Showing posts with label film noir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film noir. Show all posts

Friday, June 11, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Femme Noir

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week we look at the dark side of the fair sex in a trio of Femme Noir films.

The one-sheet for 1947's Nora Prentiss says "Loving her once is once too often," and if the movie had been made a few decades later, I'd swear I knew her.  Ann Sheridan is the femme fatale while Kent Smith is the sucker who fakes his own death to be with her.  Claiming a dead guy's body as his own doesn't turn out so well for him, but didn't we all see that coming?  That's film noir, Jake.

Critics didn't respond well when Nora Prentiss was released, if you care what critics say.  However, time has been kind to the film, which is now generally viewed as a fine example of femme noir.

Oriel Winery used to have a Bordeaux rosé called Femme Fatale.  It could be hard to find now, as the company's website looks like an untended garden.  For Ann Sheridan, let's go to Washington's Yakima Valley and Sheridan Vineyard’s Mystique, a Cab-heavy red blend with lush Merlot in a supporting role.

Beverly Michaels gets the starring role in 1953's Wicked Woman, as a waitress who aims to take the place of her employer's drunk wife.  When their little secret gets out, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans - and the best planned lays.

Let's refer once again to the movie posters: "She’s nothing but trouble… every voluptuous inch of her."  "She uses sex the way a hoodlum uses a loaded gun."  "She lives up to every scarlet letter of her name."  "They called her wicked, but they didn’t know the half of it."  The writers had a blast with those movie posters.

Clouds Rest makes a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir which bears the name Femme Fatale.  Be warned, it's expensive - as is any femme fatale worth her one-sheets.

Body Heat is the 1981 film that served as the launching pad for Kathleen Turner's career.  I hear that Body Heat was inspired by Double Indemnity, but there is also a taste of DI in our previous two Femme Noir films.  Noir often calls for a character like Walter Neff - or Ned Racine - guys who can’t resist the siren call of a woman they know to be trouble.

It was a hot summer there in Florida, but one ambulance chaser felt the need to turn up the heat a few degrees.  William Hurt played the shyster who stepped right into Turner's tangled web and took the fall.  Critics either panned it or praised it, but Body Heat became an icon of the eighties anyway.

Tessier Winery has a $28 Femme Fatale rosé.  Since Turner's character was so good at stepping on people to get what she wanted, the Pinot Noir grapes for the wine were foot-trampled as well.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Murder USA

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  

This week's Blood of the Vines is a real killer.  "Murder USA" hangs over the trio of classic films which get the wine pairing treatment this time.  Hired henchmen who handle the dirty work for crime bosses - sounds like a job for Syrah.  Isn't that what California winemakers put in their Pinot? 

There could be good money in punching out an enemy - or punching up a Pinot Noir.  I wouldn’t know.  I tap out humorous "observations" just ahead of deadline.  I get paid in popcorn for writing these weekly musings.  Good thing I like popcorn.

The 1958 noir, Murder By Contract, stars Vince Edwards as a man who doesn't care how he makes his money, as long as he saves up for that cute little house over on Easy Street.  Edwards may be better remembered for his early '60s role as TV's Dr. Ben Casey - who earned his scratch by saving lives, not taking them.  Maybe his Ben Casey screen test was the Murder By Contract scene in which he impersonates a doctor.  "Just tell me where it hurts, I'll get back to you in a few years."

In Murder, our killer gets more than bargained for.  The target is a woman.  Hmmm.  Hired killer suddenly plagued by ethics?  He has to draw the line somewhere - doesn't he?  The storm drain shootout is as good a place as any.

Doffing my fedora to the feminine victim, I can't resist a bottle of Lady Wine with this film.  Marketed by the Kentucky winery under the phrase, "Weep no more my lady, welcome to the taste of Louisville," they can ship this sweet, ten-dollar wine to 43 states.  Unfortunately, California is one of them.

In 1995's To Die For, Nicole Kidman isn't the clueless target of murder.  She's the one hiring the job out.  In her world, husbands who stand in the way of wifey's rise to fame don't make it to the second reel.  He wants her to give up her celebrity status as a TV weatherwoman to make babies and wait tables.  Watch it, girlfriend.  The karmic wheel is a bitch when it comes back around.

