Friday, February 18, 2011
For the Love of Film (Noir): The Take So Far, With Links
At this link, stirring words from the witty, self-effacing and gloriously great Kevin Brownlow, on the occasion of his receiving a special Oscar for his efforts on behalf of preserving film history. You will hear him mention the silent-film cache from New Zealand--two films from which were preserved with funds from last year's blogathon. Just hearing him talk about black-and-white is enough to make the Siren's heart leap with joy.
The Siren, as she said, is not by nature an optimistic sort of person, except when it comes to film. So first, the good news: in terms of small donations from interested individuals, this year's For the Love of FIlm blogathon is as good as or better than the last. The number of bloggers participating is up, and the quality of contributions on this topic has been gratifyingly high. All very, very good.
To elaborate on Marilyn's note below, however: Our deep-pocketed angels from last year so far appear to be MIA. And the bad news is, that leaves the rest of us poor suckers to do the heavy lifting.
Which is, if nothing else, very noir.
Classic film, as a populist art form without as much traction on red carpets and in three-star restaurants, may be in need of a higher profile where rich people congregate. Should you know a couple of what business magazines call "high net-worth individuals," ones who just happen to have a strongly developed taste for chiaroscuro cinematography, by all means, give them an extra poke.
All of kinds of things can happen in the last reel. If you haven't already thrown some dough in the kitty, today is an excellent day to do so.
As the man said in Gun Crazy, "Honey, I'll make money like you want me to. Big money. But it takes time, you gotta give me time."
The Siren also repeats this from the fair Marilyn, from yesterday:
VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! There is a donation link that bloggers are using that does not work. We are very behind last year’s donations, and I can’t believe that it’s because nobody cares. I think it’s because people can’t get through. If you have posted for the blogathon or intend to, PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING LINK: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LAWFPAB4XLHAW. Correct it wherever you have a link, either text or behind the donation button. THANK YOU! Back to the blogathon.
The links from earlier in the week are below.
Links from Friday, Saturday and Sunday below. Aaaaaand, right here, the links for today, the last day of the blogathon.
Monday, February 21
A new participant, Clara at Via Marguta 51, chips in with the delightful "30 Reasons Why You Should Donate." The Siren's favorite, because, well: "Because Dana Andrews would approve and sleep near your portrait."
"Love came crashing down on them in a frantic crescendo of turbulent passion"--sounds like the ideal date. One movie, and another, and the crescendo movie, at Scenes from the Morgue: Retro-Pulp Movie Ads.
"Sexy in a sluttish way": Bill Wren at Piddleville makes Dennis Hopper's The Hot Spot sound like another ideal date.
Ed Howard at Only the Cinema uses the movie we're trying to restore, The Sound of Fury, for his valedictory post, and finds it " a bold plea on behalf of justice and order, a rejection of the bloodthirsty drive for revenge."
Sunset Boulevard, avers another new participant, Dave Enkosky, is "really about artistic collaboration." And his artist's rendition of an ideal artistic collaboration is worth the click all by its lonesome.
Is noir more American than cowboys? For his final entry after a week of thoughtful, energetic posts, Ben Alpers ponders that question and others at the U.S. Intellectual History Blog.
From "Son of Noir," a whither-film-noir wrap-up essay by Richard T. Jameson at Parallax View: "Whenever a new movie comes along in which the atmosphere is wishfully sinister and oddball characters proliferate to the confounding of any hope of lucid plot explication, [reviewers have] learned to dive for prototypes in The Big Sleep the way a seal dives for a fish."
Christiane at Krell Laboratories writes a review of Shutter Island with which the Siren does not agree. But who cares, because Christiane wrote it really well.
Catherine Grant runs the indispensable Film Studies for Free, where she provides groups of links to a huge variety of film topics. She has a blogathon post today with a roundup of links about film noir, as well as a gorgeous essay on Gilda.
Okay Marilyn, I'm sorry, but I'm stealing your limerick about Hilary Barta: There was a blogger named Barta /Whose poems were terribly smart(a) / He wrote for the fun / But when he was done / He had fans from Nome to Jakarta. Hilary's last limerick, right here.
DeeDee at Wonders in the Dark issues thank-yous (don't do that, Greg blushes easily) and, god love her, DeeDee joins Kim Morgan and the Siren in calling for the great John Garfield to get his filmography restored and his own damn box set.
Speaking of Greg Ferrara, who contributed the beautiful logos, the fine video commercial and the Maltese Falcon donation button, which even turned heads on the august New York Times editorial board--Greg has a wrap-up post. Go over there, please, and tell him how great he is.
