Today’s Zippy has Zippy and Griffy caught up in film noir:
A word on the expression film noir, then notes on films.
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Depression.
The term film noir, French for “black film”, first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unknown to most American film industry professionals of the classic era. Cinema historians and critics defined the noir canon in retrospect. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic film noirs were referred to as melodramas. The question of whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.
Film noir in French is a N + Adj phrase, with the Adj understood metaphorically. It’s been taken over in English as a head-first compound (and, with other such compounds, has primary accent on the second element).
The film reference in the second panel (“weapons-grade plutonium”) is to the great, enormously dark, Kiss Me Deadly of 1955, in which a plutonium bomb turns out to be the central plot device.
Then there are the actors referred to in the strip: Dan Duryea and Robert Mitchum in the first panel, Scott Brady and Edmond O’Brien in the third (in connection with prison-break films).
Mitchum was featured in a long series of film noirs, as was Dan Duryea. Among Duryea’s films are at least two heist films, Criss Cross in 1949 (with Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo) and The Burglar in 1957 (with Jayne Mansfield and Martha Vickers).
Then Scott Brady and Edmond O’Brien in prison-break movies, specifically: Brady in Canon City in 1948 (with Jeff Corey and Whit Bissell), and O’Brien in White Heat in 1949 (with James Cagney and Virginia Mayo).
Prison-break films make up a subgenre of classic film noir; besides these two, there’s:
Prison Break (1938), with Barton MacLane, Glenda Farrell, Paul Hurst, and Constance Moore
Brute Force (1947), with Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, and Charles Bickford
Crashout (1955), with William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, and Luther Adler
Revolt in the Big House (1958), with Gene Evans, Robert Blake, and Timothy Carey
(Just a sampling of what’s out there.)