Film Noir File: Your passport to Coen Bros.’ neo-noir ‘Country’

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). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week

No Country posterNo Country for Old Men” (2007, Joel and Ethan Coen). Tuesday, March 3, 12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.)

The Coen Brothers’ most praised and prized movie, and one of their most memorable, is the grim, mesmerizing crime-drama/chase-thriller “No Country for Old Men.” The multiple-Oscar winning film is adapted, very faithfully, from one of Cormac McCarthy‘s darkest and most violent novels.

Set in 1980s Texas, in an anti-John Ford Western land of harsh plains and searing deserts, barren cities and the hot, speedy roads that connect all of them, the movie is about a huge cache of illegal drug money that falls into the hands of a local cowboy-hatted small-towner named Moss (Josh Brolin) after a massacre wipes out most of the criminals and smugglers handling the transfer.

Unfortunately, there’s one deadly efficient collector still around: the incredible Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh a.k.a. Sugar, a terrifying psychopathic killer with a seemingly permanent dour deadpan stare, a laughably lousy haircut and a relentless talent for finding the right people in all the wrong places – and sending them to the hell that surely must have spawned him.

There are other terrific actors (playing terrific roles) in “No Country,” namely Tommy Lee Jones as Ed Tom Bell, a melancholy old sheriff watching his world disintegrate, Bell’s lonely old friend (Barry Corbin), Moss’s steadfast but unlucky wife (Kelly MacDonald) and a lippy, freelance loot-scavenger (Woody Harrelson).

Texas. Tough guys. Epic bad hairstyling. Enjoy your visit to this ‘Country.’ Or else.

Saturday, Feb. 28. Thriller Day

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “The Window” (1949, Ted Tetzlaff).

7:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m.): “Night Must Fall” (1937, Richard Thorpe).

9:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.): “Kind Lady” (1951, John Sturges).

10:45 a.m. (7:45 a.m.): “Wait Until Dark” (1967, Terence Young).

12:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m.): “The Narrow Margin” (1952, Richard Fleischer).

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Strangers on a Train” (1951, Alfred Hitchcock).

3:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.): “Shadow of a Doubt“ (1943, Alfred Hitchcock).

Sunday, March 1

Chicago poster10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “Chicago” (2002, Rob Marshall). This strange, Oscar-winning hybrid is, of all things, a neo-noir crime courtroom musical. It’s based on the jazzy, snazzy Broadway show by songsmiths Kander and Ebb (of “New York, New York”) and director Bob Fosse, which in turn was based on the classic 1942 film noir “Roxie Hart” by writer-producer Nunnally Johnson and director William Wellman.

The story is as cynical as, well, a ’20s Chicago newspaper guy on deadline. Wannabe star showgirl Roxie (Renee Zellweger in the old Ginger Rogers role) schemes to become famous by committing a near-murder and generating a sensational trial. John C. Reilly is her hapless hubby, Richard Gere is her flashy lawyer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones (an Oscar winner here) steals the whole damned show as another would-be murderess and Roxie’s inspiration. This is a good, splashy, nasty neo-noir, but you can’t help wondering about the movie the late Bob Fosse might have made out of it.

Wednesday, March 4

12 p.m. (9 a.m.): “Dementia 13” (1963, Francis Ford Coppola).

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Film Noir File: Five stylish ’70s thrillers make must-see viewing

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). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Jane Fonda won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in “Klute.”

Jane Fonda won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in “Klute.”

Saturday, Feb. 21

11 p.m. (8 p.m.): “Deliverance” (1972, John Boorman).

3:45 a.m. (12:45 p.m.): “Klute” (1971, Alan Pakula).

Sunday, Feb. 22

1 a.m. (10 p.m.): “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975, Sidney Lumet).

3:15 a.m. (12:15 a.m.): “Network” (1976, Sidney Lumet).

Monday, Feb. 23

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “All the President’s Men” (1976, Alan Pakula). Burglary and other high crimes and misdemeanors in a soon-to-be-legendary Washington D. C. hotel called The Watergate turn out to be instruments of re-election for the Nixon White House in their no-holds-barred 1972 presidential campaign — as uncovered by two dogged, relentless Washington Post investigative reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman).

