“Maybe He Would Find The Girl. Maybe He Would Find Himself.”
This line is from the poster art for a classic 70’s film noir called “Night Moves”…
It’s a great line for a movie steeped in “film noir”, which is described as:
“A cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.”
This is what film noir looks like in every single movie…
“Cynical Attitudes And Sexual Motivations”, Indeed!
Yes, classic film noir is steeped in sexuality, raw human emotion, and CRIME…and that line from “Night Moves” could also be used for this modern film noir classic as well:
Here’s a look at these two film noir classics…
Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey!”
“The Limey” is a brilliant revenge thriller steeped in mood and regret…directed by Steven Soderbergh, it’s one of his least known films, but in my opinion perhaps his best…here is the plot: an extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for his daughter’s death.
Here is the trailer:
The trailer focuses on the action in the film, but what makes this movie brilliant is the atmosphere of dread and violence that permeates every frame – due in part to the riveting performance by veteran English Actor Terence Stamp…
Terence Stamp is a revelation as Wilson, a father who is estranged from his daughter, only to have to travel to LA to find out why she disappeared. The film also stars Luiz Gusman, who was in Soderbergh’s “Out Of Sight”, another classic noir…
Terence Stamp’s “Wilson” is a career criminal, but a small-time one…here he explains the philosophy behind his actions – this is one of the most perfectly written and acted monologues ever put on film:
Wilson: “How you doin’ then? All right, are you? Now look, squire, you’re the guv’nor here, I can see that. I’m in your manor now. So there’s no need to get your knickers in a twist. Whatever this bollocks is that’s going down between you and that slag Valentine, it’s got nothing to do with me. I couldn’t care less. Alright, mate? Let me explain. When I was in prison – second time – uh, no, telling a lie, third stretch, yeah, third, third – there was this screw what really had it in for me, and that geezer was top of my list. Two years after I got sprung, I sees him in Arnold Park. He’s sittin’ on a bench feedin’ bloody pigeons. There was no-one about, I could’ve gone up behind him and snapped his fuckin’ neck, *wallop!* But I left it. I could’ve knobbled him, but I didn’t. ‘Cause what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I wanted. What I thought I was thinkin’ about was something else. I didn’t give a toss. It didn’t matter, see? This berk on the bench wasn’t worth my time. It meant sod-all in the end, ’cause you gotta make a choice: when to do something, and when to let it go. When it matters, and when it don’t. Bide your time. That’s what prison teaches you, if nothing else. Bide your time, and everything becomes clear, and you can act accordingly.”
“Bide your time. That’s what prison teaches you, if nothing else. Bide your time, and everything becomes clear, and you can act accordingly.”
This dialogue is steeped in film noir, and as “everything becomes clear”, Stamp’s performance grows in intensity. Director Soderbergh gives Stamp plenty of room to roam in the film, all the while capturing his rage and anger in a “fly on the wall” manner…
“Poor Cow” Clips…
Here’s a very creative choice: Soderbergh uses a couple of film clips from the 1967 film “Poor Cow” as flashbacks of Wilson with his baby daughter and wife. It’s a really strong device, showing Actor Stamp from years earlier, to give us context and texture to the character’s life – since his sole purpose in the film is to find out what happened to his estranged daughter, and NOTHING will stand in his way…
This is a little-known masterpiece, with terrific acting by Terence Stamp, Luiz Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren and Peter Fonda. “The Limey” has tough action sequences, great acting, and a perfect film noir tone. A great great movie, get it and see!
Here’s the other classic film noir, starring the legendary Actor Gene Hackman:
I’ve written about “Night Moves” before, but now that it has been released on DVD and Amazon streaming, it’s a great film to check out.
Here is the film’s trailer:
Like “The Limey”, it’s a terrifically moody film noir – Hackman plays private detective Harry Moseby, who gets hired for a standard missing person case, as an aging Hollywood actress wants him to find her stepdaughter. The stepdaughter is played by Melanie Griffith, in her first movie role.
This is Gene Hackman’s golden era in film, beginning with “Bonnie & Clyde” and going through “The French Connection” 1 & 2, and the brilliant “Scarecrow” with Al Pacino. He even found time to star in the box office smash “The Poseidon Adventure!”
As Private Detective Harry Moseby travels to Florida to find the missing girl, he begins to see a connection with the runaway girl, the world of Hollywood stuntmen, and a suspicious mechanic when an unsolved murder comes to light.
As with all great film noir, the story takes many twists and turns as the true motives of the cast become clear…and a great cast including the young Griffith and a young James Woods as well.
Both films have a great noir mood, with deliberate pacing and sudden outbursts of violence – just what you expect from a classic noir…
I Need More Noir!
Well, if you’ve got a “film noir itch” now that needs scratching, here are some more classic choices:
“Body Heat” is a modern classic, and you can read all about this incredible film, AND the iconic “Double Indemnity” as well, by clicking here:
You’ll never look at Fred MacMurray the same way again!
“Forget It, Jake. It’s Chinatown…”
And of course, this classic film is also film noir…read all about “Chinatown” by clicking here:
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