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In a Lonely Place


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A friend leant us their video of this and we watched it last night. What a great film. I'm not too up on Film Noir, and I understand this is a bit borderline anyway (anyone care to fill me in?), I've probably only seen A Touch of Evil, Notorious, and now this which are all listed on Filmsite but then it also lists Citizen Kane and Vertigo neither of which I thought were Film Noir. I mean Vertigo's in colour! I'm also not entirely sure why Casablanca doesn't make it if these do. Some elements are missing, but a lot are there.

Anyway back to In a Lonely Place. Bogart is superb here as is Gloria Graham opposite him, and the way the film plays with the whodunnit thing paces the story excellently. spoilers1.gif In the end you realise that the real villain are the cops, and you can't help feeling sorry for Bogart even though he's so dangerous.

Has anyone else seen this?

Matt

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I can just about see Vertigo as a noir. Citizen Kane is stretching it a bit.

Drop by The Grace Pages, a rest-stop for fellow pilgrims.

-- Dave aka Alvy

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Matt, In a Lonely Place is absolutely superb, I'm really glad you had the chance to see it! One of the best noirs of all time, a highly nuanced character study, a deeply felt tragedy, and a confessional, beautifully constructed work by Nicholas Ray, one of the great Hollywood filmmakers (and early hero of the French New Wave).

Ray once studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright and his emphasis on place and setting is always acute. The apartment complex Steele and Gray live in was a direct recreation of Ray's own residence in Los Angeles. It's one of those searing, emotionally honest films you can't believe was made in Hollywood half a century ago. Ray was also a big influence on Martin Scorsese and Curtis Hanson.

I'm with you, I can't recommend this film highly enough, which was just restored and released as a really nice DVD here in the States last year.

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Interesting point on the architecture. One of the last shots looking down and aross the courtyard as Bogart walks away was stunning. Bogart's acting really adds a whole layer to this, as a romantic hero, but who you see all kinds of darkness, angst, hurt, and lonliness in. So well done.

By way of confession I have to admit that the only other Nicholas Ray film I've seen is King of Kings. I know I should have seen Rebel Without a Cause, but somehow I've never got around to it. embarassed.gif

Alvy, discussion as to whether Vertigo is Film Noir just seems a little to close to the Orange ad / promo / please turn off your phones thing that plays in cinemas occasionally. "You want to film Film Noir in colour?"

Matt

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Nice point about that shot, Matt. Yeah, there's quite a bit of dialogue throughout the film referring to the architecture and layout and how it affects the protagonist's relationship. (She can "see into his apartment" but he "can't see into hers," etc.)

Film noir in color--have you seen Chinatown or L.A. Confidential? wink.gif

Warner Brothers is prepping a really nice 2-disc Rebel Without a Cause DVD set.

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it also lists Citizen Kane and Vertigo neither of which I thought were Film Noir. I mean Vertigo's in colour!

Noir doesn't necessarily mean black and white, although most films considered to be of that genre are filmed in black and white. Noir emphasizes low-key and high contrast lighting lighting, complex composition, and a strong emphasis of dread and fear.

Now, I would say Vertigo is on the bubble as far as Noir goes. It has plenty of the fear and dread, and the lighting of those particular scenes seem to follow the noir form. But it doesn't solely rely on those photographic techniques.

I think a terrific comparrison between black & white and color noir films, would be two films by the Coen brothers - Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There.

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Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

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I can just about see Vertigo as a noir. Citizen Kane is stretching it a bit.

Citizen Kane is sometimes credited as "the first film noir," though I'm inclined to agree with you and say that if Kane was noir then noir was not yet noir. But certainly Kane anticipated and presumably influenced the style of film noir. (Kane and Touch of Evil are sometimes used to bookend the era of noir with two Orson Welles pictures.)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Hmm...I don't believe I've ever heard Kane associated with film noir, myself. The genre's major visual inspiration is more attributable to German expressionism, if anything. And Kane had its deep-focus, high-contrast predecessors as well, including Gregg Toland's own work in the excellent Les Mis

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Remember, too, that Kane had a really poor industry reception (it was actually booed at the Oscars) and its critical reputation didn't really catch on until the '50s, probably due to the Cahiers du Cinema group's constant promotion.

