Musuraca put the noir into film noir 4


wheredangerlivesLACMA film curator Ian Birnie has some great stuff coming up this month – a retrospective of the films of Italy-born, New York-raised cameraman Nicholas Musuraca, known for his atmospheric noir cinematography at RKO studios in the 1940s.

Says Ian: “Musuraca is the third in my unofficial survey of noir cinematographers; the first was Stanley Cortez, then Burnett Guffey.”

Kudos, Ian!

On opening night, he’s showing OUT OF THE PAST, one of the very best noirs, according to arts•meme film pal Joel Bellman who adds, “…and if you’ve never seen STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR, it’s just amazing. In some quarters, this 1940 film is considered the first true noir.”

May 14 7:30 pm Out of the Past
May 14 9:20 pm Where Danger Lives
May 15 5:00 pm Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows
May 15 7:30 pm Cat People & The Ghost Ship
May 21 7:30 pm Stranger on the Third Floor
May 21 8:45 pm Deadline at Dawn
May 22 7:30 pm Born to be Bad
May 22 9:15 pm The Woman on Pier 13
May 28 7:30 pm The Spiral Staircase
May 28 9:05 pm Bedlam
May 29 7:30 pm Clash by Night
May 29 9:25 PM The Blue Gardenia

See you there! Hope it’s nasty, dark, and wrenching!

4 thoughts on “Musuraca put the noir into film noir

  1. Doug May 13,2010 9:51 am

    Joel is right–the script is hardly this film’s calling card; it’s an interesting idea but drawn out way too clumsily and overtly. But the dream sequence alone is visually worth the price of admission. And personally, I’d much rather have Ian expand our awareness of the field than rehash the same ten movies “everyone knows” over and over again.

  2. Joel Bellman May 12,2010 11:28 am

    Cherchez le scripteur, eh? I’m aware that West has been credited many places for contributing to the script, but he’s uncredited on the film, whose dialogue – truth be told – ain’t much. And I’ve no idea what elements in the plotline West might have suggested. I love the film, but let us admit that the writing’s the least of its charms. And the most? Musuraca’s deliriously beautiful cinematography, closely followed by the gorgeous Margaret Tallichet.

  3. mike schlesinger May 12,2010 10:01 am

    Ian, bubbe! No disrespect to those three esteemed gentlemen, but everyone knows THE noir cinematographer was John Alton.

  4. david kipen May 12,2010 9:58 am

    Best of all, Joel and Debra, do you know who co-wrote STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR, the supposed “first true noir”? Only Nathanael West! Thank heaven it didn’t get an Oscar writing nomination, or Randy Haberkamp at AMPAS might have beaten Ian to it — at the other series in this summer’s embarrassment of noir riches…

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