Sunday, November 29, 2020

Noirsville Neo Noir Images of the Week



Fred Hakim

Screencap The Deuce





 Coffee, Tea, or Me?

Anna Parfenova


Kai Piper

Renwick Street - Newburg, NY - Rott

NYPD shakedown

Frederic Fontenoy - performance art

Subway - Unknown




Seoul Grand Ol Opry - Unknown

Times Square - Unknown





Panties off - Unknown

Streetwalker LIC - Rott


Noirsville Tune of the Week

Rickie Lee Jones is an American vocalist, musician, songwriter, producer, actress and narrator. Over the course of a career that spans five decades, Jones has recorded in various musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz. Jones is a two-time Grammy Award winner. (Wiki)

Danny’s All‐Star Joint 

Downstairs at danny's all-star joint
They got a juke box that goes doyt-doyt
The vice is nice, they stay in the back all day
But when the nighttime comes, hey-hey
There's this cat down there that makes a bad kinda soup
I come around struttin' my luck in my shoop coupe
Cecil gives me coffee
And he won't never take my coin
I say, "I got thirty dollars in my pocket!
Whatchoo doin'?"
I holler, "Come on, Cecil, take a dollar!
Come on, Cecil, take a ten!
I've finally geared up into a whole buncha big ones
And you're actin' like I'm down-shiftin'"
He knows all the under-riders on the boulevard
They got to barefoot cruise when it's forty-weight hard
They look particularly dead-beat
Permanently pale
Cecil picks up his butcher knife
Waves it at the jail
The kid say, "I ain't got no dough, Joe, I just want some o.j"
I said, "Don't look at me" (Cuz he was lookin' my way)
Cecil wink upon him some juice and some green
And the kid walks over and puts the quarter in the pinball machine
And he says, "Come on, Cec, gimme a dollar
Come on Cecil gimme five
I'm in a half-way house on a one-way street
And I'm a quarter past left alive"
He can talk about your people in a wonderful way
He can talk about your people 'til your hair turns grey

Friday, November 27, 2020

Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965) French New Wave Twilight Zone Neo Noir

"This dump of yours isn't Alphaville its Zeroville."

The French New Wave Detective, its Noir its SiFi, it's Satire.  

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless (1960) a pioneer of French New Wave Cinema. The film was written by Jean-Luc Godard, with Paul Éluard (uncredited). Cinematography was by Raoul Coutard (Breathless (1960), Shoot the Piano Player (1960), and Z (1969)), and Music was by Paul Misraki. 

The film stars Eddie Constantine (This Man Is Dangerous (1953), 5 Against the House (1955), and Room 43 (1958)) as Lemmy Caution, Anna Karina (Pierrot le Fou (1965)) as Natacha von Braun, Akim Tamiroff (The Gangster (1947), Confidential Report (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), Ocean's 11 (1960)) as Henri Dickson, Christa Lang as 1st Seductress Third Class, Valérie Boisgel as 2nd Seductress Third Class, and Howard Vernon as Professor von Braun/Leonard Nosferatu.

Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution  

Anna Karina  as Natacha von Braun

Akim Tamiroff  as Henri Dickson

I watched it years ago cold turkey in a art house theater in the 70s called the Crystal in Missoula, Montana. What I mean by cold turkey was that at that time I was unfamiliar with French New Wave, Film Noir, or Eddie Constantine's work as ionic FBI agent Lemmy Caution. 

Ex Pat American singer/actor Constantine was working as a crooner in various Paris cabarets when he was tagged to play an American G-man a FBI agent character in a new film La môme vert de gris aka Poison Ivy in 1953. The character Lemmy Caution, was originally created by English novelist  Peter Cheyney. Constantine was a big hit in Europe. 

1953 album

Constantine sort of looks like a Wayne/Bogart combo. He's got the eyes of John Wayne and the rough cragginess of Bogart. He also looks as if he could be actor Michael Shannon's father. The Lemmy Caution character was an internationally assigned American FBI agent fluent in foreign languages who worked Europe and French North Africa. He likes whiskey, cracking wise, and beautiful women and the earlier films play more like detective stories rather than typical policers. He's usually working undercover using an alias and communicating with his FBI or French Sûreté contacts.  The Caution FBI agent character reminds me of a bit of Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, with a dash of James Bond and Matt Helm.

