Film gems sure to redeem dull, late winter evenings

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

For the most part, the "I Like To Watch" column has been a roundup of some of the Wildcat's favorite tension-filled suspense films. Of course this tendency fits the column's voyeuristic title.

In keeping with tradition, this addition of "Watch" offers up a few favorite films from the suspense-riddled film noir genre.

Anyone who caught director John Dahl's "The Last Seduction" and "Red Rock West," is already somewhat familiar with some of the earmarks of a great noir piece. Linda Fiorentino's character in "The Last Seduction," is an example ─ albeit an extreme one ─ of a noir femme fatale ─ a seductive woman who charms the film's protagonist into taking the wrong way down a one way street. Throw in a healthy amount of suspense and anxiety, shadowy lighting, a sense of futility and a lot of hard-boiled dialogue and you have the makings of a good film noir.

One gem of the later noir period is Stanley Kubrick's 1956 heist movie, "The Killing." This movie is recommended for fans of director/writer Quentin Tarantino, as Tarantino has lifted the movie's skewed sense of timing for his own "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction." In addition, this "Dogs"-like botched heist story crackles with dialogue written by pulp novel legend Jim Thompson. Thompson's brilliant wordplay quickly shoots down Tarantino's pop-culture riddled attempt at the genre's dialogue in "Pulp Fiction." But for true noir, look no further than Billy Wilder's 1944 "Double Indemnity." This film is the granddaddy of the genre, and nothing comes close to matching Fred MacMurray ─yes, that Fred MacMurray ─ as a down on his luck insurance agent. The film is blessed with a brilliantly conceived double-cross by femme fatale Barbra Stanwyck . and the final images of MacMurray crawling to his death are unforgettable.

Probably the best hard-boiled detective-cum-noir piece, is Robert Aldrich's "Kiss Me Deadly," with Ralph Meeker as super gumshoe Phillip Marlowe. This movie is more brightly lit than most black and white film noir, and sharply focused as well. But the shadows that haunt Marlowe's immaculately decorated pad and office, as well as the games he plays with the women he encounters, make this movie snap with action. Despite a ludicrous plot and ending, this film is still worth watching.

Finally, this reporter suggests Robert Mitchum in Jacques Tourneur film "Out of the Past" (1947). Mitchum offers up a powerhouse tough guy performance as a private eye who cares about no one but himself. The voice over narration is top notch, and Jane Greer as the erstwhile femme fatale is incredibly convincing. This is one of the few noir films where the viewer is actually taken aback when the femme fatale is revealed as a double crosser. The viewer is surprised the second time as well.

These dark and moody films entrap the viewer in their nihilistic worlds of gunplay and sex. The perfect escape for those dull, late winter evenings.

"I Like to Watch" is a weekly alterNation feature where Wildcat reporters offer suggestions for home video viewing. So there.

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