Archive for May 4th, 2010

Mauri Llynn - The Big Night (1951)

Mauri Lynn in The Big Night (1951; Joseph Losey)

by Sam Juliano

With the focus of so many festivals and blogger features on ‘film noir’ you’re led to believe it’s more popular today than it ever was.  Dave Hicks just completed a Top 100 noir countdown, and our good friend and colleague Tony d’Ambra has been raising the bar on the form for just about a year, examining noir in its literary roots, thematic underpinnings, and individual components and symbols, including its most dominant locales and cities, characters (i.e. femme fatale) and sociological links.  This week, d’Ambra has posted one of his great pieces on the presumed role of the African-American in film noir, and has taken a position contrary to what some academics have asserted over several decades, a position that acknowledges the sympathetic regard for issues of race within the fabric of the story.

Says d’Ambra:  “If during the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood was not actively racist, it still largely ignored race.  Some academics have gone as far as saying that film noir was essentially a manifestation of a  transference of a fear of blackness, the other, to a noir nether world of ambivalence and sublimation.  But my view is to the contrary.   If you look at noir movies over the classic period from the early 40s to the late 50s, a significant number of progressive writers and directors made noirs that deal sympathetically with race as important elements of the story. This is more than can be said of the body of Hollywood output for the period.”

He then goes on to clarify his stance with specific examples:

“Here I would like to cover some of these noirs from 1941 through to 1956. The Harry Belafonte produced Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) is not included in this discussion, as we are dealing here with white Hollywood’s portrayal of blacks.”  d’Ambra then posts some superlative capsule reviews on the following: Blues in the Night, Body and Soul, The Reckless Moment, Young Man With a Horn, The Set-Up, The Big Night, The Well and The Killing, and in each case there’s some compelling evidence.  Head over here to FilmsNoir.net for this fascinating piece: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/race-and-film-noir-black-and-noir.html

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by Allan Fish

(France 2007 83m) DVD1/2

Aka. À l’intérieur

You killed me once

p  Vérane Frédiani, Franck Ribière  d  Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury  w  Alexandre Bustillo  ph  Laurent Barès  ed  Baxter  m  François Eudes  art  Marc Thiébault

Béatrice Dalle (the woman), Alysson Paradis (Sarah), Nathalie Roussel (Louise), François-Régis Marchasson (Jean-Pierre), Jean-Baptiste Tabourin (Mathieu), Dominique Frot (nurse), Nicolas Devauchelle (cop),

On 9th November 1888 Thomas Bowyer made his way to 13 Miller’s Court to collect back rent from the young tenant.  Receiving no reply, he peered through a crack in the window and saw a sight that doubtless remained burnt into his consciousness for the rest of his life.  Jack the Ripper, whoever he may have been (William Bury gets my vote), had taken his final victim and left her in pieces on and around her bed.  I remember the first time I saw the sepia photo taken at the crime scene and thinking that here was the result of utter abandonment to psychopathic frenzy the like of which I hope I never see. 

            Now go forward roughly a century to a time when the bedrooms of many boys and young men throughout the land were decorated with posters of Béatrice Dalle in Betty Blue; that insouciant pout, she reeked of sex.  And we had all seen the VHS of what became one of the few cool foreign films, with that opening five minutes, all that sex and casual nudity, that stance in a red dress sans underwear on the bonnet of a vehicle.  Everyone dreamt of Betty, but did they see the film to the end, or were they just there for the sex?  It all goes pear shaped and Betty goes bonkers; stark raving bonkers.  (more…)

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