Saturday, March 10, 2012

GOING-OUT-OF-BLOGGING SALE! (50% OFF EUROPEAN ITEMS)

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The end is NEAR HERE.
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“One constant in life ... is that there is always gonna be this thing called change.”
~ Mike Ditka
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As one saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”, and the same applies to mediocre things like this blog. Yes, m’dear readers, here at ‘Stephen T. McCarthy STUFFS’ the time has come to shit ship my stuffs. It was a good run that began in May of 2008, but it’s time I said goodbye and moved on: 


In fact, I really should have closed up shop here awhile back, but like the boxer who doesn’t know when it’s time to hang up the gloves, I stayed in the ring a little too long.

Truthfully, blogging ceased to be enjoyable for me quite some time ago, and when “the thrill is gone” and the payoff is inadequate, well, the gig is up. And you know the gig? ...It’s up!

The last blog bit that I really got a major kick out of putting together was the 6-part ‘My Homemegalopolis’ series and, for crying-out-loud, that was last August!

Due primarily to the bloglationship I had with my “virtual buddy” A-DogG at Amazon.scumbags, I began blogging here with certain expectations that, unfortunately, were never met. In an effort to “keep it short” (for once), I won’t elaborate. Let’s just say that my overall experience here at Blogspot was a bit disappointing.

But then, after a couple years, I suddenly and unexpectedly found that fellow blogger Anniee McPhee and I were developing the sort of quality bloglationship in our comment sections that I’d once enjoyed with 
A-DogG. I was becoming invigorated, enthused about blogging again! And then just as suddenly and unexpectedly, Anniee passed away in July of 2011, and that took all of the new wind out of my sails. I probably should have retired from blogging at that point.

However, none of this means I regret having blogged here. Not at all. In my years at Blogspot I have met some nice ‘n’ cool peoples (you know who you are), and I have had some fun, some good times!

Furthermore, I feel a sense of satisfaction because I believe I have produced some worthwhile blog bits here at ‘STUFFS’. Perhaps I’m fooling myself, and Lord knows that’s possible because... Uhp! I’m an idiot!, but I believe I have posted here some rather unique blog bits - stuffs you’re not likely to find on many (if any) other sites.

Examples: I’m particularly pleased with my in-depth examinations into reincarnation and its relationship to Jesus and The Holy Bible; and I don’t think readers would be too apt to find anything like ‘#1 Rule Of Selfhood’ or ‘Goldenshadow: The Stab, The Pang, The Inconsolable Longing’ on many other blogs.

I intend to leave ‘Stuffs’ up and I hope it will remain viewable for a long time to come. And while I believe a good amount of what I’ve posted here is worth reading (or I wouldn’t have posted it), I suppose the best place for any newbie to begin would be with the “Best O’ Stuffs” category in the column at the right.

In “Best O’ Stuffs” I included links to a variety of blog bits. A few of them appeared to be reader favorites (even if they weren’t necessarily favorites of mine) such as ‘I Got Them Bad Luck With Womens Blues’; ‘M*A*S*H - S*T*U*F*F*S’; ‘The Bernard Pivot Blogfest’; and ‘The Chihuahua Cutthroat’.

But being a true maverick, I mostly included links to blog bits that I preferred, regardless of whether or not my handful of readers liked them – such as: ‘Blind Faith Vs. Educated Faith’; ‘The Makers Of "Mother Croaker’s Hemorrhoid Ointment" Present...’; and the infamous ‘Pain Management: Pills, Pillows, And Petty’.

Oddly though, two of my very favorite bits on this blog never received even one comment. ‘Favorite Jokes 'N' Quotes 'N' Stuffs (Parts 1 & 2)’ are just randomly posted quotes from incredibly diverse sources: “Aardvark, Flying” to “Zappa, Frank”, and everything imaginable in between.

It took me three years to compile those quotation collections and I love the variety of them. Imagine finding a Jack Nicholson quote followed by a quote from Patrick Henry, Yukon Cornelius followed by Gary Coleman, John Cougar Mellencamp followed by Calvin Coolidge, a Quaker slogan followed by a Tiny Tim quote, and a 1943 Communist Party Directive followed by the words of Jane Russell.

I believe many of the greatest, most revealing, interesting, humorous, and quotable things ever said or written can be found in those two blog bits and I couldn’t possibly get through a single day without repeating at least one or two of the remarks you’ll find there. If I were forced to delete my entire blog save for two blog bits, I think ‘Favorite Jokes 'N' Quotes 'N' Stuffs (Part 1 & 2)’ is what I would keep.

Well, friends, this blog bit brings ‘STUFFS’ to a conclusion, but I intend to regularly monitor submitted comments indefinitely and will continue to post and respond to all of them that do not transgress “Ye Olde Comment Policy”.

My political blog ‘FERRET-FACED FASCIST FRIENDS’ will remain active for a little longer, as I have more installments in mind that I hope to compose and post, after which that blog will also be going “Buh-bye”.