Elvis Costello's Man Out of Time, 2001, Westerns, Metropolis, Lonely Are the Brave, and the impossible good looks of the young David Hemmings all figure in Ariel Schudson's last post for us--and yes, it all ties in to noir, and preservation.
Why does film preservation cost so much? Lee Price has some answers for us at Preserving a Family Collection. And his final post at June and Art looks at the noirs his parents may have seen over the nine months of their courtship, which list, oddly, made the Siren get a bit misty.
"To put it bluntly, both chicks know how to work it": Ryan Kelly of Medfly Quarantine brings up Brian De Palma, a director heretofore absent, with a post on Femme Fatale, and the opening shot that melds Rebecca Romijn with the greatest noir lady of them all.
Mr. Peel delves into the life of Maxine Cooper, who played Velda in Kiss Me Deadly, and likes what he finds very much; so did the Siren. That, and much more about the film, at Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur.
Gautam Valluri at Broken Projector says "Scarlet Street talks of more things than a regular film noir cared to get into."
Arthur S., who often graces the Siren's comments section, has a fine blog, This Pig's Alley. Here he gives Beyond the Forest the intense, serious treatment it deserves, with great screen caps.
"If there is anything film noir fans love, it’s waxing philosophical about film noir"--amen to that! Jen at DeliberatePixel dedicates her regular Monday noir feature to the blogathon.
Ben Kenigsberg of Time Out Chicago devotes his post to a Chicago-shot noir, City That Never Sleeps (wait, New Yorkers, isn't that OUR line?). He says it's actually narrated by Chicago; this the Siren must see.
A beautiful, heartfelt post on Joseph Mankiewicz's No Way Out, and Sidney Poitier's performance, with some love too for the marvelous Linda Darnell. From Caroline Shapiro at Garbo Laughs.
Dennis Cozzalio (whom the Siren is just crazy about, ok?) has a fantastic post about Stranger on the Third Floor, weaving through its influence not only on noir in general, but how it sparked his love for the genre.
Hind Mezaina of The Culturist is back, with a must-read post about an Egyptian noir that the Siren was completely unfamiliar with: Henry Barakat's A Nightingale's Prayer.
And another treasured Siren regular adds to the international flavor of the blogathon. Gloria, who blogs from Spain at Rooting for Laughton, takes up The Paradine Case--and the case of the difficult Laughton, who apparently gave no trouble on that set. Also with notes on the film's deleted scenes. The Siren's always liked this much-maligned Hitchcock.
Kenji Fujishima posts about noir's attractions from a personal angle with "Darkness Falls: The (Black) Beauty of Film Noir," at My Life at 24 Frames Per Second.
Karie Bible at Film Radar has a great post about film noir locations in Los Angeles, including those for Criss-Cross, which the Siren always found very beautiful.
One last from Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, on John Flynn's The Outfit.
At The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World, Kevyn Knox gives some more love to Stranger on the Third Floor, which seems beloved by a good many bloggers hereabouts, and a fine thing too.
A wrap-up post from Mark Edward Hueck at The Projector Has Been Drinking, on more noir and guitars.
And another film noir wrap-up from Paul Etcheverry at Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog.
Gareth at Gareth's Movies shows his exquisite taste with warm words for Kathleen Ryan in the magnificent Odd Man Out.
Sunday, February 20
At the blog run by my goddess blogathon partner, Ferdy on Films, Roderick Heath gives us a closer look at Cy Endfield, the blacklisted director whose film The Sound of Fury we're raising money to restore. Rod gives us a picture of Endfield as a well as a close reading of Hell Drivers, the noir that the director made in England after he was forced to leave the States. Everyone involved in this blogathon should be taking a look.
This one did the Siren's heart good. Five superlative reasons you should donate to the Film Noir blogathon, from Andreas at Pussy Goes Grrr.
At Twenty-Four Frames, John Greco takes on The Killers, and gives the kind of extensive background and production history that the Siren adores. With a wrap-up that includes thoughts about Don Siegel's 1964 remake.
At Scenes from the Morgue: Retro-Pulp Movie Ads, W.B. Kelso has Act of Violence, The Set-up, The Phenix City Story and The Big Sleep, Kiss Me Deadly. And as usual, the Siren can't keep her eyes off the other parts of the bill. Tell me, would you pair Robert Ryan with...Roy Acuff?
