Palma may have tried to stick to Ellroy's story too closely. The opening act with the zoot suit riots and the whole "Fire and Ice" backstory of the two central characters could have been eliminated without hurting the story.

It also added to the confusion that Hilary Swank and Mia Kirshner look nothing alike. Now that was kind of an important element to the whole story. I read where Eva Green was supposed to play Madeleine Linscott but backed out at the last minute leaving De Palma with the already cast Kirshner as Elizabeth Short and Swank as her supposed look alike.

My only problem with Hartnett was that he was he was too young looking to play a veteran cop in his forties. And I thought Johansson was equally unconvincing as the abused and discarded femme between the two male leads. Looks count and maybe someone a little rougher looking would have been more believable.

I like the movie but it is a bit of work to stay with it. The movie looks great, the story is very noir and sufficiently complicated, and Swank looks very cool in a double breasted suite and fedora with the switchblade accessory. 7/10 seems about right

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

I had read the book a while ago if I remember right, the film didn't overly impress on a one time viewing. It's probably due for a watch.

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)


It also added to the confusion that Hilary Swank and Mia Kirshner look nothing alike. Now that was kind of an important element to the whole story. I read where Eva Green was supposed to play Madeleine Linscott but backed out at the last minute leaving De Palma with the already cast Kirshner as Elizabeth Short and Swank as her supposed look alike.


That's a valid point, but not a film killer in my eyes. Didn't know that about Eva Green, that definitely makes sense, what a shame.

I just don't have a problem with any of the leads, is age relevant in the film as opposed to in the book?



The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

Thanks for the review, maybe now I will give it a try. When I heard there was a film about the Black Dahlia coming out in 2006 I was so exited. Then I read the reviews which pretty much trashed the film. Looking at the reviews here on imdb now, it doesn't sound too promising.

Also, I'm not a fan of Josh Hartnett and couldn't see him as a cop.

But if you think it's worth watching I'll give it a try, and if it's just for the costumes. :)

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: The Black Dahlia (2006)

You should try it, if only to tick it off your list, I avoided it for the same reasons as yourself, but I'm glad I took the plunge.



The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

From Spike's original Neo Noir Quest list the following I didn't think were very visually Noir enough for my tastes to be considered Neo Noir, if they are not visually Noir enough for me I consider them NIPOs Noir In Plot Only, they are just Crime/Thriller/Suspence films. They'd have to have a lot of style or be very twisted to make my grade. If they are both very stylistically Noir, and are very twisted they become Top Shelf Noirs. If they homage Classic Noir locations another bonus point.

Here are their Crime Genre ratings

Out of Time (2003) 7/10
Sharky's Machine (1981) 6/10
Cop (1988) 7/10
Insomnia (2002) 7/10
One False Move (1992) 7/10
A History of Violence 7/10
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead 6/10
Miami Vice (2006) 7/10
The Killers (1964) 7/10
D.O.A. (1988) 5/10
No Way Out (1987) 7/10
Kiss of Death (1995) 6/10
House of Games (1987) 7/10
Night and the City (1992) 5/10
Klute (1971) 6/10
The Driver (1978) 6/10
Internal Affairs (1990) 7/10

All the rest I basically agree with Spike or have watched too long ago to able to rate their Noir-ness or haven't seen as of yet.

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Comparing Ratings

Out of Time (2003) 7/10 7
Sharky's Machine (1981) 6/10 8
Cop (1988) 7/10 8
Insomnia (2002) 7/10 9
One False Move (1992) 7/10 9
A History of Violence 7/10 8.5
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead 6/10 6.5
Miami Vice (2006) 7/10 7.5
The Killers (1964) 7/10 7.5
D.O.A. (1988) 5/10 6.5
No Way Out (1987) 7/10 8
Kiss of Death (1995) 6/10 6.5
House of Games (1987) 7/10 8
Night and the City (1992) 5/10 5
Klute (1971) 6/10 8.5
The Driver (1978) 6/10 9
Internal Affairs (1990) 7/10 8

Oddly the one's where we rate very differently are some of my favourites from that first quest

As you love the visual aspects so much (me also), do you dabble in Gothic Noir or Gaslight/Women's Noir, or Baroque Mysteries?

I'm thinking you must have seen The Spiral Staircase (1945). Others that I think you would very much like on a visual front > Corridor of Mirrors (1948) - Uncle Silas (1947) - The Queen of Spades (1949).

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Actually I've seen the beginning of The Spiral Staircase but only about 5 minutes of that. The others I've never seen nor heard of.