To all who read and commented on ‘Stuffs’... or read it but didn’t comment on it... or commented on it but didn’t read it... or neither read or commented on it... I thank you; my brother Nappy thanks you; 
Yogi Yoey O’Dogherty thanks you; Mister Flavin, Paco Mendoza, Father Xavier Rojas, and Claude Stroup at The Golden Dream Hotel thank you.

In show business they say, “Leave ‘em wanting more.” Well, it’s way too late for that!

But another one of the old show business maxims is: “Leave ‘em with a song”.

Now THAT I can do! In fact, I’m such a generous fellow that I’m going to leave you with two songs. (Truth is, I couldn’t decide between ‘em, so you gets ‘em both.) The first song is great and soulful, and the second one is good and heartfelt.

Appropriately enough, here’s something from The Band’s “Last Waltz” :


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjCw3-YTffo 
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I decided to bring this blog full circle and end it with the same sentence it begins with: “...there’s a sadness in the heart of things”.
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The Heartache - Warren Zevon
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Will I ever reactivate these blogs? Well, knowing how difficult it is for me to keep my mouth shut and my fingers still, the smart money is probably on “Yes”. But the way I feel right now, it’s highly doubtful.
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Bless And Be Blessed!
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"See ya." . . . 
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

“ELEVEN, ONE LOUDER” (Or, “ELEVEN QUESTIONS AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR”)

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“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
~ Michael Corleone

My friend Julie Fedderson of the blog Gypsy In My Soul’ has challenged me in her blog bit titled 'Eleven, One Louder'

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["ELEVEN, . . .]

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[. . . ONE LOUDER!"]
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Gypsy Julie has posed 11 questions to “11 questionable bloggers”, and one of those named is . . .

“Stephen T. McCarthy at Stuffs (just 'cause I'd love to hear the answers and we share mad love for Spinal Tap)”

I don’t ordinarily participate in the “Awards And Tagging” games here at Blogspot, but when Julie (unquestionably one of the most entertaining bloggers I “Follow”) asks me to, and even makes reference to me in the same sentence with ‘Spinal Tap’, that’s an offer I can’t refuse. So, here goes . . .

1: Paper or plastic?

Normally, neither. Whenever it seems feasible, I prefer to shoplift what I want. But when paying for an item becomes absolutely necessary, I usually hand over paper Federal Reserve Notes rather than my plastic credit card.

2: What cartoon do you still secretly enjoy watching?

It’s a little known cartoon called “Super-Stephen”. By day, Stephen T. McCarthy poses as mild-mannered blogger Filbert J. McDouwe.
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But at night, he peels off his jacket to reveal his spandex superhero costume and is instantly transformed into 'Super-Stephen', defender of old hippies and helpless French people!

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Uhm . . . yer not buyin’ it, are ya? 

Well . . . "would you believe" . . . 'Deputy Dawg' and 'Foghorn Leghorn'?

Actually, the question seems to imply that I probably ought to feel mildly ashamed about watching cartoons. The truth is, however, that most cartoons (at least of the “Old-School” variety) are more realistic than are most movies being made in Hollywood these days. So I feel no shame at all about my cartoon-watching.

'Deputy Dawg' and 'Foghorn Leghorn' were legitimate answers, but the best answer is: ‘ROCKY & BULLWINKLE’. I own on DVD all five seasons – every single episode – of ‘ROCKY & BULLWINKLE’ :
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3: If you could pick up an instrument and immediately know how to play, what instrument would you choose?

Well, it wouldn’t be so easy to “pick up” the instrument that I would choose: A Hammond B-3 Organ.

4: What is the song that most defines your personality?

Oh, now THAT’S easy – a piece of pie (‘cause I like pie better’n cake).

In late 1978, when I was 18 or 19 years old, I heard my first Waylon Jennings song. It was played on my Rock ‘N’ Roll radio station of choice – KMET, ‘The Mighty Met’ – in Los Angeles. I immediately recognized the song as a personal anthem and within days I bought my first of plenty o' Waylon albums.

I have changed a great deal over the decades since then, but I still can’t think of any other song that better defines my personality. My personal anthem remains . . .
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I've always been crazy and the trouble that it's put me through
I've been busted for things that I did, and I didn't do
I can't say I’m proud of all of the things that I’ve done
But I can say I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone

I've always been different with one foot over the line
Winding up somewhere one step ahead or behind
It ain't been so easy but I guess I shouldn't complain
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane

Beautiful lady, are you sure that you understand
The chances you’re taking loving a free-living man
Are you really sure you really want what you see?
Be careful of something that's just what you want it to be

I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane
Nobody knows if it's something to bless or to blame
So far I ain't found a rhyme or a reason to change
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane

5: What’s your anger style?  (i.e. simmer and steam, etc.)
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I’m a very easygoing kind of guy, and a person would pretty much need to deliberately set out to piss me off to piss me off. So, it goes a bit like this:

Overlook, forgive, overlook, forgive, overlook, forgive, (my lips get tight and then...) BIG BANG!

