Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Myrna Loy - The Only Good Girl in Hollywood



As you can see from the header image, Myrna is no stranger to this blog. So many wonderful films, so many great performances. This is why I'm thrilled to announce here that Myrna Loy The Only Good Girl in Hollywood by Emily Leider (author of Becoming Mae West and Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino) will be published in October 2011 from the University of California Press. I'm very much looking forward to reading this new biography.

Amazon link to pre-order the book is here.


Myrna Loy The Only Good Girl in Hollywood Emil y W. Leider From the beginning, Myrna Loy’s screen image conjured mystery, a sense of something withheld. This first-ever biography of the wry and sophisticated actress best known for her role as Nora Charles, wife to dapper detective William Powell in The Thin Man, offers an unprecedented picture of her life and a movie career that spanned six decades. Opening with Loy’s rough-and-tumble upbringing in Montana, the book takes us to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where Loy’s striking looks caught the eye of Valentino, through the silent and early sound era to her films of the thirties, when Loy became a top box office draw, and to her robust post–World War II career.

Biographer, poet, and memoirist Emily W. Leider is the author of Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino, among other books. 384 pp. 49 b/w images (W) $34.95 cloth (£24.95) 978-0-520-25320-9

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - The Art of Noir

There is a lot of love for Film Noir judging by the number of incredible postings for the blogathon. It's come to my attention via a FaceBook post that while there is a lot of love for Film Noir, the number of donations are not keeping pace with the number of bloggers. This is a real shame!


Before we get to the simple goodies of this post, let me ask again, plead with you to do your bit and donate $5, $10, $15 or $20 to support the Film Noir Foundation. Even in these economically challenging times a few dimes will save something we can't easily replace. We can't save every single precious frame of film noir, but we can try. I'm a glass half full person, please help!


Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by donating some much needed loot. The paypal link will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!


Fundraising blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation. Please do your part, read, enjoy and donate a few bucks.

Believe me and Mr. Marlowe, you do not want Mike Mazurki showing up on your doorstep if you don't donate. He won't be looking for Velma this time.






Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, here's some eye candy for you.






Half Sheet for Nightmare Alley




One Sheet for Nocturne


One Sheet for White Heat


Title Lobby Card for Sudden Fear




Half Sheet for This Gun For Hire






Stone Litho 3-sheet for Dark Passage



Insert for The Maltese Falcon






One Sheet for Johnny O'Clock




Lobby Card for Born to Kill

One Sheet for Murder My Sweet




Half Sheet for The Big Sleep




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - Dark Passage

I'm incredibly fortunate to live in San Francisco and I love movies that are set and filmed in my hometown. Like other dark cities in which so many film noir are set, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles; San Francisco in black and white lends itself to film noir beautifully. Filled with back alleys, dark passages, deep shadows and then the fog all lend an aura of mystery and suspense to the San Francisco noir films. Dark Passage is one of my favorite films with some beautiful location shooting in and north of the city.




Dark Passage is also unique in that the first third of the film, we do not see the protagonist at all. We view the film from his vantage point. Similar to, and as troublesome as 1947's Lady in the Lake, the gimmickery of the camera perspective does not always work. It fares less well in Lady in the Lake since I find the effect annoying. In Dark Passage it is more engaging, drawing you in rather than continually taking you out of the film, at least it is to me. The plot is somewhat convoluted and a better recap than mine can be found here.





By 1947, Dark Passage is an atypical Bogart role since he’s not really a tough guy nor is he a gumshoe. Bogart’s Vincent Parry is an innocent victim, perhaps not a perfect man, but as we learn early on, he is not a murderer. He seems somewhat weak and is certainly desperate as he escapes from San Quentin Prison. He’s dependent on the kindness of strangers and gets a remarkable amount of help for a guy on the lam from the law. Our first glimpse of Parry is, in reality, a doctored photo of the director Delmer Daves.



