Film Noir – One Dame’s Growing Obsession

My love of film noir took root about four or five years ago. Newly divorced and in an existential mood, I gravitated to them and quickly became hooked. To date, I’ve seen 75 film noir flicks. I know this because I keep a master list of all I’ve viewed (because I’m a nerd), with my favorites starred. I studied film in college and have always been an enthusiast, but film noir particularly resonates with me. The tone, the mood, the look, the “everyman wronged out for revenge” plots. A great film noir flick leaves you feeling wrung out, like you’ve been through an ordeal, like you’ve been sucker-punched, worked over, for every red nickel you own. Some are campy and hammy, some are a slow burn while yet others are tinged with sadness. I love ’em all but especially like my noir gritty and dark, smart and edgy, with the one-liners a’flying.

One of my favorites, "Odd Man Out," featuring the incomparable James Mason.
One of my favorites, “Odd Man Out,” featuring the incomparable James Mason.

So here it is, my own…

Recipe for a Film Noir

One Wise-Crackin’ Joe – with jutting chin and lined face
One Ex-Champion Boxer – down on his luck
One Gangster – set up by his gangster pal
One Detective – hard-boiled
One Moll – extra hard
One Femme Fatale – In perpetual soft focus
One Pack of Cigarettes
Thick Fog
Trench Coats – it’s never summer in a noir
Guns – that occasionally run out of ammo during a shoot-out
Docks or a Wharf
Squealing Tires
One Hapless, Simpering Stool Pigeon – to be rubbed out
Scarves – Good for strangling molls
One Prison – with curiously lax security
Urban City – either New York, L.A. or London, in shadows
One Clock – always chiming midnight
Cops – some good, some bad
Whiskey – for one to have a belt, then hurl glass across the room
Alleyways – lined with boxes/garbage cans, good for shoving into someone chasing you
Rain-Slicked Rooftops
Train or Boat – always with horn sounding to signal its imminent departure
One Good Guy Framed
One Good Girl Mixed up with the Wrong Guy
One Clubhouse/Shack – easily accessible, to hide out in when the heat is on

Throw them all into a dark, shadowy, smoke-filled pot one night, stir them up, let simmer. Serves millions.

The brilliant "Hangover Square."
The brilliant “Hangover Square.”