I thought it would be fitting to start Noirvember with a discussion of John Huston’s iconic adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Although film noir, a term coined in 1946 by French film critic Nino Frank, is often thought of as an post-war era in American cinema (many neo-noir and foreign films would later emulate these original films), this film has been cited as the first true American Film Noir. There’s a great debate about when the era starts and whether it counts as a genre (I don’t believe in genres period, so you can probably guess where I stand on that issue). A lot of the early crime films in the thirties and the silents made during German Expressionism all led to the style and topics seen in the noir films, but for me I think the films made during this era were distinctly full of post-war angst. That said, I’ll admit if The Maltese Falcon isn’t the first true noir, it’s definitely the premiere proto-noir. The film essentially launched Humphrey Bogart as a leading man, following his explosive earlier that year in Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra, in a performance that set the tone for all of noir’s anti-hero heroes to come. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Sydney Greenstreet and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were: Blossoms in the Dust, Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York (co-written by John Huston), Suspicion and winner How Green Was My Valley.
When I saw that the Warner Archive was releasing Red Dust on DVD – and newly resmastered to boot – I literally shouted with joy (you can ask my roommate about that). This is my second favorite Harlow film (narrowly behind Personal Property). It has never been on DVD before and when the Warner Archive released the Harlow collection last year, I was pretty bummed that Victor Fleming’s pre-code masterpiece wasn’t part of it. Now we can all rejoice and our Harlow collections are almost complete (so many of her films on DVD now, it is amazing!) If I had to pick one actress to call my favorite (and please don’t make me!), there would be a strong case for Harlow taking that top spot. I just love her so much, and she is at the top of her game opposite Clark Gable in this steamy tale of lust, class, love and deception.
Sorry I’ve been m.i.a. since the Oscars. I’ve been having some problems at work. Long story short work’s no longer a problem, so I’m back. I’ve got a few posts related to film in 2010 that I want to post, but I’ve got to flesh them out a little before I post them.
However, today I spent quite a bit of time watching Turner Classic Movies. They had an amazing line-up today. I’d recommend all four of the films I watched today, but each one for very different reasons.
The first film I watched was Some Like It Hot. I’ve seen this film numerous times. It is definitely one of the absolute funniest films of all time. Billy Wilder truly is a genius.