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August 2007
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This special episode of OUT OF THE PAST is full of holiday surprises. Clute and Edwards investigate the 2005 neo-noir Christmas comedy THE ICE HARVEST, then speak with Scott Phillips, author of the 2000 hardboiled novel on which the film is based. While the book contains its share of dark humor, it is largely a tale of the moral tipping point in the life of Witchita Mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (played by John Cusack), who discovers his capacity for ruthlessness when backed into a corner. The movie plays down the moral crisis and plays up the comedy, but director Harold Ramis manages to recreate some of the brooding atmosphere of the original story by staging a series of noir tribute shots. Phillips, and Clute and Edwards, all weigh in how successfully the film adapts the book in this double-feature holiday special. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_12_01_TIH.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 5:46 PM
Comments[6]

Stuart Heisler's 1942 film THE GLASS KEY retained the personages and major plot twists of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel by the same name, but wiped the grim off the original tale. By cleaning up the characters and their motives, the film missed an opportunity to picture its stellar cast (Dunlevy, Ladd, and Lake) in a noir light. Instead, for much of its running time it looks and feels like the glamour whodunnit pictures, or populist clean-government reform films, of the 1930's. Hammett's novel finally received proper treatment in the Coens' 1990 masterpiece MILLER'S CROSSING. Though filmed in color, this movie borrows heavily from classical noir, and gives us characters as complex and morally flawed as any envisioned by Hammett. This podcast—the third double-feature of "Out of the Past" to examine how the Coens' films have been inspired by the fiction of Cain, Chandler, and Hammett, as well as previous film adaptations of these masters of hardboiled—is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_11_01_GKMC.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:21 PM
Comments[2]

Rita Hayworth is GILDA. From the flip of her fiery hair to the reprise of her incendiary song, she sizzles the celluloid and burns herself indelibly into our collective consciousness. In fact, her presence so scorches that we are apt to miss the technical artistry of this film. Rudolph Maté's superlative cinematography uses banal objects pedagogically, to teach us to read the images: the blinds in Mundson's office make us aware of the fact we're looking, then show us how and where to look; the elaborate staging and framing of staircases make us wonder whether each character's fate is ascending or descending. While the Triad of superb players (Hayworth, Ford, and Macready) fleshes out the elaborate story, it is Maté's camera that builds the suspense. In then end, the cinematography combines with lines of dialogue pronounced by philosopher Uncle Pio to give us the world through noir-colored glasses—a "worm's eye view" that lends Hollywood's biggest stars a distinct earthiness. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_10_01_G.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 7:55 PM
Comments[12]

Shane Black's 2005 KISS KISS BANG BANG is a film of delirious contradictions. It is part comedy, part tragedy, a bawdy pulp parody and a heartfelt hardboiled homage. The mix would be too eclectic if the film didn't constantly signal its awareness that it is doing something that should be impossible. Black's self-conscious screenplay uses the generic traits of hardboiled to examine the status of hardboiled stories and characters today, poking fun at itself all the while. In this vein, it could be likened to BRICK and THE ICE HARVEST, which similarly find comi-tragic inspiration in a literary tradition while largely abandoning the classic noir visual style. While noir fans may be tempted to track down the movie's numerous references to other novels and films, the greater payoff comes from simply appreciating Black's superb writing and the sublime comic acting of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_09_01_KKBB.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:01 AM
Comments[2]

I Wake Up Screaming was produced concurrently with The Maltese Falcon and released shortly after, and thus stands as one of the earliest examples of noir. The Maltese Falcon is the more uniform achievement, successfully coupling a consistent noir visual style with noir themes of disillusionment. But for these very reasons I Wake Up Screaming may be the more important film to scholars of noir. It vacillates between a 1930's-style love story and a war-era tale of existentialist dread, between traditional light-saturated, protagonist-centered staging and elaborate off-kilter compositions bathed in darkness. It is a Janus film, and it is debatable whether it looks primarily backwards or forwards, is principally an ending or a beginning. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_08_01_IWUS.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:38 PM
Comments[4]

With its throwback hardboiled script and careful restaging of iconic noir shots, Lawrence Kasdan's 1981 BODY HEAT is a noteworthy neo-noir. However, it is no mere nostalgia piece, but rather a daring updating of the tradition: Kathleen Turner's sizzling portrayal of a femme fatale inspired such diverse 1980's and 1990's classics as FATAL ATTRACTION and BASIC INSTINCT, and Kasdan's intricate plotting may even have served as the model for THE USUAL SUSPECTS. On all these points Clute and Edwards agree, but disagree on whether the 1980's were a decade capable of producing true noir--with its nuanced blend of existentialism and fatalism--or whether the fundamentally hedonistic zeitgeist of the era lead to films that simply retained the stylistic trappings of the classic period while delivering a more superficial message.  This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_07_01_BH.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:42 PM
Comments[19]

"His Kind Of Woman" makes viewers aware of what they expect from noir by disappointing their expectations. The film moves quickly from the down and out digs of gambler Dan Milner (Mitchum) to a sunbathed beachside resort in Mexico. There, it takes its time setting up a complicated intrigue involving a large ensemble cast. It introduces the sultry Lenore Brent (Russell) as a mysterious dame, only to domesticate her by the end of the film, and gives the character of Mark Cardigan (Price)--a B actor and slapstick hysteric--an inordinate amount of time to strut and fret his stuff. For all of these reasons, the film seems light years away from the gut-wrenching bare-bones noir world of the 1940's. However, the presence of Mitchum, strong cinematography by Harry Wild, and John Farrow's coy and self-conscious direction at once recuperate a noir atmosphere and pose important questions about the commercialization of filmmaking in the 1950's. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_06_01_HKOW.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:17 AM
Comments[2]

