Monday, January 16, 2017

Noirsville Iconic Photograph Of The Week

Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Noirsville Tune Of The Week

David Kenneth Ritz "Dave" Van Ronk (June 30, 1936 – February 10, 2002) was an American folk singer. An important figure in the American folk music revival and New York City's Greenwich Village scene in the 1960s, he was nicknamed the "Mayor of MacDougal Street".

Cocaine Blues

Dave Van Ronk's version of Cocaine Blues is an amalgamation of Cocaine Blues, written by Piedmont blues guitarist and vocalist, Luke Jordan (1927) Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Cocaine Habit Blues, by the Memphis Jug Band (1929) and Cocaine Blues written by blind Piedmont blues guitar whiz the Rev. Gary Davis (1935). Van Ronk also  had a habit of improvising lyrics, with slightly different versions on nearly every recording and live performance.

Cocaine Blues
(basic version)

Every time my baby and me we go uptown,
Police come in and knock me down.
Cocaine all around my brain.
Hey baby, better come here quick,
This old cocaine is 'bout to make me sick.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Yonder come my baby, she's dressed in red,
She's got a shot-gun,
Says she's gonna kill me dead.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Hey baby, better come here quick,
This old cocaine 'bout to make me sick.
Cocaine all around my brain.
You take Sally, an' I'll take Sue,
Ain't nah difference between the two.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Hey baby, you better come here quick,
This old cocaine 'bout to make me sick.
Cocaine all around my brain.
Cocaine's for horses and it's not for men,
Doctor said it kill you, but he didn't say when.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Hey baby, you better come here quick,
This old cocaine 'bout to make me sick.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Hey baby, you better come here quick,
This old cocaine 'bout to make me sick.
Cocaine all around my brain.

Version 1

Version 2

Friday, January 13, 2017

Les Diaboliques (Diabolique) (1955)

A 1955 French psychological noir thriller directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (Quai des Orfèvres (1947), Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear ) (1953), ), starring Simone Signoret (Gunman in the Streets (1950), Casque d'Or (1952), Is Paris Burning? (1966), Army of Shadows (1969)), Véra Clouzot (Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1953)), Paul Meurisse (Sergil chez les filles (1952), Army of Shadows (1969), Le Deuxieme Souffle (1966)) and Charles Vanel (The Wages of Fear (1953), To Catch a Thief (1955)).  

The film was based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus (She Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The screenplay was by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, René Masson and Frédéric Grende.

Cinematography was by Armand Thirard (Quai des Orfèvres (1947), Le salaire de la peur (1953)), and music was by Georges Van Parys (Casque d'Or (1952)).

Nichole (Simone Signoret) 

Michel (Paul Meurisse)

Christina (Vera Clouzot)

 Inspector Fichet (Charles Vanel)

A cheap boarding school near Paris is run by tightwad headmaster Michel Delassalle (Meurisse). The school is owned by Delassalle's sickly wife Christina, who is also a teacher. Christina has a heart condition which prevents her from performing her wifely duties, so Michel has taken to banging the blonde Nicole Horner (Signoret), another teacher at the school. The prospect of Nicole becoming Michel's mistress has no effect between the two women since Michel is verbally abusive to both of them and woman beater to boot. They both despise him.

Nichole concocts a plan to off Michel. Christina, is indecisive at first, but after more rounds of abuse from Michel agrees to the plan. Threatening divorce, Christina leaves the school, drives with
Nichole to Nichole's hometown Niort and stays at her apartment. This lures Michel away from the school in pursuit of his meal ticket. Using a sedative mixed into a bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch she gets Michel to drink it. Michel passes out. Nichole and Christina carry him into the bathroom and drown him in the bath tub. Hiding his body in a large wicker basket Nichole and Christina drive back to the school and dump Michel into a disused swimming pool. They figure that once the body floats up to the top it will look like an accident.

Of course the body never floats to the top and everything goes exquisitely Noirsville.







