Film Noir File: Terrence Malick’s ‘Badlands’ is a dark poem of killers on the run

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). All movies below are from the schedule of TCM, which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Badlands” (1973, Terrence Malick). Friday, Nov. 7. 12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.).

Kit and Holly are played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, the first lead roles for either of them.

Kit and Holly are played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, the first lead roles for either of them.

The late 1960s and early 1970s, in America, were marked by violence and loneliness, war and craziness, and wild beauty. We see a portrait of a lot of that trauma, in microcosm, in Terrence Malick’s shattering 1973 classic, “Badlands.” Set in the American West of the 1950s, it’s the story of two young people on the run: Kit, who works on a trash truck and tries to model himself after James Dean, and Holly, a high-school baton twirler with a strange blank stare, who thinks Kit is the handsomest boy she’s ever seen.

Driving stolen cars, Kit and Holly embark on a savage cross-country trek.

Driving stolen cars, Kit and Holly embark on a savage cross-country trek.

These two moonchildren run off together after Kit fails to reconcile Holly’s mean, smiley-sign-painter father (Warren Oates) to their relationship. Then, plumb out of arguments, Kit shoots him dead and burns his house down. It’s probably Kit’s first murder; he’s such a weirdly polite guy that it’s hard to envision it otherwise. But soon he develops a taste for slaughter. And he and Holly embark on a savage cross-country trek by stolen cars, one that includes the massacre of many people, including Kit’s best (only) friend Cato (Ramon Bieri).

Kit appears to be killing not out of need or fear, but out of some perverse pleasure he gets from pulling the trigger and making a soul disappear from a body. “He was the most trigger-happy person I’d ever seen,” says Holly, in her flat, unemotional voice. Kit and Holly are played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, the first lead roles for either of them.

Read the full review here.

Thursday, Nov. 6

Burt Lancaster stars in "Brute Force" by director Jules Dassin.

Burt Lancaster stars in “Brute Force” by director Jules Dassin.

8:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m.): “Brute Force” (1947, Jules Dassin). With Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Yvonne De Carlo, Charles Bickford and Ann Blyth. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 15, 2013.

10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “Bullitt” (1968, Peter Yates). With Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn and Robert Duvall. Reviewed in FNB on Oct. 27, 2012.

12:15 a.m. (9:15 p.m.): “The Third Man” (1949, Carol Reed). With Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Alida Valli and Trevor Howard. Reviewed in FNB on Oct. 12, 2013.

Friday, Nov. 7

Rebel poster8 a.m. (5 a.m.): “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955, Nicholas Ray). With James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Detour” (1945, Edgar G. Ulmer). With Tom Neal and Ann Savage. Reviewed in FNB on Sept. 27, 2011.

9:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m.): “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953, Ida Lupino). With Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy and William Talman.

10:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m.): “Gun Crazy” (1950, Joseph H. Lewis). With Peggy Cummins, John Dall, Morris Carnovsky and Russ Tamblyn.

Saturday, Nov. 8

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “His Kind of Woman” (1951, John Farrow). With Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price and Raymond Burr. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 18, 2012.

6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Saboteur” (1942, Alfred Hitchcock). With Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane, Otto Kruger and Norman Lloyd. Reviewed in FNB on Oct. 18, 2014.

10:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m.): “The Big Knife” (1955, Robert Aldrich). With Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Rod Steiger and Shelley Winters. [Read more...]

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Film noir features prominently at AFI FEST 2014

A Most Violent Year poster largeWe at FNB are eagerly awaiting the start of AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi.

The terrific slate of shows runs Nov. 6-13 in Hollywood. The fest opens and closes with neo-noir titles that are generating Oscar buzz. “A Most Violent Year,” starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain and David Oyelowo, will kick things off. Set in 1981 in New York City, the film tells the story of an immigrant struggling to survive amid intense crime and danger. “A Most Violent Year” is directed by J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call” and “All Is Lost”).

Inherent Vice posterThere will be two screenings on Sat., Nov. 8., of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest feature: an adaptation of “Inherent Vice” by novelist Thomas Pynchon. Joaquin Phoenix stars as P.I. Doc Sportello in 1970-ish Los Angeles. We’re in. Phoenix leads a stellar cast including Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.

On Monday, Nov. 10, “The Gambler” is the gala screening. In this remake of the 1974 James Caan film, Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a college professor immersed in the watch-your-back world of underground gambling. English director Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) joins forces with Boston-born writer William Monahan (“The Departed”).