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Hmm...I don't believe I've ever heard Kane associated with film noir, myself.

Huh. As I said, certainly the association is partial at best, but I didn't think it was unusual to see Kane as a forerunner of noir, anyway. (FWIW, Tim Dirk of Filmsite in his article on noir mentions "significant noir features" in Kane, and in his Kane review speaks of the film's "unconventional lighting, including chiaroscuro, prefiguring the darkness of future film noirs.")

The genre's

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Remember, too, that Kane had a really poor industry reception (it was actually booed at the Oscars) and its critical reputation didn't really catch on until the '50s, probably due to the Cahiers du Cinema group's constant promotion.

Really? Huh again. My understanding was that while it wasn't a popular or commercial success at first, it was widely (Dirks says "unanimously") recognized as a masterpiece by critics anyway, but of course I have no idea how it was regarded in the industry.

In preparation for writing my review I read Bosley Crowther's 1941 New York Times rave, and was astonished (as I have often been going back and reading his reviews) at how remarkably un-dated and in keeping with current opinion it seems to be.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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It's pretty unusual to see Kane as a "forerunner" of film noir, a genre I have studied. Sure, one could probably find loose stylistic associations with it, but its strongest historical links are with a different strand of filmmaking. In fact, Welles' style throughout his career was more baroque than expressionist.

Kane received some good reviews by the few critics who had a chance to see it, and Herman J. Mankiewicz was a well-liked and established screenwriter--Kane's only Oscar, Best Screenplay, was largely seen as an award for Mankiewicz, not Welles.

The corporate wrath that newcomer 20-something Welles brought upon the industry--the Hearst publishing empire threatening to boycott the industry and play up Hollywood's Jewish identity and reveal behind-the-scenes gossip--was widely resented. MGM's Louis B. Mayer even offered to buy the movie from RKO, including a reasonable profit, if they would simply burn the negative. The New York Times (Crowther), Variety, and the Hollywood Reporter wrote rave reviews, but the general industry consensus was quite negative.

And it wasn't until 1952 that Citizen Kane appeared as a runner-up in the Sight & Sound international critical poll as one of the "great films," and due to the growing rise of cinephilia and tentative film studies, it finally topped the list in 1962. It was a huge influence on the French New Wave and the '60s generation of filmmakers, but it took a while to get there. (Although an occasional homage like The Third Man appeared every now and then.)

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SDG wrote:

: Well, sure, but isn't German expressionism a factor in Kane too?

Indeed. The prof who taught my intro-to-film course back in '89 quipped that Kane has sometimes been called not only the greatest American film ever made, but the greatest German film ever made, too. I have no idea WHO has called it that, but that quote is part and parcel of my introduction to the film.

Doug C wrote:

: (Although an occasional homage like The Third Man appeared every now and then.)

FWIW, my favorite, totally-unexpected, comes-in-from-way-out-of-left-field homage is in the Warner Brothers cartoon Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves (1942). I think I was the only guy in the theatre who caught the reference when we see the zoot-suited Prince Charming mouth the word "Rosebud..." Either that, or I was the only guy who found it funny, cuz no one else laughed.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Gloria Grahame is phenomenal in the film, and she underscores Ray's autobiographical element in that she was actually his wife at the time they made it.

Bogart always had a darker edge to his performances, too. He started off acting in villain roles before he became a star, and from the outlaw in High Sierra to the greedy opportunist in Treasure of the Sierra Madre to the meglomaniacal captain in The Caine Mutiny, he was always able to tap into his shadow side with just the right amount of menace.

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Thanks for all the comments on this one, as I say I've not seen much Noir, and even that is only recent.

Doug FWIW I have seen LA Confidential, but was a bit confused by the wink (its frustrating when my ignorance stops me getting a joke!)

Now that you mention it, I do vaguely remember reading that Film Noir, doesn't exclude colour - so thanks for mentioning it.

