Noir Films: The Good, the Great, the Unknown

In a Lonely Place

Do you have a penchant for desperate men who chain smoke and wear fedoras while they cling to hopeless lives? The library has black and white noir classics full those colorful characters.

"In a Lonely Place" stars Humphrey Bogart as a screenwriter. You may think a Bogie film you haven't heard of is a dud, but this has fine acting and a non-formulaic plot. Bogart's character is plagued by alcohol and uncontrollable rage. The femme fatale is Gloria Grahame, best known for her role as Violet in "It's a Wonderful Life." She's the supportive neighbor who confirms his alibi when he's accused of murder, but that doesn't mean he's innocent.

The acclaimed noir film, "Laura," has Gene Tierney as the victim and Dana Andrews as the intrepid detective. Clifton Webb is Tierney's condescending mentor and Vincent Price is her ne'er do well fiancé, both doing star turns. Based on the book by Vera Caspary, the plot is taut and clever. Andrews makes the perfect tight-lipped detective who misses nothing despite being lied to by every person involved.

A second tier film that could have been A-list for the want of a better known lead, "Dark Corner's" engrossing plot leaves you guessing the identity of the bad guys. Mark Stevens plays a private eye haunted by his past. Lucille Ball, in a rare non-comedic role, is his loyal secretary. Stevens' character has been framed before and someone wants him to take a fall again. Then his main suspect winds up dead. The dialog is first rate noir and the plot is tight and full of hairpin turns.

Look for chalk outlines on the wet pavement in the DVD section of your library branch.

--Cindy F., Headquarters



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