Foxcatcher,” the closing night movie, is based on the real-life saga of ’80s Olympic wrestling champs Dave and Mark Schultz (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) and their uneasy working relationship with ultra-wealthy wrestling hobbyist/“coach” John du Pont (Steve Carell). Things go from tense to deadly in this spare and thoughtful drama, for which Bennett Miller took home the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Fest. (His previous work includes “Capote” and “Moneyball.”) We caught this at a press screening last night – it is very chilling and very well done. From his pasty skin to his zombie rasp that passes for a voice, Carell perfectly conveys the menacing imperiousness and internal emptiness that apparently defined du Pont’s personality. Ruffalo and Tatum are excellent as well.

sophia-loren-afi-tribute[1]These are just a few of the film-noir offerings and there is much more going on, such as the Sophia Loren tribute on Nov. 12. Who doesn’t love this supremely talented and stunningly beautiful actress?

The complete AFI FEST program includes 118 films (73 features, 45 shorts), representing 39 countries. There are 29 films directed/co-directed by women, 16 documentaries and 17 animated films.  The breakdown by section is: Galas/Tributes (6), Special Screenings (8), American Independents (8), New Auteurs (10), World Cinema (29), Midnight (4), Breakthrough (4), Conversations (4), Cinema’s Legacy (4) and Short Films (45), and includes 9 official Foreign Language Film Oscar® submissions.

Free tickets are available: http://www.afi.com/afifest/freetickets.aspx

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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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Real-life noir mystery or publicity gimmick?

Finding Marlowe LA Times

Did a Jamaican immigrant and Los Angeles gumshoe inspire Raymond Chandler’s and Dashiell Hammett’s characters? LA Times writer Daniel Miller posits a fascinating theory that is short on solid evidence. It looks as though he was duped by an aspiring screenwriter seeking publicity for the movie she wants to make. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time a guy got tricked by a dame.

Read the story and see what you think: http://graphics.latimes.com/finding-marlowe/

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‘Nightcrawler’ teaches how to creep up the career ladder

Nightcrawler posterNightcrawler/2014/Bold Films, Open Road Films/117 min.

Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” is a slick, suspenseful neo-noir satire on “if-it-bleeds-it-leads” journalism and the bleak reality of big-city survival.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom, a Los Angeles loner whose “resume” is an odd blend of scavenging, thievery and clumsy self-promotion. While selling stolen goods to get by, he eagerly seeks a more upright job. But parroting cheesy memes he’s learned in online business classes to potential employers doesn’t compensate for his blatant dishonesty.

Then his late-night carousing leads him to a potential goldmine and an actual career path. He discovers that he can shoot video of crime scenes and sell it to local TV news stations. His camera might be cheap but he has the requisite ruthlessness and unflagging energy to join the ranks of freelance videographers who race against dawn, on deadline, from one crime scene to the next.

Equally ruthless is Nina Romina (Rene Russo), station manager of KWLA. Sharp-tongued and steely, Nina serves as Louis’ mentor; he helps her spike ratings and protect her job. Louis appears to have a crush on Nina and an awkward pseudo-romance ensues.

Having zero ethics and finding no shortage of wrong-doing around town, Louis has enough work to hire a gopher (Riz Ahmed). As the pressure mounts and the stakes get higher, Louis crosses the line to become what he might call a “hands-on entrepreneur” and what anyone else would call a criminal.

Where the film arguably missteps is in failing to humanize Louis (though maybe that’s not Gilroy’s goal). There’s no descent into craziness – Louis is unhinged from the first scene. Also, the budding “romance” is dropped too soon. It would have added a layer to both of their characters had Gilroy explored that subplot in more detail.

Nevertheless, “Nightcrawler” engages throughout, thanks to fierce performances from Gyllenhaal and Russo, crisp writing and direction from Gilroy and stunning cinematography from Robert Elswit.

 “Nightcrawler” opens in theaters today.

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Moody and hypnotic, ‘Force Majeure’ breathes new life into a tired trope

Force Majeure posterForce Majeure/2014/Magnolia Pictures/118 min.

It’s a question as old as the hills (or, in this case, the Alps): Can you ever really know a person? In “Force Majeure,” a domestic noir, Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund probes the surface of a couple’s relationship, on a skiing holiday with their kids in the majestic French mountains. Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) is a handsome workaholic; his lovely wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and children (Clara and Vincent Wettergren) sometimes compete with his i-phone for his attention.

