“Film noir hasn't really scored the kind of critical praise or cult status that, say, Hammer Horror films have acquired, and I think that's a shame,” says Uncle Acid, frontman of esoteric, groove-heavy cult rockers Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. “There's so many brilliant, classic films in the genre, they're beautifully shot, and beautifully lit, and it's all about shadowy figures and sleazy bars and ill-fated love affairs and dark deeds. There's always a sense of doom hanging over the films. I really encourage people to check out these suggestions....”
Uncle Acid Presents...The Best Of Film Noir
Take a trip into celluloid's most treacherous shadows with Cambridge's high priest of psychedelic doom.
Where The Sidewalk Ends
(Otto Preminger, 1950)
“This was actually the first film noir that I ever saw, about eight or nine years ago. I think I was ill at the time, and I was at home with the curtains closed, flicking through the TV channels, and this film came on. And I was absolutely blown away by it. The lead actor, Dana Andrews, plays this overly-aggressive cop who accidentally kills someone and then tries to cover it up: he's actually a decent guy – even though he's trying to cover up a murder! - and you kinda feel for him as the story unfolds. The film takes place on the rough side of New York, with tenement flats and dark streets, and the plot has so many twists and turns, and it just totally captivated me and made me want to watch more of the films in this genre. It was a real awakening for me."
The Maltese Falcon
(John Huston, 1941)
“This is one of the classic films of all time. I put off watching it for a while because for some reason I had some downer on Humphrey Bogart – I assumed that he'd be some cheesy actor – but as soon as he comes on the screen he just blew me away with his delivery and his mannerisms and the way he totally dominates the whole screen. I became a bit obsessed with his acting after that. It's a great story about a detective who gets caught up in a murder investigation and becomes a suspect himself while he's looking for this stolen statue of a falcon. It's got great dialoguw, which we actually sampled on our Blood Lust album. At the start there's a line which says 'When you're slapped you'll take it and like it' and that comes from here.”
(Otto Preminger, 1945)
“Like Where The Sidewalk Ends, this was directed by Otto Preminger, who's probably the best noir director, and stars Dana Andrews, who's probably the best leading man for noir films: he was a lesser star than Humphrey Bogart, but he always played his roles so well. In this he plays a drifter who's looking to make some money and eventually he gets involved in investigating a murder. It's wonderfully directed and shot, and the leading actress Linda Darnell is this beautiful femme fatale, and it's just another great film.”
In A Lonely Place
(Nicholas Ray, 1950)
“This, for me, is Bogart's best film, better even than Casablanca. He plays a violent, alcoholic, screen-writer who becomes the prime suspect in a murder case, and he falls in love with his neighbour, who gives him an alibi. But eventually she begins to doubt him, because of his short-temper and his drinking and general behaviour. Bogart said that this part was the one that was closest to his personal character, which is quite a strange thing to say. The ending is brilliant, but there's actually an alternate ending which for me would have been even better. I won't say what that was in case anyone wants to watch it!”
(Fritz Lang, 1945)
“Edward G. Robinson was usually cast as a gangster, or a bad guy, but in this film he plays a down-trodden and he's absolutely amazing in it. I only saw this for the first time a few months ago, but I was blown away by the story and the way it's shot, with streetlights and shadows, and it's actually one of the first Hollywood films where the good guy loses. Like a lot of these films this was kinda neglected, and allow to fall into ruin, which is a real shame, but hopefully this is one of the films that'll eventually be restored for Blu-Ray.”
(Otto Preminger, 1944)
“This is kinda similar to Where The Sidewalk Ends, but where that dealt with the gritty side of New York, this one is about upper class society and their deceitful ways. Vincent Price plays this really untrustworthy, upper class sleazeball and he delivers an incredible performance. There's some amazing plot twists here, one of which flips the entire story, so it's really exciting to watch.”
Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats play the following UK dates this month:
April 22 - Birmingham, 02 Academy 2
April 23 - Glasgow, The Garage
April 24 - Manchester, Academy 3
April 25 - London, Koko.