A couple of Gaslight Noirs (I like that tag) I do like are Hangover Square and The Tall Target

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

The Spiral Staircase is great. If you have a chance, watch the whole movie.

If you like Hangover Square, you may want to check out Man in the Attic with Jack Palance, another spin on the Ripper murders. It's very good.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Thanks J_R I'll check it out

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

As a visualist you simply have to watch ALL of The Spiral Staircase

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Corridor of Mirrors sounds really good. A bit like Portrait of Jennie. Never even heard of it.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

I do have a non spoiler review on site which has gone down well, Jess. The Jennie comparison is apt.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Two suggested Policier Neo Noir Films from classic Noir era directors. (Hustle, is listed under Neo Noir in "Film Noir The Encyclopedia", while Dirty Harry is listed in "Detours And Lost Highways a Map Of Neo Noir" by Foster Hirsch)

Dirty Harry (1971) Dir. Don Siegel stars Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, watching it through Noir tinted glasses, it's listed on some lists of Neo Noir films, it is dark in tone, and Harry and Scorpio are obsessed and alienated individuals. The night time sequences are just night time sequences you could say some shots are slightly Noir-ish, the sequence where Harry is getting a bead on Scorpio with the Jesus Saves sign looming in the b.g., the sequence of the money drop with it's climax at the concrete cross, but that shot where a dazed Harry looks up at the cross would have been a no brainer to shoot it at a Dutch angle, but no it's squared to the frame. There are some nice noir-ish shots of San Francisco's porno tenderloin district, and the Kezar Stadium sequence culminating with the finding of the nude girls body with the Golden Gate in the b.g. It's Noir -Lite, as a Neo Noir it's visually a 6/10 as a film it's 9/10 (according to Hirsch, it's only marginally noir, I concur.)


Hustle (1975) Directed by Robert Aldrich stars Bert Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Ben Johnson, and Paul Winfield. This is also on Neo Noir lists and deservedly so, it does look like a Noir lots of shots with out a fill light and with copious amounts of other Noir-ish segments. Its problem is that it's almost too character driven and the only believe-able characters are Johnson and Winfield. I don't buy the Deneuve-Reynolds relationship for a minute. Reynolds past baggage i.e., his Southern goof off, good old boy persona is so engraved in my mind that it overpowers, he can't overcome it for me. Some times you get stereo typed/branded too strongly. You could say the same thing about Eastwood only his baggage is of a bad a$$ and that's an asset in Crime Noir. Reynolds best film for me (that I've seen) is still Deliverance he didn't talk a whole lot in that. As Neo Noir its visually an 8/10 as a stand alone film it misses for me, 6/10.

I won't be adding either to my main list.

Two films I absolutely love!

I would have to respectfully disagree about Hustle, it has more than just noir visuals going for it, it's complex and cynical, classic stuff for Aldrich actually.

I agree with your assessment of Dirty Harry


More than iconography here in dynamite Siegel/Eastwood teaming.

The film opens with a shot of a memorial wall in praise of the San Francisco Police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, a SFPD badge is prominent as the camera scrolls down the ream of names on the wall. Cut to a rooftop sniper shooting a girl taking a swim in a swimming pool, cut to the coolest looking cop you have ever seen making his way to the rooftop scene, he stands and surveys the whole of the San Francisco bay area, this is, his area, and we know we are in for a very special film indeed.

Dirty Harry is now something of an institution, the film that pushed the boundaries of cops versus bad guys movies, some of the film's dialogue became part of modern day speak, and it's the film that propelled Clint Eastwood into the stratosphere of super stardom. Often tagged as a fascist film, I think it's more a cynical look at the rights of criminals because Harry is everyone who has ever been a victim of crime, he will do what it takes to take down the criminals festering in society, you break the law and Harry will get you any way he can. Here Harry is on the trail of Scorpio, a ruthless sniper killing at random, Scorpio kidnaps a teenage girl and demands $200.000 from the city or she will die in the hole he has her buried in. Harry is just the man for the job of delivery boy and this sets the wheels in motion for what becomes a personal crusade for Harry to take Scorpio down at all costs.

Director Don Siegel crafts a masterpiece here, creating a western within the big city landscape, the pace is energetic at times yet reeling itself in to provide genuine suspense when needed. Siegel should also be praised for sticking by Andy Robinson as Scorpio, for it's an insanely great performance from him. Yet it might never had happened since Robinson was petrified of guns, but Siegel stood by him and coaxed him through it. The result is a maniacal turn that scares and amuses in equal measure - witness his mad singing during a bus kidnap scene, you will not know whether to laugh or be afraid.

