Day 10 of Noirvember: Director Trivia

SSSiodmak2Robert Siodmak (pronounced See-ODD-mack) was one of the most prolific directors in film noir, helming no fewer than eight features from the era. He also directed what were, arguably, some of film noir’s best, including Phantom Lady (1944), The Killers (1946), and Criss Cross (1949).

Without question, he had a gift for the dark side.

And if you’re a film noir lover, chances are you’ve seen at least one feature directed by Anthony Mann. You may also be familiar with the other era of film with which he is closely associated – the Western, tinted with a psychological, noir-like brush. According to William Luhr, writing in the Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film (2007), Mann’s noir films feature a “disorienting, often baroque cinematography, malevolent environment, and violent, tortured characters.”

In other words, pure noir.

Today’s contribution to Noirvember offers up some trivia tidbits about the films directed by Siodmak and Mann, and the performers who appeared in them. Enjoy!

He Walked By Night (1948) was the first film to use the Los Angeles underground sewer and storm drain system. Later films to use them include Roadblock (1951), Point Blank (1967), and Grease (1978).

In a scene near the end of Border Incident (1949), Ricardo Montalban is completely submerged in quicksand. But right after he’s pulled out, the quicksand that was on his hair and face is completely gone.

Paget in her film debut.

Paget in her film debut.

Debra Paget made her screen debut in Cry of the City (1948).

Although Reed Hadley is often mistaken for the narrator of T-Men (1947), it was actually narrated by the similar-sounding Gayne Whitman. Whitman’s career started in the silent era, and ended with the television series Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, for which he served as the narrator and announcer for 10 episodes in 1957.

The drugstore that Farley Granger calls from in Side Street (1950) was also used in the movie Tension (1950), another MGM noir that was shooting around the same time.

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) was the first film produced by Joan Harrison, who started her career as secretary for Alfred Hitchcock and produced his television series from 1955 to 1962.

A young Tony Curtis can be seen dancing with Yvonne DeCarlo in an early scene in Criss Cross (1949).

Dark Mirror (1946) was the first film released under the new joint venture between Universal Pictures and International Pictures.

Franchot Tone is top-billed in Phantom Lady (1944), but he doesn’t appear until 45 minutes into the film.

DeHavilland and DeHavilland in The Dark Mirror.

DeHavilland and DeHavilland in The Dark Mirror.

Dark Mirror (1946) was the first film released under the new joint venture between Universal Pictures and International Pictures.

After the release of Phantom Lady, songwriters Jacques Press and Eddie Cherkose sued Universal Studios for $20,000 for failing to give them on-screen credit for their song “Chick-ee-Chick.”

Wendell Corey’s children in the The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) were actually two of his four real-life offspring, Robin and Jonathan. He later told a reporter, “If you love your kids, don’t subject them to working in pictures.”

Join me tomorrow for Day 11 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 10, 2015.

9 Responses to “Day 10 of Noirvember: Director Trivia”

  1. That’s amazing about Franchot Tone not appearing in Phantom Lady till 45 minutes into the picture. And I bet he got paid more than Ella Raines and Akan Curtis.

  2. “T-Men,” “Border Incident,” and “Side Street” are all terrific noirs, but Anthony Mann is their director, not Robert Siodmak. As for “He Walked by Night,” Alfred L. Werker was credited as director, but it is thought Mann deserved most of the credit.

    • Sorry, Renee — you are so right! That’s what I get for swiping an old article from my newsletter — it was from the Dark Pages special issue featuring Siodmak and Mann. (Slinks off to revise my post . . .) 😉

  3. You know what? I just realized, based on your post, a person could start a kind of “Six Degrees of Robert Siodmak” game.

  4. Siodmak is one of my favorite noir directors. “The Killers” is a fantastic film, with the debut of Burt Lancaster as The Swede. And Robert’s brother, Curt Siodmak, was the man responsible for writing Universal’s classic ‘The Wolf Man”! “Even a man wo’s pure of heart, and says his prayers by night…”

  5. Add the Sci-fi classic, THEM, to list of films featuring segments within the underground sewer system of LA. Whitmore gave his life in those catacombs.

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