Film NoirThis weekend I watched the classic film noir Double Indemnity with Fred McMurray (Steve Douglas the bad guy?!) and Barbara Stanwyck. Then this afternoon I caught a few minutes of a film review program on CBS (forgot the name; has the word "Hot" in it) in which they were talking about the great films of the '70s. They went on and on about how innovative were the dark films of the early '70s, such as The Godfather and Chinatown. Not once did they mention how indebted all those dark films in the early '70s were to the old film noirs of the 1940s. The comparison was so obvious it made me wonder about the credentials of the reviewers. They acted as if Hollywood had never and could never have seen such dark fair. Previous to Midnight Cowboy everything was Singing in the Rain. Of course, they were young, even younger than me. Maybe Gen. X has amnesia about anything that was filmed in black and white.
The value of film noir is that it exposes the real hell that comes from embracing a nihilistic world view. It is an American vision of Nietzsche's philosophy. All these people who get so entangled in evil of their own making have no faith, no hope and precious little charity. Although, perhaps when Neff tells Keyes that he loves him too at the end of the movie, it is the window that opens to let grace in. Neff's concern for the daughter may also have been such a window that allowed him to see Phyllis for what she was, although his response for that revelation was hardly noble.
Keyes, of course, is the real hero.