Vera Clouzot, is a delight as the pious, frail, nervous, stepped on one to many times, wife. Simone Signoret seems almost butch in comparison. She is a big full figured woman and she towers over Christina both physically and mentally. There have been some critiques that state that Nicole may have lesbian designs on Christina, I got the same faint vibe. Paul Meurisse comes off like a French Jack Webb, and Charles Vanel's Inspector Fichet I hear is the original prototype of Colombo.

One of the best French Noir, screencaps are from the Criterion DVD. 10/10

Noirsville Neo Noir Image Of The Week

Grotta Azzurra, Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City 2016

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Noirsville Pulp Fiction Cover Of The Week

The Conversation (1974) Surveillance Noir

Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Cotton Club (1984)). Cinematography by Bill Butler (Hickey & Boggs (1972)) and Haskell Wexler (Stakeout on Dope Street (1958), The Savage Eye (1960), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Mulholland Falls (1996)). Music was by David Shire (Farewell, My Lovely (1975)).

The film stars Gene Hackman (Naked City  TV Series (1958–1963), Night Moves (1975)) as Harry Caul, John Cazale (The Godfather (1972)) as Stan, Allen Garfield (The Cotton Club (1984)) as William P. "Bernie" Moran, Cindy Williams as Ann Frederic Forrest (Hammett (1982), The Two Jakes (1990)), as Mark, Harrison Ford (Blade Runner (1982)) as Martin Stett, Elizabeth MacRae (Naked City  TV Series (1958–1963), Route 66 (1960–1964), as Meredith, and Teri Garr (After Hours (1985)) as Amy Fredericks.

The film is about a Surveillance P. I., Harry Caul (Hackman) an electronics nerd who incrementally becomes paranoid, alienated, and obsessed. Caul is "tops" in his field on the West Coast, a thorough and meticulous, snoop. His headquarters is in a chain link cage in the corner of an empty warehouse floor, at the edge of the rail freight yards of San Francisco. His workbench holds an array of audio equipment. He makes his office calls from various random payphones.

His standoffishness is manifest in the lack of details in his barren relationship with his girlfriend Amy (Garr). Harry has told her nothing of his past, he remains a stranger. When he calls on her, he sneaks to her flop door, putting his key quietly into the lock then flinging open the door as if to catch her doing something. He's a friendless, secretive, overly cautious schlub who wears a cheap plastic raincoat on sunny days, has installed four separate locks on his flat door, and gets anxious flashbacks to the young couple his work has put in jeopardy during a momentary power interruption on a streetcar. His only two release/retreats seem to be the confessional at his church and his saxophone, which he plays to the accompaniment of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Lady spinning on his turntable.

Caul (Hackman) lt. Stan (Caszal) rt.

Anne (Williams) and Mark (Forrest)

During a big and intricately involved high tech eavesdropping surveillance job on a target couple Ann (Williams) and Mark (Forrest) in Union Square, San Francisco, Caul neglects the first rule of surveillance and begins to get personally involved. His past nagging guilt about previous assignments begins to gnaw on his conscience. As he works on the recordings and transcripts he begins to ponder if this job going to physically hurt or possibly kill the couple under surveillance as happened to others in another job in a similar situation.

Caul's paranoid condition amplifies, he's miffed when his landlord leaves a bottle of wine in his "Fortress of Solitude" apartment, chagrined that his bank has sent him a birthday card, and then later he freaks out after his ominous client "the director" contacts him through his henchman Martin Stett (Ford) who calls him on his private phone that he's never given out the number to.

Caul begins to slowly lose his mind as he descends into Noirsville.... do we see actual events or his guilty by association hallucinations.


Amy (Garr)

Meredith (MacRae) and Caul

Hackman gives a great performance as the wound a bit too tight, idiosyncratic loner. The cast comprising Caul's peers are equally eccentric and nerdy. The rest of the players are more peripheral with only Harrison Ford standing out as an ominous flunkie of the nameless "director." The soundtrack is excellent. Screencaps are from the 2010 DVD. 9/10