He kind of pioneered the trail that was later followed by Lex Barker (who had a successful Euro Western career playing Old Shatterhand ) and Clint Eastwood starring in Sergio Leone's Westerns. Only Eastwood was able to surpass their two benchmarks and parlay the Spaghetti Westerns into both international and U.S. stardom.

Which brings me back to the reasons for my initial tepid reaction to Alphaville. 

You need to be steeped in Film Noir and you almost have to get a few Caution flicks under your belt (there are a few with English language releases, also recommend Constantine's Room 43 aka Passport to Shame) you get to know and anticipate the Caution character and Eddie, this will enhance  and inform your enjoyment exponentially of Alphavillle. 

"Sometimes Reality is too complex for oral communication. But legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world." (Alpha 60)

The Story

The Twilight Zone, À la française. Alphaville. 24.17 Oceanic Time. '65 Ford Mustang. Star Ship. At the helm Lemmy Caution. 003. Secret Agent Man. Origin "The Outlands." Arrives in the Alphaville Galaxy after "driving" across 9,000 kilometers of "intersidereal" space. 

Parallel Universe? Parallel Time? A place familiar, yet strange. Nights feel like centuries. At a stoplight Lemmy Zippos a tar bar to life. He checks his M1911A1 Colt Commander automatic. The light changes. He drives off down a boulevard lined with fluorescent bar streetlights. 

M1911A1 Colt Commander 

Fluorescent bar streetlights

Hotel Scribe. Lemmy pulls up to the entrance. Glass box modern. Lemmy's cover is that he is a reporter named  Ivan Johnson on assignment for Figaro-Prada magazine. The desk clerks tell him that coming in from the Outlands he must register with Residents Control even if  he's there for the festival. What festival? It must be, what else "Festivus," lol.  Lemmy tells them tomorrow.

While all the above is going on we are treated visually to wonderful assortment of Noir ionic images that echo every Film Noir you've ever seen and every hardboiled detective story you've ever imagined in your minds eye.

When a bellhop tries to take his valise he pulls it away forcefully. When he steps out of the glass box elevator at his floor he is met by a "seductress third class." 

The Alphaville version of a hooker. Each floor has a seductress. All seductresses' throughout the film wear these sort of trench coats. Under the trench coats they wear little if anything. All the hostesses are tattooed with I.D. numbers. This seductress as all seductresses' seems drugged. She says her name is Beatrice. 

Beatrice brings Lemmy to his room. When Beatrice also tries to take his valise he pulls it away forcefully. In the room she turns down his bed and runs hot water for a bath, she tells Lemmy where the tranquillizers are. 

Beatrice then sheds her trench coat. In just her bra and panties she makes a selection on the rooms juke box, and then tells Lemmy that she wants to take a bath with him. As she walks by to the bathroom, Lemmy, coolly sticks his finger under the elastic waistband of her panties, her forward inertia gives him a peek of her ass.

Lemmy [wise cracks]: Listen doll, I'm a big boy. I can find dames all alone. Now get lost.

A Voice: Be polite to the ladies Mr. Johnson.

Lemmy:  Shit Now what? [walking into the bathroom]

As Lemmy enters the bathroom he is attacked by the hotel pimp who materializes out of nowhere. While Lemmy is beating him over the head with a stool, the hostess obliviously takes her bath. 

Lemmy runs into the bedroom for his Colt Commander, the assassin follows. Lemmy, pulls out the Colt and blasts at him. He runs out of the room. Lemmy questions Beatrice takes her photo and tells her to scram.

As soon as Beatrice leaves, a high pitched sound erupts its similar to the sound your current smoke detectors make, A voice informs Lemmy that he is about to get visitor. It tells him that Miss Natacha von Braun is here to see him.  Lemmy reaches in his jacket, takes out a folder and studies the two photographs inside one is of his kill or capture target Professor von Braun inventor of a death ray, the other of his contact a missing Outland agent X-21 named Henri Dickson. His ultimate mission is to destroy the super computer that runs everything electrical, mechanical and human in Alphaville, the Alpha 60.

