Friday, April 17, 2015

A Noir Film (or Maybe It Isn't) That Isn't Noir (or Maybe It Is)

Cast: William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva, Douglas Spencer, Charles D. Brown, Paul Guilfoyle, Edwin Max.
RKO. 1949. 59 mins.
For sale HERE.
Follow Me Quietly is a strange duck of a crime film; most of the time it quacks like what most people would expect from a noir film, and it certainly has feathers like one—deep, dark shadows, pouring rain, at least two desperate characters, and so on. But noir purists may be disappointed. As the reviewer at the Where Danger Lives weblog puts it:
. . . unlike Westerns, for example, which have both period and geography in common; or gangster films, which share specific character and narrative structures, noir films are considerably more ambiguous. There are few common threads that unite them (ambiguity being one of them), and there are certainly no hard and fast rules — as a matter of fact much of the writing about film noir in general endeavors, yet falls short, to establish a working definition. Scholars and historians even seem unable to agree as to whether film noir is a genre, movement, cycle, or style.
Nevertheless, for that reviewer, while Follow Me Quietly
. . . in some ways defies that image of a neat little package, it remains very much a film noir — and in some ways an explicit example.
The serial killer trope was fairly new in 1949 and wasn't overexposed to the extent it now has been. This film exploits that trope to the full, as an obsessed police detective pursues a murderer who could just as well be called The Ghost, rather than The Judge, his own name for himself. What's so maddening for the detective is that this killer manages to stay just one step ahead of his investigation.

There's a memorable scene that takes place on a dark, rainy night when what we've been led to believe is a mannequin suddenly stands up and ambles away—a wonderful moment that fulfills the potential of cinema to heighten experience.
So, is Follow Me Quietly an example of film noir? Watch it and decide for yourself.

Category: Crime films that might or might not be noir

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