The "Noircast Special" podcasts allow Clute and Edwards to address topics of interest to listeners of "Out of the Past" and "Behind the Black Mask." This episode features interviews with the creators of three alternative noir publications: Tee Morris, founder of podiobooks (www.podiobooks.com) and author of the fantasy-hardboiled podiobook "Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword;" Kevin Burton Smith, creator of the superlative "Thrilling Detective" website and ezine (www.thrillingdetective.com); and Seth Harwood, author of the podiobook "Jack Wakes Up" starring movie-star one-hit-wonder and ex-drug-addict Jack Palms.
Direct download: NS2_2007_05_15_ANP.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:28 AM
Comments[0]

Sam Fuller's 1953 "Pickup on South Street" leaves open important questions that Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" will feel compelled to answer, and Fuller's film has a more timeless quality as a result. With artful minimalism, Fuller captures the claustrophobic paranoia of the HUAC era. He uses alternating points of view, pitting each character's vision of America against another's, to create narrative tension and an ambiguous moral. The film is a fork-tongued parable--a warning to all in power to be vigilant, but equally to all citizens to beware the "patriotic eyewash" that allows those with power to misuse it in times of crisis. Accordingly, Fuller's is a world populated by conflicted characters: slick pickpockets and savage cops, sinister federal agents and starry-eyed communist messengers, and hard-edged but soft-hearted street hustlers. Nobody's clean, but everyone has a shot at redemption if they're willing to suffer for it. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_05_01_POSS.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:57 AM
Comments[2]

Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas and Lizabeth Scott all turn in stellar performances in this 1946 gem. For much of its running time the film lacks many of the visual hallmarks of the noir style, but Robert Rossen's pitch-perfect script, delivered with such subtlety by the fine cast, builds a dark backstory that makes what might have been a standard melodrama into a noir masterpiece: the drama of a few individuals is transformed into a parable of post-war America. Add Edith Head's gorgeous costumes and Miklos Rozsa's superlative score, and you have one of the most enjoyable films ever made. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_04_01_SLOMI.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:07 PM
Comments[5]

Recently, several Hollywood films, including HOLLYWOODLAND, have revisited traumatic events of the 1940's and 1950's. This new film cycle begs several questions--chief among them, why do the malaise and murder of the postwar years resonate with filmmakers today, and do these films share characteristics that allow us to speak of an emerging film style? Clute and Edwards maintain there are significant differences lurking behind the apparent similarities, and such differences call for more nuanced terminology than the blanket moniker "neo-noir." They propose the tripartite nomenclature of noir-style, neo-noir, and faux-noir, and argue that HOLLYWOODLAND is a superlative example of neo-noir: it tells a throw-back, hard-boiled tale in a new visual style. While Allen Coulter's direction is key to crafting this new look of noir, the acting of a strong ensemble cast is crucial to conveying the heartache caused by the suspicious death of actor George Reeves--TV's Superman. A must-see film for casual fans of classic noir, and serious students of its evolution. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_03_01_H.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:06 AM
Comments[9]

The 1955 film "Kiss Me Deadly" makes telling changes to Mickey Spillane's 1952 source novel. What was a story of greed and social corruption becomes an allegory of Cold War hysteria. Plot and character cede the stage to emotion and character type. While earlier films noir portrayed the downfall of a flawed person whose bad decisions had far-reaching social consequences, "Kiss Me Deadly" instead pits simplified personages and storylines against an ecstatically elaborate camera vision and sound design. It is at once the boiling down and the blowing up of noir--executed with a degree of camp only the mid-1950's could muster--and as such, it is the fulcrum on which hard-boiled literary tradition and noir film history teeter-totter. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_02_01_KMD.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 2:31 AM
Comments[1]

The "Noircast Special" allows Clute and Edwards to address topics of interest to listeners of "Out Of The Past" and "Behind The Black Mask." This inaugural episode features a roundtable discussion with the director, playwright, and lead actors of The Stolen Chair Theatre Company's off-Broadway play "Kill Me Like You Mean It." Inspired by film noir and the theatre of the absurd, the play is an artful mash-up that demonstrates how dark is the heart of absurdist theatre, and how absurd are the conventions of noir. This podcast--part interview, part radio drama--should please fans of film noir and mystery fiction alike.
Direct download: NSF_2007_01_25_KMLYMI.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02 AM
Comments[0]

Orson Welles's 1958 "Touch of Evil" is considered the last film noir of the classic period. Clute and Edwards investigate why it deserves this designation, arguing that it uses the conventions of noir in such a self-conscious manner that henceforth it will be impossible to tell a straight noir tale. Indeed the film is so self-conscious that it is no more a narrative than it is a demonstration of how to create film narrative. It is considered a great film for this reason, but also because it features myriad strong acting turns, stages Welles's dramatic demise as a Hollywood player, and contains story and character seeds that will come to fruition in films as different as "Psycho" and "Miller's Crossing." This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_01_01_TOE.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 4:47 AM
Comments[8]