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JUNE 19 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS


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#21 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:53 PM

6.The Big Sleep—I’m happy that this version at least makes some sense of the plot.  The last time I saw it I didn’t know what was going on.  I like rapid fire monologues that reveal the sardonic view of the protagonist, especially by someone as skilled as Bogart, but when they go on forever just to explain to you what’s going on in the story, not so good for me…it’s like when you have to explain a joke; takes some of the air out of it.  Also I think in this one the noir is too heavy handed; the pretentiously decorated house rented from Mars that they keep going back to, the gothic entranceway to the Sternwood mansion, and the greenhouse all would’ve been really interesting locales, but there’s something pretentious about it all.  It seemed like it was all there “for the sake of” and not really integrated.  Not a favorite of mine.



#22 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:52 PM

5.Gilda-This is another one of those films that is in a class by itself.  A great solid classic hunk of entertainment even if the only lighting was a bar of four floods attached to the top of the camera.  This entire film fires on all cylinders from beginning to end.  It rests on the very able shoulders of the two leads and both Hayworth and Ford are evenly matched and engage you from the moment you see them. The first time we see Miss Hayworth and she does the hair flip, it comes off as if she’s doing it for Glenn Ford and for us too as an audience.  It’s the perfect blend of presenting the “star” without losing the character or taking us out of the story.  As far as some noir elements:  the contrast between the innocuous “Amado Mio”, the song she sings while she’s dressed in white and the unforgettable “Put the Blame on Mame” in the black satin tells a story in itself.  “Amado Mio” sets up a baseline for Gilda’s normal performance level: she’s in control of her body, sultry but not vulgar, not engaging the audience in an inappropriate way.  The outfit is saucy but not dangerously sexy.  Seeing her cut loose in the “Mame” number, shows that she is moving into uncharted territory.  Up until now we’ve seen her as a graceful, tasteful dancer. We know that this is not usual for her.  She is pulling out all the stops here. A strip-tease in a strapless dress.



#23 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:51 PM

4.Crack-Up-This one has a fun premise and has some great atmospheric lighting effects on the train.  Casting Claire Trevor in this as the heroine of sorts is effective, because you don’t know if she’s good or bad.  It keeps you guessing.  


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#24 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:50 PM

2. Cornered-Dick Powell plays one of those bull in a china shop guys who plows through to get what he wants, in this case revenge for the murder of his wife, with such a vengeance that he’s at cross-purposes with himself.  A standout moment cinematically was the reality of the bomb-devastation—the rubble he walked through seemed very real.  Also the camera’s rear view of the jeep driving to the bombsite seemed like a real shot.  No rear projection here.  That’s why a quick piece of stock footage of a subway train with “Florida” on it seemed out of place.  Also the flickering lights of the subway train on them plus the loud sound of the train interrupting their conversation was effective in bringing back Powell’s bad memories of the war, a PTSD moment.  Very proficient noir touches.  Shadows, gobos, etc.  This movie had an espionage theme, timely because it was about the Nazis that relocated to South America.  “Notorious” did it better.



#25 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:49 PM

3. Nocturne-opens with a composer/lothario serenading his latest conquest in a song he supposedly has written for her, ending with a lyric that has him unceremoniously dumping her.  He gets shot.  I would’ve shot him sixteen bars earlier.  George Raft was the lead in this.  Director Edwin L. Marin fares much better with this as noir than he did with “Johnny Angel.” The lighting is terrific, very painstaking, going the extra mile to put you into the world of the story.  A terrific sequence in this film is the use of sound and lighting in a pivotal scene.  Raft goes to a photo studio to investigate.  There is no underscoring.  We hear various sound effects, one a rhythmic banging which becomes more prominent as the scene goes on.  As the tension builds, there is still no music—we are not manipulated.  We are in the room, with the lighting and the sound, and we fend for ourselves.  Very Effective.