Yet as good as Robinson is, he gives way to a seamless piece of magnificence from Eastwood as Harry Callahan, note perfect and enthusing the role with the right amount of dynamic cool and gusto, it's no surprise that the character became a cinematic legend after such a great acting performance. Finally I must mention the wonderful score from Lalo Schifrin, jazz/electro/beat combinations segue perfectly into each scene with maximum impact to cap off one of the finest films of the 70s, and if you don't believe me then you can go argue with Harry. 9/10




The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Two films I absolutely love!

I think Hustle has more to do with the Reynolds factor, I didn't care for Sharkey's Machine either, I've seen way too much of his shtick I'm jaded

Re: Two films I absolutely love!

I'm a fan, of Burt that is, which helps of course

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Tightrope (1984)

I really love when this happens. As a serious Noir Aficionado when I get interested in a subject, i.e., Noir, I investigate all aspects of it, its sources and influences, hard-boiled detective and crime novels, pulp paperbacks, Black Mask and True Crime/Detective Mags, the Jazz age, the culture at the end of prohibition and WWII,the Blacklist and the transition to the Cold War, etc, etc,.

And, like me, I'm sure you all also check out or buy every book you can get your hands on about Noir to acquire more insight, more background, more films to pursue to fill your appetite. I enjoyed TCM's Summer of Darkness, also, participating in the class, the discussions and getting to re-watch some of the great, and see for the first time some of the forgotten Noirs.

I happy to say I've seen a lot of Noirs over the last five years easily over 300, and the new ones now are either marginally noir or very low budget. I was happy to catch The Female Jungle recently. It's not listed in Selby's Dark City The Film Noir, it's not in the first edition of Film Noir An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style it did make the 2010 edition. So, there are still films out there waiting to be seen and re-discovered and added to the canon.

The same goes for Neo Noirs, but with Neo's it's even worse, Noir is a new craze, fad, the in-thing, Noir has a certain cachet that can add to sales for a particular film, and you'll find that there are films that are "no-brainers" as being no question "mainline" Noirs that aren't even mentioned, while others, that are a real stretch at being classified as so, that are included in lists. It makes you wary, it makes you question the author's knowledge or the extent of their research. It makes you curious to explore on your own.

Recently I re-watched a Don Siegle/Clint Eastwood collaboration Dirty Harry (1971), Siegle was one of the last of the Classic Noir directors, and the film did have some noir-ish sequences it's a good film but Noir lite. One thing it did was that it got me thinking and I remembered a much better Eastwood Neo Noir candidate. It wasn't very popular or particularly successful at it's original release because it wasn't your typical Eastwood vehicle, he played against type and his fans at the time didn't take to it.

Tightrope was Written and Directed by Richard Tuggle, though there are rumors that Eastwood either helped out or took over at some point. But judging from the comparison of style between this and other Eastwood directed films something doesn't quite wash. This film is very dark in subject matter and stylistically extremely Noir, more so than anything else ever directed by Eastwood so something must be attributed to Tuggle and a definite shout out to cinematographer Bruce Surtees. Right now, I'd say its one of the best set in New Orleans, Neo Noirs, others, that come to mind are The Big Easy, Johnny Handsome, Angel Heart, and The Drowning Pool.

The story, a recently divorced and somewhat alienated (from average women) Detective raising two daughters, enables his inner "demons" and gets his various sexual outlets/kicks with prostitutes in the Latin Quarter/Bourbon Street red light district of New Orleans. Soon the regular hookers he frequents in his district start showing up dead, sexually violated and strangled. He at first suppresses his connection to the victims, possibly questioning his own sanity, but as the serial killer gets closer to hearth and home, clues and detective work ultimately close the case in a denouement that you could say homages the ends of Act Of Violence, The City That Never Sleeps, and Highway 301. It's got a great jazzy/bluesy score too boot. It's easily a 10/10.

I'll do a full blown review once I catch up with the others already in my queue.

If you haven't seen it for a while watch it again with your Noirdar on, you wont be disappointed.

I heartily endorse your plaudits for Tightrope (1984)



Great post mate, it's thrilling when you find a film that can force you to rate it a 10


The Doppleganger Disease.

Tightrope is directed by Richard Tuggle and Clint Eastwood, Tuggle writes the screenplay. It stars Eastwood, Genevieve Bujold, Dan Hedaya, Alison Eastwood and Rod Masterson. Music is by Lennie Niehaus and cinematography by Bruce Surtees.

New Orleans and Detective Wes Block is plunged into a hunt for a rapist serial killer that brings out his own deviant peccadilloes.

