My Twenty Five Top Film Noirs

film-noir-blackWhat is Film Noir? Well just take  look at Double Indemnity or Criss Cross and you will get the idea. Filled with treacherous woman and dumb men, along with odd camera angles and stark contrast like black and white photography, film noir’s peak period arguably ranges from 1941 to 1958. The term was coined by the French. After the war, an influx of American films began to flood the European cinemas. The French critics noticed a much darker, pessimistic, fatalistic tone in  many the films and coined the phase film noir or dark cinema. Continue reading

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My Submission to the Childhood Countdown

I happen to be taking a look at Aaron West’s Criterion Blues blog and noticed his recent posting of his Adolescence and Childhood film list that he submitted for the upcoming Countdown over at Wonders in the Dark. I have been participating in WitD’s annual Countdown series for a few years, actually since it first began and thought wow, why haven’t I done this before. So I am borrowing Aaron’s idea (it’s possible some other participant(s) has done this in the past, if so, I am unaware) and posting my own submission.

As mentioned, this year’s countdown is on favorite films about Childhood. Now these are not children or young adult films pumped out by Disney or whomever. They are films that are about childhood or have a significant role by a young person. This, as usual brought up a lot of discussion between participants (emails were flying!) on just what constitutes a film about childhood,  and where does childhood end and adulthood begin. In others words, just because there is a child in the film, it does not qualify as a film about childhood. My own thoughts, and what I used as a guideline were childhood ends with the end of one’s high school years, generally seventeen. My second guideline was there had to be a significant role by a young individual that was important to the storyline. Subsequently, you will find a film like Shane, a western whose plot is more about  the Van Heflin, Alan Ladd and Jack Palance interplay than the young boy. But the young boy’s role is an important part in the film. We see much of what happens through his eyes. You will also note that I included Mildred Pierce which I don’t believe anyone else submitted. Mildred Pierce, a film about childhood? Well, Veda, played by a thirteen year old Ann Blyth, is significant to the story, and we all know about how young vile, uncaring, self-centered  teens who believe the world revolves around them can be and Veda is a poster girl for vile.

Anyway, whether one agrees with my choices or not, below is my submission which will be tabulated with all the other entries. A final list will be compiled with a review by one participant posted each weekday until the complete list of 60 films are revealed. The Countdown will started sometime in June. Continue reading

Suddenly (1954) Lewis Allen

SUDDENLY, Nancy Gates, Sterling Hayden, Frank Sinatra, 1954

SUDDENLY, Nancy Gates, Sterling Hayden, Frank Sinatra, 1954

It was a strange choice for a follow-up to his big comeback Academy Award winning role as Maggio in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity, but Frank Sinatra was never one to do what was expected. Released in 1954 by United Artists, Suddenly is a tale about three hired killers who come to the small California town of Suddenly with plans to assassinate the President. Written by Richard Sale, arguably best known today as the director of an early film, Let’s Make it Legal, that had a young Marilyn Monroe in its cast, Suddenly is a tight little thriller with a surprisingly nasty performance from its star. Continue reading

Revisiting Some Like it Hot

loews-state_1959_some-like-it-hot_loc

Selecting a favorite film is not easy, at least for me. I am always jumping back between two or three films; Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window or two films by Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity and Some Like it Hot. These two directors were there almost from the beginning of my love affair with film. So when it came to choosing a favorite film for this blogathon or any reason it becomes one more time where I have to make a torturous choice. That’s because in a week, a day, a minute from now I will be doubting myself for not going with one of the others. I have written about Rear Window in two different articles and once about Some Like it Hot. Surprisingly, at least to myself, I have yet to write about Double Indemnity. From the title of this article you can easily surmise that I still haven’t. I decided to go with Wilder’s 1959 farce, a reposting of an article I wrote some time back, primarily because of what  you are about to read in the following paragraph. I was a young teen when I did what I discuss and have always felt a visceral connection to this film.  The humor, the writing, the pacing, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn. it all came together. Anyway, here is the original article. Continue reading

More Recent Happenings

This Saturday is National Classic Film Day and Twenty Four Frames is celebrating by joining an impressive group of bloggers for the My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon. I will be writing about Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot, a film I fell in love with way back when. If you are interested in participating, contact Rick Armstrong at  blogathon@classicfilmtvcafe.com.  You can read all about it, rules and other participants, etc. at the following link.

http://www.classicfilmtvcafe.com/2015/03/a-blogathon-in-celebration-of-inaugural.html

Blyth -EBook CoverI am currently reading Author, Playwright, New England Historian and fellow Blogger, Jacqueline T. Lynch’s upcoming biography of Ann Blyth, remembered best for her role as Veda in Mildred Pierce, However, Blyth had a long wide ranging career in film, music, television and theater. Ms. Lynch’s sparkling new bio covers it all in fascinating detail. I will be interviewing the author right here in the near future. The book, Ann Blyth: Actress Singer Star will be available June 18th.

Coming soon – new reviews here on Suddenly, Kid Galahad  and Crime Wave.

Short Takes: Recent Viewings

Here are five short reviews of some recent viewings that are all over the genre map.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

gunfightGunfight at the O.K. Corral is a beautifully shot big Hollywood version of the famed Tombstone shootout as the Earp Brothers face down the Clantons. Burt Lancaster makes for a stoic Wyatt Earp, a hard ass who totes the line. Kirk Douglas does his best impersonation of himself as the alcoholic, tuberculosis ridden, Doc Holliday. The story itself is pretty fictionalized.  Johnny Ringo, for example, died before the shootout, and the real life shootout only lasted only about 30 seconds. Then there is Jo Van Fleet, who only two years earlier played James Dean’s  mother in East of Eden, as Kate Fisher, Doc Holliday’s female companion. In real Earp lore, Kate was known as “Big Nose” Kate. But then who cares about all that. Watching the two stars interact makes this a fun watch. Continue reading

Recent Happenings

Just  a short note on a few recent happenings. First off, I was interviewed in mid-April by Chicago Tribune writer Nina Metz for an article she was writing on Chicago and the gangster film. Below is the link. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/ct-mov-0424-chicago-closeup-20150424-column.html#page=1

Next, I just want to mention that I am one of 19 contributors to a new e-book called “The Fabulous Films of the 30’s.”  The book is presented by the CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association), edited by Danny Reid, and is free on Smashwords and just .99 cents for Amazon’s Kindle. Why free on Smashwords and .99 cents on Amazon? Well, the big “A” does not like to give away free stuff.  That said, all the proceeds from the sale of our book on Amazon will be donated to Film Preservation.

CMBA-Book Cover

Below are the links to both Smashwords and Amazon.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/537409

http://www.amazon.com/Fabulous-Films-30s-Presented-Association-ebook/dp/B00WOHF9J4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430313495&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fabulous+films+of+the+30%27s

Finally, and on a slightly different subject, I wanted to mention that two of my photographs are currently on exhibit at the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater, Fla. The exhibit runs through May 14th. If you are in the area, stop by and visit. There’s a wide variety of art work by local artists that I know you will enjoy.