Saturday, September 24, 2022

Yacht-Noir: A Guide

Freddy Reno Went Missing (Vol. 1) is out now in paperback! The graphic novel is described as yacht-noir, but what exactly is yacht-noirYacht-noir exists at the intersection of the hard-boiled world of neo-noir and the smooth, seaside aesthetic of 70s/80s yacht-rock. To celebrate the release of Freddy Reno Went Missing, let's take a look at classic films in the yacht-noir milieu. 

Cutter's Way (1981)   

Dir. Ivan Passer

Long before Jeff Bridges became an off-beat-neo-noir legend with his turn as The Dude in The Big Lebowski, he starred as gigolo and boat salesman Richard Bone in Cutter's Way.  John Heard keeps everyone on edge as the titular Alex Cutter, a paranoid Vietnam veteran and amateur sleuth in this frantic, ocean-adjacent thriller.

Fletch (1985)

Dir. Michael Ritchie

The Chevy Chase vehicle based on the Gregory McDonald series of novels is a sun-soaked classic in the comedy-noir subgenre and adequately smooth, as evidenced by the theme by Stephanie Mills

Absence of Malice (1981)

Dir. Sydney Pollack

1981 was a good year for yacht-noir and its second entry on our list might be the most yachty. Legendary human being Paul Newman stars as Miami liquor wholesaler and avid sailor Michael Gallagher, a man beleaguered by runaway journos intent on defaming him in the papers, hiding behind anonymous sources. Hot-shot reporter Megan Carter, played by Sally Field, has a change of heart once aboard Gallagher's sweet yacht, Rum Runner.

Night Moves (1975)

Dir. Arthur Penn

Gene Hackman is Harry Moseby, retired football player turned private detective, in this seminal neo-noir from the golden era of the genre. Night Moves combines the traditional missing girl detective narrative with a nautical caper involving sunken treasure.

The Long Goodbye (1973)  

Dir. Robert Altman

One of the all-time great neo-noirs is unsurprisingly one of the best examples of yacht-noir. Elliott Gould's man-out-of-time take on Philip Marlowe contrasts the rumpled hard-boiled detective with sunny, seventies Hollywood.

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