Friday, November 11, 2011

New Wave Noir



I was first introduced to New Wave Noir back when I was on a fevered Hitchcock spree. My wife (then girlfriend) had bought me Hitchcock on Hitchcock, a book that traced Hitch's career from its early theater days in the U.K. to his mastery of filmmaking. It's a terrific read for any fan.

Getting to the point, though, that book lead me to another, the wildly popular Hitchcock/Truffuat interview collection. At the time, this book was pretty hard to track down--we're talking pre-Amazon here, after all. And, to be honest, I can't even recall how I got my hands on it. I tend to think I bought at the Columbia bookstore, that it was part of a course I wasn't enrolled in but I snagged it nonetheless. I could be wrong.

The book not only opened up a wealth of Hitch's history, methods, insights, and character, but it also introduced me to Francois Truffaut, who would eventually amaze me in ways similar to Hitchcock, especially in their controlled sensibilities and willingness to take risks. From there, I was down the rabbit hole of French New Wave, which I enjoy well enough. What really appealed to my own aesthetics and interests, though, was the pocket of New Wave Noir--these dark, existential, wonderfully charismatic films. Over the years, this has become one of my favorite film collections of all time. One of my fondest film-going experiences is seeing Le Doulos--Jean-Pierre Melville's fantastic byzantine gangster film from 1962--at The Music Box Theatre here in Chicago.

With New Wave Noir on my mind--for no particular reason--I decided to list a few of my favorites. They are:

1. Le Samourai

2. Rififi

3. Shoot the Piano Player

4. Le Doulos

5. Band of Outsiders

6. Blast of Silence (no, it isn't French, but it carries the same existential dread and similar aesthetic sensibilities) 

7. Elevator to the Gallows

8. Le Trou

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