The film noir is unique amongst genres in that it was basically a retrospective label – no-one in Hollywood would have consciously made a film noir in the way that they made musicals, Westerns or horror films. The label came from French critics who, starved of Hollywood product during the Second World War, noticed a distinctive group style and made comparisons with the Poetic Realist films of the late 1930s.
In this season we present three French noirs and their Hollywood remakes.
Le jour se lève / Daybreak
Marcel Carné | France | 1939 | 93 minutes
After committing a murder, a man locks himself in his apartment and recollects the events the led him to the killing.
The Long Night
Anatole Litvak | USA | 1947 | 101 minutes
Police surround the apartment of apparent murderer Joe Adams, who refuses to surrender although escape appears impossible. During the siege, Joe reflects on the circumstances that led him to this situation.
Le Dernier Tournante
Pierre Chenal | France | 1939 | 90 minutes
The first adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Tay Garnett | USA | 1946 | 113 minutes
A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband… but even once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.
The third adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice, following Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione in 1942.
Robert Siodmak | France | 1939 | 106 minutes
This was Siodmak’s last European film before he went to the USA, having fled Nazi Germany. It was also one of his best and most atmospheric works – the story of a serial killer who places newspaper advertisements for a companion then murders the women who reply (hence the title Lured, given to Douglas Sirk’s 1946 remake). The Paris police get a dance hostess to act as a decoy when her friend becomes a victim.
Lured / Personal Column
Douglas Sirk | USA | 1947 | 102 minutes
A serial killer in London is murdering young women whom he meets through the personal columns of newspapers; he announces each of his murders to the police by sending them a cryptic poem. After a dancer disappears, the police enlist an American friend of hers, Sandra Carpenter, to answer advertisements in the personal columns and so lure the killer.