Film Noir: The Blue Gardenia (1953)

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Film Noir: The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Directed by : Fritz Lang

Based on a story by: Vera Caspary

Screenplay by: Charles Hoffman

Actors: Ann Baxter, Ann Southern, Raymond Burr

film-noir-the-blue-gardenia-325160l

 

Nora (Baxter) has no idea she is about to become a femme fatal. Her life is far from noir.

Working as a telephone operator and living with two friends, Nora has her life planned. She is engaged to be married to her fiance, as soon as he returns from the Korean War.

On the eve of her birthday, she dresses up, after cooking herself a special meal, opens a bottle of champagne and enjoys her solo night with a picture of her fiance set on the table.

She opens the latest letter from her fiances expecting words of love, instead he breaks up with her. He has fallen in love with a nurse working in Korea.

This is where the film becomes interesting…

Nora’s friends are out for the evening, so she sits and cries alone. But, then the phone rings. It’s sketch artist Harry Prebble (Burr), looking for her roommate Crystal (Southern), and he mistakes Nora’s voice for hers.

Still in a state of shock, she excepts a date with Prebble and meets him at the Blue Gardenia Restaurant. Prebble is at first confused that Nora is there and not Crystal, but he considers himself a lady’s man and up for the challenge.

Drinks flow. Nora’s drunk and back at Prebble’s apartment. He puts the moves on her. Nora pushes him away. Prebble become increasingly aggressive. Nora defends herself by hitting him hard, with a poker stick  from the fireplace.

Nora passes out. When she wakes up she is so terrified, she runs from the apartment forgetting her shoes.

She later reads of Prebble’s death, in the newspaper. Is Nora a killer?

Filmed in: California

 

 

 

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Film Noir: The Harder They Fall (1956)

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Film Noir: The Harder They Fall

Director:Mark Robin

Based on a novel by: Buddy Schulberg

Screenplay by: Phillip Yordan

Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Mike Lane

filmnoirhardertheyfallonesheet

This is a fight film. Eddie Willis (Bogart) a washed-up sportswriter, is hired by Nick Benko ( Steiger) the head of a boxing syndicate to promote an Argentinian fighter named Toro ( Lane)

There is problem. Toro can’t fight. But, because he is a giant of a man and promoted well, he attracts huge crowds.

Things turn ugly when Toro is badly injured and wants to go home. Benko and his thugs turn cruel. Willis is in for the fight of his life. The complications of noir.

Filmed in New York, California and Los Vegas.

 

Film Noir: Side Street (1950)

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Film Noir: Side Street (1950)

Directed by: Anthony Mann

Story and Screenplay by: Sydney Boehm

Actors: Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnel, Ed Max, Jean Hagen

Film Noir Side Street Movie

As in classic film noir style the narrator will lead you through this story.

When a mail carrier named Joe (Granger) sees $200 on the floor of an office he is delivering to, he is tempted to pick it up. The office worker stops him, retrieves the cash and stuffs it in an envelop, closed in a filing cabinet.

The next day, Joe is delivering to the same office. But, this time it is empty. Taking the opportunity to commit a film noir crime, Joe reaches into the filing cabinet and retrieves the envelop. He quickly leaves thinking how the $200 will help his pregnant wife Ellen, (O’Donnel).

Later, when Joe opens the envelope it contains not $200 but $30,000!

Feeling guilty, Joe leaves the package, disguised as a gift for Ellen, at the local bar owned by his friend Nick (Max). When Joe later comes in to retrieve it, Nick has sold the bar! The tricks of noir!

With fast detective work, Joe tracks the cash trail. But, it’s a singer named Harriet, (Hagen) who may ultimately lead Joe to his demise.

Film Noir: A Woman’s Secret (1949)

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Film Noir: A Woman’s Secret (1949)

Directed by: Nicholas Ray

Based on a novel by: Vicki Baum

Screenplay by: Herman J. Mankiewicz

Actors: Maureen O’Hara, Gloria Grahame, Melvyn Douglas

 Film Noir A_Woman_s_Secret-842061589-large

This film opens with an argument. Susan ( Grahame) a famous singer and her manager Marian ( O’Hara) are shouting at each other in the apartment they share. Susan runs upstairs into her bedroom and Marian follows. The viewer isn’t allowed inside the room.

A gun goes off. Noir style. The next scene shows Susan on the floor. The doctor reports she has a bullet lodged close to her heart. Marian admits to the crime.

But why would she do it? It doesn’t make any sense to Luke Jordan ( Douglas). The friend to both woman and the co-manager in Susan’s career seeks answers.

This film uses the classic noir element of flashbacks to tell the story. Only which flashbacks are true?

Triva: During the filming of A Woman’s Secret, Nicholas Ray married Gloria Grahame when he found out she was expecting a child. The marriage was doomed from the beginning and she fell for Ray’s son, Tony, who she would later marry in 1960.

 

Film Noir: Hollow Triumph (1948)

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Film Noir: Hollow Triumph (1948)

Directed by: Steve Sekely

Based on the novel by: Murray Forbes

Screenplay by: Daniel Fuchs

Actors: Paul Heinreid, Joan Bennet, Herbert Rudley

 Film Noir Hollow Triumph

While on parole, a highly educated criminal, John Muller (Heinreid) pulls together his like-minded gang for a heist of of a gaming house. When the two car getaway fails and only Muller and one of his thug partners, Marcy get away with the loot, both men know they are doomed. A noir nightmare!

