Monday, November 22, 2010

Announcing For the Love of Film (Noir)


It’s been a good year chez Self-Styled Siren, and Thanksgiving week finds me with many fine things to contemplate. Ask me the best part of 2010, however, and I won’t hesitate for so much as a single frame. It was so spectacular that every time I think about it, I lapse into first person. It was For the Love of Film, the blogathon I co-hosted with the indefatigable Marilyn Ferdinand of Ferdy on Films. It’s a wonderful thing to write about old movies week in and week out, and have people swing by to share the obsession. It is, I have to say, even better to see 81 bloggers come together to write about preservation, and watch reader after reader open their wallets and give money to the cause.

I have had no prouder, happier moment in my five years of running this site than when the National Film Preservation Foundation announced the grand total of $30,000 in donations and matching funds and unveiled the silent shorts that will live on thanks to the people who wrote and gave. I know Marilyn, whose birthday request for preservation donations sparked the idea, and whose energy drove the project, feels the same way. So does Greg Ferrara, who donated the graphics and created a commercial. So, in fact, does every person who wrote a post or threw in some dough.

The 2010 blogathon ended Feb. 21, and by oh, say, 9 am EST on Feb. 22 Marilyn and I knew we’d have to do it again. And so it has come to pass. Today we unveil For the Love of Film (Noir), a blogathon to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

The first blogathon focused on the earliest days of film, where the preservation issues are often the most pressing, but other films from other eras are in grave danger as well. For the second blogathon, Marilyn and I decided to focus on another part of film history. Led by its president, Eddie Muller, the Film Noir Foundation works to preserve the films that form one of cinema’s most creative and deeply loved genres. The FNF has worked to preserve noirs not only from the U.S., but from many other countries as well.

We'll be doing this for Valentine's Day week again, Feb. 14-21, 2011. I’m going to let Marilyn deliver the best news:


Last year, we didn’t know what films we would be helping to restore, but this year, we do! In 1950, a searing drama was released called The Sound of Fury, aka Try and Get Me. The film recounts the same story Fritz Lang told in Fury (1936) and was directed by Cy Endfield, who would run afoul of the Hollywood blacklist. Its star, Lloyd Bridges, never had a better role, and Eddie told me that when Jeff and Beau Bridges finally saw the film, they were blown away by his performance. A nitrate print of the film will be restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, using a reference print from Martin Scorsese’s personal collection to guide them and fill in any blanks. Paramount Pictures has agreed to help fund the restoration, but FNF is going to have to come up with significant funds to get the job done. That’s where we come in.


The Siren loves this genre, but you knew that, because you do too. Breathes there the cinephile with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, “Tonight by golly, I’m gonna watch a noir”? And Marilyn, Eddie, Greg and I are hoping this near-universal taste translates into high participation.

Meanwhile, as the holidays approach, think about sharing the loot with the FNF before the tax year ends. Nothing wrong with getting a jump on things--the more money they get, the more noir we have to savor.

There are an awful lot of potential topics connected to noir--the photography, the dialogue, the themes, the social history, the influences that shaped it and the influence it wields today, and on and on--take your pick, buddy. Our Facebook page, For the Love of Film , will be continuously updated with suggestions, discussions and news. (And yes, there will be raffle prizes again this year, and who knows what other twists in the plot.) Over at the For the Love of Film blog, Cinema Styles’ Greg has posted banners you can use on your own blog and Facebook page. There’s more than just Joan, although you realize of course that the Siren can’t look at a Bennett and not itch to post her picture.

Like the detective said, it's the stuff that dreams are made of.

***


And so you may be thinking, “Hey Siren, I could have sworn I spent last week asking you to write about approximately three hundred different movies of varying degrees of popularity, obscurity and eccentricity. What’s up with that, lady?” Well, the drawing was done by the Siren’s husband, the films are selected and the Siren is rustling up copies. It’s just that contemplating film noir set her to thinking about Out of the Past and now the Siren has gone all cold and hard and Jane Greer, figuring if she couldn’t be all bad she’d come close.