Bacall’s Irene is also atypical, not as sharp her previous roles. She’s given a softer edge and is a woman of some means. Not a tough one, at least not on the outside. She's warm, welcoming and speaks with a soft voice. Here is the face of a woman in love, can you blame him?




Bogart comes on the scene in shadow in the back of Sam's cab. Soon, he will have a "new" face and not surprisingly, it's the face of Bogart. Heavily bandaged and groggy from the anesthetic, but it is Bogart. Parry returns to the apartment of his friend George, a musician, only to find him dead on the floor with his crumpled horn as the murder weapon. Parry, naturally, picks it up and his fingerprints are all over it.


Knowing he can't stay there, he makes the lonely and long climb up Telegraph Hill to Irene's art deco apartment building at 1360 Montgomery (still standing). Collapsing in the doorway ringing the buzzer, Irene rescues him for a second time and nurses him back to health. He learns that he is now wanted for George's murder and assures Irene that he is innocent.

Irene's old flame Bob (Bruce Bennett) and acquaintance Madge Rapf (Agnes Moorhead) pay an inopportune visit. Madge is panicked as she was the witness who testified against Vincent Parry and is convinced he is out to take his revenge upon her. Irene manages to get rid of the pair.

7 days pass and at long last, Parry and his new face are revealed. He's healthy enough to make his departure again from Irene's doorstep. He's determined to find the murderer and has no idea he's being followed. He's determined to keep Irene out of harm's way and they part.



Parry checks into a hotel and finds his nemesis is the cheap blackmailer, Baker, who first picked him up in Marin after he escaped from San Quentin. Demanding money, and knowing Irene has it, Baker loads Parry into his jalopey to go shakedown some funds. Parry stalls Baker as they drive around the city and end up at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Parry snatches Baker's pistol and in the struggle, Baker falls to his death. Parry's luck is not holding out too well and the body count attributed to him is rising. It is clear to Parry based on Baker's comments that the real criminal is Madge Rapf and he sets out to see her.



Madge fancies herself a woman that is desired and is also always looking for a new bit of fun. That's how Parry comes to the door, armed with chocolates and charm and saying Bob sent him. Madge turns on the charm but it does not take long for her to relaize this guy is no stranger, she does not recognize the face, but the eyes are familiar. Realizing at last that Vincent Parry has come to call, in her twisted manner, Madge falls/jumps through the window of her apartment further implicating Parry for her murder as well. Moorhead steals the picture at this point, her harried, fearful manner is so reminiscent of her Mrs. Henry Stevenson in the radio play Sorry Wrong Number. Her fall from the Hyde Street apartment is a shock and Parry escapes (unbelievably) via the fire escape and just walks away.

Parry decides now it's far too hot for him in San Francisco and calls Irene and tells her, he's off to South America, to Peru. If she can make it when things cool down, he'll be there waiting. Dissolve to a nightclub with latin rhythms and we see Irene sashaying as only Bacall can do, to the waiting Parry and a presumed happily ever after. The club looks a bit like Rick's from Casablanca.
It's a strange noir entry, the plot is really no more convoluted than the unfathomable The Big Sleep. It's somewhat dreamlike as the later Vertigo would be. I love this film for the location filming, the cable cars, the climb up to Coit Tower (and believe me it's not an easy climb, but worth it) and the Golden Gate Bridge. For me it's almost a love letter to the city I love. Yes, filled with dark passages, dark corners and shadows of Dashiell Hammett, it does not take too much hard looking to find that in Fog City Bogart and Bacall are still here.


Please do your bit and donate $5, $10, $15 or $20 to support the Film Noir Foundation. Even in these economically challenging times a few dimes will save something we can't easily replace. We can't save every single precious frame of film noir, but we can try. I'm a glass half full person, please help!

Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by donating some much needed loot. The paypal link will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!


Fundraising blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - The Maltese Falcon


Original dust jacket art for the 1931 novel.