6: What do you think will be the downfall of modern society?

You mean it hasn’t happened yet?

Certainly ‘Apathy’ and ‘Self-Centeredness’ have played critical roles and will continue to do so but, really, the best answer is ‘IGNORANCE’ :
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My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
~ Hosea 4:6
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“Therefore My people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge.”
~ Isaiah 5:13

I’ll be alright, however, as long as beer and wine remain available.

7: What is the best character name you’ve ever come across?

Oh, gosh, there are so many I like – all of them goofy and/or humorous. W.C. Fields was known for using crazy pseudonyms and character names (e.g., Larson E. Whipsnade in ‘You Can't Cheat an Honest Man’, and Egbert Sousé in ‘The Bank Dick’).

And I like giving loony nicknames to some of my friends (e.g., Flying Aardvark, Boidman, Mr. Sheboyganboy Six, Nitro Wilbury Babskiddo, 
et al.).

But a couple of real big favorites of mine come from episodes of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ (TAGS).

In one hilarious episode titled ‘Convicts-At-Large’, actress Reta Shaw plays the leader of a group of female inmates who have escaped from a women’s prison. Her character’s name is Maude Tyler, and in the show a dispatcher informs the viewers through a police radio that she stands 5’6”, weighs 175 pounds, and her various aliases include: Big Maude Tyler, Clarisse Tyler, Maude Clarisse Tyler, Annabelle Tyler, and 
Ralph Henderson. (If you don't think that's funny, you better not go to college!) 

In another great TAGS episode titled ‘Barney’s First Car’, little old actress Ellen Corby (best known as Grandma Walton) plays the leader of a gang of car thieves. Her name is Myrtle “Hubcaps” Lesh. That’s classic stuffs!

If you’re looking for a “real” character name (as in a book of fiction), I think Uriah Heep from the Charles Dickens book ‘David Copperfield’ is hard to beat.

8: What is your most bizarre beauty ritual?

Being a dudeguy, I don’t really have any “beauty” rituals. But I do believe in keeping my nose clean. Which explains the 15,562 cotton swabs I have stored in my bathroom.

9: What is your favorite scent?

I love the smell of Grey Poupon in the morning.

10: Could your Significant Other identify you by just one body part, and if so, which one?

Well, sadly, there hasn’t been a “significant other” in a long time. Unless, of course, we’re counting Ariel Airhead, the inflatable girlfriend whom I occasionally go to bed with, but even she won’t let me touch her! 

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I do have a distinctive birthmark on my left forearm, by which I could be easily indentified. However, I’m pretty sure this question is seeking a more “salacious” answer, and not wanting to disappoint anyone, I will disclose this: 

When I was perhaps 19 years old, I developed a couple of cysts, one in my neck and one where I sit. While the former cyst was removed in an out-patient procedure, the latter one required a stay in a hospital of two or three days.

As a result of that old surgery, I have a small piece of flesh missing from my seat, as if a junkyard dog caught me stealing hubcaps one night with Myrtle Lesh in a wrecking yard and the dog managed to get himself a bite of my arse while I was scrambling back over the fence.

11: What moment in your life would have won the $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos?

Honestly, I don’t think I myself experienced a moment that could have won the $10,000. Maybe the best I can come up with off the top of my head was the time I was about 13 years old and on a family vacation.

I was suffering from a cold, and so I felt congested, discombobulated, and my mental faculties were even more dull than usual. We had stopped at a restaurant for dinner – it may have been called The Sportsman’s or something like that, and located in Bishop, California, or nearby.

After ordering something from the menu, the waitress asked me, “Do you want Supersalad?”
Well, I’d always been good about eating my vegetables and I’d never yet had a salad I didn’t like, so I figured I’d probably enjoy Supersalad – whatever it was. Therefore I answered, “Yeah, alright.”
The waitress asked me again, “Supersalad?”
I figured she hadn’t heard my answer, so I replied, “Yes, please.”
“Would you like Supersalad?” the waitress repeated it yet again.
So now I’m thinking this woman is either deaf or dense, and I said loudly, “Sure, I’ll try it!”

That’s when everyone at the table – my Pa, my Ma, my Brother and Sister – they all erupted and started shouting at me: “DO YOU WANT SOUP OR SALAD?!”

In an instant I realized: Uhp!  I'm an idiot! Talk about embarrassed. (At that point what I really could have used was a double-martini - hold the Ranch dressing.)

But I gotta say, a couple of the funniest stories I could tell didn’t actually involve me personally. For instance, there was the time when my Brother Nappy, probably a 4th grader then, was attending a Halloween carnival at our elementary school. He was dressed as a pirate, and at one point he had an unfortunate mishap: the large purple feather protruding from his pirate hat collided with the moist, pink cotton candy he’d been eating. I’ll spare you the details, but it still cracks me up!

