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Monday, August 29, 2011

For the Love of Film Noir

This past weekend I found some old pictures from my freshman year at Ohio University.  Those pictures really took me back. It was fun, and a little depressing, seeing my eighteen year-old self having the time of my life. But funnily enough it wasn’t just the memories of all night cram sessions, friends, parties, pizzas, beer, and guys that the pictures evoked. I was also reminded of my favorite class in college. It was a film noir class that met once a week for two hours. There was minimal lecturing from the professor, and I can’t even remember if we had a textbook, but we watched a movie every week. I loved every minute of that class and being transported back to the 40s and 50s. I loved the dark, stylish, black and white crime dramas featuring private eyes, grifters, drifters, unlucky citizens, and femme fatales. Everybody had a secret and there were few happy endings. Here’s some of what was on our syllabus.

Strangers on a Train (1951)-A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement. Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, and Ruth Roman

Double Indemnity (1944)-An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. Starring: Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)-A married woman and a drifter fall in love, and then plot to murder her husband... but even once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions. Starring: Lana Turner, John Garfield, and Hume Cronyn.

The Big Sleep  (1946)-Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely.

Out of the Past (1947)-A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames. Starring: Robert Mitchem, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer

Mildred Pierce (1945)-After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but can't win the approval of her spoiled daughter. Starring: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, and Ann Blyth.

If you haven't seen any of these films, I highly recommend them. Also, check out the collection of film noir for free online at the Moving Image Archive.



MaureenAMiller said...

I have seen a couple, but the list of actors and actresses I see here are the best. These were the classics. I often think if I could go back in time it would be to an era such as this.

Of course, just going back to 18 years old would be fine with me. :)

Wendy Soliman said...

Ah, The Big Sleep, what a film!

Mike Keyton said...

And of course the wonderful 'Gilda'

Marcelle Dubé said...

Great suggestions, Angela--and I've even seen a few of them.

Rita said...

A lot of wonderful old movies out there. The HBO series Mildred Pierce was much closer to the book. And OMG how depressing! Watching how actors convey emotions is very interesting. In the bogy and bacall movie To Have and Have Not if you watch carefull you can tell when they started their affair. The on scene chemistry changes dramatically. Yowza! LOVE Cary Grant movies. The one with Mae West is so…. My so good.
Thanks for the post. What fun.

Elise Warner said...

Watched Strangers on a Train on TCM several months ago, Angela. Sat alone in the living room while hubby slumbered. No one to clutch. Scary. Great films and casts and let's hear it for the writers.

And Rita-speaking of Cary Grant-how about Bringing Up Baby?

Rita said...

Elise BUB was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I just re-watched Finally, Sunday! (Vivement Dimance), Francois Truffaut's tongue-in -cheek film noir made in 1983 and starring the wonderful Fanny Ardant. This pays kight-hearted homage to the great films listed here.

Angela Henry said...

So happy to see so many film noir fans here!

Rita-I meant to watch HBO's Mildred Pierce mini series and completely forgot! Hope they show it again soon.

Elise-Strangers on a Train is my all time favorite!

Maureen-Sadly, I'm not sure I'd ever want to be eighteen again. LOL. Twenty-five, however, yes!

Mike-I have never seen Gilda. It's been on my list of must see movies for years. Going to have to check it soon.

Anon-Never heard of Finally, Sunday. Thanks for suggesting it!

Clare London said...

I've seen all these! They knew how to create a dramatic - and sometimes melodramatic - suspense mood in those days, without resorting to slash 'n hack :). Thanks for the happy reminder!

Toni Anderson said...

I saw most of these when I was growing up. No restrictions LOL. I loved them all. I loved Robert Mitchum, and Humphrey B. Those were the days. And the music..that was always a huge part of the drama too :)

Rita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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