One of Eastwood's best movies also happens to be one of his most under appreciated, the actor challenging himself to explore a darker characterisation than the iconographic ones he was most famed for. Wes Block is a damaged man, a divorced father of two girls, who he adores but they are uncomfortably at arms length due to his work. He's afraid of affection, to be touched in a gentle manner by a member of the opposite sex, preferring to indulge in seamy sex by way of prostitutes who frequent the dark abodes of Orleans' French Quarter.

If you knew what's ahead…

Enter the doppelganger effect, as a mysterious serial killer is at large murdering the ladies of the night that Wes takes his pleasure with, the guilt factor hanging heavy on his haunted shoulders. As Wes tries to bring down the killer, he is battling to realign his mindset about the female sex, his daughters and also Beryl Thibodeaux (Bujold), the latter the rape counsellor who was once his sparring adversary, but is now a potential lover if Wes can put everything back on an even keel.

Tuggle, Eastwood and Surtees bring plenty of film noir touches to their picture. Surtees' photography is strong in colour but dark in shading, perfectly embodying the seamy side of The Big Easy. Between them, actor and director fill out this fascinating tale with classic noirish scenes. A Mardi Gras warehouse is eerie, as is a chase through a cemetery, then there's clowns and balloons, things that are associated with childish fun but so often in noirville carry a sinister edge. The sleazy dives that Wes frequents are foreboding places of sin, more so when the killer is stalking his prey. While a railroad location is used to great effect as well.

It has some problems, Hedaya is wasted and the Wes and Beryl relationship is telegraphed a mile away. While the formula of such movies inevitably means the culmination of tale is no surprise, but the journey is a dark and interesting one and Tightrope is a damn fine movie. 8/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Tightrope (1984)

Excellent review!

Thief (1981)

Thief (1981)


You are making big profits from my work, my risk, my sweat.

Thief is written and directed by Michael Mann, who adapts the screenplay form the novel "The Home Invaders" written by Frank Hohimer. It stars James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky, James Belushi and Willie Nelson. Music is by Tangerine Dream and cinematography by Donald Thorin.

Frank (Caan) is a tough ex-con and expert jewel thief. He's working his way out to a normal life, but after being lured to a big job for the mob, he finds plans on both sides severely altered.

For his first full length theatrical feature, Michael Mann announced himself to the film world with some distinction, and in the process showed everyone what style of film making makes him tick. Thief is a film of stylised grit, visually, thematically and narratively. Set and filmed in Chicago, Mann, aided by Thorin, shoots the story through pure neo-noir filters.

At nighttime it is all a beautifully neon drenched haze, where the streets shimmer with dampness, a dampness brought about by the rain and god knows what else! By day there's a sweaty hue, a feeling that the heat is well and truly on, that even in daylight Frank isn't safe, his dreams may be a touch too far to reach. And no matter what the scene or scenario, Tangerine Dream are laying over the top a throbbing pulse beat, it's like The Warriors trying to get back to Coney Island, the music has a sense of dread about it, that danger is at every corner.

This part of Chicago stinks, it's a vile and corrupt place. Dirty cops everywhere, underworld criminals ruling the roost - Hell! You can even buy a baby if you want one. Is it any wonder that Frank just wants to settle down with a wife and child, to walk barefooted in the sea, to have domesticity? But Frank, as smart, tough and savvy as he is, seems to thrive on the edge of things, with Mann giving him earthy and honest dialogue to engage us with, marking him out as an identifiable everyman protagonist who just happens to be an exceptional thief.

Mann's attention to detail is on show straight away, none more so than with the two key safe cracking jobs that are undertaken. Using genuine jewel thieves as technical advisers on the film, these sequences ooze realism, from the tools used, the pre-planning and the execution of the takes, it smacks of reality and does justice to the genuine feel of the characterisations brought alive by the superb cast. And finally Mann delivers a finale of ambiguity, a noir shaded piece of abruptness, an ending that perfectly fits the whole production. 9/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Thief (1981)

Well said my good man! Was lucky enough to see this on the big screen. Tick applied.

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Collateral (2004) a very good Neo Noir Vibe but the end was a bit predictable 8/10

Collateral


but the end was a bit predictable


Yet perfectly traditional classical noir

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Aroused (1966)

So where did noir go after 1959? There was a definite decline in Crime Genre films (of which Film Noir was, in great part a sub-genre though it did infiltrate other Genres also) if you check the year by year Genre lists, so that explains at lot, along with Hollywood closing down "B" productions. A good portion of it migrated over to TV, but there it was still sanitized by the Television Code and its "Seal of Good Practice" which functions much like the Hayes Code. Interestingly though, there were some independent productions that combined Film Noir with looser restraints in the industry that brought along the sexploitation films.

