1. What is your definition of a film noir and what film do you consider the prototype--the one that best exemplifies the genre?
|Stanwyck and MacMurray in|
I know it’s not the most daring of choices, but to me the picture that best captures these elements is director Billy Wilder’s 1944 thriller Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. A seemingly smart guy in over his head, a seductive and amoral temptress, and a “fool-proof” murder plot that’s not as simple as it appears...all with whip-smart dialogue from Wilder and co-scripter Raymond Chandler, of Philip Marlowe fame.
Dorian: I’d define a film noir as a story in which the bleakest aspects of humanity keep trying to get the upper hand, and the protagonist(s) keep trying to thwart those aspects against all odds. Those “bleakest aspects” can range from one character’s problem to an overall tough situation affecting many characters.
|Peter Lorre in Stranger on|
the Third Floor.
2. If you had to single out one director that influenced film noir than any other, who would it be?
Gary: Austrian-born Fritz Lang, who presaged the noir style with such films as M and the Dr. Mabuse movies in Europe before fleeing to America when Hitler came to power. His first Hollywood project, the 1936 lynch mob drama Fury with Spencer Tracy, contained a number of noir sensibilities, as did his 1941 “let’s kill Hitler” thriller Man Hunt. Within the noir demimonde itself, Lang’s resume includes The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, and a picture that’s my answer to question #3.
|MacMurray and Robinson in|
Wilder's classic film noir.
Sheri: So many fine noir directors. Tough choice. . . .While Fritz Lang is very important, as is Robert Siodmak, one of the most influential noir auteurs was émigré writer-director Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Lost Weekend, Ace in the Hole).
3. What is your favorite underrated film noir, the one film that doesn't get the attention it should?
|Elisha Cook, Jr. in Phantom Lady.|