Deerfield Ranch Winery has a Chardonnay for the occasion - Blonde Ambition.  This Russian River Valley bottling is dedicated to the winemaker's wife.  Had the hubby in To Die For been as thoughtful, he might have made it to the final scene.

Rope is from 1948 - a good year for movies, Buicks and the Cleveland Indians.  It wasn't the best year for Alfred Hitchcock, since the movie sort of flopped.  Rope is now hailed as a taut masterpiece of noir.  Its long scenes give movie nerds a launching pad for discussions that put regular people to sleep.  Sort of like when wine nerds try to tell you about Riesling.

Rope features a "perfect murder" - committed not for money, but as a psychological exercise.  The perfection gets tarnished at a dinner party where the buffet table holds the dead body.  "Oh, no more for me, but that leg was delicious."

Hitchcock had a lavish getaway home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he reportedly grew Riesling grapes.  Called Heart O’ the Mountain, it is now a winery.  Their wine can be pricey, but the Chalone Pinot Noir goes for $25.  Tastes pretty good with popcorn, too.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Blood Of The Vines: Wine For "The Third Man"

Blood Of The Vines: The Third Man
Wine Goes To The Movies with 
Trailers From Hell and Now And Zin

When we talk about wine, the talk always turns to Pinot Noir.  It’s considered by many wine snobs to be the grape that’s hardest to get into the bottle, but the most expressive of the conditions from which it comes.  If you’d like the full-length lecture, just ask the nearest wine snob.  Make sure you have an hour or so to spare.

When you talk about movies, the talk always turns to film noir.  Film buffs, like wine snobs, love to show off their knowledge a bit.  An evening with a film noir fan leads to many dissertations on how the dark shadows of film noir best express the suspicion and doubt that permeated world events from World War II into the McCarthy ‘50s.  And, if you ask me, the 1960s could have used a lot more film noir.

Pinot Noir means “black Pinot” in French, which helps differentiate it from Pinot Grigio, which means “six-dollar house wine at Italian restaurants.”  Accordingly, film noir means “black film,” a fitting name for movies that live in the shadows and usually embrace the pulp crime fiction style of writing that sprang up in the 1930s.

In “The Third Man,” Joseph Cotten admits, ”I’m just a hack writer who drinks too much and falls in love with girls.  You?”  With an opener like that, it’s no wonder he didn’t end up making the springs on the Murphy bed squeak for their lives.  What woman couldn’t resist that come on?  Even if she did live in the shadows and have a tilty camera angle most of the time.

“The Third Man” makes great use of music, too.  A score by Anton Karas playing the zither provides a creepily exotic backdrop.  “He’ll have you in a dither with his zither,” blazes the trailer.  It’s good that Karas didn’t play the ocarina.  That’s an even tougher rhyme.

Orson Welles' Harry Lime is a black market racketeer in wartime Vienna who cares nothing for the victims of his methods.  He waters down penicillin for sick people.  God knows what he does to stretch a bottle of wine to six servings instead of three.  Oh, and his markup is brutal, too.  This guy should open a restaurant.

Lime cites the war and bloodshed Italy felt under the House of Borgia, while producing Michaelangelo, DaVinci and the Rennaissance.  “Switzerland’s 500 years of brotherly love,” he says, “only produced the cuckoo clock.”  I want an exit line like that.

The Third Man Wine comes from New Zealand’s Waipara Valley, and a lot of wine snobs are hitting up the NZ for their Pinot Noir.  I don’t see a real connection here - other than the name - but the flavors in The Third Man Sauvignon Blanc include... lime.  Cut, print.

Fourth and fifth man wines:

Hoepler’s Third Man Zweigelt comes straight from Vienna - well, southeast of Vienna - I wonder what sector that is?  The label for this great Austrian grape carries an image from the film, and word is it will never remind you of a chase through a sewer.  Can I see your papers, please?

Washington’s Gramercy Cellars takes the Third Man out of Austria altogether and transplants him to the Southern Rhone with a GSM - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre - blend that’s heavy on the Grenache.


