By Michael Wilmington & Film Noir Blonde
The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on cable TV. All movies below are from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). This month, TCM pays tribute to one of the great noir dames, Barbara “Missy” Stanwyck. All the Stanwyck film noirs are on Wednesday (Film Noir Day) and Thursday. Robert Mitchum gets a noir tribute on Wednesday too.
PICK OF THE WEEK
“Double Indemnity” (1944, Billy Wilder). Wednesday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m. (5 p.m.). “Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money. And a woman. And I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?” — Walter Neff in “Double Indemnity.”
Sometime before dawn. A dying man, the bullet still in his gut, staggers into his shadowy insurance company office, slumps in a chair, picks up the Dictaphone receiver, and begins to talk. It’s a confession of murder, probably the greatest confession in the history of film noir. The dying man is Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), a bright, handsome, good-natured insurance salesman who’s sold one policy too many.
He sold it to the husband of Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) – the sexiest, blackest hearted dame who ever lit up a cigarette, slipped on (or off) an ankle bracelet, or took out a double indemnity insurance policy on her sap of a husband, prepared by her sap of a salesman/lover. The confession is to his best friend, “hot potato” claims investigator Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). That hurts as much as the bullet. But it doesn’t really matter. There’s not much time left to tell the story. And it’s a hell of a story…
“Double Indemnity” – directed by Billy Wilder, scripted by Wilder and Raymond Chandler from James M. Cain’s great, knife-sharp novel, photographed by John Seitz, with music by Miklos Rozsa – is the pinnacle of film noir. There simply is no better, deeper, darker noir than this one.
Wednesday, Dec. 19
BARBARA STANWYCK AND ROBERT MITCHUM NOIR DAY
Note: For entries that don’t have descriptions, use the search bar on the upper-right side of this page to find previous reviews.
6 a.m. (3 a.m.) “Undercurrent” (Vincente Minnelli, 1946). Mitchum untangles repressions with Katharine Hepburn and Robert Taylor.
8:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.): “Where Danger Lives” (John Farrow, 1950). Mitchum on the run with psycho flirt Faith Domergue.
10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “His Kind of Woman” (John Farrow, 1951). Mitchum and Jane Russell live it up at a pleasure spot hideaway with mobster Raymond Burr.
12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “My Forbidden Past” (Robert Stevenson, 1951). Mitchum messes up Ava Gardner and Melvyn Douglas.
1:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m.): “Angel Face” (Otto Preminger, 1953). A Preminger classic with Mitchum and Jean Simmons.
3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “Second Chance” (Rudolph Maté, 1953). More Mexican high jinks with Mitchum, Linda Darnell and Jack Palance.
10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (Lewis Milestone, 1946).
12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Sorry, Wrong Number” (Anatole Litvak, 1948). Tense movie adaptation of the famed Lucille Fletcher radio play about an invalid woman (Stanwyck) terrorized by phone calls.
1:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m.): “Clash by Night” (Fritz Lang, 1952).
3:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m.): “Jeopardy” (John Sturges, 1953).
5 a.m. (2 a.m.): “Witness to Murder” (Roy Rowland, 1954). Did Stanwyck witness a murder? George Sanders and Gary Merrill wonder.
Thursday, Dec. 20
6:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m.): “Crime of Passion” (Gerd Oswald, 1957).
8 a.m. (5 a.m.): “Barbara Stanwyck: Fire and Desire” (Richard Schickel, 1991). Dick Schickel documentary on Stanwyck’s life and career. With Sally Field.
9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “The Two Mrs. Carrolls” (Peter Godfrey, 1947).
Saturday, Dec. 22
2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “Anatomy of a Murder” (Otto Preminger, 1959).