Dark Crimes: Film Noir Thrillers Vol. 2 collection is a great way to welcome Black Friday

Dark-crimes-film-noir-thrillers-volume-2-dvd_360[1]Just in time for next week’s Black Friday shopping binge is Dark Crimes: Film Noir Thrillers Vol. 2, a DVD collection from TCM and Universal released earlier this year.

The set includes two Fritz Lang films. “You and Me” (1938) is an offbeat gangster comedy/romance starring George Raft and Sylvia Sydney, with music  by Kurt Weill of “The 3 Penny Opera” fame.

The always delightful Ray Milland plays a man desperately trying to stop a Nazi spy ring in Lang’s “Ministry of Fear” (1944). Graham Greene wrote the source novel.

Two William Castle movies complete the set. “Undertow (1949) tells the story of a fall guy framed for murder (Scott Brady) who pursues the real culprits. “Undertow” also stars Bruce Bennett.

Castle’s “Hollywood Story” (1951) stars Richard Conte and Julie Adams.  In this backstage murder mystery, a producer makes a movie about an old crime, hoping to uncover the perp.

Dark Crimes Vol. 2 contains multiple digital bonus features, including an introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, behind-the-scenes photos, production stills, poster and lobby card galleries, an original essay by Film Noir Foundation founder and president Eddie Muller, and interviews with Muller and actress Julie Adams.

The collection is available exclusively through TCM’s online store: shop.tcm.com.

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Film noir vintage poster book belongs on your shelf

The-Art-of-Noir-The-Posters-and-Graphics-from-the-Classic-Era-of-Film-Noir-by-Eddie-Muller[1]Who doesn’t love the sexy drama and irresistible hype that’s packed into just about every movie poster made in the heyday of film noir?

Now available in the U.S. and the U.K., “The Art of Noir: The Posters and Graphics from the Classic Era of Film Noir” (Overlook Duckworth Publishers), by noir czar Eddie Muller, is brimming with vintage allure.

Full of swaggering dudes, feisty ladies with perfect pouts and a whole lot of phallic imagery, these brash, bold posters were saturated with style and rich with original artistry.

The films covered in the book were produced in the U. S. between 1940 and 1960, though one of the book’s themes is how artists of other countries depicted the peculiarly American phenomenon of film noir, writes Muller.

Primarily, he says, the book is a tribute to the craftspeople who created the artwork. And, although film noir is the segment of the poster collector’s market that has seen the steepest rise in value, the posters in the book weren’t chosen for their monetary worth. Instead, says Muller, he made his selections based on the posters’ artistic and historic relevance as well as their ability to spotlight cinematic contributions from writers, directors and performers.

We will discuss the book more extensively later on, but just wanted everyone to know it is now available on both sides of the pond. Meanwhile, you can read Anne Billson’s review in the London Telegraph.

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Film noir comes in focus at the Skirball’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Miriam Haskell costume jewelry on display at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

Miriam Haskell costume jewelry on display at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

Do yourself a favor and be sure to stop by the Light & Noir Holiday Pop-Up Shop at the Skirball Cultural Center in West Los Angeles. Allow plenty of time because you’ll be amazed at all there is to see.

The shop houses a terrific variety of merchandise – from bar accessories, Black Dahlia candles, bright yellow Crime Scene scarves and a slew of books in the detective’s office to the vintage dresses, hats, lingerie and cosmetics in the femme fatale’s boudoir.

The Light & Noir Holiday Pop-Up Shop at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The Light & Noir Holiday Pop-Up Shop at the Skirball Cultural Center.

And what boudoir would be complete without jewelry? One exquisite example: a limited-edition vintage reproduction brooch and bracelet from costume jewelry house Miriam Haskell.

Additionally, there are toys, T-shirts and games as well as several items that play up the high-contrast black-and-white cinematography of film noir, such as stunning compact mirrors and specially designed chocolate bars.

Light & Noir curator Doris Berger (left) and The Noir Effect curator Linde Lehtinen. FNB photo

Light & Noir curator Doris Berger (left) and The Noir Effect curator Linde Lehtinen. FNB photo

The Light & Noir Holiday Pop-Up Shop is open through Jan. 4, 2015. The outstanding exhibitions Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950 (curated by Doris Berger) and The Noir Effect (curated by Linde Lehtinen) run through March 1.

