How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?
January 11, 2008 12:56 AM   Subscribe

"But, it's a post on film noir!" I told her. She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me. I knew that caving into my desires meant I might lose her. But I didn't care. I went out to the kitchen to make coffee -- yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. I knew she'd be back.

They Made Me A Criminal (1939) I am a fugitive... I am hunted by ruthless men! I am shunned by decent women! I am doomed to hide forever!
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Starring John Garfield, The Dead End Kids, Claude Rains and Ann Sheridan.

Casablanca (1942) As big and timely a picture as ever you've seen! You can tell by the cast it's important! gripping! big!
Won 3 Oscars. Directed by Michael Ortiz. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Double Indemnity (1944) Paramount's terrific story of an unholy love, and an almost perfect crime!
Written and directed by Billy Wilder. Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyk and Edward G. Robinson.

The Thin Man Goes Home (1944) Nick and Nora go on holiday, and end up involved in a murder.
Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Mildred Pierce (1945) In her heart of hearts she knew it would happen this way!Joan Crawford in her Oscar-winning. Eve Arden and Ann Blyth were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress. It was also up for Best B/W Cinematography, Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

Scarlet Street (1945) The GREAT STARS and DIRECTOR of "Woman in the Window"
Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett.

Detour (1945) He went searching for love... but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry... Violence... Mystery!

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) Fate drew them together... and only murder could part them!
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas.

Out of the Past (1947) A MAN - Trying to run away from his past... A WOMAN - Trying to escape her future!
Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas and Rhonda Fleming

The Big Sleep (1948) The type of man she hated . . . was the type she wanted!
Directed by Howard Hawks. Written by Raymond Chandler. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The Naked City (1948) The Most Exciting Story of the World's Most Exciting City!
Starring Barry Fitzgerald and Howard Duff.

The Third Man (1949) HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl!
Directed by Carol Reed. Written by Graham Greene. Starring Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard and the city of Vienna.

D.O.A. (1950) A picture as excitingly different as its title!
Starring Edmond O'Brien and Beverly Garland.

Beat The Devil (1953) Tongue-in-cheek spoof of The Maltese Falcon. Adventure at its boldest! Bogart at his best!
Directed by John Huston. Screenplay by Truman Capote. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley and Peter Lorre

The Hitch-Hiker (1953) When was the last time you invited death into your car?
Written and directed by Ida Lupino. Starring Edmond O'Brien.

Dial M for Murder (1954) Kiss By Kiss...Supreme Suspense Unfurls!
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings.

Mr. Arkadian (1955) Discovering the past can be murder...
Written, directed by, and starring Orson Welles.

Cape Fear (1962) The Original Masterpiece Of Revenge, Confrontation And Murder!
Starring Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen
posted by miss lynnster (48 comments total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't seem like a very good precedent.
posted by dersins at 1:05 AM on January 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Look, this is the thing. It's not a particularly large thing, but it's a thing all the same. And it's a thing you should know, maybe. And maybe, actually it's two things. One small thing and one not so small thing. I'll let you decide which is which.

1. Not all of these are public domain and so somewhere someone isn't gonna be able to pay their tab this month. And that's gonna cause some hurt feeling, at least.
2. And the quality? The quality hurts my pretty little smokey-bleary eyes.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:22 AM on January 11, 2008

Lynnster strikes again! Noirilisious!
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:47 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I do try to veer towards public domain when best I can, which is why I often focus on ooold stuff. (Well, unless Pee Wee Herman was in it.) I wholeheartedly support artists getting paid royalties -- you should see my strike beard -- so if the mods want to delete it based on concerns, no worries by me.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:05 AM on January 11, 2008

in which one of these can i get my penis to smell like honeysuckle?
posted by criticalbill at 2:39 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

As usual, you've crafted a beautiful post...but I have to weight in on the side of The Movies and agree that this is a bad precedent to set, and just a bad idea in general. Let's not be those people, ya'll.

