In luscious black-and-white, the screen flickers and takes us back to a world filled with crimes, intrigues, and elegant men and women with dark pasts. Film Noir. I’m a die hard fan and have been for years. Thus, I was delighted to win tickets to the screening of my choice during The Cinematheque‘s recent Film Noir series. I chose The Woman in the Window. It’s not as well-known as some other Noir classics, but I had to see it.
The primary reason was the lead actor, Edward G. Robinson. I feel about Robinson the way many people felt about Lady Gaga after she sang The Sound of Music classics at The Oscars. Why, exactly, had this woman with a fantastic voice been wasting her time singing songs like “Poker Face” all these years? Robinson played so many gangster roles throughout his career that it’s easy to think his abilities as an actor were limited to these parts, but a few performances showed audiences that he was capable of so much more. The Woman in the Window was one of the films that demonstrated his ability to convey pathos, inner turmoil, and utter despair. Yet, he displayed a subtle, restrained sense of humour at other points in this movie, as well. He goes from being a rather staid, middle-aged professor to a man bewitched by beauty and capable of acts that we, the audience, couldn’t have conceived of him doing moments earlier.
I would encourage all of you to seek out this film, if not for Robinson’s performance, but for the ending. I’m not one for giving away key plot points, but let’s just say there are two endings to this film. The first is the real ending. The ending that the film would have had if it were made today. Instead, it concludes with the censors’ ending. Even in Film Noir, bad guys don’t get off scot free and bad deeds don’t go unpunished. The world was always portrayed as a generally good place, even when it was really in the midst of World War II.
Well, this latest win brings my total to $225 for 2015. Look for my next installment when I describe the experience of being a finalist in a photo contest and going on my first rollercoaster ride.
On June 30th, my husband and I went to a double bill of The Far Country and The Man From Laramie at the Pacific Cinémathèque. Before I present my review of the films, I’d like to pay a brief homage to the cinema itself.
The Pacific Cinémathèque has been our go-to cinema for classic and foreign films for decades. It was there we first saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat
, David Lean’s Oliver Twist
, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita
, and many other unforgettable movies. Long before we got Turner Classic Movies
, the Cinémathèque was where we went for something other than the summer blockbusters. Soon, the Cinémathèque will be relocating and becoming part of the TELUS garden development in downtown Vancouver. Next year will also be its 40th anniversary, so I strongly recommend checking it out and enjoying a truly memorable moviegoing experience.
The Far Country and The Man From Laramie were two Anthony Mann westerns from the 1950s starring Jimmy Stewart. The former depicts Stewart as a nomadic, self-reliant man in the late 19th century. He makes his money driving a herd of cattle from the United States to Canada and then taking his profits to stake a claim during the gold rush. The latter shows a highly ethical, yet vengeful Stewart on a quest to find the man responsible for selling repeating rifles to the American Indians.
It was fantastic to see these two films back to back, as the range of Stewart’s talent is clearly evident. Stewart is often thought of as playing himself in every movie, but I strongly dispute that claim. It is hard to believe that the same man embodies both these characters, as one is easy to dislike and the other evokes sympathy even as he exacts his revenge. The Man from Laramie is by far the better movie, though. The complexity of the story and the supporting characters outweigh the rather thin plot of The Far Country. Yet, this gold rush odyssey is still worth watching for its strong female characters and the beautiful scenery of Jasper, Alberta, where the movie was filmed.
All in all, I very much enjoyed my sixth prize and am looking forward to win number seven! Wish me luck for July!