Tuesday night the Pearland Theatre Guild is celebrating the complicated and dark world of film noir with Noir Nights: Film Noir Social Mixer. The event invites guests to mix and mingle with fellow noir-loving locals while noshing on food and drinks. They even suggest dressing to kill, so to speak, in vintage attire. The real highlight of the evening will be a screening of the film Detour.
Detour may not be the most widely known film, but over the years it has been noted by many as a classic. The film stars Tom Neal and the sassy Ann Savage as two strangers who happen upon each other on the road. Like any good noir, the plot takes various twists and turns, and in the end you find yourself back where you started and probably just as confused. If you've got nothing to do tonight, slap on a fedora and make your way over to Pearland (it's not that far).
They have brought back the noir over the years with many accomplishments. L.A. Confidential took on the genre as if it was produced back in the 1950s and was a huge success. Many consider Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch's work to be noir-ish. There have been plenty of sci-fi movies, as well, that find roots in noir. Most recently, Shutter Island, The Town and even last year's Drive could be classified as having many of the basic noir principles. They just don't make classic noirs like they used to, though. None of them will match up to the greats. If we could resurrect Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart we would, so that they could teach these pseudo-noirs a thing or two.
Art Attack's Top 5 Classic Film Noirs
5. The Big Sleep
I took a film history class in college where students were grouped together to give presentations on classic films. One group was directed to present onThe Big Sleep
, and they put together an infographic to attempt to explain what the hell was going on. It made no sense and neither does this movie. Bogart is a private detective on a case to resolve a wealthy client's daughter's gambling debts. Or maybe the client is really trying to find his long-lost friend or maybe it's about blackmail or maybe it's just a vehicle to put Boogie and Bacall together in a movie.
If you are a fan of The Big Lebowski, you must check out The Big Sleep. The Coen brothers give numerous ironic nods to the classic film. 4. Dial M for Murder
When you have a wealthy wife who is cheating on you, the only natural thing to do is to hire a petty criminal to kill her. When your wife dies, you both get revenge on her for the affair and take all of her money! Oh, if only life were that simple.Dial M for Murder
is a Hitchcock classic based on the play of the same title. As with most noirs/mysteries of its time, the plot is somewhat convoluted and warrants at least one reviewing. It is classic enough to have been remade in more than 13 different countries.
3. Breathless (À bout de souffle)
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the French New Wave movement caught the world's attention. Many of these French auteurs were crazy about American film noir and emulated the style, but in a really French kinda way.Breathless
is one such example that not only takes the noir look and feel, it shoves it in your face. The main character, Michel, tries so much to be like Humphrey Bogart and winds up in the middle of his own mystery-murder case. It's not much of a mystery, though, because Michel is the murderer. His femme fatale is an American student whose French accent makes you cringe, but her haircut is awesome.Breathless
is slow and purposefully bizarre in that European way, but well worth sitting through.
2. Double Indemnity
I understand that men are men and often think with their other brain, but even I will admit that if Barbara Stanwyck asked me to kill her husband, I probably would do it, too. Stanwyck is a tour de force in this classic film about infidelity, murder and more murder. Fred MacMurray plays the gullible, lovesick Walter Neff, who falls for every calculated move Stanwyck makes. If I ever shoot an ex-lover for cheating on me with her stepdaughter's boyfriend after coercing me into killing her husband so we can get his life insurance, I will also say "Goodbye, baby" right before I fire the shot.
1. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
It is not commonly known that the Humphrey Bogart/John Huston version ofThe Maltese Falcon
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is not actually the original. The movie was first made ten years prior and was not all that bad. However, Humphrey Bogart as the antihero Sam Spade is a staple in film history.The Maltese Falcon
is the epitome of double-crossers, excessive murder, cheating wives and plot points that have nothing to do with anything going on. In fact, the Maltese falcon is the most unnecessary part of the movie, which is only one of the many reasons it is brilliant.
Noir Nights: Film and Social Mixer at the Pearland Theatre Guild, 11601 Shadow Creek Pkwy. #111-234, Pearland at 6:30 p.m. $10 suggested donation. For more information, visit pearlandtheatreguild.com.