Monday, May 15, 2017

TCR on Film: An Interview with Mark A. Vieira, author of "Into the Dark -- The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941-1950."

In the excellent new book Into the Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941 -1950  (Running Press, 2016) veteran author Mark A. Vieira uses first hand accounts to take readers back to the 1940s. Instead of latter day critical analysis, we get reviews and comments from the film noir era along with the reminiscences of performers, including noir specialists Jane Greer and Claire Trevor, and other personnel who were part of the film noir world.

"I determined that film noir truly began in 1941 by reading Los Angeles Times articles of the period," Vieira explained to The Committee Room. "They cited Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon as the first of the 'hard-boiled' trend."

As Vieira points out in Into the Dark, the term film noir was unknown to those who made these films. The term was coined by a French critic in 1946 to describe the large number of crime thrillers and murder dramas coming out of Hollywood but did not come into general use until the 1970s when these stylish films were rediscovered by a new generation of critics and moviegoers.




Dick Powell and Claire Trevor in
Murder, My Sweet (1944).
And what exactly makes a film noir? "The criteria are straightforward," Vieira told TCR. "A film noir protagonist must be (1) alienated, (2) obsessed, and (3) doomed. Of course you can point to Murder, My Sweet. Detective Phillip Marlowe exhibits none of these qualities. But everyone in the film does! So it qualifies."

A few of the eighty-two films covered in Into the Dark were generously budgeted pictures based on bestselling novels such as Leave Her to Heaven (1945), shot by Twentieth Century-Fox in state of the art Technicolor. The vast majority, however, were modest productions with literary origins in pulp fiction. RKO, the smallest and most cash-strapped of the major studios of the classic Hollywood period, has the strongest representation in Into the Dark with seventeen entries including one of the progenitors Citizen Kane along with a film that is often seen as perhaps the noir-est of noirs, Out of the Past (1947), featuring a young Robert Mitchum as a private eye double-crossed by a shady businessman's girlfriend. "RKO was willing to do more film noirs because the films could be made quickly and cheaply, including the purchase of the story," Vieira told TCR.

John Garfield and Lana Turner in
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).
At the other end of the spectrum, MGM, the biggest and richest of the studios, and the most dedicated to looking at the sunny side of life (a characteristic utterly incompatible with film noir) has just a few entries, though that handful includes The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), a superbly dark vehicle for a spectacularly white-clad star Lana Turner.

Joan Crawford, a major star since the early 1930s won her much longed for Oscar in the film noir Mildred Pierce (1945). Barbara Stanwyck, also a long established star, appeared in several top-notch noirs including Double Indemity (1944), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). Generally speaking though, the biggest box office names stayed out of the "crime cycle" that came to be known as film noir, leaving the territory clear for young newcomers and established but second-tier stars."[The top stars] images didn't allow for the kind of roles that Gene Tierney [newcomer] or Joan Bennett [second-tier] could play in film noir vehicles..After writing the book, I have to say that the Queen of Film Noir was Joan Bennett!" Vieira told TCR.

The Reckless Moment (1949) with "Queen of
Film Noir" Joan Bennett. 
Initially, Vieira gave Into the Dark a cutoff date of 1950 simply as a way of keeping the book to the size desired by Turner Classic Movies which sponsored the book. Later, Vieira came to think that ending at 1950 is appropriate. He explained to TCR that "the film noirs of the forties deal with lone detectives, melodrama, and women's stories. After 1951, those types rarely appear; the emphasis shifts to crime syndicates, corrupt police, Cold War paranoia...The forties film noirs are a different species than the fifties film noirs."

Into the Dark is chockablock with stunning photographs. One of the most striking -- of a youthful Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in The Killers (1946) -- graces the book's cover. "If I did a book of still photos from 1940s women's films, you'd be seeing just as many gorgeous images," Vieira says. "It wasn't film noir per se that was responsible. It was the studio system. In order to sell films that were beautifully photographed, the publicity department made sure that the 'unit stills photographer' captured the most noteworthy camera setups after they had been shot by the movie camera. That's why the photos in the book are so impressive."

Beyond the Forest (1949).
Among Vieira's personal favorite film noirs are The Lost Weekend (1945), Smash-Up (1947), The Big Clock (1948), Beyond the Forest (1949) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). He owns 16mm prints of all of these favorites. "Owning a 16mm print of a film shows that you love that film. You don't buy it to watch it only one time," Vieira says.