One of the best true crime movies ever: directed with neo-noir flair by Pakula, knowingly scripted by Oscar winner William Goldman (based on the Woodward-Bernstein book), with a first rate cast that includes Oscar winner Jason Robards (as crusty mandarin editor Ben Bradlee), Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Ned Beatty, Jane Alexander and F. Murray Abraham. Maybe the best and most accurate of all “inside” dramas on American journalism and politics.

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Film Noir File: A star-studded week of Oscar darkness

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). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). Films listed without a review can be searched in the FNB archive on the right side of the page.

Pick of the Week

A Place in the Sun” (1951, George Stevens). Friday, Feb. 13, 2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.).

Elizabeth Taylor as Angela and Montgomery Clift as George are one of the most ravishing star couples of the American cinema.

Elizabeth Taylor as Angela and Montgomery Clift as George are one of the most ravishing star couples of the American cinema.

George Stevens’ adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime novel “An American Tragedy.” It’s a melancholy look at a rising young working-class guy named George Eastman, who seems on the path to riches and romance, but whose dark impulses bend him toward destruction.

A great critical favorite in its time and still highly influential, “Place in the Sun” is a moody masterpiece about the wayward side of the American dream. Stevens’ movie also showcases one of the most ravishing (and ultimately sad) star couples of the American cinema: Montgomery Clift as George and Elizabeth Taylor as his dream, Angela. Also in the cast: film noir mainstays Shelley Winters and Raymond Burr.

Taylor and Clift were close friends off the screen as well.

Taylor and Clift were close friends off the screen as well.

Among the picture’s six Academy Awards were Oscars for Stevens’ direction and to screenwriters Michael Wilson and Harry Brown.

Thursday, Feb. 12
9:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m.) “The Third Man” (1949, Carol Reed).

5:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m.): “The Lavender Hill Mob” (1951, Charles Crichton).

Friday, Feb. 13
9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945. Albert Lewin).

11 a.m. (8 a.m.): “The Bad Seed” (1956, Mervyn LeRoy).

1:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m.): “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962, Robert Aldrich).

3:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.): “The Birds” (1963, Alfred Hitchcock).

Saturday, Feb. 14
8:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m.): “The Harder They Fall” (1956, Mark Robson).
2:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m.): “The Blackboard Jungle” (1955, Richard Brooks).
4:45 a.m. (1:45 a.m.): “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955, Otto Preminger).

Sunday, Feb. 15 (Film Noir Day)
7 a.m. (4 a.m.): “Johnny Eager” (1941, Mervyn LeRoy).
9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “T-Men” (1948, Anthony Mann).
10:45 a.m. (7:45 a.m.): “The Naked City” (1948, Jules Dassin).
12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.): “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950, John Huston).
2:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.): “The Blue Dahlia” (1946, George Marshall).
4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.): “The Maltese Falcon” (1941, John Huston).
6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Key Largo” (1948, John Huston).
11 p.m. (8 p.m.): “The Defiant Ones” (1958, Stanley Kramer).

Susan Hayward with her Oscar.

Susan Hayward with her Oscar.

1 a.m. (10 p.m.): “I Want to Live!” (1958, Robert Wise). Susan Hayward won her Oscar for playing Barbara Graham, a real-life hard-nosed San Francisco prostitute. Graham was convicted of murder and facing the gas chamber.

But, according to Frisco crime reporter Ed Montgomery (played in this movie by “Psycho’s” psychiatrist Simon Oakland), she was innocent, the framed victim of a faulty justice system.

This riveting chronicle proves that Wise, a great favorite of French noir expert and Hollywood film aficionado Jean-Pierre Melville, was an absolute master of crime movies. The images are searing black and white. The acting is tough, smart, pungent. The jaunty modern jazz score is by Johnny Mandel, with the formidable Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax.

The ending is wrenching, unforgettable. So is Hayward.

Monday, Feb. 16
8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959, Otto Preminger).

