Ambiguous Christmas – Part 3: Noir Before Christmas

Naughty… nice… these are the Christmas movies that are fun.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Christmas one of the first things that comes to mind is film noir. Nothing says “holly jolly Christmas” like terse tough-guys and a fiery femme fatale. But, just in case you aren’t similarly inclined to equate noir with Noel, I’ve got two movies that show that crime and Christmas go together like Santa and reindeer, like tinsel and holly, like zombies and Easter.

Granted, the entire film doesn’t revolve around Christmas, but the holiday provides a pivotal plot point as well as some nice character development. So, I have no qualms with starting off my noir-y night with:

L.A. Confidential (1997) – Dir. Curtis Hanson

Now, before you start calling “shenanigans,” remember: everything that happens in L.A. Confidential is predicated upon the Bloody Christmas incident at the beginning of the film. James Ellroy’s entire story rests on the groundwork put into place by his adaptation of this real life event involving police brutality. If the cops didn’t beat the prisoners they had in custody, then Ed Exley wouldn’t have testified against them, he wouldn’t have been promoted to Detective Lieutenant, Dick Stensland wouldn’t have kicked off the force, so he wouldn’t have been at the Nite Owl, and Exley couldn’t be assigned to the case… etc, etc, etc.

So, no Bloody Christmas, no L.A. Confidential. Also, the intro to Bud White (Russell Crowe) where he pulls the Christmas decorations off the house is probably one of my all-time favorite Christmas scenes.

And the second half of my Christmas noir double-feature:

The Ice Harvest (2005) – Dir. Harold Ramis

You might not think that L.A. Confidential is a Christmas movie, but this neo-noir dark comedy is most definitely a Christmas movie.

Christmas in Wichita, a mob lawyer, a strip club owner, a plot to swindle money from a local crime boss… doesn’t Christmas in Connecticut have a similar story?

Seriously though, the film takes place on Christmas Eve as Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) prepares to abscond with a large sum of his employer’s money. Things are bit more difficult when your employer also happens to be a mob boss

But with the help of his friend Vic (Billy Bob Thorton), Charlie plans to make his escape before anyone knows the money is gone. Unfortunately, the roads are closed due to an ice storm. So Vic and Charlie spend Christmas Eve evading the suspicious mob boss (Randy Quaid), hanging out in strip clubs, drinking and swearing. It’s a wicked good time.

And the naughty folks make Christmas more interesting. Just ask the Krampus.

Part 1Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4Part 5Part 6


6 responses to “Ambiguous Christmas – Part 3: Noir Before Christmas

  1. L.A. Confidential=Amazing

    Ice Harvest=Crap

    That is all

  2. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 2: Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas | Shooting the Script

  3. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 1: Tidings of Great Joy | Shooting the Script

  4. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 4: Better Watch Out | Shooting the Script

  5. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 5: Not a Creature Was Stirring | Shooting the Script

  6. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 6: Baby, It’s Cold Outside | Shooting the Script

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