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  • mistermuse 12:01 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Billy Wilder, , 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.

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    • 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 8:07 pm on July 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Billy Wilder, , , , funniest films, , , Nobody's Perfect, ,   

    NOBODY’S PERFECT AGAIN 

    Among my favorite books are biographies or autobiographies of long-admired writers, directors, actors, musicians and vocalists. One of the most interesting and intelligent bios I’ve read is that of director Billy Wilder. Yes, I’m finally done reading NOBODY’S PERFECT, of which I wrote a piece on June 22 and promised to write a review when I finished it. My take? Imperfection was never more worth recommending.

    Unlike some biographers, author Charlotte Chandler knew the subject of her book personally and well (for almost 30 years). Her first book, HELLO, I MUST BE GOING, was a best-seller about — who else — Groucho Marx. She has also profiled Mae West, Tennessee Williams and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, is on the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and is active in film preservation. So the lady knows — and loves — what she is doing.

    Perhaps the best thing about this bio is that after reading it, you feel as if you know the real Billy Wilder. For example, he learned early on not to shoot excess footage because the more you gave the studio (Universal) to play with, the more they could recut the picture in ways he disliked. It was his movie, and with careful planning and tight shooting, he did his damnedest to give them no choice.

    One also gets a feel for the man in his views of other directors, telling Ms. Chandler: “I admired Preston Sturges. He was a writer who became a director, and he had respect for words. His work was his life. He would have worked free. The last time I saw him was in Paris. He was sitting in an outdoor café. Old friends would stop and have something with him, and they’d pick up the check. It seemed he was hard up. He’d had a great life, but it didn’t end up great. He didn’t know how to write a third act for his own life.”

    Another director he admired was Ernst Lubitsch, of whom he speaks in this clip:

    Let’s close with a quote from one of Ms. Chandler’s last interviews with him in Dec. 1999: “I don’t like to look back. You could drown in what-ifs, especially if you make it past ninety, which I have. If you’re going to say , ‘What if?’ you might as well save it for something like, ‘What if Hitler had been a girl?’
    “At ninety-four, there aren’t many goals to work for except longevity. Maybe trying to make it to a hundred as long as my mind is good, and I look forward to each day.”
    “I could never imagine myself being old. An old man was someone who was forty, then fifty, then sixty. When I was a young man in Vienna, if someone had offered me a deal to guarantee I’d make seventy, I’d have grabbed it. Seventy would’ve sounded pretty good to me.”
    “At ninety-four, it’s not long enough. It seems short. Too bad. But it has to end sometime.”

    For Billy Wilder, it ended March 27, 2002, leaving behind a legacy of 21 Academy Award nominations and five films on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest films, including #1: SOME LIKE IT HOT. I like it any way he made it.

     
    • Joseph Nebus 10:55 pm on July 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s interesting seeing directors come down on either side of whether to shoot only exactly what they expect they’ll need, or to shoot everything they might imaginably need so they can extract what’s best. (Kubrick’s the poster boy for that side of things.) Each side is so perfectly reasonable about it, is the baffling part.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:32 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent observation. And with a director like Orson Welles, it apparently didn’t make any difference what he shot – he blamed studios for doing whatever they pleased with his pictures regardless.

      Like

    • arekhill1 7:02 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I’m starting to long for the live-forever pill myself. They’ve already invented the boner pill. It’s the next logical step.

      Like

    • mistermuse 12:32 pm on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That would complete the Holy Trinity of pills: the live-forever, the boner, and the stupid pill. Hopefully, the stupid pill takers won’t find out about the live-forever pill, although it seems like they’ve been taking it forever.

