TCM Pick of the Month: Film Noir
TCM is fairly bursting at the seams with first-rate films noirs and pre-Codes in January – so many, in fact, that I just can’t select a single film of the month! Instead, I’m selecting two days on which TCM is airing a series of must-see noir and pre-Code features. So mark your calendars and fire up the DVRs, you’ve got some watchin’ to do!
Today’s post centers on my film noir pick – I’m choosing Monday, January 6th as the don’t-miss day for features from this shadowy era. In back-to-back-to-back fashion, TCM is airing the following four outstanding examples of film noir:
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
One of my all-time favorite noirs, and one that I’ve seen more times than I can count, The Postman Always Rings Twice stars Lana Turner and John Garfield as Cora and Frank – lovers who’ll stop at nothing to be together, even if it means bumping off Cora’s amiable hubby.
Favorite quote: “Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing – but stealing a man’s car, that’s larceny.” – John Garfield
Trivia tidbit: Watch for this goof in the first scene after Frank and Cora open their new beer garden. Frank is seen waiting on customers and is carrying a tray with three filled glasses on it. The glasses are obviously glued to the tray, as Frank is carrying the tray at such an angle that the glasses would otherwise fall off.
The Locket (1946)
In this film, Laraine Day stars as Nancy Blair, whose beauty masks the fact that she is psychologically unbalanced. The film is notable for its unusual structure, which features a flashback within a flashback within a flashback.
Favorite quote: “When you’re a housekeeper’s daughter, you see the world through a half-open door.” – Laraine Day
Trivia tidbit: The set that serves as the home of Mrs. Willis, where young Nancy lives with her housekeeper mother, is the same house that belonged to Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains) in Notorious (1946).
The Reckless Moment (1949)
Joan Bennett stars in this feature as a mother who becomes the living embodiment of maternal self-sacrifice when she covers up a crime committed by her daughter. The cast also includes the great James Mason.
Favorite quote: “It was my way of doing something that made everything wrong.” – Joan Bennett
Trivia tidbit: The Reckless Moment was produced by Walter Wanger, who was married to Joan Bennett from 1940 to 1965. In 1951, Wanger shot Bennett’s agent and friend, Jennings Lang, and then turned himself into police, announcing, “I’ve just shot the son of a bitch who tried to break up my home.” Lang made a speedy recovery and publicly forgave Wanger, who was later sentenced to four months in jail.
Lady in the Lake (1947)
The plot of this film focuses on private detective Phillip Marlowe, who is hired by the editor of a crime magazine to find the wife of her boss. Directed by Robert Montgomery, the entire film is seen from Marlowe’s viewpoint, and features the always-awesome Audrey Totter, who passed recently.
Favorite quote: “So you’re a story writer, too, hmm? The detective business must be on the skids. What are you trying to do, elevate yourself?” – Audrey Totter
Trivia tidbit: The first-person camera technique used in Lady in the Lake is known as the “subjective camera.” It had previously only been used for the first few minutes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931. It was used again in Dark Passage (1947), released the same year as Lady in the Lake, but only for about a third of the film. (The subjective camera was used throughout Lady in the Lake.)
Stay tuned for my pick for TCM’s pre-Code day!