Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 1: Priscilla Lane in Blues in the Night (1941)

One of the hallmarks of film noir is the presence of a lovely lady singing an American musical standard, often a torch song. Blues in the Night (1941, dir. Anatole Litvak) is not exactly film noir, made just before Hollywood began to produce the first classics of that cinematic style, but as Priscilla Lane sings “This Time the Dream’s on Me” (written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer especially for this film), the dimly lit interior of the nightclub exhibits the same atmosphere as similar scenes in other examples of noir. Like in many other entries in the genre, jazz is an essential element that heroes, antiheroes and villains cannot do without. Jazz is necessary, as is jealousy, an emotion which is written all over Betty Field’s face during and after her conversation with film noir fixture Wallace Ford at the beginning of the clip.

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