Tag Archives: Film Noir

The stars are ageless, aren’t they?

SunsetBoulevardfilmposterLos Angeles and Hollywood. La-la land itself. A city of hopes and dreams, crushed ambitions and empty promises. Despite being firmly Noo York guys in the battle of the big American cities, even Lewis and I can’t help but be seduced by its shallow glamour. If we weren’t so dedicated to this podcast we would’ve long ago jumped on a greyhound bus and headed to LA to become stars (I’m guessing you can get a bus to LA from Victoria Coach Station?).

Of course modern Hollywood has nothing on the Holly wood of old: that’s when you had REAL scandals. This week we take a trip back to that sleazy LA with Sunset Boulevard.

A recommendation of Lewis and listener Conor Barrett, Sunset Boulevard follows down-on-his-luck writer Joe Gillis, played by William Holden, as he writes a screenplay for forgotten silent-film star Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson. Slowly Joe is drawn into Norma’s life, unable to escape her self-delusion and bitterness.

The director Billy Wilder manages to create a Hollywood film that successfully confronts the dark side of Tinsel Town, showing what fame can do to you and, even worse, what happens when that fame fades. Swanson, a star of silent films herself back in the 10s and 20s, gives the performance of a lifetime as Norma. In many ways it’s an over the top performance, but it’s always believable.

Our Secret Sponsor for this week is Forgotten Films: you can find them on Twitter (@forgottenfilmz) or check out their site at www.forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Sunset Boulevard DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance)

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 049 – Sunset Boulevard

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We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Billy Wilder Year of release: 1950 Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures Country: USA

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Podcast 049: Sunset Boulevard

This week we reflect on past glories as we watch the Billy Wilder classic Sunset Boulevard: one of the few films to feature a chimpanzee funeral.

101 Films Podcast 049 – Sunset Boulevard

Orson, you’ve got a touch of evil on you… no, a bit to the left… look, let me get it

Touch of Evil is a film we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and, thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

Orson Welles puts in an astonishing turn as the corpulent, corrupt cop Hank Quinlan, and the film is also notable for featuring Charlton Heston as the least-convincing Mexican ever (but at least he didn’t try to do a Mexican accent, thank god). Apparently, in the original script Heston’s character was going to be American and his wife, played by Janet Leigh, was going to be Mexican, but Welles swapped the nationalities around when he rewrote the script. Perhaps he just wanted to see what Charlton would look like with bootpolish black hair and a baggy suit.

Janet Leigh is fantastic as the fearless (on the exterior at least) wife of Heston’s character, and there’s a great scene near the beginning where she stands up to some nefarious gangster sorts. As the film progresses though, little by little we see her fear creep through, and there’s a palpable feeling of unease as the danger surrounding her character grows over the course of the movie.

It seems we’ve obviously got a fondness for film noir, as we’ve already featured several, both new and old, in our rundown of 101 Films, and taking a glance at the films we’ve got on our ‘to do’ list, there are plenty more to come. Here’s to looking on the bleak side of life.

I’ll admit we do get a little bit distracted in the podcast though, particularly in our earnest discussion over transplanting the cast of Touch of Evil into ‘Allo ‘Allo. Janet Leigh as Helga anyone? Orson Welles as René? Seems like a match made in heaven…

Oh, and there’s one more thing I should mention: Charlton Heston plays a narcotics officer, not a district attorney as we say in the podcast. Fun fact: Ian originally said he was a narcotics officer, but I insisted that he was ‘actually a district attorney don’cha know’, and we actually re-recorded that bit to ‘get it right’. Whoops, sorry Ian!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 028 – Touch of Evil

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

Director: Orson Welles Year of release: 1958 Studio/Distributor: Universal Pictures Country: USA

Podcast 028: Touch of Evil

Join us as we dive into the dark and seedy world of Orson Welles’ classic film noir Touch of Evil… but then get a bit distracted and start talking about Allo Allo and Transformers: The Movie. It’s business as usual on 101 Films!

101 Films Podcast 028 – Touch of Evil

Good Old Tommy From Third Rock From The Sun

We were given a bit of a dilemma this week: for the first time on the podcast, we watched a film that neither of us particularly liked.

I borrowed Brick from a friend a while back on the basis that (a) it was a film noir, and I tend to quite enjoy film noirs, and (b) it starred Tommy from Third Rock From The Sun, who for no particular reason we seem to mention on the podcast almost every week. Therefore, when Official Listener Conor serendipitously recommended Brick to us, it seemed like the perfect excuse to sit down and finally watch the DVD. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t think it was very good.

Setting a traditional film noir in the confines of a high school is a bold and interesting move, but the high school setting is barely even acknowledged, which seems like a wasted opportunity. There are no scenes in the actual high school itself – it’s mostly set in car parks and playing fields – and there’s no attempt to explain why the characters all speak like world-weary 40-somethings from a Philip Marlowe novel, despite the fact they’re meant to be teenagers. Because of this, I found it impossible to take the leap of faith necessary to really believe in the characters – perhaps if there was more of a recognition of the fact that the characters are not behaving in a ‘normal’ way for teenagers, it might have been easier to take the leap. The scene in which one of the character’s parents fixes milk and cookies while they talk of drug deals is perhaps the only example where this disconnect is referenced, but it stands out like a sore thumb in a film that otherwise takes itself deadly seriously. If there was more recognition of the distance between the ‘real’ world and the world of murder and intrigue that the characters inhabit, the conceit of the high school setting might have been more successful.

More damning though is the frankly irritating mumbling of the actors. Even with the sound turned up it was almost impossible to make out what the characters were saying, and we even tried to turn on the subtitles at one point, only to discover that Brick is possibly the only DVD manufactured in the past 20 years that doesn’t have subtitles on the disc. Another black mark against its name.

So we were faced with a bit of a problem: neither of us really wanted to do a podcast on a film we weren’t keen on, and nor did we want to rubbish the recommendation of a listener – we need all the listeners we can get, after all. We contemplated reviewing another film instead, but we didn’t have enough time to watch something else, and we even considered missing out this week’s podcast entirely. In the end though, the name is ‘101 Films You Should Have Seen… Probably‘, not ‘Definitely‘, so I guess the odd blip is allowed.

And it’s not all bad of course. The cinematography of Brick is fantastic, with some brilliant shots reminiscent of Chinatown and The Maltese Falcon, and the plot, if you can take the leap of faith necessary, is classic hard-boiled noir. And it’s got Tommy from Third Rock From The Sun in it, of course.

So apologies to Conor for the moaning (we love your other film recommendations by the way), but here we present Podcast 26 for your consideration:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 026 – Brick

OR subscribe on iTunes by clicking on the link below:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

Director: Rian Johnson Year of release: 2005 Studio/Distributor: Bergman Lustig Productions Country: USA

Podcast 026: Brick

It had to happen eventually, Lewis and Ian finally watch a film that stars 101 Films favourite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or as he’s affectionately known, Tommy From Third Rock From The Sun. Do the 101 Boys enjoy it? Erm… Best listen to find out.

101 Films Podcast 026 – Brick