Take a walk through all three and explore the richly layered legacy of film noir. Ahead of their time artistically, the classic movies still intrigue today and their neo-noir counterparts continue to reinvent the genre. What’s particularly fascinating from a historical perspective and what the Skirball shows illustrate so beautifully is the unusual confluence of forces that came together to give birth to film noir.

The film noir visual style is referenced in the Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

The film noir visual style is referenced in the Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

The influx into Hollywood of supremely talented Jewish and anti-Fascist artists that began in 1933 after the Nazi government came into power forever changed the American movie-making landscape.

The exiles and émigrés brought a sophisticated, cynical and wryly humorous sensibility to their new work. Perhaps most strikingly, they brought the daring and sublime visual style that many had learned while working at the German movie studio UFA in the 1920s.

Detail of a Miriam Haskell pearl bracelet on display at the Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

Detail of a Miriam Haskell pearl bracelet on display at the Holiday Pop-Up Shop.

But German Expressionism wouldn’t have meshed with musicals, comedies or lightweight whodunits. By serendipity, there was a perfect narrative pairing: the hard-boiled, realistic work of American crime writers, such as James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy B. Hughes.

Sometimes snubbed by the literary establishment, these scribes took inspiration from downtown, dangerous streets, from real court-room cases, from seedy dive bars and elite private drinking clubs. They wrote tough, gritty detective stories as well as satirical novels about doomed love and perverse murder schemes. Heavyweight writers like Chandler, Billy Wilder, William Faulkner and Ben Hecht turned these books into scripts.

The Holiday Pop-Up Shop has great gifts for men. FNB photo

The Holiday Pop-Up Shop has great gifts for men. FNB photo

Another boon: Hollywood was in its heyday. In 1946, 80 million people (57 percent of Americans) went to theaters every week. Post–World War II audiences craved realistic fare and film noir fit the bill. Technical innovations allowed for more creativity with the camera.

At the same time, the bare-bones budgets of B movies typically left directors to their own devices, spurring their inventiveness. The strict codes of the censors also drove writers and directors to find subtle ways to subvert the status quo.

To bring larger-than-life characters like Philip Marlowe and Phyllis Dietrichson to the big screen, there was a remarkable pool of Golden Age acting talent. Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Ryan, John Garfield, Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Gloria Grahame and Joan Crawford were just a few of the charismatic, one-of-a-kind stars who played these unforgettable roles.

Candles and chocolate and books, oh my! FNB photo

Candles and chocolate and books, oh my! FNB photo

All these factors came together at exactly the right time to engender a startlingly original and truly international cinematic art form. But, as in any film noir story, there was a dark and troubling side underneath the surface.

The exiles and émigrés often faced bias and fierce anti-Semitism in America. Some of them couldn’t find work, some were relegated to low-budget titles, some of their careers faltered and faded. It stands to reason that a sense of fear and persecution lingered in their psyches long after they left Europe.

Step back in time with a little boudoir browsing. FNB photo

Step back in time with a little boudoir browsing. FNB photo

Imagine then, the new surge of terror they must have felt when in 1947 the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings (into alleged Communist ties and influence) named the Hollywood Ten, six of whom were Jewish.

After the hearings, the studios blacklisted hundreds of artists and many had to leave the U.S. in order to survive.

But, today, more than 80 years after the rise of Hitler and the emigration that followed, these artists are widely recognized and their work endures in one of the most powerful, stylish, resonant and entertaining of all movie genres: film noir.

(Photos not identified as FNB are courtesy of the Skirball Cultural Center.)

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On the radar: James Garner remembered; Grace Kelly set released; ‘Gun Crazy’ and ‘The Lineup’ on the big screen

RIP James Garner: April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014.

RIP James Garner: April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014.

Who didn’t love hunky James Garner? The plain-talking, straight-shooting Oklahoma boy was best known for his roles as TV’s wry Western gambler Bret Maverick and as private eye Jim Rockford on the 1970s show “The Rockford Files.” Garner died in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 19. He was 86. TCM remembers Garner on July 28 with an all-day marathon, including 1969’s “Marlowe.” Click here to see TCM’s tribute video.

