NOIR About Post World War II Germany-Film Noir Festival 2014

Post World War II Germany was the background for double feature, represented by THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US & BERLIN EXPRESS.

The Murderers Are Among Us deals with the attempt of people in the war shattered environment of Germany to move on & resume their lives. But they cannot do this without confronting their recent past. This creates conflicts, huge conflicts, about personal responsibility, collective guilt, and the horrors that a once-dominant culture imposed upon those minority populations who were locked within its boundaries. The murder of millions of civilians under the command of NAZI government cannot be overlooked. This film made in 1946, the first Post World War II German film production, focuses upon these profound issues. Hildegard Knef plays a displaced Jewish woman who successfully stops further injustice on the part of her friend who wants to avenge war crimes by taking matters into his own hands, and ending the life of the Captain who caused murders that were not related directly to the War. In the end, it is Susanne Walkner (played by Hildegard Knef) who has the inner strength to say “We cannot pass sentence.” This simple statement represents the restoration of authentic law & human rights to all Germans, and begins the healing process in the middle of the rubble, that was once Berlin. Now, a true rebirth is possible, claiming justice under law & freedom from the oppression that structured personal & collective ruin.

YOU TUBE ANALYSIS OF Die Mörder sind unter uns-1946

BERLIN EXPRESS–1948–was an American production, shot-on-location, in the ruins of Berlin & Frankfurt-am Main. It’s focus was the impending conflict over how the Allied victors of World War II, French, English, American, and Soviet (now Russian), were going to deal with administering to the division or reunification of what was left of Germany. These issues loom in the background while the most of the action and specifics related to the film’s story line take place on the passenger train (which gives the film its title). For a tiny amount of time, there seemed some hope that the “COLD WAR” could be avoided & that hope is touched upon in this film. Alas–such was not to be…but the film does illustrate that this huge wasted chapter of political, military, social, and economic history that came to be known as the “COLD WAR” could have been avoided, had the various Allied governments been more open to a higher level of thinking.

YOU TUBE OF BERLIN EXPRESS 1948/Frankfurt-am-Main

25 Days In Below Zero Weather Without Heat-Indianapolis

25 Days? Are you kidding me?

When NOIR is War, Noir is Hell-Post World War II Japan Noir Film Festival 2014

This is the year of Noir International. Eddie Muller, the producer & curator of this increasingly successful genre film festival, featured two films from Post World War II Japan. Both of them were directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. There was no clean-up, no tidying of the Post War mess, no candy-coating. The background of black marketing, dysfunctional public heath issues, and lack of basic supplies to support ordinary day-to-day functions are reflected in a pool of stagnant water that becomes a constant & silent reference point in the film DRUNKEN ANGEL.

Eddie Muller, writer, film curator, producer, lecturer, visionary, the man who put Noir on the map, and now has taken the concept to higher levels each year since the Noir Festival started 12 years ago.  January 2014

Eddie Muller, writer, film curator, producer, lecturer, visionary: the man who put Noir on the preservationists/restorationist map, and now has taken the concept to higher & international levels each year since the Noir Festival started 12 years ago. Castro Theatre, San Francisco, January 2014

Takashi Shimura plays an alcoholic physician, who needs to abide by the ancient Western proverb of “Physician heal thyself.” His bedside manner is as atrocious as the background in which he must do his best to patch together the broken people of his broken country. Despite his appearance & mannerisms, he is the Angel of Life, trying to bring life to those who are pretty, but in worse physical & emotional condition than he is. Toshiro Mifune, is caught up in a chaotic world of crime & avarice, soon to be doomed by his inability to follow doctors orders & treat his tuberculosis appropriately. Instead, he drinks, smokes, and slugs his way through an underground culture in order to ‘save face’ and prove his worth. It was a struggle from which he could not emerge victorious–and we see the loss of potential, the potential that Japan so much-needed, go to waste, as he throws his life way in the sludge that had, at that time, become the world of a defeated nation.

YOU TUBE DOUBLE OF DRUNKEN ANGEL:Film 1948 & Song by Lucinda Williams from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road 1998

Stray Dog, 1949-also directed by Akira Kurosawa & Starring Toshiro Mifune.

