Third part of film-noir mini series:
The best of Film Noir (2009)
As movie presenter, learned writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet notes, the only good thing about the Nazi occupation of Europe was that it forced several exceptionally skilled actors, writers, directors, cinematographers, technicians and musicians to flee to Hollywood in the 1940s.
They took with them the shadows and strangeness of German expressionism, their sense of oppression, fear and paranoia, and transplanted them on to the American landscape. Using as their template the pessimistic, hardboiled crime fiction of writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet, they helped to create a cinematic style infused by the fatalism of a world broken by war. This was film noir, a monochrome galaxy of streets glistening with rain under sickly city lights, where smoking femmes fatales bewitch bourbon-laced anti-heroes in threadbare motels, and life is cheaper than a hand-me-down suit (re-read that sentence in the voice of Tom Waits, it sounds better).
The world of film noir was, as Sweet observed, "a place where the sun had died and people got by with neon". As you've probably gathered, it's easy to get carried away with the seedy romanticism of this immortal movie genre, which is why smart, concise little documentaries like this continue to stoke our fascination with it. Sweet, clearly enjoying himself, swept us through the core tenets of the genre under chapter headings such as "Choose a Dame With a Past and a Hero With No Future" and "Use No Fiction But Pulp Fiction". With the help of film scholars and luminaries such as writer/director Paul Schrader, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and crime fiction author and The Wire writer George Pelecanos, he examined the visual and thematic devices of stone-cold classics such The Big Sleep and The Postman Always Rings Twice (happily using clips longer than ten seconds, which is almost unheard of on TV these days). Although the films were peppered with sex and violence, strict censorship forced the makers into creative ways of ensuring that audiences knew exactly what was being implied. Hence all that wild, innuendo-laden dialogue between Bogey and Bacall, which often resembled a classy Carry On film, albeit one in which Sid James winds up dead in a river.
Full of morally ambiguous characters and casual horror – witness Lee Marvin tossing scalding coffee into a woman's face in The Big Heat – these films echoed the pessimism of their times, which would eventually be swept away by the booming optimism of the 1950s. But for a while, a disparate group of European émigrés and American artisans created a stellar movement which was recognised as such only in retrospect. At the time, they were just giving the people what they wanted, and happened to make great art in the process. So while cineastes continue to argue over whether film noir should technically be considered a genre at all – isn't it better described as a mood? – Sweet offered an enjoyable film studies primer on how and why these nocturnal classics continue to resonate.
Matthew Sweet ... Himself - Presenter
Sheri Chinen Biesen ... Herself - Author, 'Blackout: World War II & the Origins of Film Noir'
Neil Brand ... Himself
Sarah Churchwell ... Herself
Roger Deakins ... Himself
John Mathieson ... Himself
Adrian Wootton ... Himself - Director of Crime Scene Festival
Audio and video information:
Video : 537 MB, 1309 Kbps, 25.0 fps, 688*384 (16:9), XVID = XVID Mpeg-4
Audio : 55 MB, 135 Kbps, 48000 Hz, 2 channels, 0x55 = MPEG Layer-3
Film noir trailers: PART 3
- On dangerous ground
- Somewhere in the night
- Street with no name
- Sunset Boulevard
- The Big Heat
- The big steal
- The killers (1964)
- The killing
- Where danger lives
Password for both archives: www.onlyoldmovies.info