Sunday, November 29, 2009

King Creole as Noir; Radney Foster, Tim McGraw

I've been pushing Noir City Sentinel (just log on to Film Noir Foundation and contribute to the cause and it'll be yours). There are so many fantastic articles I can't cover them all but Vince Keenan mentioned editor Dan Malcolm's piece as a special one. And it is. Malcolm takes a wise sometimes amused look at Elvis movies and then makes the case for "King Creole" being a noir. He makes his case very well.

"The sizzling jazz-blues-rock soundtrack is practically extrane-
ous to the pulpy proceedings, but it features several
of Elvis’s finest movie songs and performances,
including Leiber and Stoller’s kick-ass anthem
“Trouble,” “Dixieland Rock,” the chart-topping hit
“Hard-Headed Woman,” “Crawfish,” “New
Orleans” and the pulsating title tune. The richly
evocative, chiaroscuro New Orleans location pho-
tography is as atmospherically effective here as it was
in Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Streets(1950), and the
screenplay by Robbins and Herbert Baker often
crackles with brutal wit in the best noir tradition.
“That’s a pretty piece of material,” Danny says to the
haunted, horny hooker as he fondles her one night on
the street. “You oughta have a dress made out of it.”
Another piece of pulp poetry: one evening when
Ronnie is set up to seduce Danny in Maxie’s pad, the
smitten lad laments, “Your heart wouldn’t be in it.”
“You wouldn’t miss it,” she fires back. This isn’t ter-
rain typically associated with Elvis—it’s a world
removed from the sunny Vegas racetrack and the
happy Hawaiian luau. Hoods, hookers, killers, strip-
pers, and stylishly seedy nightclubs occupy this (land)..."

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------------------------------Country western singers

Last night I, in my usual intemperate way, dismissed an entire group of people, namely the current crop of country western singers. I enjoy a number of them actually. My favorite is Radney Foster who is one hell of a song writer. And for all his status as a he-man lady killer Tim McGraw has chosen to work with some excellent writers who certainly produce some atypical C&W songs. Hard to believe that anybody else at the top could get away with a song as brutal and sad as "Angry All The Time" about a failing marriage. He also did "Red Rag Top" which to me is shocking in a C&W context because it deals with a pair of teenagers who decide to get an abortion rather than the girl's having the baby. Given that Buck Owens once had to take out a full page ad in Variety apologizing to the C&W world for covering a Beatles McGraw choosing to release that one took some guts. If you have iTunes get them both and you'll see what I'm talking about. And be sure to get Foster's "Nobody Wins." A great great piece of work.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I love that little magazine. Well worth the small donation you make.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Amen to Rodney's Nobody Wins--one of my favorite country songs, and which features one of my favorite female vocalists (Mary-Chapin Carpenter) providing the harmony.

Excellent choice on the McGraw tunes, too, Ed. I'm also particularly fond of Do You Want Fries With That?, a rib-tickling statement on the aftermath of a divorce.

Gonzalo B said...

I can't listen to most of the new crop of country artists. Outside of CMT and radio, however, there's quite a few good artists. One of them is Jesse Dayton, whom I always recommend to whoever likes country. His music is more old school honky tonk than regular country, but is well worth a listen.

Terry Beatty said...

Agree with Gonzalo about Jesse Dayton. Also highly recommend Dale Watson.