This film is more closely associated with & influenced by the American Noir experience. The emphasis is less upon the Post War infrastructure, and more upon a rookie cop who has had his gun pickpocketed while on public transit. In that respect, those from New York & San Francisco can more easily relate to the overcrowded conditions & the ‘cell mates’ with which we must endure in close quarters on a daily basis. In keeping with Noir, the rookie cop goes on a search for the person who lifted his heater, only to unintentionally go deeper & deeper into an underground cesspool of crime, vice, passion, and vengeance. The gun in question has recently begged re-examination of the issue/question of do guns kill people or do people use guns to kill people? It’s clear that our love affair with Noir embraces guns, but do we want guns to embrace us? (Remember: “It’s a bitter, little world.”)!
Let’s ask the National Rifle Association to embrace Columbine & ask the perennial question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Depart from the Film & Listen to Petula Clark, then continue…

YOU TUBE MONTAGE FROM STRAY DOG-edited for horror mode-1949

“What a fetid, stinking, scummy, crappy, little world this is!”–Princess Melita Bonaparte-Film Noir Day Two Continued

“Film me in the dark, or by candlelight. I look better that way. You can’t see the blood as easily.”–Princess Melita Bonaparte (recently overheard when she was booked for credit card fraud, when attempting to sell off-shore oil drilling rights that weren’t hers to sell).

WHAT MAKES FILM NOIR LOOK GOOD? THE BLOOD? NO, THE LIGHTING THEY USE TO FILM THE BLOOD & THE REACTIONS THEREOF>>>>

2014 FILM NOIR FOUNDATION MONTAGE–“It’s a bitter, little world.”

Film Noir just makes crime look good & it's no wonder John Waters thought it was beautiful–but that's where the comparison ends. With Noir, the crime is real, real people, real crime–no parody intended—only the occasional dry & flippant humour when the crime in question seems about to devour the person(s) in the act of committing it.

No body got crime better than Lizabeth Scott in TOO LATE FOR TEARS. Why, this woman was way ahead of the game, if a husband was an inconvenience, she just bumped him off. O.J. Simpson must have been one of her early fans, only he played it out for real, instead of for reels.
Her ambition was along the lines of Wallis Simpson, only she just looked better, and a trail of dead husbands or boyfriends were collateral damage. What would you do if you were driving down a road, minding your own business, and some doofus dropped a briefcase containing sixty grand in the back seat of your open convertible? You know that isn't much money these days, but it might pay for the car! So, if the dolt would make it worth your while & add few more zeros, wouldn’t that be a sweet joyride?

The action takes off from there & Lizabeth Scott (as Jane Palmer–and that surname is no accident, clever writers them Noir script developers), along with Dan Duryea (Danny Fuller–yes, I read into the fuller, as in 'fill her up")–get on each other's nerves. She gets the upper hand for a while in this bumpy ride, but you know those moral purists have to spoil the fun. They were a jealous lot, could not stand how good Lizabeth Scott looked in those designer (by Adele Palmer) outfits while making bad. She wore those works of art with total authority. Yes, Lizabeth Scott is a class act, a real star. She played her role to perfection.

YOU TUBE: TOO LATE FOR TEARS-LIZABETH SCOTT, DON DE FORTE, DAN DURYEA-1949

The last of the five films screened on Day Two of Noir was THE HITCH-HIKER. Does anyone remember what their mothers texted them about taking candy from strangers or picking up hitch-hikers? This fun ride was well before texting, you smoked real cigarettes, not those horrible electronic ones! You got real cancer, not virtual cancer, and there was no cure, no 12-Step Programme. Back then, it seemed that multi-tasking, before it was ever given that silly name, was a fact of life. You could drive, smoke, and shoot a gun all at the same time. If you grew up watching Perry Mason on television, then you will remember William Talman was that other attorney who gave Perry Mason a run for his money. William Talman played the hitch-hiker, a serial murderer, based upon the real deal–Two fishing buddies pick up the historic psychopathic killer, Billy Cook: a film version of Clyde without Bonnie, directed by Ida Lupino, one of the few women who worked behind the cameras as well as in front of them.

The two buddies out for a nice weekend, got a whole lot more than they bargained for–and William Talman made for an excellent psychotic on the lam. You need an adult beverage before (during) and after this tail of terror. But the unblinking eye sees all, so don’t try to get over on hitch-hiker who has an eye that won’t close. You will be very sorry if your try it!

The Hitch-Hiker can be viewed in its entirety on You Tube, as it is in public domain! Don’t pick this guy up, go home, and watch it on You Tube!

Remember, “It’s a bitter, little world.”

It may be a a bitter, little world, but you can keep warm in a shirt that will remind you that it could be a lot worse.  Yes, they have merchandise tables--and there's one with your name on it!

It may be a a bitter, little world, but you can keep warm in a shirt that will remind you that it could be a lot worse. Yes, they have merchandise tables–and there’s one with your name on it!

Film Noir 2014-Tres puntos de vista de México/3 Views of Mexico

Yesterday, I watched 5 full length feature films–my eyes came out as special effects, but it was well worth the time. Day Two of Film Noir 12 started with three films which featured the culture of Mexico as the background of the stories that were being told. The first film was an American view of Mexico, the second & third films were produced in Mexico, showing how Mexico sees it’s own reflection while peering in the cultural mirror as reflected & told in 1951.

