Monday, May 26, 2008

Unseen Noir

The Harvard Film Archive had an Unseen Noir series over the long holiday weekend, showcasing numerous noir films that were not available through regular channels. This was a great opportunity for me and my friend Kevin to watch some unique film noirs!

On Friday night, Kevin and my new friend Bob and I watched a double feature of He Ran All the Way and The Sound of Fury. On Sunday night, Vivienne and Nate joined us for a screening of Pitfall. The place was packed on both nights, which gave me all sorts of warm proud feelings inside. To see so many people come out to watch these movies when they could be spending their money on some brainless blockbuster. Below are my thoughts and reactions or interesting information on each of the films.

He Ran All the Way (1951) - John Garfield plays Nick, who is running away from the police after accidentally killing a cop. Is he genuinely evil or is he a good guy gone bad due to circumstances? He romances Shelley Winters, as Peg, only to sequester her and her family in their apartment as he grows ever anxious of being caught. Peg is caught between her growing affection for Nick and her love and devotion for her family. And time is running out.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Garfield + Winters + Noir = $$$
~ John Garfield's last film.
~ classic gutter scene. Every film noir should have one.
~ great camera angles and shots. Lots of focus on Garfield's face.
~ One scene, Garfield's face is half in shadow, showing how he's split between good and bad.
~ low-budget, short, so the focus is on the story and the rising tension.
~ Suspense was well-done. As the plot progresses, Garfield's character becomes less patient and more suspicious.
~ My favorite line was a suggestion made to Winters character about how a little lipstick, a hairdo and a nice dress can make a man do anything you want!

The Sound of Fury (1951) ~ Based on a true story, this is an interesting study in journalistic sensationalism and the violence that can erupt from mob mentality. Frank Lovejoy plays a family man, desperate for cash for his wife, kid and baby on the way, who gets entangled in a kidnapping gone wrong with the charismatic Llyod Bridges. The media and community are hungry for blood.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Bridges + Mob Mentality + Noir = $$$
~ Uncomfortable to watch because it was so poignant. Left me somewhat depressed.
~ Wow. Llyod Bridges. Wow. Double wow.
~ Reminded me of the equally uncomortable They Won't Forget (1937).
~ Didn't help that they kept talking about how people won't forget.
~ Several funny moments helped us feel the intensity of the tragedies to come.
~ Kathleen Ryan reminded me of Melanie Lynskey.
~ Mob riot/jail scene was breathtaking!

Pitfall (1948) ~ Dick Powell is a jaded insurance man who is bored with his job + wife + kid = safe life scenario. He meets Lizabeth Scott who's boyfriend is in jail for stealing insured jewelry. Biggest mistake, sending a detective, played by Raymond Burr, over to Scott. Sadistic Burr wants Scott but so does Powell and the love triangle gets ugly.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Powell + Young Raymond Burr + Noir = $$$
~ Raymond Burr gave me the chills. Burrrr...
~ Lizabeth Scott is like a combination of Lauren Bacall and Susan Peters!
~ One of a few great movies based on insurance companies. The Apartment, Double Indemnity.
~ My first Jane Wyatt film.
~ Any film with a fashion scene is a-okay with me.
~ Some of the story, especially dialogue, seemed to much like filler. Could have been more tension build up.
~ Dick Powell can do it all, in my honest opinion. He was superb in this.

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