Sometimes the Siren has to wonder if she's living under a rock, or possibly her own DVD collection. Why, for example, has she not been aware of the blog Olivia and Joan: Sisters of the Silver Screen? She's extremely happy to redress the omission with Tom's entry for the blogathon, about the wonderfully titled Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, starring an actress the Siren should really mention around here every once in a while...
The Siren is also envisioning some sort of post-blogathon gathering, wherein we all sit around and have a friendly argument over which film constitutes the first noir, or proto-noir, or proto-forerunner-grandaddy noir. At The Fine Cut, Steven Santos has a fine video essay about his contender, and it's a heavyweight indeed: Fritz Lang's M.
"For the exact same reasons many historians absolutely loathe Columbia cartoons - its randomness and complete disregard for anything remotely resembling the fundamentals of story/sight gag construction (even as loosely practiced in animated cartoons) - I love this." The Siren loves that line, and the embedded cartoon is pretty funny, too, so clearly random goes down well with her. Cartoon noir, from Paul at Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog.
Anuj Malhotra of Floatin’ Zoetropes shows some love for Jacques Tourneur, with a post about Out of the Past and Nightfall. The screencap is a dose of everything the Siren adores about Tourneur.
Fredrik Gustafsson of Fredrik on Film is back with a post celebrating the collaboration between Anthony Mann and the great John Alton.
David Steece is back to pay tribute to another great cinematographer, Leo Tover, and pays special attention to an old favorite of the Siren's, The Snake Pit.
Christiane at Krell Laboratories writes about a film that has been on the Siren's to-see list for a long time, due to the presence of the fabulous Joan Bennett: The Scar.
At Laughing Willow Letters, Mary Hess (who had a fine post for last year's blogathon) covers one of the few films Max Ophuls made that can be called noir: The Reckless Moment.
What's an Erich von Stroheim movie's intertitle doing in our film noir blogathon? David Cairns explains--and it fits.
"What always strikes me is what a mean-spirited, spiteful bastard Glenn Ford is as Johnny Farrell": Bill Wren on Gilda, and the Siren completely agrees. Rita's much better off with George Macready.
The oft- (and oft unjustly) maligned Fred Zinnemann gets his due from Adam Zanzie at Icebox Movies, in a post about the fantastic Act of Violence.
Beth Ann Gallagher wins the hearts of bookworms everywhere with a post on Dorothy Malone's delicious little part as the "Bookseller Babe" in The Big Sleep.
Director Jeffrey Goodman, at his blog The Last Lullaby (and Peril), talks about noir: "my first cinematic companion."
At June and Art, Lee Price posts a Night and the City letter from June to Art.
"Similar to the way that a fusion restaurant might pair up the foods of two different cultures on one plate, Noir Fusion does the same thing but with noir and 'insert chosen film genre here.'": Ariel Shudson plumps for a Noir Fusion candidate, Escape from New York.
Jesse Ataide on Dark Passage, the Bogey-Bacall outing that is usually a stepchild to the other three, and why she prefers it to Key Largo. At Memories of the Future.
More at Marilyn's Ferdy on Films: Guest blogger Robert Hornak on Touch of Evil, a film where the "melodrama is as corpulent and sweaty as Quinlan."
"If snakes could walk, they’d all strut like Lee Van Cleef": Novelist Thomas Burchfield chips in a post about the actor and his amazing sneer, at A Curious Man.
At Limerwrecks, "Push and Shovel": another delectable five-line noir, from Hilary Barta.
Ah, the Siren loves her character actors, and so does Wallace McElvey of In Widescreen, putting the spotlight on the lesser-known duo in Born to Kill.
Capsule reviews of the marvelous The Bad Sleep Well and Blade Runner, from Stu at Undy-a-Hundy.
Darren Mooney completes his heroic efforts on behalf of the blogathon (seven days, fifteen posts!) with Sin City, Infernal Affairs, Outrage, and "Batman Noir."
"According to the "rules" of movies, you can pull the rug out from under the audience, but you're supposed to have a floor under it. Lang pulls the rug and you end up in the middle of a busy freeway": Jaime Christley of Unexamined Essentials on the superbly twisty Ministry of Fear.
Emma at All About My Movies, who once ran a great blogathon herself (about "The Performance That Changed My Life") picks Maxwell Shane's tidy, low-budget Fear in the Night, from 1947.
A lively, funny, loving tribute to the battily wonderful Secret Beyond the Door, from Hedwig at As Cool as a Fruitstand. And the Siren loves Hedwig's kicker line.
David Fincher's noir stylings--in his music videos. Part 2 of Mark David Hueck's "Of Noir and Guitar," at The Projector Has Been Drinking.
