Monday, May 28, 2012

Stubs – Summer Of Darkness ─ A Look At Five Film Noir Classics

Okay, I’m borrowing the tag from Turner Classic Movies, which aired a two-month long look at film noir in the summer of 1999, which was an excellent survey of this “subgenre”. Since it doesn’t look like TCM will be repeating this anytime soon, I thought I would co-opt their tag and re-use it to discuss five film noir classics that have not already been reviewed on this blog. Five films that I enjoy and think anyone interested in film noir should be sure to check out.

Now, since film noir is not a standard genre, say like westerns, gangster, romance and drama, it gets applied sometimes haphazardly to gangster films like LITTLE CAESAR (1931) and THE ROARING TWENTIES (1939), Westerns like STAGECOACH (1939) and WINCHESTER ’73 (1950) and even comedies like ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944) and UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948). While these are all good films and display some of the characteristics that a film noir has, they would not be considered film noir for the purposes of this blog.

For me the genre or subgenre falls under a certain time period. It is definitely the 1940s and 50s and usually post World War II, since it was this era that brought about such ideals as the American Dream. Film Noir is about exploiting the underside of that dream and not necessarily as a nightmare either. The films are dark and usually black and white, which only emphasizes the darkness. Film Noir literally translates to mean dark or black film. 

While there may be gangster or underworld figures involved these aren’t gangster movies. They are really about one or two people working to find a way out of a bleak situation they find themselves in. They are not necessarily blameless for their circumstance, but they will do whatever it takes to get out of it, lie, cheat and even murder.

The five films I would like to review as part of this summer of darkness are:

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