Long Shadows at Dawn: The Art of Film Noir
Now recognized as one the most influential of filmmaking styles, Film Noir was often dismissed in its own time as genre-heavy urban crime drama. With its creeping shadows, wet streets, addled subjectivity and looming sense of betrayal, Noir realized the dark underside of America’s postwar triumphalism. Populated by losers, tough guys and femmes fatales, Noir sports stylized dialogue, ruthless action and an existential world view that resonates deeply with today’s sense of everyday despair.
In this sampling of Film Noir Classics, we proceed from the beginning–just before the US entry into WWII–right up to Noir’s end at the beginning of the 1960s when a new, hopeful era starts and the genre experiences its eclipse.
21 January - Stranger on the Third Floor
Boris Ingster, USA, 1940, 63 minutes. In what is now considered the very first Noir, Peter Lorre stars as a twisted street person of interest in several murders. Don’t miss the startlingly surrealist dream sequence! On a double bill with what may be the perfect noir,
28 January - Detour
Edgar G. Ulmer, USA, 1945, 67 minutes. A NYC piano player hitchhikes to LA to be with his girlfriend. Big mistake, as he meets the ultimate femme fatale! Shot in six days, Detour is a low-budget masterpiece.
4 February - The Maltese Falcon
John Huston, USA, 1941, 100 minutes. Bogart. Peter Lorre. Sydney Greenstreet. Mary Astor. Hollywood’s A-list invades the B-Picture realm with John Huston’s debut, adapting Hammett’s book for its third time.
11 February - The Woman in the Window
Fritz Lang, USA, 1944, 100 minutes. Legendary German director Fritz Lang’s Noirs were tough, relentless and unsparing. This time, Edward G. Robinson gets ensnared by Joan Bennett, with a sneering Dan Duryea pulling the strings while Raymond Massey looks on.
18 February - Double Indemnity
Billy Wilder, USA, 1944, 100 minutes. James M. Cain’s classic tale of an insurance scam gone wrong has it all: a black widow femme fatale in Barbara Stanwyck, a patsy in Fred MacMurray and a meeting in a supermarket that will change your shopping habits forever!
25 February - The Brasher Doubloon
John Brahm, USA, 1947, 72 minutes. Raymond Chandler’s The High Window gets the screen treatment from director John Brahm. The story sees seedy characters and detective Philip Marlowe in pursuit of a rare coin; instead they find betrayal, murder and despair.
4 March - The Lady from Shanghai
Orson Welles, USA, 1947, 87 minutes. An Irish sailor is hired to crew a big shot’s yacht; an affair with the wife brings disaster, and a funhouse mirror shoot-out climaxes the story with stunning visuals.
25 March - Raw Deal
Anthony Mann, USA, 1948, 79 minutes. Shot by legendary cinematographer John Alton, Raw Deal tells the story of an ex-con who is set up to become the patsy of a mob boss.
1 April - Pitfall
André De Toth, USA, 1948. Dick Powell plays a returning vet with an ideal family life, yet he risks it all for a woman who is also being pursued by a thuggish PD played by Noir’s favourite heavy, Canuck Raymond Burr.