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  • mistermuse 12:01 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, , , , Dashiell Hammett, Edgar Allen Poe, , , , Howard Hawks, , , , , movie poster art, , , Raymond Chandler, , ,   

    HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE* 

    The film noir of the classic period (1941-59) is normally associated with the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood and its aftermath. In truth, the creative impetus for its most influential literary content dates back a full century.
    In April 1841, Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia published the first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe and thus, mystery fiction was born. –
    -Lawrence Bassoff, CRIME SCENES

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    In my 11/30/16 post titled BOOKS RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY, I wrote of finding a large cache of old movie books at a local library’s used book sale. One of those books was CRIME SCENES (subtitled Movie Poster Art of the Film Noir), from which the above quote is taken. How could I resist buying such a book, given that Film Noir has long been one of my favorite film genres, which includes such classics as THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), MURDER MY SWEET (1943), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), LAURA (1944), THE BIG SLEEP (1946), SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950), and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). The introduction states it “is the first genre retrospective collection of movie poster art on the topic ever published in book form.”

    Bassoff writes that in the summer of 1946, ten American films whose French releases had been blocked by WW II (including the first five of the above) arrived in Paris theaters to be viewed by “new product-starved French filmgoers”….films based on American novels the French called “Serie Noire” by such authors as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The term “film noir” (first attributed to Frenchman Nino Frank in 1946) literally means “black film” for the “often low key, black and white visual style of the films themselves.”

    And what great films they are! Even after having seen some of these films more than once, I could return to the scene of the crime once again;  no doubt you could too — assuming you’re a film noir buff, which it would be a crime if you’re not. The test? Can you name at least half of the directors and stars of the above films? Answers (directors in CAPS):

    THE MALTESE FALCON — JOHN HUSTON (making his directorial debut), Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet
    MURDER MY SWEET — EDWARD DYMTRYK, Dick Powell
    DOUBLE INDEMNITY — BILLY WILDER, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
    LAURA — OTTO PREMINGER, Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price
    THE BIG SLEEP — HOWARD HAWKS, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
    SUNSET BOULEVARD — BILLY WILDER, William Holden, Gloria Swanson
    STRANGERS ON A TRAIN — ALFRED HITCHCOCK, Farley Granger, Robert Walker

    Moving on: if Basssoff’s book were not confined to Hollywood film noir, no such list would be complete without THE THIRD MAN (1949), a British-made classic directed by Carol Reed, starring Orson Wells and Joseph Cotton. And of course there are many other Hollywood tour de force classics worthy of being kept alive, including such killer-dillers as:

    WHITE HEAT is considered by some to be in the gangster film realm rather than film noir, but there’s no law against crossover — in fact, WHITE HEAT is classified as film noir in CRIME SCENES and gangster film in CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS (the latter being another used book sale find, which I may review in a future post). Meanwhile, I highly recommend the former — as Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) said of the bogus Maltese Falcon: It’s “the stuff dreams are made of.” And nightmares.

    *HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE is a play on the famous intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. I heard on the grapevine that the site was a ranch, and then a lemon grove, until 1903.

    20161005_Hollywood_and_Vine_historical_marker

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:03 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Good fun–I will never forget the creepiness of seeing Fred MacMurray in “Double Indemnity,” after growing up with him in Disney movies like “Son of Flubber”!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 7:41 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Now that you mention it, I recall thinking the same thing the first time I saw “Double Indemnity.” And I can’t think of a better way to characterize these ‘bad’ movies than as “good fun” — seriously!

        Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 10:29 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Living la vida noire out here on the Left Coast, Sr. Muse. Did you see that the head of the European Union was going to start advocating for US states to leave the Union in retaliation for Trump promoting the dissolution of the EU? Ohio was specifically mentioned. Hopefully, I won’t need a passport to visit you if I ever get the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:24 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I hadn’t heard (or seen) that, Ricardo, but I think the best place to start would be to advocate for Trump to leave the union….better yet, leave the planet (though I can’t imagine that the inhabitants of any other world would be gullible enough to fall for Trump’s con job).

        Like

    • BroadBlogs 4:28 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My mom loves old movies. She’d love this list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:22 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Prudence dictates keeping my posts to a reasonable length, or I’d have listed many more movies. Sometimes I wish Prudence would mind her own business! 😦

        Like

    • Don Frankel 5:04 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great movies of course I’ve seen them all and more than once. They did a remake of Out Of The Past called Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods. In a bit of smart casting they also had Jane Greer in there.