#26 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:47 PM

1. The Killers

 

Another blueprint for noir, in structure, design, and story.  Some standout noir moments: This film, in structure, is very much like “Citizen Kane.” The central character gets murdered at the beginning, and through numerous interviews and flashbacks, we get a sense of his “story,” which increasingly fleshes out with each subsequent flashback.  Edmund O’Brien is spot-on perfect as the insurance investigator doing the interviewing. All of the other supporting actors also know exactly what they’re supposed to do in a film like this.  They are all part of the “noir landscape, individual elements in the film’s composition.” (Foster Hirsch, “The dark Side of the Screen”): they are killer strong when called on to be so, then melt back.  The problem with this film is the two stars.  Neither consistently displays the fabulous acting heft they both developed later on in their careers.  Put them against the other seasoned noir actors and they just can’t compete.  There is no question that their screen images are breathtakingly beautiful: Gardner’s first appearance at the piano with the key light and the shadow across the forehead; Lancaster’s prolonged medium close up in a bed that was lit like a Bruce Weber portrait.  These looked like sessions with Hurrell; spectacular images.  Too bad the performances were under water.  Look at the other actors in the piece:  in screen presence, Stella, Jim Reardon’s secretary at the insurance office that IMDB lists as “Ann Staunton”, is terrific; she knows the kind of part she has in the type of movie this is and she runs with it.  Her lines are spring-loaded and she delivers them with a punch, maximum effect, and then goes about her business, melting back into the landscape.  Not to mention any of the tough guys: Dum-Dum, Blinky, Big Jim, even Jim Reardon, who rises to the noir occasion when he tries to make Dum-Dum think he's crossing over to the bad side,  the actors inhabiting these roles really knew what they were doing.  The two stars not so much.  Gardner fared a little better.  If only they’d made this after they got a few more movies under their belts.  They certainly brought it big time later, just not in this.  I always look at the acting first. Next, this film has so many fantastic noir effects: the opening scene had the highest ratio of dark to light while retaining some detail in each that I’ve seen.  All the long shadows outside the diner, creating how streets like that in a place like that might look/feel.  It puts us there.  The crane shot depicting the payroll robbery was complicated and done without a cut, plus the lead-in has the insurance boss reading the account from the newspaper, so once it cross dissolves to the actual scene, the effect is that we’re watching a newsreel.  Brilliant.  In Gardner’s first scene, when Lancaster goes on the other side of the piano to get a mesmerized look at her, there’s this very phallic candle lamp almost correctly anatomically placed between them.  Noir did push that censor envelope!  



#27 pestocat

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 06:21 PM

I believe I estimated about the same time for my answer. Boy was I wrong, last Wednesday (6/24), I spent 3 hours going over studies, working on the Daily Dose and that was without viewing any of the weekly movies. But I'm not complaining, this class is so educational and interesting.

 

Burning the post-midnight oil again....

I remember estimating that I would be spending 4-8 hrs a week on this course. Ha! It's taking 25-30 to watch the movies. Then there are the lectures, the readings, the "5 minutes" of daily darkness, taking notes on the readings for the quizzes, the podcasts, the background readings, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I'm not complaining because I am really enjoying this, but speaking of heists....

 



#28 cigarjoe

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 05:27 PM

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a first rate neo-noir (post noir cycle movie).    The ending is very poignant.     Peter Boyle is great in the film and of course there is Mitchum.    Many people only know Boyle from Young Frankenstein and as Raymond's dad.  

Boyle is also great in Hammett playing Pinkerton Ryan, Dash "Sam" Hammett's inspiration for the Continental Op, check it out sometime.



#29 Marianne

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 03:59 PM

Just watched Hollow Triumph (The Scar). I prefer the title Hollow Triumph, which sets you up to expect a twist at the end. That added an extra bit of anticipation for me, and the movie delivered. Another big plus: Joan Bennett was everything a jaded Noir dame in love with a bad guy should be.

 

But.

