Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Favorite LA Noir
It’s impossible to talk about Barcelona without mentioning Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The most successful contemporary writer in Spain, Zafón is highly regarded within international literary circles as well. His Shadow of the Wind series is a perennial top-seller around the world and just recently, he’s launched the fourth and final title within the collection: El Laberinto de los Espíritus (The Labyrinth of the Spirits – the English edition is due out in 2018.)
But before he became an international bestselling author, Zafón was a screenplay writer living in Los Angeles. He continues to maintain a home in LA and is an avid fan of movies produced there — particularly film noir. Here are a few of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s favorite vintage flicks with Los Angeles as a locale.
The movie that set off the film noir movement, a genre that became closely identified with the city of Los Angeles itself, and is still a quintessential theme within movies today. Screenplay by Hollywood legends Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler.
The Big Sleep
Another Chandler novel adapted by William Faulkner with Humphrey Bogart playing Marlowe and Lauren Bacall costarring.
Muder My Sweet
Dick Powell plays Philip Marlowe in what is considered to be one of the best Chandler adaptations ever released.
William Holden narrates this Hollywood classic, even though the opening scene is his lifeless body floating in Norma Desmond’s swimming pool. A winner of three Academy Awards and another Wilder noir classic.
Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jake Gittes helped garner this film’s 11 Oscar nominations. Director Roman Polanski appears in one of the most memorable cameo scenes ever, as the gangster who cuts Gittes’ nose.
This comedy directed by Stephen Spielberg and written by Robert Zemeckis received little notoriety initially, but has become a cult hit in recent years. The cast headed up by John Belushi, Ned Beatty, John Candy, and Dan Aykroyd deal with a panic in LA after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/neo-noir release is judged by many critics to be one of the best films ever made. Harrison Ford received great press for his performance as the conflicted bounty hunter and the theme song, by Vangelis, with a mournfully haunting saxaphone solo by Dick Morrissey, is another film highlight.
Into the Night
A comedy thriller set at LAX, starring Michele Pfeiffer, Dan Aykroyd, Jeff Goldblum and David Bowie playing a hit man. Most noteworthy, are 20 cameo appearances by award-winning directors and a top-selling sound track by B.B. King.
This enormously successful black comedy was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Quentin Tarantino won for his screenplay. The film was also awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.
Classic noir film, based on the 1990 novel by James Ellroy. Interestingly, director Curtis Hanson’s decision to include two unknown Australian actors, Russell Crowe and Guy Pierce, was considered extremely risky at the time.
Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson produced this HBO series that is now in international syndication. The main character, modeled after Wahlberg himself, is a successful young star, originally from New York, trying to acclimate to his new life in LA.