No, seriously, today is about the blogathon. Tomorrow is Requests Day.

Meanwhile, Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule has written up his own request assignment, La Fin du Jour, and a cracking good job he’s done, too. Please mosey over and have a look.

32 comments:

Marilyn said...

I'm looking forward to another exciting event, Siren. Just want to make one clarification, which the man with the noir encyclopedia in his head, Eddie Muller, pointed out. Although Paramount owns The Sound of Fury now, it was originally released by United Artists. I made that mistake in my original post, so I take all the blame for the inaccuracy here.

I'm looking forward to your request posts. They'll be great, I know.

Greg said...

I look forward to reading all the great entries and raising more money than last year to help restore a film I now can't wait to see! I hope I can get some videos done too, and soon, to help spread the word.

BTW, starting in the seventh paragraph ("Meanwhile, as the holidays approach...") all the links appear to be broken, showing "HYPERLINK" where there should be an address.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I'm there. You already knew that.

In the meantime, hopefully this will inspire interest in other films by Cy Endfield. I've only seen Zulu, The Mysterious Island and De Sade.

The Siren said...

Marilyn, I made your fix; Greg, I'll check the links. Post in haste, repent at leisure--my enthusiasm got ahead of my coding!

Colin Brace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Siren said...

All righty, links working now. Peter, I also hope this spurs an Endfield revival. I'm quite fond of Zulu. Your participation last year was invaluable and we're so glad you're on board for this.

DavidEhrenstein said...

It's a truly teriffic film with Bridges outstanding as a charming psychopath who emeshes Frank Lovejoy in his schemes. Taht may sound like Highsmith but the atmosphere of this one is Bretheless avant la lettre.
And the ending is utterly unforgettable.

The Siren said...

LOL David, I had a feeling you would have seen this. I confess that I have not -- yet. I am considering saving myself for a brand-spanking-new-blogathon-funded restoration.

pvitari said...

I feel a screencapping session coming on (what else is new). A hazy vision of Dick Powell in tough guy mode is appearing out of the fog before me...

The Film Noir blogathon starts on February 14? ;) Appropriate date for a film noir-a-thon. ;) Very romantic. ;) Well, I'm there. I just finished posting about it (with links to the Siren and Ferdy) on my Movies page. http://paulasmoviepage.shutterfly.com.

These preservation blogathons are fantastic and I'm so glad we're doing them, and that Siren and Ferdy are willing to do all the heavy lifting to get them underway and done. Thank you so much!

Greg said...

Post in haste, repent at leisure--my enthusiasm got ahead of my coding!

Ha,I do that all the time. I sometimes get so excited to post something that I spend an hour after posting correcting typos and link errors.

David's lucky to have already seen this. I'm really looking forward to it!

Arthur S. said...

This is more fun than ever.

Don't know what to write about. Most of my favourite films noir(except for MOONRISE...okay subject picked) are available. Maybe an essay about WHAT IS FILM NOIR? a la Andre Bazin?! Or period British noir like PINK STRINGS AND SEALING WAX.

Anyway, I am proud to have pitched two entries for the first event and I'll definitely do the same(or more) this year.

Vanwall said...

Noir - just the word is enough to mean whole universes to me. Looking forward to mean streets, the word "Black" in a Woolrich-ian title, oh, and ankle bracelets.

Pussy Goes Grrr said...

"Breathes there the cinephile with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, “Tonight by golly, I’m gonna watch a noir”?"

This is so true, and this whole idea is so exciting! I'm totally in for preserving any and all noirs - especially The Sound of Fury, which I've often read about but never seen.

I'm just disappointed we have to wait 2 1/2 full months!

X. Trapnel said...

S&F (aka Try and Get Me) is also notable for Katherine Locke's performance as Frank Lovejoy's eerie blind date.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

As always, you can deal me in...and I promise not to be sick this time around.

I've seen the film to be preserved, and it's a dandy--great performance from Frank Lovejoy, perhaps his finest hour onscreen. (Hey--maybe I can rescue my VHS copy from storage before the blogathon starts!)

dr.morbius said...