 

That accent! Really? Paul Henreid has an accent. His brother doesn't. The doctor has the same accent? Of all the unbelievable aspects to this story, this is the part that really gets me. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but that was just silly. (I also had to overlook the fact that Evelyn still wanted to run away with the man who knocked her to the ground.)

 

I also agree with the other poster who said Henreid is just too elegant to be a bad guy.

 

With all that being said, I enjoyed the heck out of Hollow Triumph.

 

And I'm left to imagine what happens to Evelyn once she gets to Hawaii. I'd definitely watch that movie.

Every time someone points out another gaping hole in the plot or in the believability department for Hollow Triumph, I think, "Yeah, that's true." But Paul Henreid was just so good that I was willing to suspend my own disbelief time and again. He was just so different from his character in Casablanca, which is the role that I usually associate with him.

 

I wondered about Evelyn in Hawai'i too. Did she move there? Go for a vacation? Would she even want another film noir plot and bad guy to deal with?! She sounded pretty pessimistic to me by the time she got on that ship, and yet she still hoped to meet Paul Henreid. It could have gone either way for her, and I think that's another thing that I really liked about Hollow Triumph. So ambiguous, for her anyway.



#30 morrison94114

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 01:31 PM

I enjoyed the podcast on the relative merits or lack thereof of Dick Powell's performance in Murder My Sweet. I thought he was a serviceable Marlowe, better than I expected, but not fully able to project the tough guy persona seen in Bogart's performance as Marlowe.

 

I was happily surprised at how effective I thought he was in Cornered. The stubbly beard and the scar in his hairline were nice touches, but even without these physical traits his performance was tough as nails. If Cornered was the only movie I'd ever seem Dick Powell in, I wouldn't guess that he'd had a career as a song and dance man.



#31 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:11 AM

 

Mystery Street

 

A few things about this movie really popped out at me. First was the use of forensic science. Even though I’m used to watching shows like CSI and SVU, I was still intrigued by the state of the art, so to speak, in 1950. My borrowed DVD copy came with commentary by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, and they mentioned that all the science in Mystery Street would have been brand-new to audiences in 1950. And, of course, it was old-fashioned footwork that finally got Morales his man. (This point still comes up today; I’ve heard it frequently in reference to the Boston Marathon investigation.)

 

Another thing that popped out at me was the yellow Ford, which was owned by Henry Shanway, and the way that it was dumped in the water. Did anyone else remember the scene in Psycho (1960) when Janet Leigh’s car is dumped in the water by Anthony Perkins? And then the yellow Ford was pulled out of the water as part of the plot and the investigation in Mystery Street, but in Psycho, as I recall, it’s pulled out behind the closing credits. Hmm. Makes me think Hitchcock did a bit of creative borrowing.

 

I kept wondering if MGM went to Boston to shoot on location because of publicity surrounding the Boston Strangler. But no, the Strangler’s crime wave started in 1960 and lasted through 1962. A lot of the locations in Mystery Street don’t exist anymore. When I watch The Friends of Eddie Coyle (another great movie, shot in the Boston area and released in 1973), I’m always amazed at how much the city of Boston has changed.

 

 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a first rate neo-noir (post noir cycle movie).    The ending is very poignant.     Peter Boyle is great in the film and of course there is Mitchum.    Many people only know Boyle from Young Frankenstein and as Raymond's dad.  


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#32 Marianne

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 10:05 AM

Mystery Street

 

A few things about this movie really popped out at me. First was the use of forensic science. Even though I’m used to watching shows like CSI and SVU, I was still intrigued by the state of the art, so to speak, in 1950. My borrowed DVD copy came with commentary by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, and they mentioned that all the science in Mystery Street would have been brand-new to audiences in 1950. And, of course, it was old-fashioned footwork that finally got Morales his man. (This point still comes up today; I’ve heard it frequently in reference to the Boston Marathon investigation.)

