I'm of the opinion that this lineup would be more likely to materialize in the NC universe if Eddie were "out of the picture" (so to speak)--perhaps kidnapped by a disgruntled "noir splinter group," or a cabal of folks who want their hosts to dress more casually). If such were the case, this festival (or something similar to it) could come to pass at the behest of Alan Rode (though his own programming has shown an increase in "melo-noirs" over the past several years).
The real purpose of the original post, of course, was to demonstrate how the noir-o-meter can identify extreme tendencies within the stylistic/narrative continuum of film noir. Actually getting a festival like this one--whether seen as glorious or ghastly, depending on one's predilection--would only be gravy...
Note--no new mods to the noir-o-meter since this post, which originally appeared in 2018.
OK, I admit, the subject line is just a way of getting your attention. There have been a few minor mods to the Noir-o-Meter in the past couple of months--a new visual element about obsessive motifs was added (5 points) and flashbacks were reduced from 10 to 5 points.
The emerging value of the method, as I see it, is in the balancing between melodrama and hard-boiled elements, which represent the dualism that rages within noir and makes it distinct from "thrillers" (the catch-all phrase that is "safer" historically and can be applied to a more standard narrative analysis of these films). Measuring these relationships shows how films that otherwise look different, have completely different types of characters, and more often than not use standard dramatic progression can still be "noir" due to extreme combinations/agglomerations of these elements.
This post features those films on the side of the spectrum that many folks would still see as being the "classic idea" of what noir is--nasty, tough, brutish, inhuman, unsentimental. (Which, of course, a good bit of it is.) These two charts capture two snapshots of these films--the first has a larger set, with the second showing the "toughest," most intense subset from the first.
The first chart looks at 150 films from the Noir-o-Meter DB and scatterplots two measures on the spectrum of hard-boiled-to-melodrama (another way to characterize the spectrum is remorseless crime to the top and the left, and sustained psychological torture to the bottom and right. Except that the films which really focus on the latter in an unalloyed way are not even shown here--they'd be on a companion graph that shows the vertical axis all the way down to zero.
The vertical axis measures the ratio of character elements and how hard-boiled they are. The average score for all films in the DB is 89, which means that, in general, that the intensity of the melodrama elements is about 11% higher than the hard-boiled elements. We are only looking at the films with a 100+ score, or at least 11% higher than the average. (There are hundreds of films whose data points would flood the lower portion of this chart if we were to show them all...the chart would literally be unreadable.)
The second chart shows a subset based on a measure using the overall MELO rate, which uses all the elements that are defined as "hard-boiled" or "melodrama." That includes visual and plot/story elements. Since the character elements carry much of the "feeling" of these two qualities for the viewer, they have a greater effective range from top to bottom; because of this, we can make another calculation that compares the two ranges.
The 32 films in chart #2 (you can see where they came from by comparing the two charts--look at the top left of the first chart and envision the shape of the data points...) are those where the character element ratio is at least 1.5 times greater than the overall MELO rate. In short, a region where "toughness" abounds, and by all rights should be the next lineup for a Noir City festival. (This would be the "tough" response to a so-called "tough" president who wants to make teachers into noir characters by slapping guns on their hips.)
The two films, BTW, that are at the furthest reaches of the left/top of those charts definitely have some unredeemable types in them--though they, as we suspect will also be the case with the "thug-in-chief," were eventually brought to justice at the end of their escapades--are ones that you'll likely agree are among the "toughest" in the canon: BORDER INCIDENT and HE WALKED BY NIGHT. (Two films that have a significant "TOUGH SH*T" quotient no matter how you measure it.)
There are 1-2 films that seem out of place on the list (which we'll--mostly--get to in a minute). As you'd expect, there's more Anthony Mann on the list--T-MEN, for one--but there's also REIGN OF TERROR, which, upon reflection, is the most hard-boiled tale of the French Revolution ever made. (Maybe Richard Basehart channeled all that time in the LA storm drains when he prepped to play "Slapsy Maxy" Robespierre.) And, there's THE GHOST SHIP--easily the most hard-boiled of the Val Lewton "horror" films...but, again, not quite in "genre." (But perhaps that's the point--hard-boiled is not just "private dicks," it's any form of inhuman behavior perpetrated on others.)
A few of the films on the list are ones that just played in NC 16: THIS GUN FOR HIRE, THE THREAT, and SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 (where Andrea King shows just how icy a dame can be and still have an active sex life...). There's no room for emotion (read: melodrama) for these characters.
NC can't repeat those films again so soon (they don't even do that with NIGHT EDITOR, which by comparison is nowhere near this tough, if only because William Gargan suffers so much). So here are most of those films in a specially designed festival that can have its full (uncensored) title and let them eat cake too...
NOIR CITY 17
Friday Jan 25 (2019)
Saturday Jan 26
mat--UNDER THE GUN/LURE OF THE SWAMP
eve--KISS ME DEADLY/KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE
Sunday Jan 27
Monday Jan 28
HIGHWAY 301/THE MOB
Tuesday Jan 29
THE GHOST SHIP/HELL'S ISLAND
Wednesday Jan 30
NAKED CITY/PANIC IN THE STREETS
Thursday Jan 31
HE WALKED BY NIGHT/WALK A CROOKED MILE
Friday Feb 1
BORN TO KILL/THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE
Saturday Feb 2
mat--THE KILLER IS LOOSE/SHACK OUT ON 101
Sunday Feb 3
THE THIRD VOICE/EXPERIMENT IN TERROR
I don't think that the restored version of THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE can be screened legally at this point, so we'd need to substitute another Tierney film...either KILL OR BE KILLED, THE HOODLUM, or SHAKEDOWN.