      But White Heat is one of the all time any type of movie you want to call it and no mention of it would be complete without…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:20 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        These movies had it all: great writing, atmosphere, directors, stars, supporting casts — the works. I’ve only watched WHITE HEAT once or twice, but I’ve seen MALTESE FALCON and THE THIRD MAN at least 5 or 6 times each, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD probably about 3 times.

        Like

    • Mél@nie 11:00 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I did watch them all… just like you, I may have seen “Maltese Falcon” 4-5 times! 🙂

      • * *

      @film noir – en français dans le texte, SVP… 🙂 MERCI, Monsieur Muse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:34 pm on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Mercy me — I fear my very limited French fails me in getting the gist of the sentence before “SVP” (which I understand stands for “s’il vous plait”). If you please, please translate into English. Merci!
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mél@nie 3:25 am on April 5, 2017 Permalink

          SVP = s’il vous plaît = please… 🙂 you’re too modest, Sir… my very best and respectful regards, Mélanie Bedos

          Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Arsenic and Old Lace, , , , , Notorious, poison, Pretty Poison, , , ,   

    PICK YOUR POISON 

    I thought I had put poison to bed in my last post, but no. Past encounters of the poisonous kind were reawakened in me, and brought back memories such as this:

    Yes, poison has played a part in numerous movies, though seldom as humorously as in the THE COURT JESTER (1958), starring Danny Kaye (above) and Basil Rathbone (of Sherlock Holmes fame), among others.  Rathbone here plays, not the famed sleuth, but a 12th-century English villain, and displays his considerable fencing skills in a hilarious joust versus Kaye. I jest not — it’s just a jolly good show.

    Several “poison” films even have “POISON” in the title, including PRETTY POISON (1968), a little-known but beautifully-executed cult classic starring Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins (the same Anthony Perkins who starred in a certain Hitchcock thriller eight years earlier which set the stage for many gratuitous mad slasher movies to come):

    “Pretty Poison,” the movie that got the violence and madness of the late ’60s right

    If you’re a real film noir buff, you know D.O.A. (1950) is one of the best films of that genre, starring Edmond O’Brien as a walking dead man (doomed by a slow-acting poison), hell-bent on finding out before he doth die who poisoned him and why. This one will keep you in suspenders from beginning to enders.

    Another of my fondly-remembered murder mystery films from Hollywood’s Golden Age is Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945), wherein the characters are murdered one by one (the first by poison), ending with the murderer committing suicide by drinking poisoned whiskey (there have been three re-makes, all titled TEN LITTLE INDIANS, but none rated as highly as the original).

    And then there is the animated Disney/grim Brothers Grimm classic SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) in which a poisoned apple from the evil queen puts Snow White soundly to sleep until Prince Charming rouses her with a smooch….much as mistermuse does with missusmuse, even though she tells him that’s what alarm clocks are for (great kidder, that gal). Whatever. The fairy tale is timeless:

    You can probably think of a number of other films in which poison plays prominently in the plot, such as ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944).  NOTORIOUS (1946) and, of course, ROMEO AND JULIET (1936), but all good things must come to a dead end, and so I close with one of my wife’s favorite quotes (originally attributed to Kin Hubbard):
    When you consider what a chance women have to poison their husbands, it’s a wonder more of it isn’t done.”

    She’s just kidding, of course?

     

     

     
    • Mél@nie 3:38 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      @”She’s just kidding, of course?” – I do hope so… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:30 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Now that you mention it, my schnapps has tasted a bit funny lately. 😦

      Like

    • linnetmoss 6:32 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Love the “pellet routine.” One of the all time greats!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:06 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Absolutely! I also love the extremely funny swordfight between Kaye and Rathbone in which Kaye is alternately a novice and an expert between blows to his head. A great movie!

        Liked by 1 person

    • carmen 7:40 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      This reminds me of an old joke.

      Woman says to annoying man, “If you were my husband, I’d put arsenic in your coffee!”

      Man replies, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it!”

      😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:11 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for reminding me of that “oldie but goody,” which suggests an alternate title for this post: PARDON MY POISON!

        Like

    • arekhill1 10:24 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I admire you, Sr. Muse, for having the courage to wake your wife with a kiss. I’ve found it advisable to leave the girl alone until she is good and ready to get up on her own, lest I become the victim of a poison plot myself. And just to be on the safe side, I always make the coffee.

