Day Twenty-Nine of Noirvember: My Five Noir Dinner Guests

Mmm, pie.

Years ago, in an early edition of my film noir newsletter, The Dark Pages (shameless plug), one of our readers posed a question: “What five film noir characters would you like to have for dinner?” It turned out to be a fun exercise for several of our contributors and subscribers, but I never came up with my own selections. Today’s Noirvember post remedies that oversight.

Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) from Mildred Pierce (1945)

She always seemed like a cool chick, industrious and ambitious, creative and smart, even if she did bend over backwards a bit too often for that snooty daughter of hers. She had a kind of wry sense of humor – and you could definitely knock back a couple of shots with her. Best of all, she might make one of her famous pies for dessert!

All the gals dig Sammy Masterson.

Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) from The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Sam was a rugged kind of guy, who’d probably seen all kinds of things during his travels. I’m pretty sure he made his living as a gambler or something; he used to do this neat trick with a coin. Anyway, I bet he’d contribute lots of interesting stories to the dinnertime conversation. He also was loyal and trustworthy – the kind of guy you’d want in your corner when the chips were down. And he was good looking – that’s always a plus at the dinner table.

There’s no denying that Norma was a little odd. But that was part of her charm!

Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) from Sunset Boulevard (1950)

A real, live silent movie star! How awesome would that be? Of course, rumor has it that Norma’s gotten rather…shall we say eccentric…in recent years, but who cares? We’d all be enthralled by her stories of Rudolph Valentino and her other movie pals, and the tales of the way Hollywood used to be. And maybe she’ll bring that hunky writer-boyfriend of hers – I hear they’re living together.

Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) from Laura (1944)

Talk about snarky! Waldo was a walking snark machine – he could rip you to shreds with just a few choice words. I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side, but I can’t deny that he would keep the group in stitches with his expert shade-throwing capabilities.

Just one song, and I’ll be satisfied. I’ll even supply the guitar!

Gilda (Rita Hayworth) from Gilda (1946)

Not only was she drop-dead gorgeous, but there was always a kind of reckless excitement surrounding Gilda – like an aura of constant anticipation of what might happen next. And on a good night, she might be persuaded to serve up a little entertainment after dessert and coffee. Certainly not the strip tease I’ve heard about, but maybe just a nice little tune on the guitar.

Bon appetit!

Who would your five noir dinner guests be? Let us know!

And join me tomorrow for the final day (sob!) of Noirvember 2018!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 29, 2018.

13 Responses to “Day Twenty-Nine of Noirvember: My Five Noir Dinner Guests”

  1. With guests like that, I think you might have a bad case of agita at the end of dinner.

  2. Great choices. A Noir dinner would be an event that wouldn’t be easily forgotten! I think that I would invite the following:

    Philip Marlowe as played by Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet. I love his view of the world and the way he says things.

    Waldo Lydecker from Laura. The wit and the snark would be unmissable. 🙂

    Candy from Pickup On South Street. I love how feisty and strong she is.

    Skip McCoy from Pickup On South Street. I just love the guy and can’t get enough of him.

    Raven from This Gun For Hire. He intrigues me and I want to know more about him.

  3. Hoo boy….. that’s a toughie. Probably Dick Powell, Veronica Lake, Joan Bennett, Gloria Graham and Sterling Hayden. What dinner conversation that combo would make. 😀

  4. Van Heflin as Sammy Masterson is a great choice! His acting style has an intelligent and dynamic quality that has stood the test of time. He seems quite modern.

    Gloria Grahame as Vicki from ‘Human Desire’. Recently I’ve had more appreciation for Gloria Grahame, who wasn’t like anyone else, and her characterizations were more three-dimensional than I realized.

    Barbara Stanwyck as Lily from ‘Baby Face’. I know that movie is too early for film noir, but Lily is the ultimate femme fatale. And to me Barbara Stanwyck was curiously asexual, both in appearance and demeanor. That made her mercenary characters in ‘Baby Face’ and ‘Double Indemnity’ all the more disturbing.

    Elisha Cook, Jr. as George Peatty, the lovelorn husband from ‘The Killing’. When he had the opportunity, Elisha Cook, Jr. was a fine dramatic actor.

    And I would probably regret it, but Lawrence Tierney as Steve Morgan from ‘The Devil Thumbs a Ride’. If we’re going to have a film noir dinner, we need a psychopath, and he was the best. But I would keep the evening short, because after a few drinks he would pick a fist fight with Van Heflin.

    • I absolutely love these picks, Jamie — you cracked me up with Lawrence Tierney’s Steve Morgan (my money’s on Sammy, although I suspect Steve would pull a couple of dirty punches)! And your insights about Barbara Stanwyck are fascinating — I think I see what you mean!

      Happy New Year, Jamie!

  5. Mary Astor (Act of Violence vintage), Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr. Ann Savage, Sam Jaffe. I see this dinner on skid row with a donated turkey.

  6. Wow! I just want to be a fly on the wall at your party.

    Over at my place, it’s a hen party with most of us gals hanging out around the piano. Catherine Bennett (Black Angel), Lily Stevens and Susie Smith (Road House), Dusty Chandler (Dead Reckoning), and that well-known kibbitzer Althea Keane (The Unsuspected).

  7. Fabulous guest list. I’ll expect an invitation. 😉

  8. Haha love this!

    My choices would probably be: Waldo Lydecker, Stella (Fallen Angel), Debbie (The Big Heat), Johnny Damico (The Mob – don’t know why, but I just think he’s cool!), and Fante and Mingo (The Big Combo, because they’re hot together).

  9. […] read a fantastic article by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry on the Shadows and Satin blog site titled My Five Noir Dinner Guests.  In the article, Hannsberry lists the five film noir characters she would love to invite for […]

  10. […] Top Twenty-Nine: My Five Noir Dinner Guests […]

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