By Rob M. Worley
December 18, 2008
When ‘The Spirit‘ arrives in theaters on December 25th, moviegoers will be invited into a world that comics-auteur turned filmmaker Frank Miller calls “modern noir.” It’s a Chandleresque place the evokes Hollywood’s tough guys of old, but still holds the modern conveniences of the present day.
This is the cinematic realization of Will Eisner’s Central City.
“I’m pretty much an encyclopedia of film noir,” Miller told reporters at a recent press gathering for the film.
Actor Dan Lauria, who plays Commissioner Dolan in the film, is also a student of the genre and made it his mission to test Millers’ acumen.
“I’m a thief. I mean, whenever I do anything I rob from an old actor that nobody remembers,” Lauria admitted. “So, I told Frank the last play I did I was doing Richard Conte. Nobody knew who he was. So he said, ‘Who are you doing in this movie?’ And I said, ‘Ah, you wouldn’t know him’ and he said, ‘No, try me out.’ and I says ‘Bart MacLane’.
“He listed every Bart MacLane movie. I couldn’t do one bit without him telling me what movie I’d stolen from.”
“Frank actually told me you were doing Dane Clark,” Gabriel Macht, who plays Denny Colt, a.k.a. The Spirt, chimes in. However, the leading man agrees that the modern noir vibe helped shape his performance.
“I think tone is really important and I think this film is a great blend of what Eisner and Frank was able to create,” said Macht. “There is a bit of the Raymond Chandler gumshoe detective. I think if you are not honest in your approach to the material it could get slapsticky and it could get schticky. We didn’t go there. I think, what’s up there on the screen, what we were able to get is a little bit more extreme in the sense that it’s a comic book movie.”
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