For me, noir is a very specific form. It is as pervasive and important an invention as Jazz. The thing that distinguishes it is a main character who is put through the wringer in circumstances that would never occur if there were not us ghosts watching and manipulating reality.
It had a long incubation period in the 30s with much experimentation, then a brief period of pure noir bracketed by Welles’ projects. Along the way are other experiments; this is one that failed. Here we have our average joe caught up in events. But we learn he is a petty crook to begin with, and when things go wrong he plots to get even.
The experiments here are:
— he is not completely an innocent and not afraid to harm others.
— the control of events in the film is neither with him or us (until a final irony on the last few seconds). Nor does it alternate.
— the bad guys here are stereotypically gay.
So mark this one up to a British experiment with this new US-generated noir idea. Experiments like this that fail are important in defining the vocabulary we use, perhaps more than what works.
Posted in 2015
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.