      Like

      • mistermuse 11:09 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        You are a wise man, Ricardo. Why risk making “Good to the last drop” literally true.

        Like

    • Don Frankel 10:51 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That is one of the great bits of all time. I think the Flagon with the Dragon comes into play too. Carmen beat me to the punch here but I heard that response “I’d drink it.” attributed to Winston Churchill.

      Like

      • mistermuse 11:22 am on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I hadn’t heard it attributed to Churchill, but it’s worth checking out. It sounds more like something Groucho would’ve said.

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    • mistermuse 4:30 pm on February 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Don, I have checked it out, and you’re right – Churchill made that response after Lady Astor told him, “If you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.”

      Like

    • hooklineandinkwell 6:38 am on February 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Such a great look at poison through film.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 11:42 pm on April 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, , , , , , North by Northwest,   

    LAZY DAY 

    I once wrote a post about that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, who died 35 years ago April 29….but it seems to have disappeared, rather like Dame May Whitty in THE LADY VANISHES (1938) or the dead body in IN THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955). As much as I would like to replicate that brilliantly comprehensive post for you, even I would find it almost impossible to recapture the genius of the original. In other words, it would be too much like work and not enough like my slightly-overstated missing first post.

    Not to worry. My laziness is your gain, as I instead present some of my favorite Hitchcock quotes, which I haven’t a SHADOW OF A DOUBT will leave you SPELLBOUND, if not in a FRENZY:

    Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal.

    Puns are the highest form of literature.

    When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say “It’s in the script.” If he says, “But what’s my motivation?”, I say, “Your salary.”

    All love scenes started on the set are continued in the dressing room.

    I’ve never been very keen on women who hang their sex round their neck like baubles. I think it should be discovered. It’s more interesting to discover the sex in a woman than to have it thrown at you, like a Marilyn Monroe or those types. To me they are rather vulgar and obvious.

    Cartoonists have the best casting system. If they don’t like an actor, they just tear him up.

    Our original title [of NORTH BY NORTHWEST] , you know, was THE MAN IN LINCOLN’S NOSE. Couldn’t use it, though. They also wouldn’t let us shoot people on Mount Rushmore. Can’t deface a National Monument. And it’s a pity, too, because I had a wonderful shot in mind of Cary Grant hiding in Lincoln’s nose and having a sneezing fit.

    I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.

    Hmmm. Alfred, if you only knew how black men today can relate to that last quote.

     

     

     

     
    • scifihammy 1:41 am on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Some lovely quotes here 🙂 And Hitchcock movies are still awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:01 am on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Aw, some of them aren’t, but almost all of them are. 🙂

      Like

    • arekhill1 8:15 am on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Personally, I would have had Cary Grant, when hiding in Lincoln’s nose, suddenly being menaced by a giant stone finger, but that’s a different movie, I guess.

      Like

    • mistermuse 8:53 am on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think Hitchcock would have dug it, Ricardo, but I agree with your guess. I see it as a better fit for one of those Japanese giant monster movies or campy independent films like THE LOCH NOSE HORROR.

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    • BroadBlogs 1:05 pm on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Those quotes are really interesting. I had no idea he could be so thought-provoking.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:56 pm on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      He also had a very droll sense of humor, as is evident in several of the quotes (and in his introductions to the episodes on his old TV series ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR, which you can sample by going to Google and clicking on one or two of the videos, if you wish).

      Like

    • Mélanie 7:06 am on May 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      @”Puns are the highest form of literature.” – I totally agree with this true statement… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:18 pm on May 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I pundamentally agree, says lowly me.

      Like

    • barkinginthedark 5:48 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      i wrote a hit song called Lazy Day…recorded by Keith in the 60’s. jes sayin’ continue…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 1:40 pm on December 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, English cinema, EVERGREEN, , IT'S LOVE AGAIN, Jessie Matthews, Paul Robeson, THE 39 STEPS, THE LADY VANISHES, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH   

    JOLLY GOOD SHOW 

    The Golden Age of Hollywood movies, in terms both of quantity and quality, is considered by many old-time film buffs to have started about ten years before, and ended roughly twenty years after, 1939 (the year Hollywood may have reached its zenith with the likes of GONE WITH THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, NINOTCHKA, STAGECOACH, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, GUNGA DIN, DARK VICTORY, DESTRY RIDES AGAIN and THE WOMEN).