The Grace Kelly Collection box setWarner Bros. has released a divine Grace Kelly box set.  The collection includes six of  Kelly’s most popular films brought together for the first time on DVD: “Mogambo” (1953, John Ford), “Dial M for Murder” (1954, Alfred Hitchcock), “The Country Girl” (1954, George Seaton), for which she won the Best Actress Oscar, “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” (1954, Mark Robson), “To Catch a Thief” (1955, Alfred Hitchcock) and “High Society” (1956, Charles Walters).

Essential viewing for any sultry blonde or princess-type. It’s easy to dismiss Kelly as a pretty, privileged face but she was, in fact, a fine actress and a bold woman, especially in “Dial M” where she fights off her attacker.

Don’t get too excited about the special-feature interview with Pierre Salinger, conducted in 1982, just months before she died. Salinger shows a knack for asking inane questions and, though the still-lovely Kelly makes the best of it, the result is very dull viewing indeed.

The Alex Theatre in Glendale will show a “car-crazy” film noir double feature on Saturday night: “Gun Crazy” (1950, Joseph H. Lewis) and “The Lineup” (1958, Don Siegel). You can read more here.

The Film Noir Foundation’s Alan K. Rode will introduce the films.

 

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BioElixia helps you banish the dry-skin blues

BioElixia products contain natural ingredients that do the trick.

BioElixia products contain natural ingredients that do the trick.

Summer’s here, and thankfully my arms and legs are toned and tan. Exercise takes care of the toning and, living in LA, it’s easy to get color on my arms.

But a few weeks ago I made a dreadful self-diagnosis: I had severe Casperitis from the thighs down, Casper being the friendly white ghost. And some major dry skin – my calves and ankles were parched.

Some self-tanner was in order and it did the trick. Before I slather that on, I know (from botching the job in the past and ending up with random orange streaks) that it’s key to prime the area before using color.

My secret weapon this season was BioElixia BodyShaper Exfoliating Body Polish and Radiance Body Cleanser.

The polish uses microcrystals and a patented formula to prime the skin. Both products contain natural ingredients such as sweet almond, aloe vera, Vitamin E, fruit acid and Hyadisine.

Both are free of parabens, formaldehydes, sulphates, phthalates, paraffins, and artificial colors and dyes.

For me, it worked best to shave first, use the BioElixia duo and slather on loads of moisturizer. Sure enough, my fake tan was nearly flawless and Casper is back in the closet where he belongs.

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Paris Photo Los Angeles opens; restored ‘Alphaville’ arrives; free screening of ‘The Narrow Margin’ at Egyptian Theatre

Besides the superb French films showing at the COLCOA Film Festival (see item below), there is much going on in Los Angeles this weekend.

Paris Photo Los Angeles runs Friday, April 25, to Sunday, April 27, at Paramount Pictures Studios. The fair will host more than 80 leading art galleries and book dealers from 18 countries. They will set up on Paramount’s famed soundstages and New York street backlot.

Detail of two bullet holes in car window, 1942 ©LAPD /Image courtesy of fototeka

Detail of two bullet holes in car window, 1942 ©LAPD /Image courtesy of fototeka

New this year is UNEDITED!, a program that unveils unedited or rarely seen photographic material. The program draws from the LAPD Photo Archives, a curated selection of unseen police photographs.

Alphaville posterThe new digital restoration of “Alphaville,” Jean-Luc Godard’s science fiction/film noir thriller, opens Friday, April 25, at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. Set in a dystopian future controlled by a computer known as Alpha 60, “Alphaville” stars Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution, the quintessential hard-boiled ’50s private eye. Anna Karina (Godard’s wife and muse, and star of “Band of Outsiders” and “Pierrot Le Fou”) plays the femme fatale.

“Alphaville” is showing at the Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, through Thursday, May 1.

A tribute to writer-producer Stanley Rubin (Oct. 8, 1917 – March 2, 2014) will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre. A FREE screening of “The Narrow Margin will follow at 3 p.m. with an introduction by Alan K. Rode. Marie Windsor is an unforgettable bad girl in this must-see low-budget noir.

And more big-screen news: Click here to read about LA’s downtown theaters regaining their allure.   

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The perfect excuse to preen is the wearin’ o’ the green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all! Need a little justification to treat yourself to some spring beauty products? Never fear, FNB is here. St. Pat’s comes but once a year and you deserve some brand-new gear. Here are a few ideas to get your green on this weekend.

Shiseido’s Luminizing Satin eye-color trios were inspired by Makeup Artistic Director Dick Page’s global travel. Shown here is Jungle.

