Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

This Week's Noir

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

Darkly Glamorous Menace and All That

Say it was late 1949 and you were going to shoot a classic noir film - like the now quite obscure Quicksand - then you'd shoot under the Santa Monica Pier. It's quite noir. Forget the movie - Mickey Rooney as a war veteran working at a Studebaker dealership, who snubs the perfectly nice, white-bread girl - Barbara Bates - and goes after the sleazy blonde vamp - Jeanne Cagney (James Cagney's sister).  Peter Lorre is key here - he plays a sleazy arcade operator at the pier who is the on and off lover of this Vera (Jeanne Cagney).  Whatever. Click on the link and read the review. In any case the cinematography was done by Lionel Lindon (photographed by) with Art Direction by Boris Leven.  This is the sort of thing they worked with - very moody.

Under the Santa Monica Pier, 4 January 2007
Under the Santa Monica Pier, 4 January 2007
Under the Santa Monica Pier, 4 January 2007

Of interest -

 

Unless the Threat of Death Is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir

John T. Irwin
Johns Hopkins University Press: 290 pp., $45
 

From the Richard Schickel review of this book in the Los Angeles Times, 11 February 2007 -

    there has undoubtedly been more heavy-duty writing about noir than about any other genre - which includes disputes about whether it really is a genre. This endlessly fascinates both academics and film buffs, in part because so many of the films of noir's classic era, which Schrader dates from 1941 to 1953, are so seductively realized - well-written, handsomely directed (all those shadows, rain-wet streets, blinking neon signs) and played with such harsh authority, often by otherwise quite ordinary actors.

     

    Noir is not a realistic style. It's a transformative one, imparting to the city and its denizens a sort of darkly glamorous menace. As Schrader observes, it rarely rains in Los Angeles, one of noir's prime venues, yet the streets are always wet with rain, and the fog is always rolling in. The same is true of the writing in these films. The pace and wit of the often outrageously strained metaphors of the voice-over narrations (see "Double Indemnity," "The Big Sleep," "Out of the Past" and a dozen lesser works) are not "real." They are as stylized as the forced lighting and the settings.

No wonder noir is so hard to find out here.

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

[This Week's Noir]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik

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