“I didn’t know I was doing film noir, I thought they were detective stories with low lighting! Even Kubrick, in 1955 during filming of The Killing, never used the term film noir to my knowledge.
Kubrick had all his shots laid out before he started, all sketched out by his wife, who was quite a good artist. He had them all around his office. I guess that’s why we made it in 21 days, with very few takes. The scene where I took my eyelashes off we did in two takes.
He didn’t direct in front of anybody else. He’d say, Marie. Come over here a minute. We’d go behind the scenery, and he’d say, In this scene I want you to be really tired and lazy. I’d had some stage training, and he was trying to get me not to use my big voice. Read more
While such studios as Twentieth Century Fox, RKO, Paramount, United Artists and even MGM, produced the profusion of movies in the Film Noir cycle, it was Universal who dispensed two genuine pearls of the genre…
The Killers (1946), and Criss Cross (1949).
Here I discuss these two intriguing and well disciplined films, both produced by Universal and both directed by Robert Siodmak. Siodmak like the other German emigre directors Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, and Otto Preminger dominated the field of Film Noir. Robert Siodmak’s Noir credits also include Phantom Lady (1943), Cry of the City (1948), and The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), but his single Oscar® nomination was for The Killers based loosely on the Ernest Hemingway short story of the same name.
The Killers, opens as a pair of hired killers drift into a small New Jersey town with the intention of gunning down a local gas station attendant named Swede, Burt Lancaster in his film debut. The Killers await their prey at the local diner. When he fails to appear as scheduled they locate the boarding house where he lives, force their way into his room where he stoically awaits them. Making no attempt to escape, he is killed in a blaze of gunfire. His final words, “I did something wrong—once.” The film unfolds with similar disconnected flashback techniques used earlier in Citizen Kane (1941), and masterfully applied here. Read more
Femme fatale—is defined as “an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into danger or disaster”. To me the most engaging semblance of a “femme fatale” is the stunning image of Lana Turner, as the camera pans from her ankles upward in that breathtaking shot from The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946. Read more
By the fall of 1943, Barbara Stanwyck had starred in 43 films. She had shown versatility with many styles. However, there remained one type of role, and an integral part of the spectrum of any actress, that she had never done, and the time seemed right for it. It was still early enough in cinema history for audiences to be shaken up by a thoroughly evil woman.Stanwyck was well aware of the potential in the role of Phyllis Dietrichson in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, Wilder remarked later how Barbara jumped at the chance of playing it. In an interview for Movie Digest in 1972, Barbara, recalled, “when Billy Wilder sent me the script of Double Indemnity, and I read it, I realized that I had never played an out–and–out killer. I had played medium heavies, but never an out–and–out killer. And because it was an unsympathetic character, I was a little frightened of it. I went to his office, and I said to him, I love the script and I love you, but I’m a little afraid, after all these years of playing heroines to play the part of an out–and–out cold– blooded killer… Read more
In the little town of Bridgeport, California, Jeff Bailey runs a gas station with the assistance of a mute boy, Jimmy, and courts Ann. One autumn day, Joe Stefanos drives into town and informs Jeff that Whit Sterlin a racketeer, wants to see him. Jeff relates his life’s story to Ann as they drive to Sterling’s Lake Tahoe mansion. As a private detective named Jeff Markham, he was hired to find Sterling’s mistress, Kathie Moffett, who had shot Sterling and escaped with $40,000. Jeff found Kathie in Mexico but fell in love with her and believed her claim that she did not steal any money. They moved to San Francisco and lived anonymously until Fisher, Jeff’s former partner, found them. Kathie killed Fisher and Jeff discovered evidence that proved she lied about the money. Disillusioned, Jeff moved to his new life at Bridgeport. Arriving at Sterling’s, Jeff assures Ann before she departs that he no longer loves Kathie. Meeting with Sterling, Jeff is surprised to see Kathie. She secretly tells him that Sterling is blackmailing her about Fisher’s murder to stay with him. The racketeer blackmails Jeff to obtain tax records from Eels, a renegade accountant of Sterling’s gang, but Jeff is being used as a patsy: Eels is to be killed by Stefanos, who will frame Jeff for the murder. Read more