Plus there's a distinct lack of Tyrone Motherfuckin' Power.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:47 AM on January 11, 2008

ok, so i'm not really a hard-boiled dick, more like a soft-boiled dick, like an italian sausage left on the dashboard of a hyundai excel for the entirety of a los angeles dodgers doubleheader on a july afternoon, when the smog descends low over the dugouts and casts everything in a shimmering aura of despair. i nipped at my jim beam and clunked him back in the file drawer before gesturing to the seat opposite me (in my office, not dodger stadium) as the leggy, tall drink of water settled herself down in the corinthian leather, staring at me with cerulean eyes before she said "please help me bruce, you're the only man who can." "there are eight million stories in the naked city" i intoned in reply, "being investigated by about one million private eyes. what, exactly, makes me more special than the other nine hundred thousand, ninety, uh, nine, nine..." she stopped me with two words "enzo sprezzatura." that took me back. his button man had accidentally shot him while i was repossessing his lincoln continental. "what about him?"

"he's my father." i blinked, unaccountably summoning the memory of my portuguese water spaniel's hernia operation. "no, he's my brother." i frowned at the sultry temptress just as she added "he's my father and my brother." "now you're driving a man to drink, talking like that" as i swiftly repossessed the jim beam and took a deep swig right from the bottle. "just tell me one thing ma'am. cui bono?" she took a moment to wrap her mind around this question "koo...koowee, uh, what?" behind her in the doorway loomed greta, my loyal secretary, holding up a piece of paper with the words "she's an fbi agent." "oh, ok" i said reflexively, "please start at the beginning."
posted by bruce at 3:04 AM on January 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

"you should see my strike beard" -- posted by miss lynnster

Are you coming on to me?
posted by Eideteker at 4:29 AM on January 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

The quality hurts my pretty little smokey-bleary eyes.

This is actually a big improvement on my vhs copy of The Third Man.
And any excuse to watch Double Indemnity again is fine by me. Nice work, Miss L.
posted by maryh at 4:38 AM on January 11, 2008

The Thin Man Goes Home and Casablanca? Seriously? Otherwise, good list. Seen 'em all. "Detour" in particular is not to be missed.
posted by drinkcoffee at 5:08 AM on January 11, 2008

I wish I could pull off the username "enzo sprezzatura." Damn.
posted by kimota at 5:11 AM on January 11, 2008

Thank You.
posted by pantufla at 5:21 AM on January 11, 2008

Hot Damn! That's 18 weeks worth of movienight material right there, and I didn't have to do a thing!
posted by sambosambo at 5:32 AM on January 11, 2008

BTW, Double Indemnity begins here. This movie made me completely rethink Fred MacMurray after years of watching reruns of My Three Sons. Wait for the scene where Neff watches Phyllis get questioned by his mentor Keyes- The prop cannon tchotchkes on the mantle take aim at MacMurray; he remains stoic while his wide yellow* crazy-patterned necktie has his nervous breakdown for him.

B&W, I know, but it's a bright anxious yellow. No question.
posted by maryh at 5:34 AM on January 11, 2008

I had to favorite it. If they deleted the post, concerned I guess for the well-being of the bastards who signed the checks -- 'cause who isn't? -- my favorite might be the only way I'd ever see these low quality videos again: the only way I'd know. But if the thread got deleted, would my favorite stick around? I didn't know. I didn't know. But what choice did I have? What choice do any of us ever have.

posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:59 AM on January 11, 2008


now will somebody youtube Sunset Boulevard?TIA.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:00 AM on January 11, 2008

Beautiful and fantastic!
posted by malaprohibita at 6:17 AM on January 11, 2008

"This is great, miss lynnster," he said, backing away from the corpse. "Just fucking great."
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:24 AM on January 11, 2008

Metafilter was the kind of website where people complain about precedents, and if you try and argue with them, they Metatalk you. There I was, drinking my coffee and minding my own business, so I sashayed over to my web browser to kill some time and maybe some other things. The page opened like a casting couch hopeful's legs and there it was: the noir post to end all noir posts. I had no choice, I had to click, click and click again.