Psycho poster 214Tuesday, Feb 17 (Crime Day)
7:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.): “Fury” (1936, Fritz Lang).
9:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.): “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947, Charles Chaplin & Robert Florey).
11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “Big Deal on Madonna Street” (1958, Mario Monicelli).
1:45 p.m. (10:45 a.m.) “In Cold Blood” (1967, Richard Brooks).
4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.): “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968, Norman Jewison).
6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Bullitt” (1968, Peter Yates).
12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Psycho” (1960, Alfred Hitchcock).

Wednesday, Feb. 18
8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Apartment” (1960, Billy Wilder).
12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.): “The Hustler” (1961, Robert Rossen).
5:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.): “Lolita” (1962, Stanley Kubrick).

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Film Noir File: Siodmak’s ‘The Killers’ is a must-see heist film, Hemingway style

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

Burt Lancaster instantly falls for Ava Gardner in “The Killers.”

Burt Lancaster instantly falls for Ava Gardner in “The Killers.”

The Killers” (1946, Robert Siodmak). Tuesday, Feb. 10, 10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.). Of all film noir’s femmes fatales, Ava Gardner as Kitty Collins in “The Killers” ranks as the most devastatingly efficient. She doesn’t waste time chit-chatting or getting to know a guy. Just a glance gets them hooked and firmly planted in the palm of her hand. “Swede” Andreson (Burt Lancaster) takes all of 10 seconds to fall for her and then get lured into “a double-cross to end all double-crosses.” Read the full review here.

Saturday, Feb. 7

11:45 p.m. (8:45 p.m.): “Citizen Kane” (1941, Orson Welles). A dark look at the sensational, profligate life of one of the world’s most powerful and egotistical newspaper magnates, the late Charles Foster Kane (modeled on William Randolph Hearst and acted by George Orson Welles). Still the greatest movie of all time, it’s also a virtual lexicon of film-noir visual and dramatic style, as seminal in its way as “The Maltese Falcon” or “M.” Scripted by Welles and one-time Hearst crony Herman Mankiewicz, photographed by Gregg Toland, with music by Bernard Herrmann and ensemble acting by the Mercury Players: Welles, Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, George Coulouris, Ruth Warrick, Paul Stewart, et al.

Sunday, Feb. 8

Bogart and Bergman play Rick and Ilsa, who are perhaps Hollywood’s most famous on-screen lovers.

Bogart and Bergman play Rick and Ilsa, who are perhaps Hollywood’s most famous on-screen lovers.

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “Casablanca” (1942, Michael Curtiz).

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Gaslight” (1944, George Cukor). Set in foggy Victorian gas-lit London, this is the best of all the melodramas and noirs where a bad husband tries to drive his wife insane (or vice versa). Here, Charles Boyer gives the treatment to Oscar-winner Ingrid Bergman. Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty and teenage Angela Lansbury are among the bystanders. Based on the Patrick Hamilton stage play (and film) “Angel Street.”

Monday, Feb. 9

Laura poster 2141 a.m. (10 p.m.): “Laura” (1944, Otto Preminger).

3 a.m. (12 a.m.): “Mildred Pierce” (1945, Michael Curtiz).

Tuesday, Feb. 10

7 a.m. (4 a.m.): “Julie” (1956, Andrew L. Stone). The same year she sang “Que Sera, Sera” for Hitchcock as the menaced mom in Hitch’s remake of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” Doris Day played a comely stewardess stalked by her psycho ex-husband, Louis Jourdan, in this lady-in-distress thriller from the poor man’s Hitchcock, Andrew Stone.

9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “Crossfire” (1947, Edward Dmytryk).

10:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m.): “Suspicion” (1941, Alfred Hitchcock).

12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.): “Mystery Street” (1950, John Sturges). A good, smart police procedural, set partly at Harvard University, with a homicide cop and forensic scientist (Ricardo Montalban and Bruce Bennett), trying to crack a murder with sexual overtones.

Cary Grant was Hitch’s favorite actor.

Cary Grant was Hitch’s favorite actor.

2:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.): “The Fallen Idol” (1948, Carol Reed). In 1948, a year before they made the nonpareil thriller “The Third Man,” director Carol Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene collaborated on another tilted-camera film-noir classic: this mesmerizing story of a French diplomat’s son(Bobby Henrey) , who hero-worships the embassy butler (Ralph Richardson). The boy mistakenly comes to believe his idol has murdered his wife and keeps unintentionally incriminating him. With Michele Morgan, Jack Hawkins and Bernard Lee. Stunning cinematography by Georges Perinal.

4 p.m. (1 p.m.): “After The Thin Man” (1936, W. S. Van Dyke). The first of many sequels to the smash hit 1934 movie of Hammett’s last novel “The Thin Man,” with William Powell and Myrna Loy as the peerlessly witty and stylishly sloshed Nick and Nora Charles. Here, they visit Nora’s San Francisco cousin and investigate a string of murders among her rich elite family. With Jimmy Stewart in one of his most atypical roles.

6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “Charade” (1963, Stanley Donen). Director Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone’s lush, polished and witty Hitchcock imitation stars Hitch’s favorite actor Cary Grant in perhaps his most Cary Grantian performance. Here, he’s a romantic detective/spy (or is he?) in an ultra-posh comedy thriller co-starring Audrey Hepburn, at her most winsomely, delicately beautiful. The movie, probably Donen’s best-loved after his great musicals “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Funny Face,” seems to be composed of equal parts of “North by Northwest,” “Notorious,” “To Catch a Thief” and Donen’s own Cary Grant movies (like “Indiscreet” and “The Grass is Greener”), with a dash of ’60s New Wave sauce and sass.

Cary Grant (shown with Audrey Hepburn) is one of FNB’s favorite actors.

Cary Grant (shown with Audrey Hepburn) is one of FNB’s favorite actors.

The movie couldn’t exist without Grant, who, mostly in a very Hollywoodish Paris, woos lady-in-distress Audrey (or does she woo him?). Both of them are threatened by a stellar band of villains and nemeses that includes Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass. The moody title song (Henry Mancini /Andy Williams) earned an Oscar nom. No Oscars went to Grant, of course. The next year, while picking up his Academy Award for writing the Grant comedy vehicle “Father Goose,” Stone said, “Cary just keeps winning these things for other people.”

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Treasure of the Sierra Madre poster8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “All the King’s Men” (1949, Robert Rossen).

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948, John Huston). “Treasure” is perhaps the finest work by writer-director (and here, for the first time, actor), John Huston. It’s a supreme western noir and one of the great Humphrey Bogart pictures.

Bogart is Fred C. Dobbs, a down and out American in 1925 in Tampico, Mexico, who hooks up with two other Yanks: tough but decent Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) and fast-talking, grizzled, expert prospector Howard (John’s father Walter Huston; he won the Oscar). The three treasure hunters strike gold in the Sierra Madre mountains, but they also hit a vein of darkness: the discord and violence that sudden riches can bring.

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Film Noir File: A Tuesday trio on TCM

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint share a swanky cocktail.

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint share a swanky cocktail.

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).

Tuesday, Feb. 3

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “Foreign Correspondent” (1940, Alfred Hitchcock).

North by Northwest poster5:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.): “North by Northwest” (1959, Alfred Hitchcock). One of Hitchcock’s two great spy-chase thrillers (the other is “The 39 Steps”), “North by Northwest” follows a suave but beleaguered Manhattan advertising executive (Cary Grant), who’s mistaken for a spy who doesn’t exist, charged with a murder he didn’t commit, pursued by bad guys (James Mason, Martin Landau) whose machinations bewilder him. Oh and he’s involved with a blonde beauty (Eva Marie Saint) who may want him dead. And then there’s that pesky crop-dusting plane “dustin’ where there ain’t no crops.” One of the best, most typical and most beautifully made Hitchcocks. Ingeniously scripted by Ernest Lehman.

12:45 a.m. (9:45 p.m.): “The Thin Man” (1934, W. S. Van Dyke). The first and best of all the plush M.G.M. films in which William Powell and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora Charles, the slightly pixilated and urbanely witty couple who alternated screwball romps with tough, brainy detective work, solving murders and finishing champagne bottles with equal flair. That golden couple was inspired by the relationship between Dashiell Hammett and his longtime companion, playwright/screenwriter Lillian Hellman.

