As I’ve been going through the 250-movie Mystery Collection, I’ve seen quite a few flicks that some cineastes would label as cinema noir or film noir–most of them low-budget black-and-white movies, usually badly filmed and seeming to celebrate the darker side of humanity.
Some of them probably are film noir. Some of them I’ve even enjoyed (as I have some of the classics of the supposed genre). All of them, as far as I can tell, have been labeled as noir classics or at least interesting noir by IMDB’s merry band of amateur reviewers, for some of whom almost any movie has not only redeeming but praiseworthy characteristics. [I just checked: Yep, some of the IMDB reviews for Apache Blood, almost certainly the worst Western ever filmed and a strong contender for worst movie of all time, manage to find some merit in it.]
But some of them aren’t. They’re not subtle or existential inquiries into the darker side of humanity. They’re not … oh, you can supply your own set of noirish comments.
They’re mist filme. I would have called them cinema merde, but that phrase has been taken (both in that form and as cinema de merde), and seems to be used for the “so bad they’re entertaining” stuff like, well, Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Mist filme is German for “shit films” or “crappy films” according to Google Translate–at least it’s the version that doesn’t require special characters. I plan to use it in the future as shorthand for movies that are just plain crappy–not “if only they had more talent” bad, not “worth satirizing” bad, just bad.
I don’t remember how many movies from the first 28 discs of the 60-disc set fall into this category. I certainly don’t plan to go back and find out. My most recent run-in with mist filme came yesterday, when I began viewing Disc 29 with The Hoodlum, the first of four movies (three of them around one hour long, all presumably B “programmers” filmed to fill out double bills) on the disc.
The movie has no redeeming virtues that I could find. I watched the whole thing partly because it was short, partly because I kept hoping there would be something to redeem it. Nope. But look at the IMDB page: an average rating of 6.2, which would make it a pretty good flick. Maybe so, if mist filme is your thing.
I’ve been down to one old flick a week, but this time I moved on to the next movie just a day later, if only to balance out the crappy movie. The next one: Dick Tracy’s Dilemma, By comparison, it’s a masterpiece. (I’ll post the review after I watch the other two flicks on this disc, as usual.)
Mist filme. A genre to be avoided at all costs.
Update: On further reflection and the advice of sensible folk, I realize that there’s no way I’ll make a neologism like this work. So it’s back to either “film merde” or just “crap” as a descriptor.