RARA-AVIS: color Noir (pre-58, no less): DESERT FURY

From: DCG! ( damncrazygringo@yahoo.com)
Date: 26 Mar 2008

I'm not as expert on the subject as some here (one reason I lurk, rather than Post regularly), but I suggest that DESERT FURY with Lisbeth Scott, John Hodiak and Burt Lancaster, as well as co-written by A.I. Bezzerides, might qualify as Color Noir.

At the very least, it's got to be borderline....??

Best an' all,

Jeff Vorzimmer < jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com> wrote: I just finished reading Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames Williams, which I
 mentioned having picked up at City Lights in SF. I bought it thinking it
 would be kind of a cross between Laura and Bedelia. In fact it came out in
 1944, the year between those two books and was the 7th best-selling novel of
 that year and although it shares a lot of the same plot elements as the Vera
 Caspary novels, I thought it superior to both. But I think it's more
 melodrama than noir. The only crime in the book could be called manslaughter
 at best and there was a lot of the Freudian psychology in it that was
 popular at the time. Though the femme fatale was a cold-hearted bitch very
 reminiscent of Caspary's Bedelia and as ruthless as any in hardboiled crime
 Then I saw the movie. It would be had to classify it as noir. It's been
 argued here, I believe by Jim among others, that just the simple fact of it
 being in color disqualifies it from being noir and I tend to agree with
 that. If you do a search on IMDB for films tagged (albeit loosely) with
 "noir" you come up with 465 movies, of those only 14 are in color. That
 means that 97% of the films tagged "noir" are black & white. When you start
 looking over the list of color films you realize that films like Leave Her
 to Heaven and A Kiss Before Dying really aren't noir, so the percentage is
 even higher. I've not actually seen a color film pre-1958 that I think
 stylistically fits in the genre.
 Not being color is the least of the disqualifying aspects of the movie
 though. It's not urban. It's shot mostly in the daylight outdoors and, the
 most disqualifying point of all--it's not really a crime film. The
 screenwriter seemed to overlook the fact that the crime for which one of the
 characters goes to jail for at the end was actually written out of the story
 leaving many a viewer, I'm sure, scratching his head at the end.
 The movie was also badly miscast with Cornel Wilde and Gene Tierney and
 badly acted as well. It was if they were trying to cash in on the success of
 Laura, but didn't emulate any of its style. It certainly could have been
 made into a film noir, but ends up not even coming close.

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