At True Classics, a great, pic-heavy post about Douglas Sirk's Lured, with special attention paid to Lucille Ball.
G.K. Reid ("I sound more like a hard-boiled detective if I use my initials") dedicates his inaugural post at Restless Eyebrows to the blogathon, with a meditation on the shady ladies of noir, as a teaser for tomorrow's unveiling of his favorite dame.
And Neil Sarver at The Bleeding Tree pulls up at Road House, and finds "an unstudied cynicism that most imitators try to match with a concerted cynicism."
Saturday, February 19
No blogger writes with deeper understanding of actors and acting than Sheila O'Malley, an actress herself. Here she gives us Five Things About Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy.
This has definitely been the most poetic blogathon the Siren has yet seen. At Dereliction Row, the Derelict (aka Jenny Baldwin, who also writes for Libertas) gives us a quartet of haikus about Coleen Gray, who still flutters many male hearts hereabouts.
And of course, there is the daily dose of limerick from Hilary Barta, this time on Stranger on the Third Floor.
And the great David Cairns gets in on the limerick act as well, as part of his mighty effort to scale the K2 of noir, Sweet Smell of Success: "J.J. Hunsecker apparently never sleeps, towers over everybody, can crush them on a whim, but expends the precise minimum energy required to smoke a cigarette with total poise."
"Follies honors a noir heritage and also works as an ideal text for thinking about artistic preservation": A twisting, turning, lovingly detailed meditation on how noir influenced Stephen Sondheim, from his days as a clapper boy on Beat the Devil to his career as Broadway's finest, from Brian Doan at Bubblegum Aesthetics.
Ed Howard pays tribute to Edgar Ulmer, "a true poet of the noir," with a gorgeously screen-capped tribute to the magnificent Detour.
Wild Bill Wellman's Western noir, Yellow Sky, gets the Vanwall Green treatment at Vanwall Land, with more great screencaps, including one of Gregory Peck with his shirt off, not that this should influence anybody to click or anything.
Quai des Orfevres, Le Corbeau, oodles of the Siren's beloved Simone Signoret--DeeDee at Wonders in the Dark has a list of the 10 Best French Films Noir that the Siren can only heartily second.
A dedicated contributor from last year's blogathon was Hind Mezaina of Dubai, whose blog is called The Culturist. She further demonstrates the international character of noir with a post about Cairo Station, one of the greatest films of the great Egyptian director Youssef Chahine; she includes a scene from the film.
And the blogathon's reach expands much further north, to Sweden, where Frederik Gustafsson of Frederik on Film posts about the essential elements of noir.
At Parallax View, another archival essay from Richard T. Jameson, this one about the eternal masterpiece Touch of Evil.
"Body Heat is so smooth, and Double Indemnity is so rough": Kelli Marshall asks her film noir students which one is sexier, at Unmuzzled Thoughts.
At the U.S. Intellectual History Blog, Ben Alpers breaks his policy of no weekend blogging for a loving, beautifully detailed look at Moonrise, that focuses in particular on the film's view of race.
MP of idFilm muses on the elements of storytelling in noir, and the recurring narrative patterns across several movies.
"While casting Crack Up, the filmmakers must have made a clerical error. How else to explain Pat O'Brien playing an art critic and Herbert Marshall a cop?" Jenny the Nipper, the rare blogger who can get you laughing from the first line, at Cinema OCD.
Friday, February 18
A belated link for Bryce Wilson's wry, funny, lusciously screen-capped tribute to Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly. The love for Gaby Rodgers' performance is echoed by the Siren. Not to be missed, at Things That Don't Suck.
The Film Noir Foundation has worked to preserve films from many countries, so Peter Nellhaus’ posts on international noir have been particularly welcome. He closes out his great work this week with The Equation of Love and Death from China.
For those who recognize the Siren's still above, there's more of that towering movie, from Richard T. Jameson at Parallax View.
Two of the greatest noir icons of them all go toe-to-toe, as goddess Kim Morgan continues to beat the drum for the blogathon from her pedestal at MSN Movies.
An old and trusty friend to this blog, a font of acerbic wisdom--and Master Banner Changer; all those things are Ray Young. The Siren's banners pale next to those of the inimitable Flickhead. He rises to the blogathon occasion with a terrific post about Cutter's Bone.
For lovers of Ida Lupino (all of us--right? right?) there's a triple feature from Sean Axmaker at MSN Movies Videodrone: The Man I Love, Road House, and The Hitch-hiker.