Another incident I can’t even think about without GOL ('Guffawing Out Loud') involved my Cousin Johnny, who was a few years younger than I was. It was I who turned Johnny on to Rock ‘N’ Roll music when I was a teenager; years later, it was Johnny who introduced me to the movie ‘This Is SPINAL TAP’ – so we’re “even Stephen” now.
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Johnny got so into music that he eventually became the lead singer for several Rock bands; he also played some mean harmonica and was always the principal songwriter in the bands he fronted. My Cousin also had A-list Rock star looks. In fact, his music went from being so bad to so goodso fast, that I once feared he had sold his soul to the devil at the Crossroads in exchange for talent, a la the great bluesman Robert Johnson. If there was any justice in this world - if it were always the most talented artists who make it big - Johnny would have been hugely popular, a major Rock star.

But when he was young and struggling, maybe 19 years old, for awhile Johnny had a job where he went from high-rent office to high-rent office along famous Sunset Boulevard, selling late morning snacks to overpaid corporate office workers.

One morning, while pulling his carts and ice chests up over a curb on that legendary street, some of them toppled over and one or two bagels managed to break free. Sunset Boulevard is not entirely level, it slopes gently downward from the west toward the east, and when those bagels got loose, they started rolling like tires down the street. My Cousin Johnny gave chase.

So now imagine that you and a friend or two are tourists from Bumphuk, Iowa, and you’ve traveled all the way to Hollywood, California; you’re walking along the famous Sunset strip, and you’re there to see all the glittering tinsel of Tinsel Town and hoping to catch sight of a celebrity or two . . .

But what you see instead is this lanky, long-haired teenager, running down Sunset Boulevard, chasing a couple of rolling bagels, and the guy is shouting, “I HATE this job!  I HATE this job!”

Oh, Lord knows, I couldn’t even type that without GOL! Try to tell me that wouldn't be a $10,000 winner on 'America's Funniest Home Videos'. 

[Well, there are your answers, Julie. I hope I didn’t disappoint.]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE BEST O’ BUZZES?

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Yesterday (actually, make that “today” – I’m a bit confused) I worked my first “graveyard” shift in many years. This graveyard work detail I’ve been assigned to supposedly goes through March. Unlike Rocky Balboa, I’m not even hoping to “go the distance”. It’s a forgone conclusion that I will get knocked out by this graveyard job; I’m merely trying to go as many rounds as possible before I’m KO’ed. (The bell for Round Two rings in two hours.)
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So, I got home and crawled into bed about 8:30 AM this morning, right after taking a 10 mg. Melatonin tablet and one of Brother Napoleon’s WAL-SOM nighttime sleep aid tablets (25 mg. of Doxylamine Succinate). I know from past experience that just one of those WAL-SOM tablets will hit me really hard and remain in my system for a very long time – I’m extremely susceptible to their effects for whatever biological reason.
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At 4:15 PM today, I was awakened by the barking of my neighbor’s dog, which must have smelled Brother Napoleon getting close to home after a long day at work. So I sez to myself, ‘Nappy will be coming through the front door any minute, making a lot of racket, so I might as well get outta bed now’, sez I.

I've brushed my teeth, and I’m drinking a bottle of ENERGY 2000, trying to wake up and shake off the dopey, cobweb effect of the WAL-SOM that’s still in my system, when the Napster comes in, and by 4:35 PM he’s eating a sandwich and drinking an Odell’s ‘Red Ale’.


Well, I’m feeling pretty hungry myself, so I microwave one of those Ramona’s chile relleno burritos I like so much. And as Nappy and I are eating and talking, that ‘Red Ale’ he is drinking is looking better’n better. To begin with, Odell's ‘Red Ale’ is one of the finest beers I’ve ever had, besides that, I am feeling thirsty and thinking about how good that would go down along with this chile relleno burrito.


So I break down, pop a ‘Red Ale’ open, and pour one down the chute. (Yes, one and one ONLY – I am perfectly capable of drinking just a single beer! Whaddaya think, I’m a lush or something? Whatever gave ya that idea?) I was right: Ramona’s chile relleno burrito and Odell's ‘Red Ale’ – “two great tastes that taste great together!”

So now I’ve got WAL-SOM in my body trying to put me back to sleep, and Energy 2000 in my body trying to rev me up, and 12 ounces of Odell’s ‘Red Ale’ in my bloodstream just mingling with the others and sayin’, “How-d’ya-do?”.
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With all those chemicals in the mix, simultaneously pulling and pushing me, slowing me down and speeding me up, it was like trying to shift into first gear and into reverse at the very same time. One might suppose that would leave a body in “neutral”, but what I found out is that SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE, and instead of me going forward or backward or idling in a parking space, it drove me STRAIGHT UP!