As soon as Natacha arrives we hear her lietotif. Lemmy is smitten, and Natacha is touched by something she doesn't understand. She asks him to go with her to the gala reception at the ministry. He tells her he can meet her in a couple of hours, he has to see a friend first.

On their way out of the hotel Natacha asks Lemmy about the Outlands. She tells him its forbidding to even  think about them in Alphaville. Lemmy asks her if she is always ordered to stay with strangers? She tells him yes. Lemmy says that that must be nice. Natacha asks why? Lemmy asks don't you ever have love affairs. Natacha tells him she doesn't know what love is.

Natacha gives Lemmy a ride towards his destination The Red Star Hotel. 

Red Star Hotel

There, in the shoebox lobby he asks for Mr. Dickson. He's told he's out. Lemmy tells them he'll wait. There he is propositioned by another seductress who asks if he has money? 

Henri soon arrives back. Henri doesn't see his key hanging by his mail slot, he asks the clerk for it, the clerk asks for money. Lemmy hands Henri a stack of money. 

Henri hands one bill to the clerk. He asks for a beer and grabs the seductress and whispers in her ear. Then he motions for Lemmy to follow. 

Going up the stairs Lemmy asks what happed to agents Dick Tracy and Guy Leclair. Henri is not sure but thinks they might have been caught. 

Alpha 60 gathers up people who display emotion. They are considered to be defectives acting illogically. They are interrogated and executed.

Lemmy Caution: And what's Alpha 60?

Henri Dickson: A giant computer, like they used to have in big business.

Lemmy Caution:  Nueva York... IBM...

Henri Dickson: Olivetti... General Electric... Tokyorama... Alpha 60 is one hundred and fifty light years more powerful.

Lemmy Caution:  I see. People have become slaves of probabilities.

Henri Dickson: The ideal here, in Alphaville is a technocracy, like that of termites and ants.

Lemmy Caution:  I don't understand.

Henri Dickson: Probably one hundred and fifty light years ago, one hundred and fifty two hundred, there were artist in the ant society. Yes, artists, novelists, musicians, painters. Today, no more.

Henri tells Lemmy that tenderness and emotion will destroy Alpha 60. Armed with this knowledge Lemmy heads out to destroy Alpha 60 with Natacha in tow. 


A novel “The Unspeakable McInch” (1948) part of a series by Jack Vane has been noted as the first SiFi detective novel. Aphaville may just be the first SiFi Detective film, the granddaddy of Blade RunnerOutlandThe Fifth Element, etc., etc. 

Godard references Céline, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Jean Cocteau, Jorge Luis Borges,  Paul Éluard, Alberto Vargas and Playboy Magazine, Terrytoons, along with hard boiled detectives and American culture while at the same time satirizing it. "Nouvelle Vague" rejected traditional conventions previously used in filmmaking opting for experimentation in camera work, editing, and embracing political and social currents while they explored existential questions. During this same period American independent films free of the MPPC yoke were exploiting their new found freedoms.

Godard also throws in some humorous New Wave touches, one chuckle inducing sequence that comes to mind is when Lemmy is grabbed by four of Alpha 60's goons. They shove him into the elevator and the camera remains stationary while Lemmy is pummeled bouncing like a pin ball back and forth and back and forth from each corner of the lift.  

Eddie Constantine is an iconic piece of work. He's got a puss for the ages with a perennial cigarette jutting out of his mouth.  At times there is almost an reptilian quality to some of his dead pan stares. You expect a giant forked tongue to shoot out towards the screen. Too bad he was not better known to American audiences. Akim Tamiroff provides some cinematic memory to Ameriacn Noir and Anna Karina is excellent as the beautiful almost childlike woman who knows not love. Her performance is very compelling. Out now in a new Blu with English language option. Bravo 8/10

23.15 Oceanic Time

Natacha Von Braun: You're looking at me very strangely.

Lemmy Caution: Yes.

Natacha Von Braun: You're waiting for me to say something to you.

Lemmy Caution: Yes.

Natacha Von Braun: I don't know what to say. They're words I don't know. I wasn't taught them. Help me.

Lemmy Caution: Impossible. Help yourself; then you will be saved. If you don't, you're as lost as the dead of Alphaville.

Natacha Von Braun: I... you... love. I love you.