This is the only one of the Thin Man movies actually based on a Hammett novel. The adaptor/scenarists were another witty couple, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (“It’s a Wonderful Life”). The supporting cast includes Maureen O’Sullivan and Cesar Romero.

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Film Noir File: ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ and a Buñuel bundle are this week’s baubles on TCM

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

Sweet Smell of Success” (1957, Alexander Mackendrick). Sunday, Jan. 25, 10 p.m. (7 p.m.).

Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster star in “Sweet Smell of Success.”

Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster star in “Sweet Smell of Success.”

“Sweet Smell of Success,” an American movie masterpiece and one of the best and gutsiest of all the classic film noirs, is a sleek killer comedy/drama about Broadway in the ’50s.

It centers around two influential New Yorkers: megalomaniac star gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) and one of his more energetic publicist-sources, scummy but fashionable Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis).

And yes that is actor David White aka Larry Tate from TV’s  “Bewitched”as Otis Elwell (uncredited). Watching  “Sweet Smell of Success” now, you naturally think of “Mad Men” and an elite long-ago world of white men climbing the ladder of success: ruthless and glamorous, cut-throat and captivating.

Yes, that is actor David White (right) aka Larry Tate from TV’s  “Bewitched”as Otis Elwell (uncredited).

Yes, that is actor David White (right) aka Larry Tate from TV’s “Bewitched”as Otis Elwell (uncredited).

Read the full review here.

Monday, Jan. 26

Five by Luis Buñuel

Five superb films, from his middle and later years, by the great dark Spanish movie surrealist Luis Buñuel, whose extraordinary films, whether made in Spain, France Mexico or the U.S., are as noir as they come.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Belle de Jour” (1967, Luis Buñuel). The most beautiful movie actress alive directed by the world’s most brilliantly rebellious and surreal filmmaker. That was the incendiary match-up of star Catherine Deneuve and director Luis Buñuel, most notably in their classic 1967 French erotic noir drama “Belle de Jour.”

In that great film, Deneuve – so lovely and so classically, radiantly, sexily blonde – played Severine, the icy, ravishing Parisian wife, who becomes a prostitute during the day to escape her boring bourgeois life and her handsome but boring husband (Jean Sorel). Severine then falls into a mad world of crime, hypocrisy, dreamlike perversity and mad peril. “Belle de Jour,” adapted from the novel by Joseph Kessel, was the most popular, sensational and best-remembered film of Buñuel’s entire career. In French. with English subtitles.

Catherine Deneuve is unforgettable in 1967’s noir drama “Belle de Jour.”

Catherine Deneuve is unforgettable in 1967’s noir drama “Belle de Jour.”

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972, Luis Buñuel). Buñuel’s sly, surreal Oscar-winner (for Best Foreign Language Picture of 1972), about a bourgeois dinner party that gets constantly interrupted and a world that is increasingly out of joint. The splendid cast includes Delphine Seyrig, Michel Piccoli, Fernando Rey, Stephane Audran, Bulle Ogier and Jean-Pierre Cassel. Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carriere co-wrote the script. In French, with subtitles.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Diary of a Chambermaid” (1964, Luis Buñuel). Jeanne Moreau is a sultry chambermaid in a perverse French household, surrounded by exploitation and erotic menace. Adapted by Buñuel and Carriere from the novel by Octave Mirbeau (previously filmed in 1946 by director Jean Renoir and star Paulette Goddard). In French, with subtitles.

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Viridiana” (1961, Luis Buñuel). A young convent woman returns to her wealthy and lascivious uncle’s elegant house and learns, unhappily, that the world of man and the will of God are often at odds. Buñuel’s return to Spanish filmmaking after decades of exile was then banned in Spain, but was otherwise a worldwide art house hit and a Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner. With Silvia Pinal, Fernando Rey and Francisco (”Paco”) Rabal. In Spanish, with subtitles.

3:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m.): “The Exterminating Angel” (1962, Luis Buñuel). One of Buñuel’s greatest dark jokes: A Mexican upper-class family and their friends stage a posh dinner party, but then discover that they somehow, mysteriously, maddeningly, can’t leave the dining room. They must stay there, suffer, degenerate and perhaps die. An incredible piece of stylish nightmare : pure Buñuel. With Silvia Pinal and Enrique Rambal. In Spanish, with subtitles.

9:45 a.m. (6:45 a.m.): “Zazie dans le Metro” (1960, Louis Malle). Reviewed in FNB on June 24, 2011.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.): “Three Days of the Condor” (1975, Sydney Pollack). Robert Redford is a U. S. government reader and analyst whose world suddenly opens under his feet one day, when most of his colleagues are killed and he becomes a wanted man on the run. The quintessential paranoid anti-C.I.A. thriller, this is a modern variant on the prototypical Hitchcockian “wrong man“ suspenser. Based on James Grady’s novel “Six Days of the Condor,” it’s been copied endlessly, especially by novelist John Grisham. With Faye Dunaway, Max Von Sydow, Cliff Robertson and John Houseman. [Read more...]

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Film Noir File: Kazan taps TV’s evil in ‘A Face in the Crowd’

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

A Face in the Crowd” (1957, Elia Kazan). Tuesday, Jan. 20, 3 p.m. (12 p.m.).

Andy Griffith gives a mesmerizing performance.

Andy Griffith gives a mesmerizing performance.

Three years after they collaborated on the great noir “On the Waterfront,” screenwriter Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazan joined forces brilliantly again, on another classic noirish drama: “A Face in the Crowd.”

Andy Griffith stars as a guitar-playing, propaganda-spewing vicious bum named Lonesome Rhodes, whom a bunch of TV types transform into a folksy national superstar – a crazy mixture of Arthur Godfrey, Hank Williams and Senator Joe McCarthy.

Not as famous or as influential as Waterfront, Face is nevertheless another American masterpiece. Thanks to Kazan and Schulberg it had another gutsy, gut-punching script, a similar sense of life in all its intensity and complexity, and another very strong (if not quite as remarkable) cast: Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Anthony Franciosa, Lee Remick, Kay Medford, Burl Ives, Mike Wallace, Walter Winchell.

Patricia Neal leads an excellent support cast.

Patricia Neal leads an excellent support cast.

As for Griffith, he was as essential to “Face in the Crowd” as Marlon Brando was to “On the Waterfront.” There were few movie and TV actors more specifically, joyously American back in the ’50s and ’60s than Andy Griffith, a hugely talented small-town North Carolina guy who could so aptly play both good men and bad.

And as Lonesome Rhodes, he gives an explosive, mesmerizing rendition of pure guile and homespun brutality.

Saturday, Jan. 17

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): Foreign Correspondent (1940, Alfred Hitchcock). Saturday, Jan. 17, 8 p.m. (5 p.m.). Read the full review here.

Foreign Corr poster10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “Contraband” (1940, Michael Powell). A Danish ship captain (Conrad Veidt) and a British beauty (Valerie Hobson) get mixed up in spy high jinx at the onset of World War II. Masterminded by Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger, who would make some of the most offbeat movie masterpieces of the World War II era.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Above Suspicion” (1943, Richard Thorpe). This glamorous MGM chase thriller sends Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray (a pretty odd couple) on a honeymoon in terror, with villainous Nazis (including Conrad Veidt, of “Casablanca” fame) as their tour guides. Crawford shines off-type as a smart and loyal wife.

Monday, Jan. 19

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Intruder in the Dust” (1949, Clarence Brown). A stately, graceful adaptation of the Mississippi murder mystery by William Faulkner, in which a brave boy (Claude Jarman, Jr.) helps a stubborn, heroic old black man stand up to a lynch mob. A very atypical film for the elegant metteur-en-scene Clarence Brown, Greta Garbo’s most frequent director. But it’s probably the best film he ever made.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Defiant Ones” (1958, Stanley Kramer). Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis as escaped chain gang prisoners, shackled together and on the run, in the most Stanley Kramerish of all Stanley Kramer pictures.

4:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.): “Edge of the City” (1957, Martin Ritt). With John Cassavetes, Sidney Poitier, Jack Warden and Ruby Dee. Brilliant acting – pitched in an “On the Waterfront” key and set in the same kind of grim dockside milieu – stands out in this tough yet humane film.

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Film Noir File: John Huston’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’ is the stuff that dreams are made of

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

Maltese Falcon posterThe Maltese Falcon” (1941, John Huston). Sunday, Jan. 11, 12 p.m. (9 a.m.).

“The Maltese Falcon,” a spectacularly entertaining and iconic crime film, holds the claim to many firsts.

It’s a remarkable directorial debut by John Huston, who also wrote the screenplay. It’s considered by many critics to be the first film noir. (Another contender is “Stranger on the Third Floor” see below.) It was the first vehicle in which screen legend Humphrey Bogart and character actor Elisha Cook Jr. appeared together – breathing life into archetypal roles that filled the noir landscape for decades to come.

It was veteran stage actor Sydney Greenstreet’s first time before a camera and the first time he worked with Peter Lorre. The pair would go on to make eight more movies together. Additionally, “Falcon,” an entry on many lists of the greatest movies ever made, was one of the first films admitted to the National Film Registry in its inaugural year, 1989. Read the rest of the review here.


Saturday, Jan. 10

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Metropolis” (1927, Fritz Lang). The rich vs. the poor, the factory owners vs. the workers, and the mad scientist vs. the people and their heroine (Brigitte Helm as the human Maria and her double, the false robot Maria) in the greatest of all silent era science fiction epics. And it’s noir as well. With Alfred Abel and Rudolf-Klein-Rogge).

Blue Gardenia poster10:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m.): “Ministry of Fear” (1944, Fritz Lang). The always delightful Ray Milland plays a man desperately trying to stop a Nazi spy ring. Graham Greene wrote the source novel.

12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.): “The Blue Gardenia” (1953, Fritz Lang). Working girl Anne Baxter lets her guard down and gets mixed up in the murder of slimy Raymond Burr. The rest of the lineup includes Richard Conte, Ann Sothern, Nat King Cole and George “Superman” Reeves. Not Lang’s best, but you won’t want to miss it anyway.

Sunday, Jan. 11

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Knife in the Water” (1962, Roman Polanski). Polanski’s great youthful thriller about three people on a boat in the water, with a knife aboard. The trio includes a nasty young hitchhiker and a malaise-ridden bourgeois couple who are going sailing (Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka and Zygmunt Malanowicz). It’s a sunny day; the sexy wife wears a skimpy bikini; the hitchhiker plays with the knife; the tension keeps mounting and mounting. Polanski’s high visual gifts and his flair for dark moods and rising tension were already in full play here. A world-wide art house hit, this film, co-scripted by Jerzy Skolimowski (Walkover) is a classic of brooding menace and erotic threat. (In Polish, with subtitles.).

3:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m.): “Purple Noon” (1960, Rene Clement).

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “Lady” but her new look was not well received. Hmmpf!

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “Lady” but her new look was not well received. Hmmpf!

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “The Chase” (1966, Arthur Penn). Robert Redford plays an escaped convict whose race toward his Deep Southern home throws the town into turmoil. Jane Fonda is his old pal; Marlon Brando is the liberal sheriff trying to put a lid on the fireworks.

Poorly re-edited, but still an underrated socially conscious neo-noir, adapted by Lillian Hellman from a Horton Foote story. The cast includes Robert Duvall, Angie Dickinson and Janice Rule.

Wednesday, Jan. 14

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948, Orson Welles).

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Film noir birthday boys honored on TCM and getTV

Frank Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson star in 1959’s “A Hole in the Head,” directed by Frank Capra.

Frank Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson star in 1959’s “A Hole in the Head,” directed by Frank Capra.

Frank Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson were both born Dec. 12. So, on Friday, TCM is running a b’day tribute to EGR. And getTV is celebrating Sinatra’s 99th birthday with a programming marathon and Twitter party.

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Film Noir File: Postman rings twice for Garfield and Granger

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

The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1946, Tay Garnett). Sunday, Dec. 14; 6 a.m. (3 a.m.). With Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway and Hume Cronyn.