Thank you miss lynnster, you're a classy dame.
posted by biscotti at 6:27 AM on January 11, 2008 [7 favorites]

With his black hair in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Steve Martin kinda looks like Harrison Ford.

The Thin Man Goes Home and Casablanca? Seriously?

Dial M for Murder isn't a film noir, either.

This movie made me completely rethink Fred MacMurray

The Apartment will do the same.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:33 AM on January 11, 2008

I've had a 'thing' about collecting old quarter-novels from the '50s (Jim Thompson and the like) for some time, but have yet to get into the Noir. This looks like a good place to start. Thank you, ML.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:39 AM on January 11, 2008

I was lucky enough to see The Third Man unspoiled, and I highly recommend seeing it that way - that said, it's worth it to rent it and watch it on a big screen - It was filmed in post-war Vienna, among the ruins of bombed out buildings. The cinematography is great. It and Double Indemnity are both in my Top 5 list.
posted by julen at 7:00 AM on January 11, 2008

Stranger on the Third Floor - greatest noir dream sequence ever - and this man peering out from behind a door. Don't miss it.
posted by QuietDesperation at 7:12 AM on January 11, 2008

Oh my gosh, this is great. Thanks.
posted by pete0r at 7:17 AM on January 11, 2008

Sweet thanks.

All you noir fans have seen Brick right? It's a pretty good noir revision. Worth a look.
posted by dr. moot at 7:23 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I knew she was trouble from the moment I laid eyes on her. She had gams that went right up to her ass. I'm a sucker for gams like that, always have been.

"Looks like you really enjoy writing the word 'gams', tiger," she purred as she stepped into my office.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2008

Plus there's a distinct lack of Tyrone Motherfuckin' Power .

Nightmare Alley (1947), hell yeah. Carnival noir.

And don't forget Cornell Wilde tortured by jazz in The Big Combo (1955)
posted by Kinbote at 7:40 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

the Thin Man series isn't really noir, it's more of a detective/comedy/romance sort of thing. It kinda started going downhill after the first two films anyway. The original film The Thin Man is my favorite, and After the Thin Man is pretty good too (and features a young Jimmy Stewart).
posted by xbonesgt at 7:53 AM on January 11, 2008

Fred MacMurray looks almost exactly like my grandfather. Barbara Stanwyk looks extremely like my uncle's wife. And my mother, rest her soul, resembled Mae West (no, really). The first two are amazing. The latter, not so much, but still there.

Great list. Don't know why folks gotta complain about sources. I don't see anyone saying I can't use the list to guide some renting or purchasing.
posted by Goofyy at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2008

Is there any particular reason that those "The Big Sleep" links go to videos of Casablanca, and that Dial M for Murder link goes back to this FPP?
posted by grandsham at 8:19 AM on January 11, 2008