Shiseido’s Luminizing Satin eye-color trios were inspired by Makeup Artistic Director Dick Page’s global travel. Shown here is Jungle.

 

Merle Norman’s Soft Touch waterproof eye pencil is smooth and creamy but stays put. You can use it to line or as a full-on shadow. A built-in smudger makes it easy to define and blend. Jaded is a subtle khaki green that you can wear every day, not just on March 17.

Merle Norman’s Soft Touch waterproof eye pencil is smooth and creamy but stays put. You can use it to line or as a full-on shadow. A built-in smudger makes it easy to define and blend. Forest is a classic green. Jaded is a subtle khaki green that you can wear every day, not just on March 17.

 

Malin + Goetz taps natural botanicals to create products for sensitive skin. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the company is holding a gift-box giveaway. Enter for a chance to win on their facebook/twitter pages: http://tinyurl.com/l56xfbq.

Malin + Goetz taps natural botanicals to create products for sensitive skin. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the company is holding a gift-box giveaway. Enter for a chance to win on their facebook/twitter pages: http://tinyurl.com/l56xfbq.

 

Looking for a fresh floral fragrance that’s also polished and sophisticated? Try Carven L’Eau de Toilette. This new and lighter version of Carven Le Parfum recently launched at Saks.

Looking for a fresh floral fragrance that’s also polished and sophisticated? Try Carven L’Eau de Toilette. This new and lighter version of Carven Le Parfum recently launched at Saks.

 

Dolce&Gabbana’s limited edition Emeraldo won’t be around for long. Stock up on this stunning shade while you can. The companion green lipstick, we’re told, flew off the shelves in a matter of hours. Not sure about green lips but, if you want to give it a go, St. Pat’s the ideal time. Experts agree: a bit of gold gloss makes green lipstick much more wearable.

Dolce & Gabbana’s limited edition Emeraldo won’t be around for long. Stock up on this stunning shade while you can. The companion green lipstick, we’re told, flew off the shelves in a matter of hours. Not sure about green lips but, if you want to give it a go, St. Pat’s the ideal time. Experts agree: a bit of gold gloss makes green lipstick much more wearable.

 

If you fancy a sparkly seafoam situation, Mermaid’s Dreams by Deborah Lippmann should do nicely. One snag: Glitter polish takes a long time to remove. A non-sparkle alternative is DL’s pretty pale green called Spring Buds, part of the Spring Reveries Collection 2014. (Limited edition)

If you fancy a sparkly seafoam situation, Mermaid’s Dreams by Deborah Lippmann should do nicely. One snag: Glitter polish takes a long time to remove. A non-sparkle alternative is DL’s pretty pale green called Spring Buds, part of the Spring Reveries Collection 2014. (Limited edition)

 

 Nothing sets off the peaches-and-cream complexion of an Irish lass like a classic red lipstick. Our pick: Scoundrel, new from Tory Burch.


Nothing sets off the peaches-and-cream complexion of an Irish lass like a classic red lipstick. Our pick: Scoundrel, new from Tory Burch.

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Book ’em: From big-screen secrets to adoring your amazing body, we’ve got it covered

It’s good when you have a few spare minutes and find yourself near a bookstore. In my case, I was browsing at Diesel Books in Brentwood and saw these yummy titles. Can’t wait to dig in.

 “I Used to be in Pictures: An Untold Story of Hollywood” by Austin Mutti-Mewse and Howard Mutti-Mewse with a foreword by Dominick Fairbanks. Austin and Howard curated the show Worth Exposing Hollywood, showcasing the work of Hollywood's first paparazzi photographer Frank Worth, in London and LA, and a book followed.

“I Used to be in Pictures: An Untold Story of Hollywood” by Austin Mutti-Mewse and Howard Mutti-Mewse with a foreword by Dominick Fairbanks. Austin and Howard curated the show Worth Exposing Hollywood, showcasing the work of Hollywood’s first paparazzi photographer Frank Worth, in London and LA, and a book followed.

“Roman Polanksi: A Retrospective” by editor and film critic James Greenberg, foreword by Roman Polanski. The book covers every one of Polanski’s movies, from “Knife in the Water” (1962) to “Carnage” (2011). Illustrated with more than 250 images.

