Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Salute to Film Noir.

"You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow."
 From: "To Have And Have Not."

With the recent death of Lauren Bacall,  the last of the real Stars of Film Noir, for me are gone.
If you  ever saw her in "The Big Sleep" or "Key Largo,"she epitomized the best of the Women of that  genre. With her sexy, throaty, hard as nails, approach to  men and life, she gave as good as she got.  Her femme fatalle character, left, nail marks on Humphrey Bogart, and their lines made cinematic history.

Ballin Mundson: Look your best, my beautiful. This will be the casino's first glimpse of you.
[He kisses her]
Gilda: I'll look my very best, Ballin.
[Looks at Johnny]
Gilda: I want all the hired help to approve of me. Glad to have met you, Mr. Farrell.
Ballin Mundson: His name is Johnny, Gilda.
Gilda: Oh, I'm sorry. Johnny is such a hard name to remember and so easy to forget.
[In a breathy voice]
Gilda: Johnny. There. See you later, Mr. Farrell.                                               

Film Noir means literally (the black film). It was developed during and after the World War II years. American Movies, such as Phantom Lady, Laura, or the Blue Dahlia,, offset the genial musicals and happy endings of films, like Pin Up, with Betty Grable or Moon over Miami, with Alice Faye.  They were the yin and yang for theater goers.  The War years fueled Noir with it's tense, anxious, plots, filled with suspicion and too often unhappy endings.

The films built by dark tone and mood. The men were hard boiled, cynical and disillusioned. They encountered a beautiful,double-dealing, seductive, Woman either before a murder or right after. Look at the character, Johnny, played by Glenn Ford. This is a scene between him and Rita  Hayworth in Gilda with its typical hard edged lines. (above)

Walter Neff: "Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money - and a woman - and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"

The Plots were complex with undertones and flash backs. The witty, acerbic dialogue, and characters move it  forward. The Movie often unfolds in a maze, with a brooding disillusioned ending. Double Indemnity starring Fred MacMurray (above) is worth taking time to enjoy- for example.

I don't know what enthralls us about these wonderful, timely, Movies. I can only say People like myself love them. I am not alone- there are plenty of Collectors. Maybe it's the combination of clothes and hard-boiled Men and Dames.

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