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Tiki Noir

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I just brought this subject up in Beyond Tiki but thejab suggested I move it here since it fits the bill. Sometimes certain folks (none that I know by name) around here can get just a tad touchy and I don't want to step on any tiki-toes by breaking the rules, inspiring anarchy and creating chaos.

Anyway, this is a narrower topic than "Tiki in Old Movies" and what inspired it was my screening last night (at the Parkway) of Sam Fuller's "Underworld USA" (1961) which includes a random incidental tiki statue on Cliff Robertson's coffee table in his bachelor pad while being grilled by gangsters. Other noir/tiki sightings include "711 Ocean Drive" (which I showed last year), with a scene in a Palm Springs tiki bar, and thejab reminded me of "Where Danger Lives" which has, I believe, a scene in an Oakland tiki bar (Hinky Dink's? Zombvie Village?). He mentioned one more but I already forgot it, it's on the old thread in Beyond Tiki.

I also wanted to give a shout out to the excellent limited comic book series "Hawaiian Eye" which came out earlier this year and should be released in an omnbius soon. It's excellent supernatural PI/crime stuff set in Hawaii in the 50s, sort of a cross between "Hawaiian Eye" (TV tiki noir) and "Twilight Zone" with a little voodoo thrown in for good measure.

I also dig Otto's regular "Tiki Noir" section of "Tiki News."

Okay, that about covers it, I think I've "moved" the topic successfully. I don't know how to delete the old one so please forgive me if I've inadvertently snubbed established chat room protocol.


I am a big fan of James Ellroy, who has devoted entire paragraphs to Steve Crane and the Luau, as well as occasional mention of the Zamboanga, Trader Vic's, and so on.



In anticipation of Tiki Oasis 2012's "Polynesian Pulp" sub-theme, it's time to resurrect this old thread.

Yes, a Hollywood Noirish cloud always seemed to hover around Tiki entrepreneur Stephen Crane.

Here he is with ex-wife Lana Turner at their 14-year old daughter Cheryl's trial for the stabbing murder of mob enforcer Johnny Stompanato…

The former Mrs. Crane and Stompanato's tumultuous relationship…

was portrayed in a scene from "LA Confidential"...

In addition to being a Hollywood player and bedding such starlets like Ava Gartner, Rita Hayworth, and Mamie van Doren, Stephen Crane helped define Tiki-style with his Beverly Hills restaurant, the Luau...

where he also ran high-class hookers at the bar !!

At one point Crane was engaged to actress Lila Leeds, but that ended when she was arrested along with Robert Mitchum in his infamous and well publicized marijuana bust…

And here's Crane with future Manson Family murder victim Sharon Tate…

And as stated in a prior post, Author James Ellroy, self-professed "Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction", went as far as referencing Crane and the Luau in one of his short stories...

"The Luau: A tiki-torchlit restaurant rendezvous on Rodeo Drive. A mecca for movie-biz mavens and Beverly Hills business boys. Big booths and baroque backlighting. Tricked-up tropical trappings. Rambunctious rum drinks and rumaki sticks at the bamboo bar. A polyurethane Polynesian paradise - with peekaboo posts perched behind wall panels by the bar and the ladies' too."

"Steve Crane owned the Luau. Steve loved to lurk and look. He voyeur-vamped the joint every night. Steve owned me. I bought him out of a blow-job beef back in '54. Ben Luboff tried to trap him with a 16-year old San Quentin quail. Steve let me lurk in peeper perpetuity."

"Lucious Latinas pulling va-va-va-voom volts. A steller stable too starkly dark to strike up biz in Steve Crane's lily-white Luau. Steve stuck to a strict B-girl Bill of Race Rights. Negro: Nyet, nein, no, not at my place. White: Welcome, what will you have? Latin: Light-skinned Lupes and Lucitas only."

"Lana Turner: Steve Crane's ex. Movie-star mama to Steve's starstruck daughter, Cheryl. Steve was still starved for Lana's lewd love. Steve couldn't stomach thoughts of Johnny Stompanato sticking it to her."


Stephen Crane = real-life TIKI NOIR !!

Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush.


And my Film Noir cross-post from the Oasis thread...

On 2012-04-06 00:28, JOHN-O wrote:

Here are the "Tiki bar" clips...

"Blue Gardenia" is obviously a set but it does have Nat King Cole !!

This is the only Noir that I know of where a Tropical cocktail is integral to the plot.

"Where Danger Lives" however looks to be an actual location. :)

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2012-04-13 08:28 ]

Hope to see recreations of many of these true stories
in Frank Darabont's new TV series "L.A. Noir"
based on the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City.

It will be on TNT next season.

There is also a tiki connection in the Black Dahlia case..

...the whole Tiki Central thread Here.


Very interesting thread, I guess the above location still remains a mystery even after 9 years.

Also as pointed out in the original thread, that is NOT Elizabeth Short...

in the photo above. She's been cropped out.

Maybe to avoid the content from being used in yet another outrageous theory seeking to profit over her death...


The Detective genre was often an recurring subtext in Noir.

A mid-60's favorite of mine was "Honey West" starring Anne Francis.

While only lasting one season, it was memorable for her black cat suit, pet ocelot, groovy Crime Jazz score, and scenes of her tooling around 1965 Los Angeles in an AC Cobra convertible. Plus she was a black belt in Judo !!

Now while not fully Noir in vibe, Honey West had one distinction over fellow private dicks Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Mike Hammer...

She actually went Tiki undercover !!

Not just once as screen-capped here, but twice at this "Tiki" drive-in...

And for some added Dark City credibility, this specific episode featured Noir character actor Percy Helton ("Kiss Me Deadly","Criss Cross","The Set-Up","Thieves' Highway", etc. )...

Honey West = TIKI NOIR !! (or at least Tiki Undercover P.I. :D)

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2012-04-11 09:17 ]


The Tropics restaurant in Denver...

(Scanned by the Bigbro)

I knew that Honey West's undercover outfit rang a Tiki bell for me from some prior TC content. :)


EDIT - Actually that photo above was provided by ZuluMagoo.

[ Edited by: JOHN-O 2012-04-13 09:36 ]

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