      Like

  • mistermuse 9:51 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Billy Wilder, , , , , , Jack Lemon, , , Sabrina, , Stalag 17, ,   

    NOBODY’S PERFECT 

    Fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age movies will recognize the above title as one of the classic last lines in film history, said by Joe E. Brown to Jack Lemmon at the end of Billy Wilder’s SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959). Today being Wilder’s birthday (June 22, 1906), and me being in the middle of a biography of Wilder by the same title, I thought I’d offer my own brief tribute to one of the great directors of all time, to be followed at a later date by a review of the book when I’ve finished reading it. Seeing as how I’ve owned the book for over a year and am not yet halfway through it, don’t expect the follow-up anytime soon. I may be retired, but I still can never seem to find time to catch up on my reading. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

    Even the greatest directors made some films that weren’t so hot, and Wilder made a few such, but few directors and screenwriters have made more movies that bear repeated viewings (which is my standard for greatness) than Billy Wilder. Here is my Top Ten list of favorite Wilder films:

    THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942), starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland
    DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson
    THE LOST WEEKEND (1945), starring Ray Milland
    SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950), starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim
    STALAG 17 (1953), starring William Holden

    SABRINA (1954), starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden
    WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957), starring Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton and Tyrone Power
    SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe
    THE APARTMENT (1960), starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray
    ONE, TWO, THREE (1961), starring James Cagney

    When Wilder died March 27, 2002, he took his wit to his grave. His headstone reads:

        BILLY WILDER

         I’M A WRITER
             BUT THEN
    NOBODY’S PERFECT

     
    • Michaeline Montezinos 10:08 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      mistermuse you may not believe me but I have watched every single one of the movies on your favorite Billy Wider list. Not only that but I am guilty of watching them more than once. I finally had to stop since my husband had enough of “my hobby.” But some day when I am old and gray, and find myself sitting next to someone dressed as an elf, I will have the old folk’s nursing home television on The Dish, and watch Wilder’s movies as much as I wish!
      This based not only on a fantasy. But after my December knee replacement surgery in 2008, we had “Santa” and his reindeer helpers plus a funny looking elf present a lovely Christmas show. The newly stitched up patients as well as the residents enjoyed it immensely. 🙂

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      • Michaeline Montezinos 10:17 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Today is also my youngest daughter’s birthday. She is an Angel of Mercy and that is her vocation. (No, she did not become a Nun but at times I wish I had joined the convent when I was a young girl.)
        Best wishes to you, my darling, Michelle, who cares for her patients with compassion, and efficiency. Love you, Mama Michaeline XOXO

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    • mistermuse 10:37 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Happy Birthday to your daughter, and continued happy Billy Wilder watching to you, Michaeline.

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      • Michaeline Montezinos 11:42 pm on June 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you so very much, mister muse. I am so glad we can communicate with each other. I am not complaining bu I have not yet made a lady friend here in St. Pete’s. Oh yes, the hair salon stylist and the waitresses at the various eateries we visit know me as well as my new Nurse Practioner. I think I may…and don’t let this upset you, my dear friend…become a member of the nearby Reform Judaic Temple. One great thing about places of worship is if they have a good following of nice women, I can usually find a friend or two. Maybe one that likes Billy Wilder films and playing Scrabble and of course, going out to eat. What retiree in Florida cooks at home any more? Oh, yes, my dear husband, Dave.
        Toodles, mistermuse, looking forward to your next posting. 🙂

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    • arekhill1 8:39 am on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I salute you, Sr. Muse, for still trying to catch up on your reading, no matter how far behind you are. I long ago abandoned any hope of it. Now I have to scramble just to keep up with my writing.

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    • mistermuse 9:57 am on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      When it comes to reading, I feel like the perfect example of the Lewis Carroll quote, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” And yet I keep adding more books to my Father’s Day, Birthday and Christmas wish lists.

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    • Don Frankel 5:37 am on June 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A lot of great movies here and this one is certainly not the best but the last 15 minutes or so of One, Two, Three are just hysterical. Cagney at his best. “Schlemmer you’re back in the SS. Smaller Salary!”

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    • mistermuse 6:34 am on June 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right, Don. Cagney’s talent certainly wasn’t limited to being the classic tough guy of Hollywood’s Golden Age, He was also great at comedy, such as in ONE, TWO, THREE and MISTER ROBERTS, and at dancing, as in Cagney’s own personal favorite performance in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

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    • thefirstdark 6:54 pm on June 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on The Darkness in the Light.

      Liked by 1 person

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