As you may have read in many marketing pieces, interviews or heard in my livestream, my novel A MISTAKE INCOMPLETE is inspired by classic and modern film noir; which I enjoy watching.
The list below is not in any particular order – they are films that I enjoy watching over and over.
I shared one from this list every Monday in October and November, leading up to my live virtual chat event (Nov 30).
The Blue Gardenia
I want to point you all to THE BLUE GARDENIA. One of my favorite suspense films, directed by Fritz Lang. This story keeps you on your toes, feeling the same paranoia and worrisome confusion as the main character Norah (played by actor Anne Baxter).
Strangers on a Train
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors: Patricia Highsmith. And it’s one of my favorite films, by one of my favorite directors: Alfred Hitchcock. This is a thrilling story about a man drawn into something he never really intended, and being haunted by it as it affects all those around him.
To Have and Have Not
This film adaptation of Hemingway’s TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT gave us two very sexy strangers, Marie and Harry (a.k.a. Slim and Steve). Their dynamic pulls you into this story and keeps you there. The chemistry between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart really capture the sexual tension between the characters they portray. In fact, this story and film is a great example of sexy in noir. And it includes one of Bacall’s most memorable scenes, and seductive lines: You know how to whistle, don’t you…?
Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE is a great example of tension. Farley Granger gives an awesome performance of a man whose stress and discomfort builds as the story progresses. And the audience is in on the issue the whole time. Tension, tension, tension – just one of many skills of Hitchcock. With my book A MISTAKE INCOMPLETE I play with tension in many scenes. Hopefully, I got it right.
The novel REBECCA by Daphne du Maurnier starts off as what could be considered a romantic story, then turns into something else entirely. Creepy, confusing, and shocking. I remember the feeling of discomfort reading or watching the film, (Hitchcock again). I suggest watching the recently released adaptation starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and the wonderful Kristen Scott Thomas.
OK, so maybe MIDNIGHT COWBOY is not what one thinks of when one thinks noir, but this story shows us the shadow or underworld in a cosmopolitan city. Both John Voight’s and Dustin Hoffman’s characters live by the characteristics typically found in noir: flawed and desire to survive or succeed by any means necessary – morals aside.
I have to include one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite characters: GILDA. Of course, we are all familiar with Rita Hayworth’s famous hair flip, but there’s more to Gilda than her beauty and charm. Gilda is the femme fatale we all can’t help but fall for, even though we know she is probably up to something. Gilda embodies a woman that is deep, flawed, and in control. She’s a character with layers and independence. Gilda is more than just a pretty woman. She’s a courageous, independent spirit that refuses to be controlled.
Yes, of course I’m listing another Hitchcock film. There’s much to say about VERTIGO but I’ll list just a few points here. The pursuit, the mystery, the macabre-esque tone, and the misery. I liked how once we find out more about the character Kim Novak plays, Hitchcock allows us the time to see the torment that she feels throughout the rest of the film.
Desperately Seeking Susan
Sure, many know this film as a Madonna fluff piece, but really it’s more than just a popstar in a movie. The story actually revolves around Roberta (played by Rosanna Arquette) and it surprisingly has a lot of noir traits: crime caper, chases, death and more. And a darker, underworld lying in the shadows. That’s where Madonna’s character comes in, taking us to the 80s underground scene. If I’m surfing through the channels and this movie is on, I’m sure to be watching it. Yes, I still watch scheduled programmed TV.
North by Northwest
Back to the classics, yes, I’m listing another Hitchcock film. NORTH BY NORTHWEST is known to have one of the first memorable action sequences on screen – the crop duster chase. But, I wanted to focus on the MacGuffin in the story here. As defined by Dictionary.com, a MacGuffin is an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot. The object that is center of this film… well, I probably shouldn’t spoil it for you all, but let’s just say the whole reason for this mess, the pursuit, the danger is not really the focus of the story as it should be. The object just serves the purpose to keep the story going. And the story is such a fun watch that what the item actually is isn’t relevant, as long as the characters go for it, and keep moving.