Hokey-Smoke, what a high! That was some seriously good stuffs! 
(I wonder what the street value of this chemical-combo would be.)

Within minutes of blasting off, I went to take a shower so Nappy and I could watch a DVD movie together before he went to bed. Getting into the shower stall, I stumbled and nearly tumbled. Then I almost washed my face with my Mane 'N Tail shampoo instead of my Walgreen’s ‘Gentle Skin Cleanser’.

I kid you not, peoples, I can state unequivocally that I’ve not felt THAT GOOD since 1974, when I had an erotic dream one night about Susan Dey.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

FILM NOIR: MY TOP TEN + TWO (Or, FILM NOIR: MY TOP TWELVE)

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This List Is A Construction Zone – The Work Is Ongoing;
Please Pardon Our Dust And Wear Your Hard Hat:
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[If Film Noir were a painting it would be Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’.]
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The very first movie I ever saw that one could categorize as Film Noir was likely ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’. I saw it when I was quite young, probably on television’s The Late Show, or something like that. I remember it scared me pretty good.
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Some years later I made it a point to see Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers On A Train’ because my Ma told me the first time she saw it that movie scared the bejabbers out of her. I believed her, too, because I’d never known her to be in possession of any bejabbers.
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Over the years, I’ve viewed a lot of movies that fit into the Film Noir category, but I’m hardly the expert my dear friend The Flyin’ Aardvark is – she’s become my Film Noir confidante and advisor.
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What, exactly, IS Film Noir? Well, that’s a question easier asked than answered. I don’t think there’s “exactly” a cut and dried response to that, as various opinions are abundant.
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In his commentary for ‘Where The Sidewalk Ends’, Film Noir historian Eddie Muller joked: “With the Venetian blind shadows it’s now OFFICIALLY a film noir. I should do a study on that at some point and see if a movie can actually be Film Noir if it DOESN’T have Venetian blind shadows...”
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Here’s a definition from the 20th Cetury Fox marketing department:
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“Film noir, a classic film style of the ‘40s and ‘50s, is noted for its dark themes, stark camera angles and high-contrast lighting. Comprising many of Hollywood’s finest films, film noir tells realistic stories about crime, mystery, femmes fatales and moral conflict.”
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That’s a pretty good, succinct definition. Except, of course, many of the elements of Film Noir extended well beyond the ‘50s and into the ‘60s, ‘70s, and beyond. But truly the “classic” era of Film Noir is the ‘40s and ‘50s, with its black and white cinematography.
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If you’d like a more detailed description of this type of film, you can read ‘AMC: Film Noir – Part 1’ by clicking HERE. And there’s also some relevant information to be found at Movie Metropolis right HERE.
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In 2004, I wrote a review for a Jazz album, ‘Signature’, by alto saxophonist Richie Cole. I titled the review ‘It Was A Rainy Night In Nineteen Eighty-Eight...’ and I took a Film Noir approach when describing my favorite instrumental on the album. When my good pal (and Film Noir expert) Flyin’ Aardvark read the review years later, she had this to say:
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Wow. I love, Love, LOVE this review. I think you’ve covered all of the key elements of film noir in a couple of paragraphs (rain-swept streets, trench coats and fedoras, dicey transactions in dodgy establishments, tardy and temperamental dames). Such a clever way of reviewing a jazz album.
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[I’ll add a link to that review at the bottom of this blog bit.]
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In a more recent discussion with the Flyin’ Aard about Film Noir, I expressed what it is I find most appealing about the genre (even if some people argue that Noir isn’t really “a genre”)...
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...that wonderful Noir look I like so much, with lots of weird shadows and interesting visual compositions. ... The thing that draws me to the genre more than anything else is the “look” or “atmosphere” of it, and then that hard-boiled style of the detectives with the snappy, cynical dialogue and the now-“cliché” slang like “rod”, “gat”, “dame”, “blow”, etc. But most of all, it’s the dark, shadowy, steamy atmosphere that I like the most.
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My personal definition of Film Noir goes like this: An urban crime story which includes the traditional Noir “high-contrast lighting” (mentioned above). If the movie also features a tough but semi-seedy and unsentimental, fedora-wearing, bourbon-drinking detective, a hot femme fatale and a voice-over narration, all the better!
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Although movies like ‘Treasure Of The Sierra Madre’ and ‘Night Of The Hunter’ contain many of the elements commonly associated with Film Noir, I myself do not count them in the category because their settings are more rural than urban.
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Casablanca’ is a truly great movie and the debate has long raged about whether or not it is an example of Noir. I think it ought to be included in the Noir Canon because it utilizes almost every ingredient associated with the “genre”. And for every element that the naysayers use to argue against ‘Casablanca’ being considered an example of Film Noir, I could point to some other movie that is universally regarded as Noir but which also includes or fails to include whatever element the naysayer is picking on.
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Nevertheless, this is one of the very rare times when I will allow the general “consensus” to influence me. Y’all know I’m a true maverick almost all of the time, but I’ll “give an inch” just this once and disqualify ‘Casablanca’ from my list because I don’t want to have to compose some long, time-consuming explanation for why I have included it, and also because when it comes to this subject, I’m willing to defer to the Flyin’ Aardvark, and she wrote:
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I think [Casablanca] has noir elements … but I have never really thought of it that way.  … at its heart, I think of it as more of a romance picture –
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[See, now in response to that I might write: “But what about ‘Criss Cross’, universally regarded as classic Noir and yet it isn’t any less a “romance” movie than is ‘Casablanca’?” But I won’t write that because I’m just not going to argue for Bogie’s White House.]
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Conversely, plenty of people include ‘Citizen Kane’ on lists of early and classic Film Noir. Although one can make an argument for it when it comes to much of the lighting and camera work, and it is a “detective”/mystery story in a sense, the absence of a crime precludes it from qualifying for my own list.
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Now then, below you will find my personal (but still under construction and open to revisions) list of Top Ten Film Noir Favorites + 2 (and minus Casablanca which would have come in easily at #2 on this list if I had included it) but first . . .
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Here is an entertaining scene of a Film Noir spoof featured in one of the most memorable episodes of the TV show ‘Moonlighting’ with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. As should be clear from the title, the classic they are having fun with is ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’. It’s a comedic look at what Film Noir is all about; this’ll ‘splain the entire style in five minutes time:
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2x04 The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice



MY TOP TEN TODAY
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#10: ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)
Stars: Humphrey Bogart; Peter Lorre; Mary Astor; Sydney Greenstreet
Director: Walter Huston
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When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it!”
~ Sam Spade
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A very complex detective story about a collection of connivers attempting to get possession of a jewel-encrusted black falcon statuette – “the stuffS that dreams are made of.”

#9: ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944)
Stars: Fred MacMurray; Barbara Stanwyck; Edward G. Robinson
Director: Billy Wilder
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“Who'd you think I was anyway? The guy that walks into a good looking dame's front parlour and says, ‘Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands... you got one that's been around too long? One you'd like to turn into a little hard cash?’”
~ Walter Neff
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An insurance salesman helps a woman murder her husband. He does it for the money and he does it for the woman. He doesn't get the money, and he doesn't get the woman.
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#8: Cape Fear (1962)
Stars: Robert Mitchum; Gregory Peck
Director: J. Lee Thompson
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“I got somethin' planned for your wife and kid that they ain't nevah gonna forget. They ain't nevah gonna forget it... and neither will you, Counselor! Nevah!”
~ Max Cady
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By targeting his family, an ex-convict seeks revenge on the lawyer who prosecuted him. This, the original, is 100 times better than the atrocious, comic book “horror” movie remake starring Robert DeNiro in 1991.
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Unlike DeNiro’s caricature performance, Mitchum plays the ex-con with such a subtle, understated but unmistakably brewing anger that the menace is truly palpable, making Max Cady one of the greatest film villains evah!
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#7: ‘The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers’ (1946)
Stars: Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas, Barbara Stanwyck
Director: Lewis Milestone
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Walter O'Neil: “I wasn't going to shoot.” 
Sam Masterson: “I wasn't going to wait and see.”
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Young heiress Martha Ivers is prevented from running away with her friend Sam Masterson, and subsequently becomes involved in fatal events. Many years later, Sam’s car breaks down in his boyhood town and his reappearance draws him into a conspiratorial web of scheming.
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I don’t usually go for the blondes, but there was something appealing about the sultry “bad girl” 'Toni' Marachek that got my attention ...and kept it. Van Heflin – hate his wavy hair, but he played a very charismatic tough guy.
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#6: Key Largo (1948)
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson
Director: John Huston
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“Nobody messes with Johnny Rocco, see?”
~ Johnny Rocco
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A group of dissimilar individuals are held captive in a Florida Keys hotel by a gang of hoodlums waiting out a storm so they can make good their escape from the law.
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KEY LARGO
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#5: ‘Murder, My Sweet’ (1944)
Stars: Dick Powell; Claire Trevor
Director: Edward Dmytryk
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“I tried to picture him in love with somebody... but it didn't work.”
~ Philip Marlowe
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Another complex detective story, this one about a stolen necklace and... MURDER!
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Claire Trevor – one of my all-time favorite actresses – plays the femme fatale, and Powell turns in a performance that the story’s author, Raymond Chandler, said was his favorite screen version of Detective Marlowe.
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For a tough private investigator, Marlowe sure takes one beating after another in this movie... but he keeps on ticking.

