BBC2’s Film Noir Season | A gritty alternative to the usual festive fare

Sick and tired of the endless festive themed film fare already? Want something a bit grittier than It’s a Wonderful Life, but just as dark? Then why not check out BBC2’s Film Noir season, a collection of classic drama from master director Fritz Lang, starting today Monday 19 December and concluding on Christmas Day. Here’s a sneak peek.

The Big Heat
Monday 19 December (1am, BBC2)
This 1953 film noir stars Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Lee Marvin. It is about a cop (Ford) who takes on a crime syndicate after the brutal murder of his beloved wife. The film perfectly suits Lang’s dark, misanthopic nature – watch out for the scene in which Marvin casually flings scalding coffee into Grahame’s. It might be a little dated, but the evocative cinematography is to die for.

The Secret Beyond the Door
Tuesday 20 December (1 am, BBC2)
This 1948 pyschological drama is a modern updating of the Bluebeard fairytale. The film stars Joan Bennett as a wealthy woman who suspects her new husband (Michael Redgrave) plans to kill her. This weird and wonderful movie is definitely not your run-of-the-mill thriller, filled with murder, jealousy, hallucination and mental disorder. It’s also set in a mansion of rooms that are replicas of famous murder sites and mistily photographed in black and white by the great Stanley Cortez. For more on this movie, check out Pete’s full review.

Scarlet Street
Wedneday 21 December (1.10am, BBC2)
This 1945 film noir is based on the French novel La Chienne by Georges de La Fouchardière, that was previously filmed by famed French director Jean Renoir in 1931. Its a great seedy thriller, with a perfect performance by Edward G Robinson
While the City Sleeps
Thursday 22 December (12.40am, BBC2)
Lang’s 1956 newspaper drama was based on The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein, a novel depicting the story of the Lipstick Killer. The film is both a jaded look at the morals of big-city newspapermen and a slick, smooth crime yarn, which has a memorable subway chase climax. Stars Dana Andrews, Vincent Price and John Barrymore Jr (aka Drew’s dad). For more on this film, read Pete’s review. To buy this film, check out the Exposure Cinema
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Christmas Day (1.55am, BBC2)
Lang’s last Hollywood film, this twisty 1956 thriller has improved with age. Dana Andrews is well cast as a novelist aiming to prove the law an ass, a role originally intended for Joseph Cotten. But Joan Fontaine seems a little long in the tooth as his fiancée, a part that called for more sparkle. Steve McQueen is supposed to have a tiny role somewhere in this, though you may have to look hard to find him. To buy this film, check out the Exposure Cinema