Lana Turner, John Garfield and Cecil Kellaway are the players in the “Postman” love triangle.

Lana Turner, John Garfield and Cecil Kellaway are the players in the “Postman” love triangle.

In the opening of “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” a sign reading “MAN WANTED” flashes at us twice. This man, John Garfield as it happens, is really wanted. But you wouldn’t know it from Lana Turner’s imperious entrance.

She drops a tube of lipstick, then deigns to let him pick it up and return it to her. He decides to let her get it herself. She’s unruffled and he’s hooked. In a way, these first few minutes of the film foreshadow the sexual power play between Garfield’s Frank and Turner’s Cora.

Read the full review here.

Friday, Dec. 12

4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.): “Kid Galahad” (1937, Michael Curtiz). In this archetypal boxing-gangsters crime drama, a bumpkin bellhop (Wayne Morris) with big natural prize-fighting talent, tangles with a wily promoter (Edward G. Robinson), a mean mobster (Humphrey Bogart) and a true-blue dame (Bette Davis). One of those ’30s movies that late-night TV audiences loved. Later remade by Phil Karlson as an Elvis Presley vehicle, “Kid Galahad” was a major prize winner at the 1937 Venice Film Festival.

Saturday, Dec. 13

12 p.m. (9 a.m.): “Gaslight” (1944, George Cukor). Set in foggy Victorian gas-lit London, this is the best of all the melodramas and noirs where a bad husband tries to drive his wife insane. With Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury and Dame May Whitty.

A distraught Tippi Hedren confronts a wary Sean Connery in “Marnie.”

A distraught Tippi Hedren confronts a wary Sean Connery in “Marnie.”

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Marnie” (1964, Alfred Hitchcock). With Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren, Diane Baker and Bruce Dern.

Sunday, Dec. 14

3:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.): “Blowup” (1966, Michelangelo Antonioni). With David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles and The Yardbirds. Reviewed in FNB on June 19, 2014.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

4:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.): “The Sea Wolf” (1941, Michael Curtiz). Jack London’s philosophical sea-going melodrama about vicious cargo-ship captain Wolf Larsen (Edward G. Robinson). Larsen is an egghead fascist and brutal autodidact who’s going blind and crazy as he toys with his crew and his passengers (John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Barry Fitzgerald and Alexander Knox).

With its noirish cast, writer (Robert Rossen) and director, this is probably the best of many film versions of London’s dark tale. The movie seethes with gangsterish menace and obvious parallels to then-contemporary WWII conflicts.

Wednesday, Dec. 17 

“Side Street” was the second noir to feature young lovers played by Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell.

“Side Street” was the second noir to feature young lovers played by Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell.

7:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m.): “Dial 1119” (1950, Gerald Mayer). Crisp little B-thriller about a barful of New York City types held captive by a maniac. With Marshall Thompson, Andrea King, Sam Levene and Keefe Brasselle.

1 p.m. (10 a.m.): “Mystery Street” (1950, John Sturges). A good, smart police procedural, set partly at Harvard University, with a homicide cop and forensic scientist (Ricardo Montalban and Bruce Bennett), trying to crack a murder with sexual overtones. Co-starring Elsa Lanchester, Sally Forrest, Jan Sterling and Marshall Thompson. Written by Sydney Boehm (“The Big Heat”).

4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.): “Side Street” (1950, Anthony Mann). The postman rings too often here too, as Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell, the two tenderly romantic, stunningly photogenic stars of Nick Ray’s love-on-the-run noir classic “They Live by Night,” are rematched for one of Anthony Mann’s best B-noirs. Granger is a financially strapped postal delivery guy who makes one slip and swipes money that turns out to be the property of some particularly murderous criminals. O’Donnell is his lovely and loyal wife. The stellar gallery of crooks, cops and bystanders lurking around them includes James Craig, Paul Kelly, Jean Hagen and Charles McGraw. The cast, Sydney Boehm’s taut script, the evocative New York City location photography (by Joseph Ruttenberg) and the full-throttle, exciting action set-pieces make this “B” special. (Also see our FNB Farley Granger piece on April 4, 2011.)

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