#4: ‘Touch Of Evil’ (1958)
Stars: Charleton Heston. Janet Leigh, Orson Welles
Director: Orson Welles
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“An old lady on Main Street last night picked up a shoe. The shoe had a foot in it. We're gonna make you pay for that mess.”
~ Police Captain Hank Quinlan
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A Mexican narcotics officer attempts to solve a murder while simultaneously having to combat a corrupt American police captain and his Good Ol’ Boy network.
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Imagine a Film Noir story constructed by the same man who directed and starred in ‘Citizen Kane’. Well, that’s what you have here, and so naturally it is “Grand” in every sense of the word!
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As seems to be the case in much Film Noir, there is a convoluted storyline, a couple of plot holes, and some weird stuffs goin’ on (like Marlene Dietrich in the role of a Mexican madam, and some White dudes trying to play young Mexican thugs, etc.)
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Charleton Heston may not be entirely believable as a Mexican official, but damned if he doesn’t look almost exactly like Vicente Fox! However, there are some wildly interesting performances here, one by Welles, but also by a couple of minor players.
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The real star of the movie in my book, though, is the atmosphere and cinematography, beginning with one outrageously creative, fantastic, single-shot street scene of nearly three and a half minutes duration – the greatest cinematic opening I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch!
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Many viewers probably wouldn’t even notice what an amazing shot ‘Touch Of Evil’ starts with, and most have no idea what sort of work, plotting, timing, camera-crane/dollying action went into creating that editless opening (right up until the moment the car explodes), but I sat there astonished by it. I even had to go back and replay that opening scene again after the movie was over to relive the genius of it!
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No question, Orson Welles was an over-the-top brilliant director, and how he was able to conceive using Venice Beach, California, in the role of a small, decrepit town on the American/Mexican border, and make it look so gosh-darned “Film Noir-y” is testament to his rare cinematic vision. Venice Beach? - A Mexican border town? On the surface it sounds preposterous but . . . only the mind of Orson Welles:
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If for no other reason, ‘Touch Of Evil’ should be seen just for the astounding sets, classic Noir atmosphere, and ingenious cinematography. This is the stuffs I watch Noir for!
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#3: ‘Night And The City’ (1950)
Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney
Director: Jules Dassin
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"No, dear boy, I am not giving you two-hundred quid. I am giving you the sharp edge of the knife."
~ Philip Nosseross
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No Film Noir looks better than 'Night And The City'. This one takes place in London, where indebted, on-the-ropes hustler Harry Fabian turns family members against each other as he attempts to gain control of the professional wrestling racket and finally make his mark in the world.
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There are several characters with various agendas that collide in this fabulously moody, atmospheric movie. This is exactly what I want my Film Noir to look like! The cinematography is artful and beautiful and but for a too-long and somewhat too hysterical wrestling scene, ‘Night And The City’ would probably have scored the #2 spot on my list. It could easily have been titled ‘Loser On The Run’.
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#2: ‘Where The Sidewalk Ends’ (1950)
Stars: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney
Director: Otto Preminger
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“I could use a drink.”
~ Detective Mark Dixon
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Sgt. Mark Dixon is trying to be something his dad wasn’t: a guy on the right side of the law. But his zeal and his ability to rough up the bad guys gets him in hot water with his boss at the police precinct.
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After he’s warned to cease his violent crusade against the criminal element, fate pulls Dixon in further. He becomes responsible for an accidental death which he covers up. Afterwards, the father of the woman Dixon has fallen in love with is accused of the murder and all the evidence points to the old man’s guilt. What’s a cop to do?
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This one might well be the template for all the ‘semi-bad good cop’ / “I’m taking you off the case, McCallahan”-type police movies that came later.
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Dana Andrews makes an ideal hard-boiled, tough-as-nails Film Noir detective; Andrews looks the way I want my detectives to look, and the movie puts New York in the perfect Noir light! The sets, the atmosphere, the cast... picture perfect!
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‘Where The Sidewalk Ends’ is one of three on my list [along with #6 and #8] that my friend the Flyin’ Aardvark recommended to me.
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#1: ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1950)
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson
Director: Billy Wilder
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“Alright, Mister DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up”.
~ Norma Desmond


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William Holden (one of my very favorite actors, along with James Dean and John Wayne) plays down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis who uses the body, money, and mansion of Norma Desmond, a forgotten silent film star who dreams of making a comeback “return” to the silver screen. Gillis becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his lifestyle while Desmond clings more and more desperately to him as she dives deeper and deeper into her delusions.
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Gloria Swanson gives a performance for the ages as Norma Desmond, which Harriet Sansom Harris hilariously channeled decades later in her TV role as Bebe Glazer, Frasier Crane’s conniving agent.
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Look, any movie that begins with the image of a man floating face down in a swimming pool while the voice-over narration of the dead man himself begins explaining to the viewer how he ended up in this condition couldn’t be anything but great!
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‘Sunset Boulevard’ is Hollyweird self-criticism, black comedy, and Noir at its “noirest”. It’s also an absolute classic, a genuine masterpiece that was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry due to its being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