In 1930 the novel The Maltese Falcon was published. The gritty gumshoe Samuel Spade would pass into legend and inspire generations of readers. Warner Brothers bought the rights and the first film adaptation of the novel would come to the screen in 1931 with Ricardo Cortez as Spade and Bebe Daniels as Miss Wonderly.




Title Lobby Card from the 1931 version


The film was "remade" in 1935 as Satan Met a Lady with Warren William and Bette Davis. The plot was twisted so much by the writer assigned to the project that it's quite a different film and it's also a comedy. As charming as Warren William is (especially as Philo Vance or Perry Mason) he's not the Sam Spade of my dreams.


1941 US 1-sheet
Warner's art department used publicity stills from High Sierra for Bogart
and pasted Mary Astor's head on Ida Lupino!

The 1941 (and 3rd) remake by John Huston is widely considered to be the best version out there. It's certainly one I *never* tire of; each repeat viewing fills me with delight and awe. Huston's script is tight, taut and very witty. Huston took such care with the script and his notations much as Hitchcock did with his storyboarding on hos own films. There was little wiggle room to make edits from Huston’s vision. It is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. Not a single wasted frame.

The cinematography by Arthur Edeson (who started in the silent era) is dark, moody and spectacular.

The cast is absolutely letter perfect.

In a series of really stupid career moves, tough guy George Raft turned down the lead of Samuel Spade (he also nixed High Sierra and Casablanca) much to the benefit of rising Warner contract player Humphrey Bogart. Of course, hindsight being 20/20, trying to imagine Raft as Spade today is almost laughable. Bogart was already riding the crest of success from his performance in High Sierra. His Sam Spade is wiry, cagey, tough, not one who suffers fools and is “not as crooked as he appears to be.”

Peter Lorre as the delicious and effete Joel Cairo. One can almost see the cloud of gardenia following him. Stage actor Sydney Greenstreet made his film debut as Caspar Gutman and what a film debut it is. A less stagey actor than John Barrymore (at this point in his long career) Greenstreet’s mannerisms and vocal inflection bring a smile. No matter how nasty he is underneath, you cannot but help liking this greedy man.

Contract player Lee Patrick shone as the all-knowing Effie Perrine. “You worry me Sam.” Gladys George was wonderful as the pathetic and very adulterous Widow Archer. She being Sam’s latest squeeze; a squeeze that he dearly wants nothing more to do with.


A fabulous publicity shot for The Maltese Falcon Bogart and Lee Patrick


The smaller parts are rounded out with Elisha Cook Jr. as the gunsel Wilmer. Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer. Ward Bond as Tom Polhaus and Barton MacClane as Lt. Dundy. In a surprising bit of casting, Huston’s father, the great Walter Huston blessed the project with an unbilled cameo as Captain Jacoby. Huston’s cameo is something that eluded me for what must have been my first 15 viewings of the film, I am ashamed to admit. Now I wonder how I ever missed it was him.

This leaves us with the Brigid O’Shaunnessy of Mary Astor. Bogart’s Spade says it best of all, “You’re good, you’re very good. I think it’s the throb you get in your voice when you say ‘Be generous Mr. Spade.’” Astor was not first choice, thankfully Geraldine Fitzgerald turned it down.

"I’ve always been a liar.”

The film has been on the festival circuit for decades, it’s constantly played on Turner Classic Movies, it’s been issued on VHS, LaserDisc, and multiple DVD releases, now including a blu-ray. It is a film that is universally loved, it’s a landmark film noir. It is a factory made film of such quality, it’s something one thinks that could only have been made in the golden age of the studio era.


The film has inspired in revivals and reissues a plethora of poster art, some of which are shown here. It’s a film that continues to fascinate, delight and inspire. If you’ve seen it, once, twice, thirty times, imagine NOT being able to see it. This is why film preservation is so very important. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Be sure to check out fellow blogathoner at limerwrecks who has a post related to the Falcon, today, too.


