You know the cliché – an ethically-deficient private eye sits alone in his dingy office, a few dusty beams of light pierce through the tattered blinds. He reclines, his feet on the desk, a scotch clasped lazily in his hand, a flurry of papers strewn across the room. We hear the click-click-click of a single pair of heels approaching and a sexy silhouette darkens the doorway. In saunters a classy broad and the mystery begins…
So is the scene that most would tie to film noir, but as viewers will learn when Townsville Classic Films begins its film noir series in Denham Lane in May, the iconic genre is so much more than that.
Mark Enders, who runs Townsville Classic Films, says film buffs are divided on a concrete definition of film noir.
“For me, film noir is very much about someone who’s – a male character’s usually the lead – struggling with life and they’re on that tipping point between moving into the dark side or staying on the good side of things,” says Mark. “They’re often tempted to the dark side by a femme fatale, so a very engaging and dangerous woman, and at the end of the day they come cropper and whether they rise up from that or are destroyed by it is the resolution of the film.
“They’re mostly black and white films and the photography’s just incredible; really lets you get such a feel for what the characters are going through based on the photography, which is somewhat a lost art form. Modern films, they look amazing, but I don’t think they have that ability to play with shadow and light as much as some of our previous film makers did.”
Mark hopes the six-part outdoor Film Noir series will help Townsville audiences develop a greater appreciation for older films, which were much less formulaic than their contemporary counterparts.
“There’s so many franchises now. With Fast and the Furious 8, 9, 10 and 11; people go along and they get exactly what they expect,” Mark says.
“Maybe there’s that preconception [with older films] that ‘well, it’s been around for 50 years and I’ve never heard of it, it can’t be that good.’ So people don’t take the risk but I wish they would.”
Listening to Mark speak, it’s evident how passionate he is about creating unique opportunities for people to experience classic films in a range of settings, from kitsch cafes to laneways embellished in all manner of street art.
“I think I’d like to see Townsville really develop a cinema movement…. I’d like to see the city develop a language and an understanding and a knowledge about film and to be discerning film goers as well.”
Townsville Classic Films will reveal the details of its six-part Film Noir series soon. For more information, go to www.townsvilleclassicfilms.com.au