Marcy is murdered in Mexico. Muller hides out in Los Angeles, but is mistaken by a man on the street as Dr. Victor Bartok, a local psychologist. Although the man points out that the doctor has a scar and Muller does not.

Curious, Muller visits the doctors office and his face at first fools the secretary, Evelyn ( Bennet ). Embarassed by her blunder, but eventually charmed by Muller, Evelyn agrees to a date. The relationship develops.

Now, with access to the good doctor’s office, Muller hatches a plan to impersonate him. The noir crime of murder becons.

The plan at best only becomes A Hollow Triumph!

Watch this film for the beautiful cinematography with classic noir use of shadows and staircases. All captured by Director of Photography, John Alton

Filmed in : Los Angeles, with lots of on location footage of Hotel Belmont, the Los Angeles Zoo, and Angel Flight Railway.

Trivia: Although John Alton was known as a master of film noir cinematography he would win an Ocar for An American in Paris for Best Cinema Colour,

Film Noir: Berlin Express (1948)

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Film Noir: Berlin Express

Directed by: Jacques Tournier

Story by: Curtis Siodmak

Screenplay by: Curtis Siodmark, Harold Medford

Actors: Robert Ryan, Merle Oberan, Fritz Kortner, Robert Coote, Roman Toporow, Charles Korvin, Peter von Zerneck, Paul Lukas

Film Noir Berlin Express

In this film, an international group of  travellers, in post-war Europe, meet on The Berlin Express, a train from Paris bound for Berlin. There is American Robert Lindley (Ryan), French secretary Lucienne Mirbeau (Oberan), German businessman Otto Franzen (Kortner), James Sterling (Coote) a school teacher, Lt. Maxim Kiroshilov (Toporow) of the Russian army , Henri Perot (Korvin)a former member of the French underground and a German mystery man, Hans Schmidt(von Zerneck).

When an explosion rocks the train in Salzbach, passengers are informed that the German peace lecturer, Dr. Bernhardt ( Lukas) has been murdered. But, later Mirbeau reveals her boss was actually travelling in disguise. In this noir twist, he is still alive.  The Nazis have killed the wrong man!

Later, after the group are bused into Frankfurt, Dr.Bernhardt disappears from the train’s platform. Everyone bands together to find him. Lindley  and Mirbeau  take charge, while edging toward their own romance.

Filmed in Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin

Trivia:The Berlin Express film crew were the first to gain permission from the Russians to film the Russia section of Berlin. At the time, Berlin was occupied by Russian, English and American armed forces.

Film Noir: Johnny Belinda (1948)

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Film Noir: Johnny Belinda (1948)

Directed by: Jean Negolesco

Based on a play by: Elmer Harris

Screenplay by: Irma von Cube and Allen Vincent

Actors: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead

 Film Noir Johnny Belinda

Belinda McDonald (Wyman) is a young, deaf-mute woman living on Cape Breton Island. Living on a farm with her father (Bickford) and her Aunt (Moorehead), Belinda is capable of farm chores, but unable to communicate well. When a new doctor (Ayres) moves into the community, he befriends the family and slowly teaches Belinda sign language.

When Belinda in raped, and bears a child, all fingers wrongly accuse the doctor.

Johnny Belinda has a classic film noir twist in which Belinda becomes the femme fatale. Not because she is a sexy siren , of course, but because the good doctor will do anything to help her, even risking his own reputation and livelihood.

Filmed in : California

Awards: This film noir earned Jane Wyman an Oscar in 1949 for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Trivia: The playwright, Elmer Harris, owned a home on Prince Edward Island, in Canada, which is today Bay of Fortune Inn. The play was based on a heinous crime that happened on the island.

 

Film Noir: The Tattooed Stranger (1950)

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Film Noir: The Tattooed Stranger ( 1950)

Directed by Edward Montagne

Screenplay by Phil Reisman

Actors: John Miles, Patricia Barry

 film noir the tatooed stranger

Its starts with a body. A text book film noir murder.

A woman is found in a stolen car, left in Central Park. She has no identification, only a tattoo on her arm. It’s an emblem of the United States Marine Corp.

Detective Frank Tobin (Miles) follows the trail. Botanist Mary Mahan (Barry) holds the key to the investigation. Together they solve the case of The Tattooed Stranger.

Filmed in: New York

 

MOVIE: Nightmare Alley ( 1947)

MOVIE: Nightmare Alley ( 1947)

Directed by: Edmund Goulding

Based on a novel by: William Lindsay Gresham

Screenplay by: Jules Furthman

Directed by: Edmund Goulding

Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell,  Ian Keith,Coleen Gray, Helen Walker

nightmare alley

Do you know my good friend Stan Carlisle?

Film noir’s creepy shadow visits the carnival.

Stan deceives everyone around him from the carnival’s pseudo psychic, Madame Zeena (Blondell), her alcoholic husband Pete (Keith) and even his own wife and fellow carni, Molly (Gray). He meets his match in Dr. Ritter (Walker)

Watch Stan’s downfall…

MOVIE Breathless (1960) A Bout de Souffle

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MOVIE: Breathless ( 1960) A Bout de Souffle

Based on a Story by Francois Truffat

Directed by Jean Luc Godard

Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg

After years of casual flings, Michel falls in love with Jane (Seberg), a young American woman living in Paris. Jane plays coy, although she might be pregnant with Michel’s child. The only thing standing three things standing between their happiness is his criminal behaviour, her independence and the lack of morals they both share.