"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" The Last Drive In

Aroused (1966) is one of those directions, and it's a real gem. Directed by Anton Holden written by Holden and Ray Jenkins and Robert Shull and stars nobodies, Janine Lenon, Steve Hollister, Joanna Mills, Fleurette Carter, Ted Gelanza, and Tony Palladino. A good log line would be "Psycho meets a female Mike Hammer."

The story is simple, a peeping tom psycho with a mother-who-was-a-prostitute fetish follows hookers around, kills them and then violates them. Detective Johnny of NYPD is assigned to the low publicity case (who cares about hookers) The latest dead prostitutes bi/hooker girlfriend teams up with well meaning but screw-up Detective Johnny to track down the psycho.

This is the second Neo Noir in the vein of "Noir meets sexploitation flick" that I've seen (there are probably more out there to be discovered and resurected) the first being Satan In High Heels (1962), but the sex isn't anything you don't see nowadays and the film is artistically done with beautiful chiaroscuro Noir stylistics, a shout out to Gideon Zumbach director of photography (as Anibal Paz, I wonder if Argentinian cinematographer Aníbal González Paz was visiting NYC in 1965-66). This film is exponentially better, it's highly stylized, with a wonderfully Noir aesthetic. It's on the cheap but has good direction and a descent plot both furnished by Director Anton Holden.

The way the street shots are shot suggests that possibly it was shot guerrilla style with no permits but they look great and bring back memories of that time period. I noticed a street location from The Incident (1967) that I just recently watched which used the Bronx Biograph Studios so some of it may be shot also in that borough. I'll give it a 8/10 for accomplishing so much with so little has a jazzy score to boot. It could be on a triple bill with Blast Of Silence and The Incident ;-)

Available on DVD from Something Weird Video.

Re: Aroused (1966)

For any who are curious, or who think my praise is exaggerated about the Noir stylistics of Aroused, I just expanded the original review a bit and added illustrative screen caps. Be forewarned there are few shots of breasts so its NSFW.

The link is here, enjoy:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=12283.msg179303#msg179303

or on Noirsville blog here:

http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2015/09/sed-1966-un-cute-meet-hooker-ginny-with.html

Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown (1974)

Not got a lot to say, nothing more can be said that hasn't been said by thousands over the years, especially to noir lovers. So it's more of a review obligation for the quest


He nose you know!

Chinatown is directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne. It stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez and John Hillerman. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by John A. Alonzo.

Private investigator J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) is working on an adultery case but quickly finds himself embroiled in murder and corruption.

The gathering of Polanski, Towne, Nicholson and Robert Evans (producer) put their respective skills together to craft one of the most lauded neo-noir films of all time. It's a searing picture awash with the staples of the film noir and gumshoe detective movies that graced cinema in the 40s and 50s. From the characterisations (suspicious femmes - mouthy coppers - sleazy kingpin - tough protagonist in a whirlpool of unravelling layers), to the hard boiled script, violence, sex and brutal revelations, it's a noir essential that only lacks chiaroscuro and expressionistic swirls to seal the complete deal.

Allegoraries unbound, iconography assured and dialogue now in the lexicon of legends, Chinatown is not to be missed, not just by fans of noir, but fans of cinema, period. 9.5/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Agree I'd go 10/10 but I'd say its more a Noir Film Soleil, than your Classic dark Films Noir, it was flooded with light with many day shots. So I'd say it was a PI film first and foremost, its only nod to the dark side is with the revelation at the very end. On the flip side Farewell My Lovely (1975) is a far more Noir PI film.

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Yep, agree. The interiors are particularly filled with light, but I still can't bring myself to give it a 10, as great as it is it could have done with some telling shadow play and slatted shenanigans

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Agree...it's a true classic. I also liked The Two Jakes, although like most sequels, it didn't reach the lofty heights of the original.

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Upcoming for a first viewing mate, hopefully sometime next week.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Chinatown (1974)


it's a noir essential that only lacks chiaroscuro and expressionistic swirls to seal the complete deal.

Maybe that's because it is in color?

But I agree, one of the best Neo-Noirs ever. It just hits all the right buttons, and I'm not even a big Nicholson fan.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Chinatown (1974)



Maybe that's because it is in color?


Ok, I prolly deserved that for not making myself clear, imagine if it had been filmed in black and white...

A film like this, cloaked in classical film noir techniques...



The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Sorry, I was just being a smart ass. It will never happen again. Ever.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Chinatown (1974)

Don't you dare censor yourself!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

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