Soap Noir

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.


11 thoughts on “Soap Noir

  1. Hee, if you haven’t checked out my blog yet, you’ll see I was a big fan. Particularly of how EJ and Philip looked! hehe It was really fun and I enjoyed it.

    I thought for sure Nicole would set Lucas up for the killing as well, I’m guessing if they’d had more than 2 days they would have gone that route. Too bad really. Lucas was enjoyable and attractive for once and I loved Nicole.

    I agree with you on Sami though, that voice was just too grating for me to get beyond.

  2. I think you hit on the problem with Sami’s character. It wasn’t just the voice, it was the lack of any shrewdness.

    Floved the rest, though! Finally saw the Phloe chemistry that their fans have been talking about, and even the actors that aren’t my usual favorites were impressive. It’s gotten some flack on the boards, so I hope they aren’t discouraged from trying something similar in the future.

  3. Simply awful and a huge waste of airtime. I don’t want to watch the NBC Daytime Actors Repertory Troop tackle bad CarolBurnettShow-esque dialogue in a wanna-be-Turner Classic Movie. The horrid voiceover exposition made my skin crawl.

    Last week was so great and I knew this week would be horrid. I couldn’t have imagined how truly bad it was.

  4. Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I thought it was great. I far preferred it over last week. I watch a lot of film noir and the voiceover is a staple of the genre, and I thought they got the dialogue just about right. If there were moments that wouldn’t look out of place on the Carol Burnett show, well, to me that’s no different from the show anytime!

    I hope they aren’t discouraged from trying something similar in the future also. Days plays it safe way too often out of the fear that someone, somewhere, won’t like something.

    I read your blog, though I haven’t had time to comment, noelbucgrl. I loved all the pictures. Hot guys in suits! 🙂

  5. I love film noir and was thrilled that Days gave it a try. Most of it I enjoyed, wasn’t too thrilled with Sami, but hey it is a soap.

    I especially loved the wardrobe and make-up. Little bits like this really give the show and the actors a break. I look forward to more scenarios whether they be film noir or a hookey horror send up.

  6. Awesome review. I loved these episodes. I have watched a fair share of noir films and the lighting was definitely something I recognized. There was a scene where the light is only on one side of the actor’s face, lots of shadow, really nice:)

  7. JD, I know just what you mean. It’s a very striking lighting style, and I think highlights the “trapped” feel to film noir.

    Thanks for commenting, NicoleFan—I thought Arianne was the standout!

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