Marie Windsor:“I didn’t know I was doing film noir, I thought they were detective stories with low lighting! "
One of the very best things about film noir is that after you've seen one movie there is sure to be another before you reach the 1958 cut off. So you get at least 20 good years of cinema excitement, cynicism, and the souring of the post war dream.
My problem is the conundrum: do I watch one I haven't seen, or watch one I've already seen?
The complication is that I find them exhausting to watch in the sense that they are rich fare in the way so many contemporary films are not. In the way that so many contemporary films are predictable. The interesting irony is that the film noir revival -- watching them -- has, I suspect, a lot to do with the consequences of decades of Neo Liberalism . These films make sense again as the veneer of the post war consumerism fades under the increasingly stark glare of ebbing promises. All the violence and thrills that have been served up in Hollywood movies are, in effect, titillation which has obscured an underlying shallowness and disdain for confronting the living experience of most of us.
That these films were made when I was being born or before or soon after that august date, gives me a great sense of the world of my parents THEN which was not the one they passed onto me. There was a bargain made with a pay off: a glorified domestication fostered by a rising income and security so that no one wanted to relive the Depression or the war years -- and all noir films did was remind you of that darkness.
There's also a parallel in crime fiction I suspect where the preference for relentless 'serial killer' mode today -- which bores me -- ensures that the evils that beset us are forged as the activity of a perverse criminality embedded in an insane underground spring that dogs our preferred social mores. It's almost seems paranormal, like an alien infestation, foreign to the world we seek to inhabit.
It's bogeyman stuff -- and a distraction -- when the noirs were glass darkly reflections of ourselves.
In their way, the noirs were a metaphorical precursor to the realist films that began to be made in the sixties.
Ironic is it not?