Tom Recommends: Chinatown

Gabbing Geek Tom Recommends v2Film noir is a style of cinema that hasn’t been done much in recent years.  Generally taking the form of a detective story, noir elements often include morally ambiguous at best protagonists dealing with shifty characters and no one is entirely trustworthy.  My grandfather’s favorite movie was The Maltese Falcon, where Humphrey Bogart plays private detective Sam Spade.  He and his partner get a case involving the requisite beautiful woman.  The partner, a married man, clearly has designs on the client, so he’s given the go ahead to follow her as she asked to make sure everything goes OK.  Spade is fine with this, since he’s carrying on with the partner’s wife.  Well, the partner gets killed on the stakeout and Spade spends the rest of the movie avoiding the partner’s wife.

And Spade is the good guy here.

Bogart, in his trenchcoat and fedora, is the image most people have of a private eye these days, and the noir style largely drifted out of fashion after the Great Depression and World War II, possibly because the idea of a city full of corruption was seen as too passe for audiences at the time.  There are attempts to revive the form, and one of the best with the past few decades was Roman Polanski’s 1974 movie Chinatown.

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