Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Film noir, in the narrow margin...

Folks might get the idea that Don Calhoun only loves cowboy pictures. Not so.

During our recent interview (read the printed edition at this week), the B-Western historian also mentioned that he loves film noir.

Talk about some great flicks.

In its classic sense, film noir refers to pictures released from the early 1940s through the late 1950s, mostly crime dramas, that were quite stylistic and often dealt with sex and moral ambiguity. They were always filmed in an understated black-and-white, which added to the film's overall mood.

When asked for examples, Don named one of my favorites, "The Narrow Margin," which I reviewed on this blog in the April 14, 2008, entry. Other titles from the classic period Don named as favorites include "Detour," "Murder, My Sweet," "The Hitchhiker" and "Out of the Past."

"A lot of these were basically B films," Don says. "But they work with a limited amount of money and get good people and do what they can with them."

Don says that RKO Studios produced the best film noir pictures as a whole.

These days, the definition of "film noir" has expanded to include several Humphrey Bogart films (most notably "The Maltese Falcon") and stretches forward as late as 1970.

But, the best by far are the classics from the '40s and 50s. For the record, my favorite is "Laura," a film I consider to be one of the best movies period.

Check back tomorrow for a review of the film Don Calhoun says nearly drove director John Ford nuts...

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