BFI Film Noir Classics

The BFI has just released a list of what it considers to be the fourteen best films in the “noir” genre. As ever with these things, there’s room for debate about some of the films included, but I don’t think there can be any disagreement about their top three. The BFI’s top 14 film noirs (here listed with their poster strap-lines) are:

1. The Dame Wore Stilts (1947)
“Meet Lola. She’s 5 foot four of pure femme fatale, plus 3 foot of wood!”

2. Bang Bang Kiss Kiss (1952)
“He knew it was the wrong way round, but dammit he liked them to lay still!”

3. Lick Me Deadly (1939)
“Mr Whippy? Mr. Shooty more like! An ice-cold con caper with a drizzling of murder sauce!”

4. Dial “T” For Ticklish (1946)
“Hee hee hee hee hee stop it!”

5. A Woman Called Trouble (1954)
“Trouble by name! Trouble by nature! What a coincidence!”

6. Noseface (1938)
“Striking back at a world that didn’t give him a very scary nickname!”

7. Kiss me! Slap Me! No Wait, I Prefer The Kissing! (1945)
“She was fairly sensible as women in these kinds of films go!”

8. Bullet For My Birthday (1953)
“He would have preferred a CAKE! But he got a BULLET! With no CANDLES even!”

9. Farewell, My Kidneys (1957)
“He loved them but they had to go!”

10. Murder O’Clock (1946)
“The big hand is on twelve, the little hand is on MAYHEM!”

11. The City Bleeds (1942)
“You’ll never find a plaster big enough!”

12. The Dangerous Danger (1955)
“You can’t HIDE from the DANGER of DANGEROUSNESS!”

13. I Married a Rabbit (1950)
“Cross! Double Cross! Triple Cross! Carrots!”

14 The Dame Wasn’t Worth The Trouble (1944)
“She was nice, but not THAT nice!”

What would YOU put at #15? Answers in the comments, buster!

Friday’s Short Story

Dinner passes without incident. The food is tasty, the conversation light and inconsequential. So far so good. They are waiting for pudding when the chat veers into well-explored but still dangerous territory. Here be dragons.

“I don’t know why you’re with me,” she says.

His eyes flicker imperceptibly as he controls the urge to roll them. He smiles, even though his internal terror alert has just been upgraded to amber. He knows that simply saying “Well, I am, so why not just roll with it?” is not an option. He takes a sip of his wine, stalling for time.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“You’re such a lovely person,” she says, “and I’m just…” She pulls a face.

“You’re just beautiful,” he says. Game, set and match me, he thinks. He is, of course, wrong.

“I’m not,” she counters, and looks away.

“You are,” he parries expertly. He has played this game before. “You’re the most beautiful woman I have ever met.”

“How many women have you met?” she asks. “You haven’t met her over there, have you?” She gestures at a lady diner across the restaurant. “She’s more beautiful than me. Because I’m not beautiful.”

“You are,” he says, or tries to, but she’s still talking, her freight train of self-recrimination clanking on into the night.

“And I’m not clever or funny,” she says. “Why would you even want to talk to me?”

He pins his hopes on a sympathetic shake of the head, hopes as doomed as newborn baby turtles scurrying past a hungry but bulimic seagull, which will eat them but take no real pleasure in doing so, and will feel guilty and ashamed afterwards.

“I’m plain, and stupid. And mean,” she says. “God, I didn’t tell you. I was really nasty to my sister yesterday.”

“Oh, her,” he says, “She’s always winding you up. She’s jealous of you. No wonder you bite back every now and again.”

“I pushed her down the stairs,” she says. “She’s in hospital. Her condition is critical.”

“Over-critical more like,” he says. “She’s always putting you down. Don’t feel bad about it.”

“I ran over a lollypop lady last week,” she says.

“Accidents happen,” he says, “You mustn’t blame yourself.”

“It was awful. I hit her and drove on, and I could see her moving, sort of twitching, in my rear view mirror, so I drove round the block and hit her again.”

“I really admire that in you. When you set your mind on something you really go for it, see it through. That’s rare.” He reaches out to squeeze her hand, but she pulls it out of reach.

“And last year I led an attempted genocide in a West African country,” she says.

“I expect they were asking for it,” he says.

“You could be with anyone,” she says, “And I’m currently plotting the final destruction of the material world,” she says, “Because I’m Satan. Lucifer in human form. Not metaphorically,” she goes on, “I really am the Anti-Christ, here to do battle with the second coming of the cursed Nazarene on the blood-drenched plains of Meggido. But before that I’m going to kill you slowly, and condemn your soul to eternal torment in the charnel pits of Hades. I don’t know why you put up with me, I really don’t.”

He looks away for a moment; thinks. He looks back up. His eyes meet hers. He reaches for her hand again, takes it, squeezes it.

“I love you,” he says, and he smiles because he means it.

I Don’t Know Why You’re With Me
by Harris
more tiny tales

Fact File #10: Light

There is a light that never goes out: it is the little red one on my PlayStation 2. I really should unplug it when I’ve finished playing Bishi Bashi Challenge.

Light is both a wave and a particle. Dandruff is actually little particles of sunshine that have got stuck in your hair. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

A smile can light up your face. So can lighter fluid and a match, but a smile is more environmentally friendly.

Have you ever wondered why different materials have different colours? Me too, but looking into it, it’s quite complicated and really, life’s too short. Just look at the colours. They are pretty.

Light can be dangerous: UV rays cause cancer, laser weapons are deadly and accurate and can be fired from space, and having a lighthouse dropped on you will frequently prove fatal. Lighthouses are often heavier than normal houses, ironically.

If we could somehow harness the energy my Mum expends on moaning about energy-saving lightbulbs we could light up Middlesbrough town centre for a week. We’d just need a righteous-indignation-to-AC converter.

More facts next time, fact fans!

Once, Twice, Again

I made a couple of pop videos a while ago, with Mr Marcus Diamond, for the Teesside band Dartz! Sadly, the band have now split, but I’m sure you can still get their album This Is My Ship, on Xtra Mile Recordings, and you should because it’s really good. Math rock, they called it, but I call it a toe-tappin’ party starter! This video got shown on MTV2 and I also saw it on the telly in Top Man one time.

And here’s the first one we did. It’s pretty bonkersmental and it made me and Marcus’ head spin a bit cos we made it in a night:

Brian Pern

I think Simon Day is something of a genius. He always seemed a more awkward performer than Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson on The Fast Show, but characters like Dave Angel still managed to stand out. He appears more relaxed and confident these days, and he’s doing amazing things on Bellamy’s People at the moment. The Peter Salad character in particular is brilliantly observed and tragically hilarious.

This is a web-only BBC thingummy from last year, and it’s great. It’s one of a series, and they’re all worth watching.

Any similarity to Peter Gabriel is no doubt entirely coincidental.

And don’t it make you want to get a camera and make yer own little films?