I'm all over this. Movies where the streets are dark with something more than night tickle something deep inside me.

(capcha word: "fortie", which seems appropriate).

rudyfan1926 said...

Count me in Siren, Marilyn and Eddie! It will be an honor to participate (and read all the other splendid posts).

I love Noir and have a feeling I'll be revisting some favorites for this great cause.

Flickhead said...

To paraphrase Sally Kellerman in Slither: Count me in, baby — you're high adventure!

Trish said...

I will be there with bells on. Nothing is more exciting than discovering a forgotten noir. As for Out of the Past, Jane Greer is far and away the most magnificent femme fatale in noir.

Simon said...

What will you write about? Any and all noir?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Can't see what would keep me from throwing my fedora into the ring this year! Thanks, all, for undertaking this wonderful project yet again!

The Siren said...

Simon, yes, exactly. We aren't really limiting it as long as everyone remembers to attach the donation link. Just writing about great noir reminds people of the need to preserve.

Yojimboen said...

I’ve always preferred The Sound of Fury to Fritz Lang’s Fury; for me the combination of Lang and Tracey’s common man forehead-smiting nudges the latter film over the edge into strident melodrama.

No such problem with TSOF - Lloyd Bridges uses enough testosterone for five action pictures – and the ending, as David E says, is unforgettable. In some ways this movie is the anti-Best Years; except our hero Frank Lovejoy just can’t find a job and turns to, or rather is turned to crime by Bridges.
The TBYOOL echoes are inescapable, as the haunting tendrils of Hugo Friedhofer’s similarly themed music raises the little hairs at the back of the neck.

As far as American movie culture is concerned, this one’s a keeper.

P.S. A couple of swell posters:

One and two.

Eddie said...

We can't thank you and Marilyn enough for doing this. It's enough to melt a cynic's stone-cold heart. We're really excited about it, and hope that many bloggers will write about "missing" films that they want to see resurrected. It's been an enlightening experience working—without any corporate sponsorship—to save and recirculate films, which I'd once (long ago) assumed were immortal. Much more to come, but thank you so much, Farran. xoxox

Joe Thompson said...

What a great idea. I'll put on my fedora and my trench coat and hop into my Plymouth business coupe and head out to do some research. Always remember to keep your trench coat buttoned so no one can sneak up behind and pull it down to pin your arms.

Ben Alpers said...

How wonderful!

As luck would have it, I'm teaching my Film Noir colloquium next semester. I'd love to have the US Intellectual History Blog take part, if that's possible. Can we sign up as a participating blog?

Vanwall said...

Say, Joe, I hear ya got a bottle of pretty good rye in your pocket, too.

At the risk of going far afield, I propose a toast to the Master of the inverse pulp private dick, who went beyond merely rough and tough to a place of sublimely humorous violence, with a slangy and adult view of crime, and who actually had quite an influence on the lingo that scratched against the ear from a lot of noir tough-guys - Robert Leslie Bellem and his movie Studio-hired creation: Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; he of the ready roscoe, (always with a ka-chow!) the dangling gasper, and the quick pop to the jaw of any dame what got in the way. Here's to the model, intentional or not, for a lot of the things that get swept under the rug in the noir world.

Andrew said...

hi Siren (had to break lurking cover for this, as it is so close to my heart) What a fantastic idea - personally, I can't wait to see this. Andrew

Sheila O'Malley said...

This is such great news. I wasn't able to participate last time, but I will definitely throw my hat into the ring this time. Thank you, Siren and Marilyn!! Such a good cause, very exciting. Really looking forward to reading all the potss.

Aitch said...

I'm so glad I found you! xo

The Siren said...

Aitch - why thank you very much. Let us know if you want to participate in the blogathon!

Robert said...

I don't think Lang's FURY is even in the same league as THE SOUND OF FURY. It's great to know that the FNF has chosen this title to be restored. The last 10 minutes of it is like a kick to the stomach.
Rarely has an American film shown such visceral passion.

Bob O