The Big Night (1951)

Film Noir is full of oddities, largely because everything was coming of age at the same time.

Cinema, culture, youth culture, psychology, post-war capitalism, men, women and children, were all breaking forth from scores of different chrysalises and all at the same time, in film noir.

In The Big Night, we watch the kid George become the man George in the most 1940s noir way imaginable ― he puts on a jacket tie, and finally ― a hat. 

Hey presto ― grown up.

It’s just society’s bad luck that this young man finds a gun shortly after that. Only joking George. George immediately enters the noir city of the 1940s, complete with boppin jazz all night, drunks and of course, the character who leads who leads him astray.

It isn’t long before George is experiencing heavy confrontational scenes in toilets, bumps and bashses, and George continues on his search, never looking quite at all the man.

He's like ‘Kid Noir’ in fact.

George continues his hunt, for his nemesis Alan Judge ― and in his sports jacket which could not look more out of place in the swinging club. His guide in this inferno is acted drunk for half the movie, not a feat any actor should attempt or be proud of. 

Also to look out for in The Big Night including is a psychological rape-by-drums sequence, only comparable in the noir canon to Elisha Cook Jnr’s rape by drums in Phantom Lady.

George goes through his entire human male depressive cycle during The Big Night. Looking on despairing at adults dancing; once this is over it becomes worse as the siren-force of womanhood is foisted upon him in a psychological sequence, in burning candlelight, as George tries to avoid even looking up as the slow minor jazz of Happy Birthday plays all around him.

George - pre-noir

... and this is what he must rise to face.

What we see is an important backdrop to the entirety of the film noir cycle insofar as we witness both the birth of teenager and the birth of that teenager's market-to-be, the counter culture of jazz and everything it would create.

This is a pretty vintage film noir ‘psychology scene’ ― an assault of music and montage.

It is comedy in essence ― the birthday cake becomes the ultimate motif of revenge.

Good daddy? Submissive and not even in gaol.

George pre-noir - attempts to become a man are proving difficult

Then we have enough time to go through the actual analysis, which he does with the nice girl he eventually bumps into ― the entire movie of Shane almost in one single speech. 

Things before more Taxi Driver again pretty quickly; and George begins to indulge in some top-drawer juvenile delinquency and still the female in his life tries to redeem him after his violent domestic tantrum ― about his gun of all things!

A tantrum about his gun! It's film noir, because it's about becoming a man in that criminally dominated post-war environment, where youth and jazz culture are beginning to cloud the north and south horizons, leaving the male leads pretty much high an dry with their outdated morals

It’s always their guns, isn’t with the big kids? And so glad we are to see George running through the early morning city after a night on the run, hiding out in church, all sorts of emotions until he hits the ground in the morning ― literally to be tucked in by his father, who is then arrested for George’s midnight violent murder.

Dream sex by Jazz in The Big Night (1951)

Bad Daddy. He'll make the world a gaol.

The Film Noir City - dawn as George comes of age.

Finally The Big Night has time to spill into Rebel Without a Cause, when young George has the ultimate teenage attack of crashing father rejecting anger. 

Finally, and thankfully for all puritans within in range who may be scared of teenagers, The Big Night becomes a moral sock in the jaw concerning marital monotony; and how the man must try and try and try and be the most stubborn of all asses, in order to achieve that highly sought after American goal of social goodness. 

Boys, it's time to be men - amen!

This is the night club scene from THE BIG NIGHT (1951) and well worth seeing in its own right, especially if you are seeking out that brutal coming of age edge which film noir and jazz so dangerously promise . . .

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