    But Hollywood wasn’t the only game in town during that period. Hollywood may have had the power and the glory, but England was quietly producing films every bit the equal of tinseltown in artistic terms, if not in numbers. Most of these films are relatively, if not almost entirely, unknown in America, with the exception of those directed by Alfred Hitchcock before he came to the U.S. in that watershed year 1939 (I do not include in this category movies made in Britain but financed by American studios, such as another acclaimed 1939 film, GOODBYE MR. CHIPS).

    Here are my favorite British films from that era, starting with three Hitchcock classics:

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934). Hitchcock remade this thriller in the U.S. with James Stewart  in 1956, but not nearly as well, in my opinion.
    THE 39 STEPS (1935). Top flight Hitchcock, one of his best.
    THE LADY VANISHES (1938). More great Hitchcock, with Dame May Whitty as the lady who vanishes and Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford as a pair of unintentionally funny British twits who almost steal the show.

    EVERGREEN (1934). British cinema was hardly known for its musicals during this period. For one thing, it didn’t have Hollywood’s resources; for another, it didn’t have Hollywood’s wealth of musical talent (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, etc.). But it did have Jessie Matthews, queen of 1930s British movie musicals who was the singing & dancing star of Rodgers & Hart’s EVERGREEN (top song “Dancing On The Ceiling”).
    IT’S LOVE AGAIN (1936). This is the second of Jessie Matthews’ two best musicals, with this one being more of a musical-comedy but no less well done. Songs include the Rodgers & Hart standard “My Heart Stood Still” and an all-but-forgotten Harry Woods gem, “I Nearly Let Love Go Slipping Through My Fingers.”

    SANDERS OF THE RIVER (1935). A dated film, but almost any movie starring the legendary Paul Robeson is worth a look. If you’ve heard his magnificent voice (perhaps in the original SHOWBOAT film), you know what I mean. Here he is singing “Deep River” from another British film, 1940’s THE PROUD VALLEY:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE4z9J3diiA

    BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945). One of my all-time favorite films, based on a Noel Coward play. Film critic Leonard Maltin calls it “intense and unforgettable. A truly wonderful film.” I couldn’t agree more. Incidentally, Coward of course wrote many great songs and plays, too few of which were made into movies. One play which was: the 1933 Academy Award winning CAVALCADE, but it was made in America and therefore doesn’t qualify here.

    A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946). One of a number of unique and highly original films by the British writer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, this love fantasy is perhaps the most one-of-a-kind of all.

    THE LAVENDER HILL MOB and THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (both 1951 & both starring Alec Guinness). Droll comedies produced by Ealing Studios which, along with the Rank Organization, rank among the top British film producers of the period.

    No doubt there are other 1930-1960 British movies worthy of inclusion here, but if I didn’t see ’em, I didn’t include ’em….or maybe I just forgot a few I have seen, which would qualify me as The Man Who DOESN’T Know Too Much.

     
    • mistermuse 10:03 pm on December 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      As it happens, I did forget a very worthy film that I hadn’t seen for decades: KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949), another Ealing Studios production starring Alec Guiness. By coincidence, it was on TCM tonight, and as I watched it, I realized that I had indeed seen it before.

      Like

    • mistermuse 4:30 pm on December 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Another oversight – how could I have overlooked THE THIRD MAN (1949), a film I like so much that I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times.Perhaps I didn’t think of it because, although it’s a British film directed by the great Carol Reed, it stars Americans Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles….not to mention the mesmerizing zither theme played by Anton Karas.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 11:04 am on December 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Always remember that only the best of any era in any genre is what survives. A whole lot of clunkers were made back then too. I just watched The Thin Man again last night. I haven’t seen it in so long that it was watching it for the first time. I think there are 4 or even 5 sequels so I’ll keep my eyes peeled to TCM to see when they’ll be on.

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    • mistermuse 4:39 pm on December 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Indeed, Don, although some old clunkers were clunkers to begin with, and some that may be thought of as clunkers now were considered pretty good when first seen many decades ago, but have not aged well. However, even a dated film may be interesting in part, if only for one interesting song or performance (such as Jimmy Stewart singing “Easy To Love”).
      Speaking of Jimmy and The Thin Man, I may be wrong, but I think that was the only film in which he was “the bad guy.”

      Like

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