Film for a Friday: Possessed (1947) – K. A. Laity

Like so many films noir, Possessed begins after most things have happened then backtracks to find out how we got there. A surprisingly unglamorous and decidedly untethered Joan Crawford wanders down the empty roads of early morning Los Angeles. When a tram driver stops to let her on, she can only ask for David. She’s…

THE COOL OF CLASSIC NOIR – Janet Roger

Here’s something that quite startled me not that long ago, from a eulogy given in Washington Cathedral for a remarkable American. The speaker was recalling a capacity John McCain had, for what she called …a stoic silence that was once the mark of an American man. So why should that startle me? Well, I suppose…

Overlooked Noir: Crack-Up (1946) by K. A. Laity

No surprise that this one would appeal to me: Noir ambience? Check. Art and art forgery plot? Check. Mind manipulation? Check! Yeah, art and a sort of Hannibal connection, well – I’m sold. Never mind that Crack-Up stars Pat O’Brien, an unlikely everyman as its hero. It’s got Claire Trevor though, with a wild swathe…

Hammett by K. A. Laity

Oh a whim (sorry) I decided I really needed to finally see Wim Wenders’ Hammett, which might also be Francis Ford Coppola’s Hammett. Or not. In any case, it’s not the film Wenders envisioned. In the 70s war-fatigue fueled the neo-noir revival that gave us films like Chinatown, Farewell My Lovely, and Altman’s The Long…

Neglected Noir: Bedelia (1946) by K A Laity

I finally got around to watching this because I am still (again, always) obsessing about Hannibal and the presentation I’ll be giving on it in April. What’s the connection? Show runner Bryan Fuller named a new character after her, Bedelia du Maurier (obviously the Rebecca author for the other half of her name). The novel…

Gresham and the King of the Spook Workers by K. A. Laity

With the swirl of anticipation beginning to rise around Guillermo del Toro’s remake of Nightmare Alley, it’s a good time to look back at a tantalisingly incomplete project of William Lindsay Gresham. ‘King of the Spook Workers’ is collected in the 2013 volume Grindshow from Centipede Press, which also offers a balanced overview of the…

Noir Classics: No Way Out by K A Laity

Like a fool, I’m always tinkering with the list of films I teach in the Film Noir course — making it doubly harder this term because I decided to do Neo-Noir too. I decided to include NO WAY OUT because it still packs a hefty punch, especially for a film from 1950. If you look…

F is for Fake, V is for Vermeer by K. A. Laity

I am probably always thinking about fakes and grifters, but just lately thinking about art forgery (see also this). Of course this is part of my ongoing thoughts about Patricia Highsmith’s Ripliad (so many thoughts), but just in general my obsessions with con artists and fakes. In Ripley Under Ground, Highsmith has her alter ego…

Recommended Read: The Man in the Palace Theater by Ray Garton

Showbiz writer John Bellows has fallen off the grid. He arrives at his old workplace looking distinctly dishevelled and convinces one of his old workmates to accompany him to the run down Palace Theater. Ray Garton’s The Man In The Palace Theater is splendid. A beautifully written, atmospheric and haunting short story.