Might have to catch Insomnia (you do mean the Christopher Nolan one don't you?). Is it any good?

Matt

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Just did Kane with my films class a few days ago (Summer School - what a great summer school course huh?) Anyway, there's an outstanding documentary on the two disc set (that I got rather cheaply from DeepDiscountDVD.com) entitled, The Battle over Citizen Kane.

Interesting, and insightul.

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Might have to catch Insomnia (you do mean the Christopher Nolan one don't you?).

Yes (although the phrase "film blanche" was coined, I think, for the Norwegian original).

Is it any good?

Yes.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Bogart always had a darker edge to his performances, too.

Indeed -- even in his heroic roles ("What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a gun before? What do you want me to do, count three like they do in the movies?").

He started off acting in villain roles before he became a star, and from the outlaw in High Sierra to the greedy opportunist in Treasure of the Sierra Madre

One of his finest performances (the finest, I think).

to the meglomaniacal captain in The Caine Mutiny, he was always able to tap into his shadow side with just the right amount of menace.

But not menacing enough, apparently, ever to best Jimmy Cagney, who got to kill Bogey onscreen no fewer than three times, starting with this movie).

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Oh, no comparison with Jimmy Cagney, who tore the screen up with his dangerous obsessions. (And famously, horribly, thrust an open grapefruit into the face of his character's nagging wife in Public Enemy.)

That's great that you showed Kane to your class, Dan. Every introductory film class should. And The Battle Over Citizen Kane is very good (it also won an Academy Award, I believe), although some Welles scholars have criticized certain details of the film as not being entirely accurate.

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Incidentally, my mention of Public Enemy brings up the other major influence on film noir apart from expressionism, which was the crime film and its gangster subgenre of the '20s and '30s. Noir added more complex gender roles and a good dose of Freudianism in the '40s and '50s, obsessing over the past and viewing the present and future with cynicism during the war years. (Note its prevalent use of flashbacks.)

Although if one saw Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once (1937) and didn't know when it was made, you'd swear it was filmed ten years later than it was.

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I had a film class in the late 80's that, for a brief period, covered noir. One of the students in that same class was the manager of The Crest, a theatre built here in Sacramento in the 40's, that he was trying to save from possible demolition, and have rennovated (which it now is). Anyways, this student would attempt to book films similar to the ones being shown in class (depending on the topic), and during our "Noir week", he was able to book The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, and topped it off with a great double feature of Chinatown and Blade Runner (talk about a great contrast of visions taking place in the same city!).

It's really unfortunate that many of the cinematographers of these movies have little name recognition outside of their circle. Men like Arthur Edison, Burnette Guffy, or Sid Hickox who really set a standard for noir in its infancy, and are still revered by cinematographers today.

Dan, I think another film you might be interested in sharing with your class is Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography, a wonderful look at the history of the process, told by many of the best in the business. And, of course, too many great clips to mention.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Baal, that sounds wonderful and the combination of Chinatown's sunny mystery and Blade Runner's rainy darkness would have provided a great contrast. (In fact, you can see both films in the recent documentary, Los Angeles Plays Itself.)

As to Visions of Light...I've been recommending this DVD to Dan for years! If I taught a film class, it would be the first thing I'd show them.

user posted image

John Alton, the cinematographer of T-Men (above) and The Big Combo and a lot of famous noirs wrote a classic book on cinematography, Painting with Light, that was recently reprinted. Highly recommended.

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DanBuck wrote:

: Anyway, there's an outstanding documentary on the two disc set . . . entitled, The

: Battle over Citizen Kane. Interesting, and insightul.

You thought so? I remember being underwhelmed by it, myself, as was the only other person in town that I discussed it with. Maybe I should check it out again. Could be interesting to compare it to the documentary that was included with the massive 50th-anniversary VHS set that I picked up over a decade ago.

Doug C wrote:

: . . . it also won an Academy Award, I believe . . .

Nominated, yes, but won, no. It lost to Anne Frank Remembered.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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