"I don't think she made the post at all" I said. All of Mac's big face drooped as he frowned, he pushed his silly cop-hat higher up on his forehead, he shook his head and his extra flesh followed. I didn't like his new mime act he was doing to me.
"Do you know anything about computers Mac?" I asked even though I knew the answer and I didn't want to see the policeman's jowls in motion when he shook his head 'no' again. I almost started to explain data storage and how nothing is ever 'gone' from the internet, but then I realized it would do no good. Mac was a relic, teaching him anything about the internet would be like teaching a blind painter to drive a bus - a fucking waste of time, and he was incompetent at his present task anyways.
He stood there like a big fleshy wall, silent. I sighed. I had lost here, justice has lost here, but maybe Mac didn't have to be a loser, maybe metafilter didn't have to be a loser. Some nicotine-caked bulb in my head started glowing through the hangover, I think it may have been a left-over Christmas light.
"You like movies you can watch on your TV, don't you Mac? Nice sharp movies you can download right? You could even burn them to a dvd..." I said.
"Sure," He said, his first words to me all day. "but I yain't startin' no fars." I think the last word was supposed to be 'fires.'
"Ok, fine..." It took me a moment to understand what he meant. "...uh, look Mac, you can download some of these movies from See here's DOA, The Stranger, Scarlet Street, Detour, Mr Arkadin"
"That's hardly any of 'um!" Mac said.
"I know, I know, but theres others!" I protested and finally broke through all of Mac's fleshy layers of ignorance.
"More!?" Somehow Mac got two syllables out of the word.
"That's right, look, here's an Akira Kurosawa movie called Stray Dog about a rookie detective that loses his gun, and M by Fritz Lang - it's a real classic Mac - Eyes in the Night, Quicksand, Young and Innocent by Alfred Hitchcock, Death From a Distance, Kanses City Confidential, and that's only a sample of them. There's an awful lot of film noir slipping in to public domain Mac." His eyebrows scrunched up and he massaged his stubble; I didn't feel like wasting my breath on his, I wanted to waste it on a cigarette and a woman if I could find one that would talk to me in my condition. I wondered if I could score some dope on short notice.
Still, there was one thing that didn't add up...
posted by fuq at 8:25 AM on January 11, 2008 [8 favorites]

Wonderful. Thanks.
posted by elmono at 8:31 AM on January 11, 2008

If there are any issues with links, it's because I was probably distracted by my sick puppy. :(

Thin Man Goes Home was the only one of the series I could find and admittedly I've actually never seen it, cuz I'm so loyal to the first two (After The Thin Man's my fave). By the time they were "going home" & stuff, Loy & Powell were so sick of the characters I was pretty sure the movies went downhill. Yeah, probably shoulda left it off.

As for Casablanca, there's some argument there.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:32 AM on January 11, 2008

posted by TrialByMedia at 8:46 AM on January 11, 2008

Oh yea, it is not really a stretch to label Casablanca as noir.
posted by Mister_A at 9:01 AM on January 11, 2008

Fabulous post. What fun. Thanks for the first bellylaugh of the day with the first link. God that was funny. And so sorry about your sick puppy.
posted by nickyskye at 9:04 AM on January 11, 2008

So, okay, talk to me about Double Indemnity. I hadn't seen it, recently goaded a bunch of friends into watching it, and damn is the first third of it awkward.

The acting! It is sort of.. stilted! Fred MacMurray (with his short ties) and Barbara Stanwyck both do a fair job, but Edward G Robinson just steals the whole thing whenever he's onscreen. After his first short scene, a friend turned to me and said "wow - that's a movie star, I don't know about these other two."

It gets better after the first third, and ends up as a good movie, but can someone tell me why I should love those performances?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2008

Thanks for the post, miss lynnster. And ssmith, I really enjoyed that link. Made me feel right on top of a couple of terms that have become nebulous in recent decades.
posted by Fennel B. at 10:03 AM on January 11, 2008

Fedoras and pinstripes, anyone?
I'll favorite this post as a rental guide in case I ever want to film-noir-it-up.

(I get all my film noir references from Calvin and Hobbes.)
posted by not_on_display at 10:25 AM on January 11, 2008

Seconding Brick for all noir fans.
posted by yerfatma at 10:28 AM on January 11, 2008

Casablanca isn't noir because the ending is too happy. This is key. Real noir is pretty damned pessimistic. The femme fatale is a staple of noir and of course she is, literally, "the woman who will kill you." Take a look at the endings of Detour, Out of the Past, and Gun Crazy for textbook examples of noir storylines.

In a more contemporary sense, look at the various versions of Blade Runner that were just released (again) on home video. The original theatrical versions, which end with Deckard and Rachel driving away into a lush green future together, are not noir. But I think a good argument could be made that the workprint, director's cut, and "final cut", which end with that elevator door sliding shut and a cut to black, do qualify as noir — as long as you're willing to divorce the idea of noir from its original historical context.

