Thursday, February 19, 2009

Noir These Movies to Me

When I was in high school, there was a rule in my house that we couldn’t watch TV Monday through Thursday during the school year. A lot of people gape at me when I tell this tidbit, but it really didn’t bother me; there was always something else to do. Well, this rule caused me to not get into TV series like everyone else since those shows usually aired during the week. There was one show I liked to catch on Sunday nights, though: “Whose Line Is It Anyway”. I couldn’t get enough of the humor, wit, and spontaneity of the show. The songs were good every once in a while, but I loved the skits like Props, Scenes from a Hat, News Report, and Green Screen. There was one game in particular that I suddenly thought about after watching Double Indemnity, and that was Narrate. Before this week, I had no idea of what film noir was, that it even existed. I guess I knew about the style; it is classic enough to be referenced or imitated, but I had no idea of how big this movie style was and still is.

As I read about film noir in “Notes on Film Noir” by Paul Schrader, I thought that I wouldn’t like this style of movie. I am one for happy endings and a strong, honest hero. I like the hero rising above his temptations and trials in the end. As I said, when I learned how dark film noir is, I was skeptical.

So, after that explanation, I enjoyed the movie more than I thought. Double Indemnity was suspenseful, intriguing, and spoke to the some-what darker side of me. I do like those movies where people try to beat the system. I would never think about doing it, but the idea is fun to watch as other people attempt it, like in the movies Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, and Mission Impossible.

I also like the filming techniques of this movie. The distinct and well-known shadows used in this movie really add to its tale. Obviously, the dark tone was emphasized by the shadows, but they also added to the characters themselves. Neff and Phyllis are sneaking around, trying to get away with their murder, and the shadows help that air. There is also the absence of shadows with Keyes to represent his morale qualities. I would have to watch the movie one more time to completely back this up, but the filming perspective. I thought that, instead of being at eye-level, the camera seemed to be at a lower angle, making the characters and their problems seem giant. Double Indemnity was a dark movie without a happy ending, but I enjoyed it for the inquiries it inspired and the ground it dared tread upon.


  1. Ha, I used Italian Job and Ocean's Eleven in my blog, too--it's hard not to reference such popular movies like that!

    I loved reading your blog! I'm glad you liked film noir, too--some of my favorite movies fall under that category.

  2. One that that noir does with camera angles (as well as light) is to make everything seem more ominous. Good eye.