Keyword: Film Noir

Is Casey Anthony a Film Noir Femme Fatale Come to Life? Email Print

When the camera zeroed in on Casey Anthony just prior to court resumption last week her manner prompted a comparison.

To watch the coquettish 25-year-old engaged in conversation generated a comparison to her real life demeanor and case history alongside the femmes fatale of film noir.  The unfolding pattern of Ms. Anthony and the staggering number of lives she has led in the course of her first quarter century makes her in some ways appear more event-filled, and in many instances far more dramatic, than the life of a busy centenarian.

A snippet from the testimony of former Anthony fiancé Jesse Grund reveals the lock she held on his emotions.  Grund revealed being told by Anthony that her older brother Lee had made sexual advances toward her.

Grund explained that he never had anything to do with Lee Anthony after that.  At that point in his life, Grund explained, he believed everything that Casey Anthony told him.  His explanatory manner left no doubt about the powerful emotional grip Casey held over him.

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Gloria Grahame: Queen of Film Noir Email Print

What is a crowning achievement of star status?

Stardom in the eyes of the directors who know more about the subject than anyone else equate the rare phenomenon with the ability to generate interest.  They explain that while studying one's craft will make one a better performer that this is a different element than stardom.

There are those with inferior diction and emphasis who have electrified screen audiences.  On the other hand, many who have mastered the basic elements of the acting craft were unable to generate the level of excitement that enthralled cinema audiences.

Hollywood born and bred Gloria Grahame was a combination of both, someone who had that indefinable electricity that prompted fans to buy tickets to her films while at the same time delivering her lines in the most professional fashion, her emphasis on consistent perfection.

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Jean Simmons: When an Angelic Looking Woman Played a Monster Email Print

The death of Jean Simmons at 80 beckons memories of an angelic looking woman who got her first major break exuding the look of youth's sweet exuberance in David Lean's "Great Expectations" (1946).  

Simmons appeared in numerous hit films, including "Elmer Gantry" (1960) as a woman infatuated by Burt Lancaster's rousing preacher's demeanor under her husband to be Richard Brooks' direction.  Working in another Brooks film, the 1969 release "The Happy Ending" she received a "Best Actress" Oscar nomination.

A hallmark of a talented performer is to extend one's range, and this occurred with Simmons when she undertook the role of the deeply disturbed Diane Tremayne for Howard Hughes at RKO under the direction of Otto Preminger in the 1953 film noir release "Angel Face."

The title played into the film's irony, extended by the fact that Preminger was noted to be filmdom's exponent of the thematic concept of moral ambiguity.  How could one better display moral ambiguity than by casting a beautiful woman with an angelic face to play a sociopath who will stop at nothing, including murder?

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Nicholas Ray: Rebellion and the Darkness of Evening Email Print

Nicholas Ray understood inner rebellion.  His impressive body of film work corroborates this proposition.

Ray as cinema's "laureate of night" was a natural inside the world of film noir, but the triumph for which so many remember him was a story about youth rebellion featuring three fascinating talents playing teens groping for meaning in life in mid-twentieth century America.  The dynamic trio consisted of James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, and the 1955 film was "Rebel Without a Cause."

While "Rebel" by definition fit into the category of a psychological study of troubled youth, Ray's extensive background in film noir was evident in the film's most dramatically gripping scenes as the troubled teens met amid evening darkness in an abandoned Hollywood house.

This film had its evolutionary roots in Ray's groundbreaking 1949 noir classic, "They Live by Night."  Just as the later pairing of James Dean and Natalie Wood captivated world filmgoers in "Rebel," the earlier duo of Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell also tugged mightily at the heartstrings.

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