The first film starred Ricardo Montalban–in English the film was released as BORDER INCIDENT, in Spanish, INCIDENT de FRONTIERE. Many aspects of this film are still very much a part of both cultures, that of the United States & of Mexico. In a general sense, those of us who live North of the Mexican border depend upon those who are born South of the Mexican border to do the work we don’t want to do–harvesting the crops that make the food for menus in fancy restaurants or food courts possible. Generally speaking, children born North don’t work, children born South, know nothing else but work. Can one imagine a child attending Beverly Hills High School having to work the fields on weekends? The film focuses on the illegal trafficking of human beings who end up working for menial wages. It’s a form of slavery, indentured servitude, that has thrived since the World War II era. Before that, California agribusiness was supplied with people who fled the droughts in Oklahoma. Now the Grapes of Wrath that are celebrated with artful wine labels with grapes grown in Napa Valley, and other areas, are harvested by mostly by agricultural workers from Mexico. The dynamics of the work force for this industry have not changed much since 1949, when this film was released. Time has only provided more complex levels of technology to aid and abet in the crime of human slavery & border enforcement against the illegalities ends up sort of like the war against drugs, a counter-productive effort that was designed only to allow the rich to win. It’s a lose-lose if you are brown & are born South of the fabled border.

YOU TUBE OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER’S VIEW OF MEXICO-1949
BORDER INCIDENT-Starring Ricardo Montalban & George Murphy.

Film Number Two dealt with a fraudulent fortune-teller. That’s sort of like having a fake Titian, and telling house guests that you got it from the Gallery down the street. Little matter how one may personally feel about the subject, seems like every small town North of the Border has at least one, ready, willing,and able to tell the unfortunate who have a need to know when their unemployment checks will end (and part of those checks go to support that need!). It seems they must thrive South too. One of my impoverished Grandmother’s managed to find money to pay one, just wonder if he told her that she’d end up poor & that her children would inherit the wind? In this film, the slime bag in question redeems himself in the end by giving some of his ill-gotten money to an illiterate woman whose son was killed in the Korean War. I had to go home & look up the role of Mexico in the Korean war–and you can read about this by searching–(http://www.historyrocket.com/American-History/timeline/1950-1999/korean-war/Roles-Of-Mexican-Americans-In-Korean-War.html). So, there was a history lesson there for us that was never taught in our North high schools. The main lesson this film has to offer is chicanery pays, but only in the short-term. The palm reader had beautiful hands–amazingly beautiful hands & I suppose that was appropriate. Maybe someday, I will make it to the Tenderloin, and pretend to want to know what the future has in store for me—“My child, you will be instrumental in the Restoration of the Greek Monarchy & go on to become a famous film star & Hollywood Royalty.”

YOU TUBE OF En la palma de tu mano (In The Palm Of Your Hand)-1951

The third film of the Mexican Trilogy was as hard-core & real as it gets. This one dealt with women whose work was not in the fields, but in the bed. The world’s oldest profession was explored without any hint of wink & nod, but with complete & unblinking candour that told of a slavery that was based upon women who had only one option to survive in a man’s world, and that was to sell their bodies as directed. Here we call their managers pimps–but the general idea is the same. The abuse & shame that went with this territory was not glossed over. The women had their night club dance acts as fronts, while the real money was made after the applause was over. They kept doctors in business with clap of a different meaning. The mistake of having a child, and the choice of keeping the child versus having a “career” was @ the core of this film’s plot. It was a vivid exploration of what happens after the Night Club closes. In the programme notes a quotation is recalled by André Breton, “In Europe we talk about surrealism, in Mexico they live it every day.”

YOU TUBE OF VICTIMS OF SIN/Víctimas del Pecado-1951

Surrealism from Mexcio

Flim Noir Festival #12 Opens In A Dirty Little World…

Last night, exhausted from my four-day work week, I got my second wind & attended the screening of the opening night’s offerings of Journey Into Fear & The Third Man…Eddie Mulller produced & curated the opening night & let these films prove to the audience just how dirty & little this world really is.

Joseph Cotten didn’t have to go to Safeway to get a chicken, and Dolores Del Rio? Why, where is that cat costume? Why is it that personal security seems to be a new thing that is just catching on? No one was safe or secure in JOURNEY INTO FEAR! The Christ-like sacrifice of the magician makes that all perfectly clear.

YOU TUBE CLIP FROM JOURNEY INTO FEAR-1943

In both films, the initial appearance of Orson Welles was met with applause by the audience. To this day, he commands respect & is far from forgotten.
No one could match that speaking voice, his delivery of key lines. He has maintained a special mystique for his fans that is clearly evident, & the screenings from his body of work reinforce this special bond that has transcended his death & turned him into the legend that he is.