When an avalanche hits, Tomas’ instinct is to take off on his own, rather than protect his family. Later, he denies and minimizes his behavior. But Ebba is devastated by what happened and she won’t let it go. The children distance themselves from their parents.

Östlund creates strange, jarring tension driven by a primal betrayal unfolding in unfamiliar territory. Tomas and Ebba are claustrophobic and quarrelsome at the ski lodge; exposed and vulnerable when they hit the slopes. Time drags, they bicker in front of strangers, drink too much booze and pretend all is well in front of the kids.

Moody and hypnotic, “Force Majeure” scored big at the Cannes Film Fest where it won the Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard.  The characters are rendered with piercing honesty as Östlund takes his time to tell the story. It’s a good, well acted yarn, pretty and ponderous, despite a few contrivances.

My one gripe: the film ends on a random note that doesn’t play particularly well.

“Force Majeure” opens in theaters today.

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Film Noir File: Welles’ magnum opus, Halloween nightmares

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). All movies below are from the schedule of TCM, which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Touch of Evil” (1958, Orson Welles). Wednesday, Oct. 29. 10 p.m. (7 p.m.).

“A little old lady walked down Main Street last night and picked up a shoe. That shoe had a foot in it. I’m going to make you pay for that, boy.”
Detective Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles)

Orson Welles and Charlton Heston lock horns in “Touch of Evil.”

Orson Welles and Charlton Heston lock horns in “Touch of Evil.”

In two Hellish border towns, one in California, the other in Mexico, a grotesque and loony gallery of rogues, cops, narcs, city bosses, gangsters, juvenile delinquents, psycho motel clerks and ladies of the evening are thrown together, when a wealthy banker, Rudy Linnekar, is blown to smithereens at the border. We watch a bomb being planted in his car (from above, in one of cinema’s greatest long-take, moving-camera shots) by a shadowy, not-quite-seen killer.

On the killer’s trail, in what seems only minutes after that explosive opening, is the local star police detective, Hank Quinlan (writer-director-star Orson Welles), a mountainously fat, savagely cynical but brilliant cop, who specializes in cracking the most mysterious crimes and nailing the wiliest killers. In this case, Quinlan fingers a good-looking Mexican shoe clerk (Victor Millan) who was sleeping with Linnekar’s daughter (Joanna Moore) and who has a shoebox full of dynamite in their motel room.

Only one problem: An upright, unshakably honest narcotics-cop named Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston, at his most righteous) – who’s visiting the town with his gorgeous blonde wife Susie (Janet Leigh, at her liveliest) – knows that the dynamite was planted. And if Quinlan planted the evidence on this murder, maybe he, and his hero-worshipping partner Menzies (Joseph Calleia) have been faking things for years.

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh (as Mike and Susie Vargas) have much to fear.

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh (as Mike and Susie Vargas) have much to fear.

What follows is a war of nerves (and of guts and morality) between two great cops, one of whom may be a murderer.

Around them is the rest of one of film noir’s greatest casts: Akim Tamiroff as Uncle Joe Grandi, the local sawed-off Little Caesar, Valentin de Vargas as Uncle Joe’s lady-killing leather-jacketed nephew, Dennis Weaver as the nervous “night man” at the local motel, Mercedes McCambridge as the most blood-freezing lesbian biker ever, and a couple of salty old pros from “Citizen Kane” (Joseph Cotten and Ray Collins). And, in one of her (and our) favorite performances, Marlene Dietrich as Tana, the sultry, sardonic madame who plays the pianola at her high-style whorehouse and makes great chili. She tells her old flame Quinlan, “You’re a mess, honey.”

The Universal studio execs of 1958 made a mess of “Touch of Evil,” in its original release, ordering reshooting and recuts. But it’s long since assumed classic status and been put back in the shape it’s believed writer-director-star Welles wanted.

We actually owe the existence of “Touch of Evil” to Charlton Heston. He was hired to play the hero, Vargas, in an initially unpromising adaptation of Whit Masterson’s paperback thriller “Badge of Evil,” after Welles was already cast as Quinlan. Heston then insisted that Welles direct it as well.

Marlene Dietrich as Tana plays the pianola and makes great chili.

Marlene Dietrich as Tana plays the pianola and makes great chili.

Welles was still in his prime when he made “Touch of Evil” and he did it with a flair, panache and unflagging invention. He displays a mastery of  staging, of camera placement and of bravura acting from the incredible cast that has seldom been matched in the canon of noir. (Russell Metty photographed it and Henry Mancini wrote the score.)