“Roman Polanksi: A Retrospective” by editor and film critic James Greenberg, foreword by Roman Polanski. The book covers every one of Polanski’s movies, from “Knife in the Water” (1962) to “Carnage” (2011). Illustrated with more than 250 images.

“Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler,” a true love story by Trudi Kanter. Says Booklist: “From Paris to Vienna to London, Kanter creates a vibrant tapestry of her incredible odyssey through one of the darkest periods in contemporary history.” (Originally published in England in 1984.)

“Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler,” a true love story by Trudi Kanter. Says Booklist: “From Paris to Vienna to London, Kanter creates a vibrant tapestry of her incredible odyssey through one of the darkest periods in contemporary history.” (Originally published in England in 1984.)

GirlsofAtomicCity[1]

“The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War Two” by Denise Kiernan. The author tells the true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the young women who (unknowingly) helped build the atomic bomb.

“Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis” by Robert M. Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men.”

“Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis” by Robert M. Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men.”

In “Moneywood: Hollywood in Its Last Age of Excess,” William Stadiem tells the inside story of Hollywood producers in the ’80s.

In “Moneywood: Hollywood in Its Last Age of Excess,” William Stadiem recounts the craziness of Hollywood producers in the ’80s.

Cockroaches

“Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel” is by Norwegian noirista Jo Nesbø (winner of the Glass Key award).

“The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel” by Benjamin Black. I read the first chapter and enjoyed it, though honestly it made want to reread Chandler. Benjamin Black is the nom de plume for the Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, considered to be one of the best writers in Ireland.

“The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel” by Benjamin Black. I read the first chapter and enjoyed it, though honestly it made me want to reread Chandler. Benjamin Black is the nom de plume for the Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, considered to be one of the best writers in Ireland.

“The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body” by Cameron Diaz. Do share, Cameron, dahling! I look forward to learning her secrets.

“The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body” by Cameron Diaz. Do share, Cameron, dahling! I look forward to learning her secrets.

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OroGold products = Oscar gold results

OroGold’s 24K Mousse Perfecting Foundation gives your face subtle color and sheer coverage.

OroGold’s 24K Mousse Perfecting Foundation gives your face subtle color and sheer coverage.

You know it’s worth paying attention when an alpha-male who eschews all things metrosexual surprises you by recommending a skin-care product. My ears perked up when my sometimes-curmudgeonly guy friend told me how much he liked the OroGold line and how good it made his skin look.

The OroGold 24k set has a day cream, a night cream and an exfoliating gel.

The OroGold 24K Daily Essential Kit has a day cream, a night cream and an exfoliating gel. A little goes a long way.

I decided I had to try some myself and I saw such terrific results that I’m awarding OroGold an honorary Oscar.  These products really perform and I’m pleased to give rave reviews.

According to the company, gold has been used for its beautifying and restorative properties since the days of Cleopatra, who was said to have slept in a gold mask every night. Today you can tap the dazzling goodness of gold even if your claim to an actual throne is a tad shaky.

A great way to start is the 24K Daily Essential Kit, which includes day and night cream as well as a gleaming pot of exfoliator. All three products contain 24 karat gold and vitamin E.

After I tried the kit, my skin felt hydrated and looked healthy and well rested. Both lightweight and potent, a little goes a long way. Also, I noticed an immediate improvement when I tried the 24K Neck-Lift Cream, which uses gold and hyaluronic acid to minimize the signs of aging.

OroGold neck cream

I saw results right away with OroGold’s 24K Neck-Lift Cream.

The Tèrmica™ energizing mask and activation serum also produced a dramatic effect – an irksome line was instantly much less noticeable. Oro’s 24K Mousse Perfecting Foundation, available in seven shades, uses 24K gold and titanium dioxide to replenish the skin.

For your consideration: My experience is, of course, unique to me. I recommend trying a sample and evaluating before you buy. (In-store salespeople might steer you toward buying bundles of the many products available, sometimes offering one-time-only deals.)

So when I tune into the Oscars on Sunday, I’ll know at least one winner in advance: OroGold in the category of Best Beauty Bling.

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FNB to sit on panel for Social Media Breakfast Los Angeles

SMBLA logo[1]

I’m very excited to be on the panel for a discussion of Social Media and Entertainment, hosted by Social Media Breakfast Los Angeles (SMBLA).

It takes place Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. (PST). You can find out more here.

See you there!

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