Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Night Spotlight June 2013; Noir Writers

This being the first Friday in June, we're getting a new Friday Night Spotlight on TCM. Eddie Muller from the Noir Foundation will be on each Friday night this month to present various writers and how their work influenced what would eventually become noir films. This first Friday in June sees the works of Dashiell Hammett.

The interesting thing is that maybe only one of tonight's movies would commonly be considered a noir. The night is starting with The Maltese Falcon at 8:00 PM. Humphrey Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade, and the whole atmosphere of that film, certainly approaches noir. But Muller didn't select the Humphrey Bogart version. In fact, we get the 1931 version starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, which I'm looking forward to since I didn't actually re-watch it when I blogged briefly about it back in November of last year.

That's followed at 9:30 PM by City Streets, which is a good movie, although it's squarely in the crime and gangster genre, and not noir.

At 11:00 PM, you can watch After the Thin Man, which is the second of the Thin Man movies. It's worth watching for a young James Stewart, and because William Powell and Myrna Loy together are always worth watching, but it's a mystery with comic elements, and not a noir.

Closest to noir would probably be The Glass Key at 1:00 AM, in which Alan Ladd plays a hired gun for Brian Donlevy, getting involved in a murder he didn't commit as well as getting mixed up with his boss's (Brian Donlevy) girlfriend (Veronica Lake). The screenplay is by Jonathan Latimer, a name I only mention because Eddie Muller is going to be putting the spotlight on him in two weeks' time.

I mentioned that Eddie Muller didn't select the Humphrey Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon, but it is airing. After Muller's selections, TCM has decided to conclude the night with 1941's The Maltese Falcon at 2:30 AM, followed at 4:30 AM by the other version of the movie, a semicomic film called Satan Met a Lady from 1936, and starring Bette Davis in the role Mary Astor would take opposite Bogart. The Bogart role is played by Warren William.

The 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon doesn't seem to be in print on DVD; nor does City Streets. The other four selections are available for purchase from the TCM shop.

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