The movie is a masterpiece of pulp and expressionism. Just as with “Citizen Kane,” you can watch it over and over again, and still find surprises. The ending is both melancholy and exhilarating.

It’s wonderful that Welles got this last big studio chance. But it’s sad too, because we know that he was never able to make a go-for-broke super-Hollywood studio film like this again. No one was better at it.

Some aficionados think “Touch of Evil” is the very pinnacle of film noir. Even if it isn’t, it’s a movie that takes the whole notion of noir (the melding of hard-boiled crime stories and expressionist high style technique) to one of its craziest, wildest, most brilliant extremes.

“He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?”
Tana (Marlene Dietrich)

Act of Violence posterWednesday, Oct. 29

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Psycho” (1960, Alfred Hitchcock). With Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam. Reviewed in FNB, on July 7, 2011.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Act of Violence” (1948, Fred Zinnemann). With Van Heflin, Robert Ryan and Janet Leigh. Reviewed in FNB, on Aug. 4, 2012.

1:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m.): “Harper” (1966, Jack Smight). With Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Lauren Bacall and Julie Harris. Reviewed in FNB, on Dec. 4, 2012.

Friday, Oct. 31

Horror Halloween Marathon

“Cat People” (1942, Jacques Tourneur) is a purrfect choice for Halloween.

“Cat People” (1942, Jacques Tourneur) is a purrfect choice for Halloween.

11 a.m. (8 a.m.): “Cat People” (1942, Jacques Tourneur). With Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Tom Conway. Reviewed in FNB, on July 20, 2014.

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “Dementia 13” (1963, Francis Ford Coppola). With William Campbell, Luana Anders and Patrick Magee. Reviewed in FNB, on June 12, 2014.

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “Carnival of Souls” (1962, Herk Harvey). An anguished young woman (Candace Hilligoss) nearly drowns and then makes her way to a small city. It’s mysteriously inhabited by ordinary-looking but strange people who seem to be the citizens of some other, more dangerous place. (The eerie, smiling little man who follows her all around is played by the writer-director, Herk Harvey.) This is a legendary low-budget horror classic, and few films of its type are scarier.

Repulsion Criterion poster6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “Repulsion” (1965, Roman Polanski). With Catherine Deneuve, Yvonne Furneaux and Ian Hendry. Reviewed in FNB, on Oct. 27, 2012.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Night of the Living Dead” (1968, George Romero). With Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea. Reviewed in FNB, on March 27, 2012.

5:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.): “Eyes Without a Face” (1959, Georges Franju). With Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli and Edith Scob. Reviewed in FNB, on Nov. 4, 2011.

Saturday, Nov. 1

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “Point Blank” (1967, John Boorman). With Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Carroll O’Connor. Reviewed in FNB, on Jan. 28, 2013.

11:45 p.m. (8:45 p.m.): “North by Northwest” (1959, Alfred Hitchcock). With Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.

4 a.m. (1 a.m.): “The Honeymoon Killers” (1969, Leonard Kastle). With Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco. Reviewed in FNB, on July 21, 2011.

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Ahead of her class: Remembering a legendary designer

Edith Head won eight Oscars.

Edith Head won eight Oscars.

Edith Head was born today in 1897 in San Bernardino, Calif. Starting with scant experience and no design training, she nonetheless had a stellar career – at Paramount and Universal, frequently collaborating with Alfred Hitchcock.

Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak, Veronica Lake, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn were just some of the women she dressed.

Head won eight Academy Awards for costume design. She died on Oct, 24, 1981. You can learn more about her work at the Academy’s Hollywood Costume show.

 Slacking off

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times recently shared this nifty item from 1938 about a woman who went to jail for wearing slacks in courtroom. Yikes! Times have changed, just a bit.

 Helen Hulick defied convention by wearing slacks. Photo by Andrew H. Arnott/L.A. Times Archive/UCLA

Helen Hulick defied convention by wearing slacks. Photo by Andrew H. Arnott/L.A. Times Archive/UCLA

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Skirball Cultural Center’s The Noir Effect exhibition explores the far-reaching influence of film noir

ROUSE & JONES, Dead End, 2009, courtesy of the artists.

ROUSE & JONES, Dead End, 2009, courtesy of the artists.

Pick up a glossy magazine and there’s a good chance you’ll see a fashion layout or an advertisement featuring a mysterious, glamorous woman, dressed to kill, shot in high-contrast black and white. She’s retro but cutting-edge contemporary as well.

