As an old movie fan, I was both excited and filled with trepidation when I heard that Days was going to do a film noir tribute. But I am happy to say that they did a surprisingly good job with it. The framing device left something to be desired, and the show can’t seem to help propping Lucas even here, but I’m not going to quibble. Above all, it was fun.
It was beautifully shot and directed—the lighting especially. The hair and costumes were great: EJ’s white suit. Lucas’s white tank top paired with suspenders. Phillip’s slicked back hair. I think Nadia Bjorlin should have been costumed differently post-makeover, though. Her outfit was way too fussy. I would have put her in a simple, strapless black dress with her hair swept back from her face. Something a la Ava Gardner would have been perfect:
The common film noir character types were all there. James Scott was terrific as the womanizing cad. I loved Jay Kenneth Johnson as the slick nightclub owner, puffing cigarettes and making snide remarks about church hymns, though he was somewhat wasted in what film writer Jeanine Basinger calls the “asexual male” role. This is a guy whose job it is to offer the female character the world (money, a career, lots of diamonds and furs) but then stand by waving gamely when she instead chooses true love with the poor and honest hero. Ali Sweeney, unfortunately, misplayed her role, as the gum chewing femme fatale. This type often is dumb—but she is also ruthless, resentful, and mercenary. Ann Savage in Detour is the ultimate of this type. Ali seemed to think she should be playing Betty Boop.
Bryan Datillo, surprisingly, wasn’t too bad. His role should have involved being set up for the murder of his wife by Nicole double-crossing him, which he should have managed to evade by double-crossing her in return (not simply turning her in after she conveniently confesses). His character didn’t really do much at all, really, but I still think he played his part well. It helped that the stoic detective type involves being dour and keeping his emotions under tight rein, which fit right in with his more limited range. And he actually doesn’t look bad in a fedora:
Arianne Zucker, though, was the star. (James Scott comes in second.) She knocked my socks off. She was the only one who I watched and forgot she was “Nicole” and instead watched her as a totally different character. She brought surprising emotional resonance to another film noir type, the slightly older rich woman desperately in love with the charming cad. (She even seemed older than EJ, even though she isn’t.) She also exhibited a calm self-possession appropriate for a rich woman used to paying for what she wants. I particularly loved the way she sat calmly filing her nails with Sami’s body lying on the floor beside her.
And hot guys in suits. Yum.
Screencaps Chit Chat Haven.