At Cinema Ramble, Michael C dives into Phenix City Story, which he finds " a docu-style traipse through small-city USA in the 1950s.” Yes, and the docu-style truth hurts...
Home-movie noir: the genre for those who really, really had a bad time with the in-laws at Christmas. The Siren is kidding, but Lee Price is not; he's got a rundown on amateur noir – at Preserving a Family Collection. Plus, art and Scarlet Street, at June and Art.
Maybe marrying gorgeous Veronica Lake expended his reserves of Hollywood luck, because to the Siren's mind, Andre de Toth is a bit neglected. Here to add to the plus column is Christianne Benedict at Krell Laboratories, with musings on Crime Wave, “a damn near perfect B-movie.”
"The rare topical film that reaches across time to retain its power in the modern era": Ed Howard at Only the Cinema on Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire.
The most pitch-dark cynical film the master Billy Wilder ever made, which makes it a strong contender as the most pitch-dark cynical movie, period: John Greco writes up Ace in the Hole.
At Sinamatic Salve-ation, Ariel Schudson goes deep undercover with The Big Combo, a film that showed the Siren that even torture scenes filmed in 1955 could have her curled up into a ball.
"Once an approach or style is identified, like film noir, subsequent movies taking that approach are self-aware": Bill Wren on "Chinatown and the Self-Aware Noir," at Piddleville.
At Randomaniac, David Steece presents a psychosexual Freudian analysis of Edmund Goulding's Nightmare Alley.
"Walk away. Drop it": The 2005 Brick is getting some more love from the blogathon, via Venetian Blond at Edward Copeland on Film.
Tinky Weisblat explains why everyone in Paris had heard of her godmother's small corner of the U.S., and adds a recipe for a Hurricane, which the Siren could use right about now...
The Blue Dahlia, in five lines, at Hilary Barta's Limerwrecks. The Siren's loved every one of these things.
Lauren Hairston, at her eponymous blog, devotes her regular Friday "Dinner and a Movie" feature to our blogathon, and Witness to Murder. More recipes!
Ah, somebody always has to bring up Frank Borzage here, don't they? This time it's KC at Movie Classics, discussing the gorgeous, haunting Moonrise.
Jacqueline Fitzgerald quotes a great man on the most famous wig in film noir history, and posts a photo to illustrate its unexpected, but continuing influence. At her very appropriately titled blog.
Tom Block brings up a film the Siren loves and was hoping to see here, The Window, a movie that shows the loneliness and isolation of a child can be very noir indeed.
At Rob Byrne's Starting Thursday, little-remembered proto-noir star Louise Platt, who once a made a Western someone here just described as noir...
David Cairns' "The Forgotten" is one of the Siren's favorite film columns on the Web. This week he devotes it to the rare British noir forerunner, On the Night of the Fire. And because he loves us, he also brings up Caged, the best women's prison film ever.
Nicholas Pillai of Squeezegut Alley on Will Eisner's The Spirit, and why it's all Michael Chabon's fault...
Vince Keenan has his last dispatch from Noir City Northwest, on Loophole and "a deranged delight," Crashout.
TV Noir puts in an appearance at Darren's Mooney's place, with the Miami Vice pilot, as does Christopher Nolan, with Insomnia.
"At this point I ask the class how many of them have seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), and a light bulb appears almost visibly over most of their heads." At Virtual Virago, Jennifer Garlen talks about teaching noir to freshmen.
Another belated link, and a good one: R. Emmet Sweeney at TCM's Movie Morlocks blog takes on the "scorcher" of a movie we're trying to restore, The Sound of Fury.
Every blogathon needs an evil twin: Ivan G. Shreve of Thrilling Days of Yesteyear has a typically affectionate, funny post up about Robert Siodmak's The Dark Mirror, and Olivia de Havilland in it--he says he likes her better here than in the performance that won the actress her first Oscar.
The Flying Maciste Brothers have shown up at Destructible Man, with a post on Phil Karlson's Phenix City Story that includes wonderfully lurid posters from Karlson's films, as well as screenshots of intertitles. Dig the one that says Phenix City "is now a model community--orderly, progressive"--that was the part that used to have the Siren's late father doubled over in laughter.
Talented, insightful film writer Imogen Smith has joined our blogathon with a post at The Chiseler about the philosophical and political ties that bind Pre-Code and noir: "Films such as Joseph Losey’s The Prowler...and Cy Endfield’s The Sound of Fury...are scathing attacks on a materialistic society, unmasking the American dream as a shallow and shabby illusion that breeds crime and shreds the social fabric."