Scroll through a Netflix menu and it won’t be long before you find a slew of crime movies with archetypal characters: the private eye, the corrupt cop, the vicious gangster and the woman who lures men to lust and doom.

Why does noir – a term that covers much more than movies – continue to intrigue and delight? My theory is that film noir’s strikingly elegant style, moral ambiguity and political awareness put the pictures way ahead of their time when they were made in the 1940s and ’50s. Not surprisingly then, they still resonate with audiences of today.

Page from You Have Killed Me. Illustrations by Joëlle Jones and story by Jamie S. Rich, 2009.

Page from You Have Killed Me. Illustrations by Joëlle Jones and story by Jamie S. Rich, 2009.

At the Skirball Cultural Center in West Los Angeles, running in conjunction with the Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950 exhibition, The Noir Effect examines how the film noir genre gave rise to major contemporary trends in American popular culture, art and media.

The show, which runs Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 to March 1, 2015, highlights noir elements such as the city, the femme fatale, the anti-hero and moral codes.

As Skirball Cultural Center Assistant Curator Linde Lehtinen says: “Noir remains a powerful approach and style because its dark, urban sensibility and its perspective on identity, morality and the shifting nature of the modern city continue to be relevant and timely.”

Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Film Noir #1401), 2011.

Bill Armstrong, Untitled (Film Noir #1401), 2011.

In addition to clips from neo-noir films such as “Chinatown” (1974, Roman Polanski) and “Brick” (2005, Rian Johnson), the exhibition will feature contemporary art, literature, photography and fashion advertising as well as children’s books, games and comics, including Luke Cage Noir and Spider-Man Noir.

Featured artists include Bill Armstrong, Ronald Corbin, Helen K. Garber, David Lynch, Daido Moriyama, Karina Nimmerfall, Jane O’Neal, Alex Prager, Rouse & Jones, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman.

The Noir Effect will allow visitors to reinvent noir for themselves. A costume wall and portrait station invite visitors to pose for their own noir-inspired “museum selfie,” while writing materials encourage on-the-spot noir narratives. The Skirball Cultural Center will also hold an online photo contest as a way to gather visitor snapshots of L.A. neighborhoods captured in classic noir style.

Ed Ruscha, 51% Angel / 49% Devil, 1984, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Graphic Arts Council Fund.

Ed Ruscha, 51% Angel / 49% Devil, 1984, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Graphic Arts Council Fund.

Additionally, the site-specific installation Café Vienne pays tribute to the important cultural role of the Viennese coffee house. In the early 20th century, female artists and writers embraced these coffee houses as places for debate, networking and inspiration.

Contemporary visual artist Isa Rosenberger (b. 1969) uses this historical setting to address the life and work of Austrian- American Jewish writer Gina Kaus (1893–1985), once known in literary circles as “Queen of the Café.” A best-selling novelist before she was driven from Europe by the Nazi regime, Kaus eventually emigrated to the U.S. where she became a Hollywood screenwriter.

We at FNB are very excited about this terrific programming and can’t wait for it to start. We’ve long been captivated by film noir and it’s gratifying to find so many others who share our passion.

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Noiristas have gobs of events to choose from on Halloween

“Nosferatu” is considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

“Nosferatu” is considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

When Halloween falls on a Friday night, why stay at home? There’s a whole lot going on in Los Angeles.

Need a primer on German Expressionism? Watch “Nosferatu” (1922, F. W. Murnau) – one of the greatest horror movies of all time and a vampire classic with brilliant visual style – on the big screen with live music accompaniment at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Have you ever wanted to dress up as a work of art? Then you’re in luck because Lacma is hosting its 11th annual costume ball. Music, dancing, food and drink! Oh, and you can see the excellent exhibition: Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s.

Starting at Thursday midnight, pull an all-nighter of the living dead. The Crest Theater in Westwood is hosting a super series: “Night of the Living Dead,” “Child’s Play,” “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Blacula.”

The New Beverly Cinema is hosting an all-nighter hosted by Eli Roth.

Not to be outdone, Cinefamily is putting on Childhood Haunts, an all-night audio/visual bash.  As the organizers put it: “This signature Mondo video collision covers the hazy, freaky-deaky memories of these pivotal pieces of films and TV that pretty much screwed us up for life.”

The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica is showing “The Lego Movie” in 3-D!  Come in costume as your favorite character, take photos and get free toys and treats, says the Aero.

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