In THE THIRD MAN, we see more of what it was like to live in the context of the ruins of political, military, and economic defeat. The aftermath of war adds a credence to ‘it’s a bitter little world’ that goes beyond the morbid humour of Film Noir. This film pays a tribute to pulp fiction, challenging the notion that it’s not literature. It was not a shame to be a good writer & make a living from it. In this film, we see the realities of Allied partitioning of Vienna-fake passports, fake funerals, and all sorts of survival tactics that would morph into the sort of world inhabited later by James Bond & keep actors like Tom Cruise living in the public view, eye level, at your nearest pulp magazine rack in your grocery store.

YOU TUBE CLIP FROM THE THIRD MAN-1949

See what happens to a hack writer who drinks too much!

BOSSES–DON’T ASK EMPLOYEES IF THEY HAVE A “HOT DATE!”

HOW TO COMPLIMENT AN EMPLOYEE WITHOUT BEING RUDE AND/OR STUPID

As a boss, complimenting the smartly dressed employee does not give you the right to ask her, him, it, about dating preferences, 'hot' or otherwise.  Leave this alone, and MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!  Ask yourself "What would King Solomon do?"

As a boss, complimenting the smartly dressed employee does not give you the right to ask her, him, it, about dating preferences, ‘hot’ or otherwise. Leave this alone & MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Ask yourself: “What would King Solomon do?”

Recently an article making the rounds of LinkedIn, outlined a long list describing troublesome questions that bosses should never ask anyone with whom they have a direct reporting relationship. It ended with an open suggestion for additional questions that a manager should never ask of a sub-ordinate employee in the context of the work environment.

After some thought, here is my addition…
A BOSS/MANAGER WITH ANY SENSE OF CLASS WILL NOT ASK ANOTHER EMPLOYEE IF HE/SHE HAS A ‘HOT DATE’ WHEN THE EMPLOYEE IS OBSERVED HAVING DRESSED SMARTER THAN USUAL. Or, more smartly than usual, if you are a stickler for grammar, but dumb about life…

The only thing I can imagine Miss Manners approving would be a neutral comment, something along the lines of ‘That’s a very nice jacket/shirt/blouse/skirt/tie…you are wearing. It’s really very nice.” STOP. END OF SENTENCE. END OF SUBJECT. Having issued a polite compliment, as long as it is not overly done, or sexual in nature, that is it. You can say something nice to someone without it becoming a transgression, you really can! Issuing a compliment about apparel does not entitle any boss, old, young, male, female, born here, or imported, to cross-examine the employee who was the recipient of this compliment. It is unfathomable to me that I have been given gracious compliments, without even having had time to say a simple thank you, only to be followed up with a barrage of insulting & intrusive questions about my motivation for wearing said item of clothing.

I do not ask any of my co-workers if they have a ‘hot date’ as a follow-up to any type of compliment about personal appearance. I do not make it a habit to make comments on a frequent basis about anyone’s mode of dress, unless it is very nice, and then that is all.

Why is it acceptable for women bosses to ask me if I have a “hot date,?” If, as a male, I were to ask any female employee such a question, I would immediately be reported up a very poisonous food chain for a disciplinary write-up, leading to charges of sexual harassment.

But, as a male, I have had to endure all-too-frequent questions about my personal life. My stock answer (after asking myself “What would King Solomon do?”–to update that a bit & I ask myself “What would the King of Belgium do? Or, what would the Queen of Denmark do? What would King Constantine do, (if the Greek government came to its senses?“). I say thank you & just explain that it was clean & handy, and a good day to wear it. When asked a second time about dating, or anything personal, I often hear telephone calls or voices (in the manner of St Joan of Arc), or stare out in space, as if I were in a petite mal mode.

It is very uncomfortable to have to deal with juvenile behaviour, but equally important not to allow my distaste at such bad manners to put myself in the position of committing something equally offensive. Two wrongs just never make a right, no matter how strong the temptation for expressing indignation.

One of the anthems of modern managing is a tune that goes something like this: “YOU CAN”T MANAGE WHAT YOU CAN’T MEASURE.” Personally, I find hearing this dirge rather loathsome. But I will leave you with this coda. You cannot measure the kind of damage that plain stupidity causes when asking an employee, even kiddingly, if h/she has a hot date. You cannot manage or measure the damage control you may have do deal with if you are dumb enough to do such things. Measure your thoughts, manage them, then sing anthems. Damage control due to harassment causes stress that you cannot fathom, unless you are smart enough not to abuse your management position.

So, be smart. Despite the other anthem frequently heard, THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A DUMB QUESTION. You owe it to yourself and for the benefit of all concerned to be thoughtful, considerate, and smart. Asking dumb/inappropriate questions about clothing has nothing to do with your Mission Statement, unless you are in the fashion industry. Repeat, don’t ask employees about “hot dates,” unless you are trading recipes.