Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Happy Birthday: Claire Trevor! "Queen of Film Noir".
Claire Trevor (March 8, 1910– April 8, 2000), was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir" because of her many performances in film noirs. Her first film performances were in the films, Life in the Raw(1933) and Jimmy and Sally (1933).
She went on to star with Humphrey Bogart in the film, Dead End (1937), which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Some of her best known performances were with John Wayne, in the western, Stagecoach(1939), which was Wayne's breakthrough role. She also starred with Wayne in the films, Allegheny Uprising and Dark Command(1940). Over a decade later, she would again costar with Wayne, winning her final Oscar nomination for the film, The High and the Mighty.
One of Trevor's memorable roles were starring opposite Dick Powell in, Murder, My Sweet. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley.
The story begins when, a dazed detective Philip Marlowe, is interrogated by police lieutenant Randall about his involvement in several murders. Marlowe tells his story:
One night at Marlowe's office he is visited by Moose Malone, who wants to hire him to find his old girlfriend Velma Valento, who he has not seen for the past eight years, because he has been in prison. Moose thinks she might still be at the nightclub where she used to work. There they meet up with Jessie, who took over the bar after her husband's death, at first Jessie denies knowing Velma until Marlowe finds Velmas photo. Then Jessie decides to tell them them that Velma is dead and when Marlowe tells her that Moose is out of jail, she becomes hysterical. Marlowe leaves, but watches from the window as Jessie makes a phone call.
Back at his office, Marlowe finds pretty boy Lindsay Marriott, waiting to hire Marlow to go with him as he delivers the money for the stolen jewels. As Marlowe waits, he is knocked unconscious and awakens to find a young woman standing over him. After the woman runs away, Marlowe sees Marriott's dead body in the back seat of the car. Marlowe then returns to his office, where he finds a woman reporter waiting to question him about a stolen jade necklace. Marlowe knows she is lying and forces her to admit that she is Ann Grayle and that her stepmother, Helen, owns the necklace. Ann drives him to the Grayle estate, where he meets the elderly Mr. Grayle and his young wife Helen, who tells him that the necklace, was stolen from her at gunpoint. After Helen admits that Marriott, her friend, agreed to ransom the necklace for her, Marlowe asks her if Marriott knew Amthor and she said that Marriott was Amthor's patient.
Feeling responsible for Marriott's death, Marlowe agrees to search for the necklace and Marriott's killers. The case becomes complicated when his investigation leads to a web of deceit, bribery, perjury and theft.
I think Powell's experience in romantic musicals, helped with his performance in this film as a conflicted character, with a side dish of humor. I can see why this film was said to be his favorite role.
She also performed in the film noirs, Born to Kill, Key Largo, where she played the role of Gaye Dawn, the washed-up nightclub singer and gangster's girlfriend, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Her final film performance was playing Sally Field's mother in, Kiss Me Goodbye (1982). She made a special appearance at the 70th annual Academy Awards in 1998.