List o’ the Week: Noir I Don’t Care For (Part 1)
This edition of the “list o’ the week” may represent even more of a sacrilege than my previous failure to fall head over heels for Arsenic and Old Lace – this week, I list those film noir features that, frankly, left me cold. There aren’t many – y’all know how I love my noir. But every now and then, I run across a noir that isn’t necessarily shadowy because of its setting and tone, but because I’m trying to shield my eyes! Hence, I offer this week’s list, in no particular order: Noir I Don’t Care For (Part 1).
House on 92nd Street (1945)
When I think of noirs that I never plan to see again, this is always the first one that comes to mind. Filled with spies and Nazis and whatnot, this semi-documentary “based on actual FBI files” just wasn’t my cup of tea. In fact, I’ve found that, generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of the semi-documentary noirs – which brings me to . . .
He Walked By Night (1948)
This film, about a cop-killer on the lam, is often lauded by noir lovers – a glance at the reviews on the IMDB.com reveals such accolades as “influential,” “innovative,” “suspenseful,” and “unforgettable.” It was kind of a yawn-fest for me.
Sleep, My Love (1948)
Claudette Colbert. Film noir. There’s just something very wrong with that combination.
Although it stars Dick Powell – and I’m nuts about Dick Powell – this one just did not do it for me. He played a Canadian pilot and prisoner of war survivor bent on avenging the death of his French war bride. Just, no.
The Second Woman (1950)
Lots of psychiatric terms tossed about in this one – like “paranoiac” and “delusions” and “persecution.” I actually don’t even remember what it was about. I just remember that I was glad when it was over.
The best part of this movie was Raymond Burr (who can practically do no wrong, in my book), but even he couldn’t salvage this snoozer about a baby-stealing racket.
A Lady Without Passport (1950)
Hedy Lamarr and John Hodiak starred in this feature, whose plot I never was able to decipher.
On Dangerous Ground (1952)
Goodness knows, I’m wild about Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan, but not in this film. Ryan was a brooding, quick-tempered New York cop and Lupino played a blind woman who strikes up a friendship with the officer – I hate to admit it, but I agreed with the notoriously acerbic New York Times critic Bosley Crowther when he panned the movie’s “obvious attempt to get something more than sheer melodrama onto the screen.”
Mr. Arkadin (1955)
I confess that I could not even make it through this Orson Welles starrer. In fact, I disliked it so much that I decided it wasn’t film noir at all, and left it completely out of the chapter on Welles in my book, Bad Boys. (Don’t tell anybody.)
The Sniper (1952)
I think that, of all the films on this list, this one is my least favorite. Centering on a mentally disturbed laundry service employee, this picture was directed by Stanley Kramer and featured one of my all-time favorite femmes, Marie Windsor – but no matter. It was lousy.
What say you? Have you seen any of these? What did you think?