“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
The motion picture industry most likely began in Los Angles in 1902 when Thomas L. Tully opened the first theater exclusively for moving pictures. From its earliest days, when movies were thought of as peep shows, the Negro was presented in an unfavorable light.
The year 1915 is a significant date in motion picture history. This is the year of the release of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the film version of Thomas Dixon’s pro South, Ku Klux Klan, novel, The Clansman. In terms of advancement of the medium, it must be regarded as one of the most significant films ever made. Subsequent to its release, movies were crude at best, with uneven lighting and quick jerky movements, the acting, melodramatic and exaggerated. From an artistic and technical outlook, it was a masterpiece of conception and structure. Though much has been written about it’s overt racism, it gave rise to the modern narrative film.
The Reconstruction scenes in The Birth of a Nation are especially harsh. The black members of Congress are portrayed as arrogant, lustful, and are shown drinking heavily right on the House floor. They are depicted going about the business of the country coarsely reclining in their congressional chairs, with bare feet plopped upon their desks. When the film was released small riots broke out in Boston, and other cities. 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
If the 1954 film, On the Waterfront is not the best American film ever produced, it is without doubt among the ten best post—World War II American films. It was nominated for 12 Oscars, and won 8 including Best Picture. It is ranked the 8th Greatest American film of all time by the American Film Institute. The idea for On the Waterfront began with an expose series written for The New York Sun by reporter Malcolm Johnson. The 24 articles won Johnson a Pulitzer Prize, and coupled by the April 1948 murder of a New York dock hiring boss, awakened America to the killings, graft and extortion that made up everyday life on the New York waterfront. The protagonist Terry Malloy’s fight against corruption was in part modeled after whistle—blowing longshoreman Anthony DiVincenzo, who testified before a real—life Waterfront Commission on the facts of life on the Hoboken docks and was to a degree ostracized for his deeds. DiVincenzo sued and settled, many years after, with Columbia Pictures over the appropriation of what he considered his story. DiVincenzo recounted his story to writer Budd Schulberg during a month—long session of waterfront barroom meetings—which some claim never occurred—even though Shulberg attended Di Vincenzo’s waterfront commission testimony every day during the hearing. Read more
The year 1939 is regarded by most film historians as the pinnacle of success and legitimacy in the short history of Hollywood’s Golden era. That year gave us the likes of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and many more.
The manifest quality of these great classics is evident and needs no further elaboration here. There are a number of reasons for the achievements of 1939, chief of which was the great Hollywood studio system. If 1939 was a watershed year for Hollywood, then the next great shift came in 1946, Hollywood’s most successful year ever, in terms of attendance. The motion picture had grown up in the seven years since the release of Gone With the Wind. The great change of course came about with World War II, and it’s aftermath. Read more