Noir Alley’s Just Been Closed…For Me, That Is.

Noir Alley 3

Fritz Lang’s 1952 Clash By Night with Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan and Marilyn Monroe was on Turner Classic Movies’ Noir Alley last Saturday, hosted by Film Noir Foundation founder and master of all things noir, Eddie Muller. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching it. Apparently, I won’t be watching This Gun For Hire or Johnny Eager on Noir Alley in upcoming weekends either.

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I noticed that TCM had gone AWOL last week. At first, I assumed it was just a glitch, but a little digging confirmed the worst: Turner Classic Movies/TCM was abruptly deleted from my cable package and moved to some kind of new sports package. (A sports package?!) Want to keep TCM? Fine, so long as I upgrade with a new monthly surcharge.

Channel by channel, once interesting operations have been turned into dreary 24/7 sitcom reruns, Law & Order marathons and tired old action films on endless repeats. Now TCM and its Noir Alley feature have been taken away. Sure, I can still see most anything I want one way or another, though I’m annoyed with what I spend for additional viewing platforms, and with being stuck in front of a desktop computer or squinting at my laptop to watch them. Well, no one should expect to find justice in the cable-verse, or even in ‘Noir Alley’, it being…well, ‘noir’.

Gee, just when I was getting ready to order my NOIRISTA t-shirt…

Noirista

Noir Alley Is Back

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Noir Alley returned to TCM in March, last night showing John Huston’s 1940 classic High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino. Turner Classic Movies’ Saturday night feature was on hiatus in February and sorely missed ‘round here. If behaving, and at home working on a Saturday evening, it’s right around 11:00 PM when even I’ve had enough and need a break, and what a perfect break Noir Alley is.

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A spinoff of TCM’s 2015 ‘Summer Of Darkness’ film noir series, Noir Alley is hosted by novelist and non-fiction author, Noir City Film Noir Festival host and Film Noir Foundation founder and president, Eddie Muller, who provides intriguing and fact-filled introductions to each film. The series shows its share of the classics you’d expect, of course, but also some lesser-known films that aren’t always at the top of everyone’s list. Next week it’ll be Lady In The Lake and later in April there’ll be John Payne and Evelyn Keyes in 99 River Street and Ann Sheridan in Woman On The Run among others.

High Sierra Montage

High Sierra was a perfect wind-down to a productive Saturday for me, Ida Lupino one of my absolute favorite classic Hollywood era actresses, and she couldn’t be better than she was here as taxi dancer Marie Garson, hooking up with gangster Roy Earle played by Humphrey Bogart. And what can you say about Bogart? He’s Bogart, after all, and this film was a breakthrough for the actor, leading to The Maltese Flacon, Casablanca and so many other classic roles. High Sierra, based on William R. Burnett’s novel of the same name and co-written by Burnett and director John Huston, isn’t film noir in the sense of shadowy rooms, dark urban alleys and rain soaked tenement lined streets. It’s mostly set in…well, the High Sierras, after all. But it’s noir embodied nonetheless (even though the term wasn’t in use yet) with it’s overwhelming sense of fatalism, foreshadowing, and both Bogart’s and Lupino’s desperate and unfulfilled quest for freedom. Like so many films of the era, there are some cringe-worthy racial stereotypes inserted for some poorly chosen comic relief, and it gets increasingly difficult to process those bits.

Anecdote: Pard, the cute pup that foreshadows doom for all, but especially for hard-as-nails yet soft-as-velvet taxi dancer Marie Garson and world-weary gangster ‘Mad Dog’ Roy Earl, was actually Humphrey Bogart’s own real-life pet dog, Zero.

TCM’s Noir Alley hosted by dark-renaissance man Eddie Muller…guess where I’ll be next Saturday at 11:00.

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