Japanese Reissue poster from the 1980s

1941 Window Card


Original release French poster


A fabulous German Festival poster from the 1970s



A postwar Belgian poster (note the approval stamp)


A postwar French Reissue

Australian Daybill




A few goodies from your humble blogger's collection, including a Maltese Falcon.





Please do your bit and donate $5, $10, $15 or $20 to support the Film Noir Foundation. Even in these economically challenging times a few dimes will save something we can't easily replace. We can't save every single precious frame of film noir, but we can try. I'm a glass half full person, please help!

Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by donating some much needed loot. The paypal link will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!


If you want to join the Film Noir Foundation, your donation can be made at the following levels:


Gunsel up to $49 Receive the NOIR CITY SENTINEL electronic newsletter (e-mail address required)


Muscle $50 - $99 Receive the NOIR CITY SENTINEL. the most recent Noir City poster and souvenir-edition festival program.


Henchman $100 - $249 All of the above plus a Film Noir Foundation T-shirt. (Please specify size and men's vs. women's in the PayPal note.)


Torpedo $250 - $499 Receive all of the above plus a signed first edition of Eddie Muller's novel, The Distance.


Kingpin $500+ The whole shebang plus a series pass to NOIR CITY 9 in San Francisco in 2011 and recognition in the souvenir program.


Fundraising blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - Faces of Film Noir #1

Claire Trevor



Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in Laura


Ida Lupino smoldering dangerously in The Man I Love


Brian Donlevy and Victor Mature in Kiss of Death



Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man


Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes in Johnny O'Clock


Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past


Humphrey Bogart and "the stuff that dreams are made of."


Please do your bit and donate $5, $10, $15 or $20 to support the Film Noir Foundation. Even in these economically challenging times a few dimes will save something we can't easily replace. We can't save every single precious frame of film noir, but we can try. I'm a glass half full person, please help!


If you want to join the Film Noir Foundation, your donation can be made at the following levels:


Gunsel up to $49
Receive the NOIR CITY SENTINEL electronic newsletter (e-mail address required)

Muscle $50 - $99
Receive the NOIR CITY SENTINEL. the most recent Noir City poster and souvenir-edition festival program.

Henchman $100 - $249
All of the above plus a Film Noir Foundation T-shirt. (Please specify size and men's vs. women's in the PayPal note.)

Torpedo $250 - $499
Receive all of the above plus a signed first edition of Eddie Muller's novel, The Distance.

Kingpin $500+
The whole shebang plus a series pass to NOIR CITY 9 in San Francisco in 2011 and recognition in the souvenir program.

Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by donating some much needed loot. The paypal link will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!

Fundraising blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - Dives you need to visit

Links you need to visit during the blogathon. This is only a partial list, check with our hosts for a complete list of participating bloggers.

Born to Kill a favorite film I won't be blogging about and
someone else SHOULD.



The Facebook page for the Film Preservation Blogathon. The Faceboook page has a nifty paypal link here and your donation will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!

Our Hosts, Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren who put so much work into getting the blogathon organized and who write so eloquently about films we love.


The Film Noir Foundation's Donation Page to put your money where your mouth is and here to read all about Film Noir and the annual NoirCity festival.

Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy.
Tony Dayoub of Cinema Viewfinder
Ed Howard of Only the Cinema
Patricia Schneider at The Lady Eve’s Reel Life
Vanwall Green at Vanwall’s Land
Sam Juliano of Wonders in the Dark
Joshua Ranger of AudioVisual Preservation Solutions
Donna Hill at Strictly Vintage Hollywood
Ben Kenigsberg at Time Out Chicago
David Steece of Randomaniac
Beth Ann Gallagher at Spellbound
Peter Nellhaus at Coffee, Coffee, and More Coffee
Jacqueline Fitzgerald of Film Noir Blonde
Bill Ryan at The Kind of Face You Hate
Betty Jo Tucker of Reel Talk Movie Reviews
R.D. Finch at The Movie Projector
Peter Gutierrez
Bob Fergusson at Allure
Steve-O at Film Noir of the Week and Back Alley Noir
Brian Darr at Hell on Frisco Bay
DeeDee at Darkness to Light
Hilary Barta at Limerwrecks
Hedwig Van Driel at As Cool as a Fruit Stand
Paula Vitaris at Paula’s Movie Page
Jacqueline T. Lynch at Another Old Movie Blog
Tinky Weisblat of In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens
Doug Bonner at PostModern Joan
Kevin Olson at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies
Gareth at Gareth’s Movie Diary
Meredith of Or Maybe Eisenstein Should Just Relax
Java Bean Rush
John Greco of Twenty-Four Frames
Vince Keenan at VinceKeenan.com
Ivan G. Shreve of Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Darren at The Movie Blog
Brandie of True Classics: The ABCs of Classic Film
Mat Viola of Notes of a Film Fanatic
Joe Thompson from The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion
Bill Wren of Piddleville
Ms. Zebra of Germans Like Heavy Make-Up


Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by clicking here and donating some much needed loot. The Faceboook page has a nifty paypal link here and your donation will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!

Fundraising blogathon For the Love of Film (Noir) is hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

Friday, February 4, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir) - A Sneak Peek

A sneak peek of things to come For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon.

One of my favorite Joan Crawford films, Sudden Fear.



Faces of Film Noir

Photos of a few of my favorite actors and actresses associated with Film Noir.



and, finally, Sunset Boulevard.



Please make your donation to support film preservation and the make the gun molls of film noir happy by clicking here and donating some much needed loot. The Faceboook page has a nifty paypal link here and your donation will make you eligible for some grand raffle prizes!

Fundraising blogathon For the Love of Film (Noir) is hosted by Ferdy on Films, etc., and The Self-Styled Siren to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Winter Event

Falling in love again, what am I to do?


Charles Chaplin in The Adventurer in which he romances Edna Purviance


John Gilbert and Lillian Gish romance in La Boheme (directed by King Vidor)


The San Francisco Silent Film Festival Winter Event is happening just shy of Valentine's Day this year. February 12, 2011 at the Catro Theater.



Love is in the air and I can't help it!



Birgitte Helm ready for some romance in L'Argent


From the SF Silent Film Festival Press Release:


Complete Winter Event Program:
Our early program It's Mutual (1:00 pm, $15) is a collection of sparkling shorts by Charlie Chaplin, made during his stint at the Mutual Film Corporation where he honed his craft and became the genius director we think of today. The shorts - The Pawnshop, The Rink, and The Adventurer - contain some of the funniest moments ever put to screen, and are a glimpse into the development of this master of cinema. And supplying the perfect accompaniment to Chaplin's brilliance will be Donald Sosin at the baby grand piano. 35mm film prints from the David Shepard Collection.

Continuing our tradition of presenting world-class blockbusters at the Winter Event afternoon show, we present Marcel L'Herbier's L'Argent (3:30 pm, $15) accompanied by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The evening show, La Bohème (8:00 pm, $17) is devoted to the one of the themes movies have excelled at from the beginning - the love story! This eternal romance set in bohemian Paris of the 1830s has been filmed many times, but King Vidor's classic starring Lillian Gish as Mimi and John Gilbert as Rodolphe is the definitive version. New 35mm print courtesy of Stanford Theatre Foundation and UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Master of the Mighty Wurlitzer, Dennis James, will accompany this perfect Valentine's weekend fare.

At 6:30 there will be a Winter Event Celebration Party ($20) on the Castro's mezzanine. Delicious hors d'oeuvres, hearty drinks, and pleasing conversation to be had by all! The extraordinary Michel Saga will serenade on the barrel organ, singing songs of old Paris.

For tickets and more information, please visit the Silent Film Festival.