[Joe Gillis: “The poor dope - he always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool.”]
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HONORABLE / DISHONORABLE MENTION
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‘Out Of The Past’ (1947)
Stars: Robert Mitchum; Kirk Douglas
Director: Jacques Tourneur
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Kathie Moffat: “Oh, Jeff, you ought to have killed me for what I did a moment ago.”
Jeff Bailey: “There's time.”
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A private detective is hired by a gangster to investigate the disappearance of his girlfriend. In many ways, this is the quintessential example of Film Noir, with some of the snappiest dialogue you’ll find in a movie of this type.
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Unfortunately, I have rarely seen a movie fall so quickly and so completely apart as this one does: the last 3-5 minutes contains three preposterously illogical plot holes/dumb character actions. It’s almost as if the filmmakers said: “We MUST find a way to make this story end badly!”
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Even so, ‘Out Of The Past’ contains everything anyone would watch a Film Noir for, and the first 92 minutes were so good that I simply had to mention it here despite the utterly ridiculous ending.
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TWO FILM NOIR SPOOFS I DIG
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'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Roger Rabbit, Baby Herman
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“I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.”
~ Jessica Rabbit, cartoon femme fatale extraordinaire
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In ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, real actors and actresses play out their scenes while interacting with animated cartoon characters; it’s a world inhabited by both people and ‘toons.
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The movie is really a takeoff on or a burlesque of Jack Nicholson’s 1974 neo-Noir film ‘Chinatown’. In ‘Roger Rabbit’, Chinatown becomes Toontown, and the mystery pertaining to Los Angeles water rights becomes a mystery concerning the acquisition of land to be used in the construction of L.A.’s first freeway system. If ‘Roger Rabbit’ is not Noir, then neither is ‘Chinatown’.
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I suspect everyone has already seen ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, but shame on anyone who hasn’t. It’s one of my all-time Top 25 Favorite Movies, made all the more enjoyable by a viewer’s knowledge of ‘Chinatown’ which this half-animated 1988 classic “drew” from.
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‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’ (1982)
Stars: Steve Martin, Rachel Ward
Director: Carl Reiner
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In this very clever, imaginative comedy, Martin plays private investigator Rigby Reardon, who is hired by a woman to… whatever… investigate something.
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What makes this so much fun is that a bunch of clips from old Film Noir movies have been edited into the scenes with Steve Martin, making it appear as if he is really interacting with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, et al.
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Here’s an example of one of my very favorite moments:
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Charles Laughton: “We know who you are, Mr. Rigby.” 
Rigby Reardon: “I'm interested. Who am I?”
Charles Laughton: “You could be a guy who collects 10,000 dollars, just to leave this stinking town.”
Rigby Reardon: “I could, could I?”
Charles Laughton: “You know who I could be?”
Rigby Reardon: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame?”

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‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’ is as insane and loony as its title indicates; it’s funny in a very screwball, wacky way. I recommended it to my friend the Flyin’ Aardvark and she didn’t like it at all. ...But I still refuse to believe that about her: 
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As I said at the top, my list isn’t necessarily etched in stone yet. As I view more Film Noir over the years my selections might change slightly. Someday I’d like to see ‘City That Never Sleeps’, in which the city of Chicago narrates the story that takes place on its own turf (gotta see how they pull that off!)
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If any of y’all know of other must-see Film Noir productions that ya think I may not have already watched, please sing out! Yer recommendations will be appreciated.
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[‘I Can Has Cheezburger’ LOL created by ProvDog – that’s this STMcC cat whose Stuffs you’ve been reading!]
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THE FLYIN’ AARDVARK’S FAVORITES
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Here is an alphabetized list of my Pal’s first 11 Film Noir choices:
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‘Black Angel’ – “Dan Duryea, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford and based on a Cornell Woolrich story.”
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‘Double Indemnity’
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‘M’ – “I guess the original would top the list.”
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‘The Maltese Falcon’
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‘Murder, My Sweet’ – “Dick Powell playing Philip Marlowe, along with the great Claire Trevor.”
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‘Night of the Hunter’
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‘Out of the Past’ – “Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas.  Great classic noir.”
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‘Phantom Lady’ – “Gorgeous Ella Raines tries to prove her boss didn't kill his wife by tracking down the elusive woman he spent the evening with. … A wonderfully deranged performance by character actor Elijah Wood, Jr.”
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‘Shadow of a Doubt’ – “Joseph Cotton as a wonderfully evil Blue Beard uncle visiting his adoring sister's family.”
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‘The Strange Love of Martha Ivers’ – “Completely weird, but great performances by Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizbeth Scott and Kirk Douglas.”
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‘Sunset Boulevard’
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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LINKS
Flyin’ Aard’s Review Choice:
“It Was A Rainy Night In Nineteen Eighty-Eight…” 
[‘Signature’, a Jazz album by Richie Cole]


Hats And Gats


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YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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