Lately we have been relishing the new BBC film noir drama "The Hour". This dark mystery has reignited a fascination I have with the cool, graphic look of the film noir style.
I have always been drawn to the stark lighting and menacing shadows in the films of Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Samuel Fuller and Alfred Hitchcock. I love when the opening frame is of an anonymous dark city street. A dashing stranger in a sharp suit, shiny shoes and black fedora casually leans against a lamp post, the only light source. He lights a cigarette and out of the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious woman, her finger waves obscuring all but one smoky eye and a scarlet pout.
Above are two photographs of the actress Diana Dors from the film "The Unholy Wife". Diana Dors is often referred to as the British Marilyn Monroe. The femme fatale is an essential component of film noir. Portrayals can often be campy, bordering on B-movie absurdity. Below is the light hearted trailer for "The Unholy Wife" with Rod Steiger and Diana Dors playing this trope to the hilt.
In Samuel Fuller's excellent 1953 film "Pickup on South Street", Jean Peters walks the line between the stereotypically dim and cunningly street smart girl alongside the brilliant Richard Widmark. I love the tango-like banter between them in the video clip below.
Below are photos of Jean Peters and Richard Widmark.
Richard Widmark also gives an amazing performance as Harry Fabian, a London hustler in Jules Dassin's 1950 film "Night and the City" also starring the beautiful Gene Tierney.
Below is a clip from "Night and the City".
A classic of film noir is the Otto Preminger film "Laura" from 1944, starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. Below is a still from the film. I absolutely love Gene Tierney's striped wrap jacket, so chic.
Below is a clip from the film "Laura".
Below are a few gorgeous photos of the actress Gene Tierney.
A great poster from the classic Hitchcock film "Rope".
There are far too many great Alfred Hitchcock films that fall under the heading of film noir to list here, so I have chosen to feature a favorite. In the 1946 film "Notorious" we have an incredible pairing of talent and beauty in the performances of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.
Below are two beautiful photos of Ingrid Bergman.
In the 1947 film "Nightmare Alley", Tyrone Power gives a stellar performance as carnie Stan Carlisle. Below is a clip from "Nightmare Alley".
Below are a few favorite photos of the dashingly handsome Tyrone Power.
"Dark Passage" is one of my all time favorite film noir movies. It stars the incredible duo of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, directed by the great Delmer Daves. This is a classic tale of revenge set in foggy San Francisco.
Here is the gorgeous Danish version of the "Dark Passage" poster.
Another great film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" from 1946. Below is a clip from the movie.
Below are a few wonderful photographs of the endlessly captivating Lauren Bacall.
A great, great film noir classic from 1950 is the movie "Gun Crazy" directed by Joseph Lewis. This is a wild cross-country shoot 'em up - full of bank robberies and terrific chase scenes. Peggy Cummins is amazing as Annie Laurie Starr. Below is the video sequence where we first are introduced to Annie Starr.
In honor of the smooth talking gangsters and gun-wielding vixens in these great films, we have devised a delicious cocktail that is sure to make a femme fatale swoon.
Cocktail Of The Week - "The Crooked Angel"
8oz Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur
4oz half and half
4 maraschino cherries
Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
Serve in highball glasses filled halfway with cubed ice.
Garnish with maraschino cherries.
In closing, we have a modern take on the film noir style in a music video from the band Pulp with their song "This is Hardcore". Pulp's frontman Jarvis Cocker is amazing.