I know I’ve linked to this before, but this is a great time to revisit the ol’ YouTube of  Orson Welles for Paul Masson.  It’s still hard to watch Welles try to struggle through a TV commercial for this juice.  Masson let Welles go soon after the great one announced on television that he never drank the stuff, just shilled it.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Wine Tasting Event: Don't Be Afraid Of The Noir

Wine lovers and film fans will converge for a Hollywood Pinot Noir tasting event to celebrate film noir.  Trailers From Hell, Now And Zin and K&L Wines are pouring the Pinot Noir in association with the American Cinematheque's 14th Annual Noir City Film Festival.  Check that link for a full schedule of the films to be featured.

The event - Don't Be Afraid of the Noir - will be held Thursday April 26, 2012 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at K&L's Hollywood location, 1400 N. Vine Street.  Tickets cost $15 per person and will be available at the door.

Your hardworking Now And Zin correspondent has been invited to share in the hosting duties, which I have been led to believe involve standing around tasting wine and talking about it some.  That sounds like it’s right up my alley.  Some filmmakers have signed on for that gig as well, notably Dan Ireland, Chris Wilkinson, Adam Rifkin, Brian Trenchard-Smith and TFH chief guru Joe Dante.  Presumably, they were led to believe the job involves standing around tasting wine and talking about movies.

Here are the Pinots which will put us all in the noir mood, examined by our Film Noir Wine Critic, Robert Walter Parker-Neff:

Black Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir

"Black Ridge is made by ADS Wines, a red stained property in Lodi, owned and operated by the Scotto family.  They have been in the wine business since the 1940's, the heyday of film noir.  Come to think of it, it was the heyday of Lodi, too.  I'm going on the assumption that three generations of Scottos can't be wrong.  That's why they're still there.  The Pinot is soft and pretty, two things a man like me likes, especially when they arrive together.  It's also supple and juicy.  Things are looking up."

Jackhammer Central Coast Pinot Noir

"In a rare moment of clarity, the Los Angeles Times made this one a Wine of the Week.  They say it's all about the grapes, and the grapes for this Pinot come from cool Central Coast sites in the Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Santa Lucia Highlands, and Edna Valley.  That's a lot of ground to cover, but you get used to it selling door-to-door.  Aged in French oak barrels older than my suit, JackHammer brings the berries and spices forward with smooth tannins.  That's the way I like my tannins.  Smooth.  The Times calls it "delightful," which is odd because I'm used to hearing them break out the twenty-five cent words.  I'd pair it with a Mike Hammer movie, if you like that sort of thing."

Napa Cellars Napa Valley Pinot Noir

"The grapes for this Pinot Noir come from Napa Cellars' southerly Napa Valley vineyard north of San Pablo Bay.  I used to live there, a little room over a garage.  I couldn't see the grapes from there, but I sure could see the ocean fog.  They say that makes for a long growing season.  You ask me, driving a forklift around a winery for chump change, that makes for a long growing season.  Once, the fog cleared out just enough so I thought I saw Robert Mitchum stomping some grapes to a pulp.  The wine is fruity and accessible, not a bit like Mitchum.  But then nobody is."

Rickshaw Sonoma County Pinot Noir

"This Pinot reminds me of a dame I used to know, drenched in pretty cherry and wild strawberry aromas, accented by hints of clove.  She worked at a farmers market.  The palate is juicy, with a core of red fruit that carries you through to a spice-kissed finish.  Is it getting warm in here, or do I just need a cold beer?"

Windrun San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir

"Ken Brown made this wine, so now you know why he's in that line of work.  He loves to talk about the cool Burgundian climate of beautiful San Luis Obispo, cool like an ocean breeze.  I think it's more like he's talking about himself, but then, I'm suspicious by nature.  Oh, yeah, the wine.  Full of ripe cherries, raspberries, you know the drill.  One thing I like about it - it's drinkable now with or without food.  Most of the characters I know get along the same way.  I'll take mine with a steak that thick.  But that's how I take my bourbon, too, when I can get it."

Sounds like a great time coming, so get that $15 ready.  Don't Be Afraid of the Noir, Thursday April 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at K&L Wine, 1400 N. Vine Street in Hollywood.

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