Personally, I've always pegged the noir cycle as beginning with Double Indemnity in 1944 (though Kane, Casablanca, and The Maltese Falcon share certain important stylistic tropes with noir) and ending with Touch of Evil in 1958, at which point the idea of noir had become so self-conscious as to hardly qualify for the descriptor IMO.
posted by Joey Bagels at 10:42 AM on January 11, 2008

Rick Blaine's character development in Casablanca is pretty much the opposite of what it would be in a noir. If Ilsa seduced him, got him to turn Victor Laszlo to the Nazis, betrayed him, and got onto the plane with Captain Renault, then maybe it'd be a noir.

Body Heat and Last Seduction are good neo-noirs (although the Wikipedia page lists some sketchy examples).
posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 AM on January 11, 2008

I hadn't watched Cape Fear in ages so I just put it on in the background while I'm working. MAN, Robert Mitchum really knew how to make my skin crawl.

From Wikipedia: "It had been widely predicted for at least a decade that (Robert Mitchum's) eventual death would spark a huge fascination with his film canon, but James Stewart died the very next day, immediately eclipsing Mitchum's death in the mainstream media." Bummer. To this day, whenever I eat red meat I hear his voice in my head announcing, "Beef. It's what's for dinner."
posted by miss lynnster at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2008

Interesting thing I just noticed in Cape Fear, btw. Gregory Peck is thinking his daughter is in danger, and the key point he makes is how if she was attacked, she'd have to go on the stand and testify. He goes on & on about how they can't let that happen, that no child should ever have to go through such a traumatic experience, that testifying about such clinical details would completely break her.

Ummm... as opposed to being tormented and raped by a psychopath? Which apparently wouldn't damage her at all? It's just COURT he's worried about? Huh?

Oh, those crazy monochromatic people and their crazy ways.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:58 PM on January 11, 2008

LobsterMitten asked (about Double Indemnity):
It gets better after the first third, and ends up as a good movie, but can someone tell me why I should love those performances?

Robinson does completely steal the show, no question, but what captures me about the MacMurray and Stanwyck performances is the way their characters see in each other the opportunity to loosen the bonds of their restrictions - MacMurray's Neff is bored by his own success, but also focused in on his own success, and for all that lust is the ostensible reason for cutting to the chase, it's clear that his ego is driving him as much as, or more, as his lust for her. Beating Keyes, the smartest man with the little voice inside, is a thrill for him, as is balancing his secret life with the mask of his public face. At the same time, Stanwyck's Phyllis sees him as her means to an end. The fact he's attracted to her is icing, and she plays out the drama as she thinks he would best react. The triumph that flares in her eyes as she slows down after the railroad tracks is unsettling and revealing, and allows you to see that she's convinced she's the primary power in the relationship. From that point forward, you see both the mask she presents to Neff (worried, weak, playing to the male ego), and her underlying manipulation and self-reliance when he's not looking at her.

Neither is emotionally invested in each other, but they play at it and ignore the signs from the other. Their speeding repartee is about two flawed venal folks identifying each other, cloaked in more socially acceptable "flirting." There's no romance here, on either side, except perhaps for a self-regard that obviates all other things en route to pleasing themselves. For me, these two provide hard-edged, multi-layered performances driven by internal demons that are in parallel - merging and dividing and reflecting and complementing each other.
posted by julen at 8:44 PM on January 11, 2008

julen, thanks. So you see the stiltedness (esp at the beginning) as a deliberate reflection of their lack of real interest/chemistry?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:20 PM on January 11, 2008

Well - it is partially a stylistic decision by Billy Wilder. That said, it's a protective mechanism early on (an out if the other should suddenly be offended by the idea of an affair or insurance fraud or murder) while they feel each other out. Later, they can be very clipped with each other (I think of the scene on his couch after Keyes made his surprise visit, and after hanky panky of some ilk) as they process where they are in their relationship and how they are dealing with the situation. There is an interest there, and some lust, but each is focused on their own desires.
posted by julen at 5:27 PM on January 12, 2008

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