Can film noir be made today? Vieira thinks not, telling TCR -- "Film noir needs the alienated, obsessed, and doomed character. People are just too busy on the Internet to take time for obsession, don't you think? You have to pay attention to people to be obsessed."

23 comments:

  1. Mark A Contribution is Appreciable in Hollywood as we know.

    From the Team of @ hidemyass coupons

    ReplyDelete
  2. How easy is it to watch movies instantly online? If you like to watch movies or TV episodes on your computer, many sites let you do this. putlocker movies

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info  fmovies

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing this information and keep updating us. This is informatics and really useful to me.

    Best Industrial Training in Noida
    Best Industrial Training in Noida

    ReplyDelete
  5. The quality of the services you are interested in is usually the first thing you focus on, but it should not be the only one. If you are interested in parking Genève aéroport, you have to be sure the solution you turn to is going to rise up to the task. The ideal choice is the one that will provide the best parking aéroport de Genève for your money.
    https://presshereandnow.livejournal.com/2178511.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dubai is the land of numerous opportunities and it comes as no surprise that it continues to attract investors from all over the globe. The economy in Dubai is booming and foreign investors who are interested in investment opportunities in Dubai will be pleased to discover they have numerous options. If you are among them and you need business partners in Dubai you should register on a reliable online platform that offers you the information you need so that you can make the smartest decisions.
    https://readarticles.livejournal.com/571474.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. salam sob mari kak mampir di www.maxisbola.com bandar bola piala dunia terbesar dan terpercaya.2018. dapat kan hadiah nya yang akan di undi setiap bulan nya. dan bonus mencapai hingga 100% di tunggu ya sob

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you have gotten to the point where you no longer know what to do about the little space that you currently have in your garage, you should know that it might be time to make a change. There are a few specific signs that will tell you when you should actually hire a team to help you deal with your Garage Storage issues in the most efficient manner possible. You will have the option to invest in Garage Cabinets and a variety of other storage solutions available on the market.
    https://presshereandnow.livejournal.com/2187446.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Polygamy is not easy because there are more women you have to deal with and each of them has her own idea about what is best. If you want to make your life easier, you will need to consider the things that matter most from the start. If you need the women to get along, you have to focus on sister wives dating and the benefits you can get out of it.
    http://newsstoryarticles.edublogs.org/2018/05/22/sister-wives-dating-for-a-proper-start/

    ReplyDelete
  10. It would not be reasonable in the event that we compliment all the blog compositions yet not the creator. Incredible Work!www.123moviestube.io

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sport bettors who need information in order to place a bet should turn to the internet for free nfl picks. It is a lot easier to bet when you rely on accurate information and experienced bettors are well aware of this. If you do not bet just for the sake of fun and you would like to make some money from this you should join a website that offers free nfl expert picks. There are websites that offer this information for free and all you have to do is create an account and sign in.
    http://newsstoryarticles.edublogs.org/2018/05/26/access-useful-free-nfl-picks/

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Presidents Executive SPA and Karaoke Purwokerto adalah cara terbaik untuk melepaskan diri dari STRESS! Stay awake ... Happy Relaxation and Enjoy With Us Lets Now North Purwokerto, Banyumas Regency, Central Java www.thepresidentspa.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. No matter how many times I read this, I will never get bored of it.https://123moviestube.io

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hotsprice| Best search compare and buying sites in India where you compare lots of product in single place
    Buy Latest Mobile
    Lowest Price Laptop
    Lowest Price ACs
    Latest Summer Women Collection
    hotprice

    ReplyDelete
  15. Even if you know what a Mortgage Broker Hillsborough does, when you do not actually rely on such a professional, you do not really know what to expect if you are ever going to need his assistance. Well, this does not mean that just because you are unware of certain details regarding a Mortgage Broker Stannington, you should simply visit a local bank or any other lender and opt for the help of one of their consultants. Hands down, that would be one of the biggest mistakes you could make.
    http://dailypressreleases.over-blog.com/2018/06/what-can-you-expect-from-a-mortgage-broker-hillsborough.html

    ReplyDelete