 

Another thing that popped out at me was the yellow Ford, which was owned by Henry Shanway, and the way that it was dumped in the water. Did anyone else remember the scene in Psycho (1960) when Janet Leigh’s car is dumped in the water by Anthony Perkins? And then the yellow Ford was pulled out of the water as part of the plot and the investigation in Mystery Street, but in Psycho, as I recall, it’s pulled out behind the closing credits. Hmm. Makes me think Hitchcock did a bit of creative borrowing.

 

I kept wondering if MGM went to Boston to shoot on location because of publicity surrounding the Boston Strangler. But no, the Strangler’s crime wave started in 1960 and lasted through 1962. A lot of the locations in Mystery Street don’t exist anymore. When I watch The Friends of Eddie Coyle (another great movie, shot in the Boston area and released in 1973), I’m always amazed at how much the city of Boston has changed.



#33 Jeanne Marie

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 12:32 AM

Just watched Hollow Triumph (The Scar). I prefer the title Hollow Triumph, which sets you up to expect a twist at the end. That added an extra bit of anticipation for me, and the movie delivered. Another big plus: Joan Bennett was everything a jaded Noir dame in love with a bad guy should be.

 

But.

 

That accent! Really? Paul Henreid has an accent. His brother doesn't. The doctor has the same accent? Of all the unbelievable aspects to this story, this is the part that really gets me. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but that was just silly. (I also had to overlook the fact that Evelyn still wanted to run away with the man who knocked her to the ground.)

 

I also agree with the other poster who said Henreid is just too elegant to be a bad guy.

 

With all that being said, I enjoyed the heck out of Hollow Triumph.

 

And I'm left to imagine what happens to Evelyn once she gets to Hawaii. I'd definitely watch that movie.


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#34 Jeanne Marie

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 12:16 AM

Have you seen the version of The Big Sleep that was shown only to arm forces personal overseas?  This version is easier to understand since more of the focus is placed on the plot instead of the romance between Marlow and Vivian (which in the book doesn't even take place since Marlow is having an affair with Mrs. Mars). 

 

After B&B got married, Jack Warner had Hawks redo the film beefing up the romance and removing scenes that helped explain the story.   To me this explains why the final general public release of the film is confusing more so than code restrictions (but yea, those don't help).

 

I believe that's on my DVD copy. It has both versions, with an explanation of the scenes that were changed. It's been a while since I watched it, but from what I remember, scenes were redone to emphasize the sparks between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was at the request of her manager, but the studio saw the reasoning behind boosting her presence. The original version was also more linear, if I remember correctly. But that doesn't really help. I've seen both versions AND read the book, and I still couldn't follow the plot!


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#35 Jeanne Marie

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 12:10 AM

No way out ... having gone in this far, we begin to notice that film noir has pulled the perfect heist on us and we have to surrender huge chunks of our time to it.

 

We can sleep when we're dead :)

 

Seriously. I've been up to midnight or past way too many nights this week. I ended up passing out for a nap on the couch late this afternoon. Didn't I read 1-2 hours plus watching movies? Not if you're reading all the interesting insights in these message boards!



#36 Jeanne Marie

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 12:05 AM

Just a heads up, I believe the original source material had the prejudice based on homosexuality, it was changed for the film. 

 

That makes a lot more sense based on some of the comments the murderer makes. Thanks very much for that tidbit.



#37 WilliamsonEM6

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 12:32 PM

Not too many people are commenting on the modern noirs shown, but I liked Night Moves well enough. I'll rephrase that, I liked Gene Hackman in Night Moves, and that's about it.
 
I recently watched Get Carter, and really enjoyed it. Like most of the films we've viewed, it had the amoral hero, the setting of a urban place with a criminal underbelly, a mix of sex and violence, and less overt chiaroschuro but almost completely realistic (on-location) cinematography (it is in color). There were other shots or sequences that reminded me of other films including but not limited to, La Bete Humaine, Murder, My Sweet (Chandler in general), The Killers, and Gun Crazy. Michael Caine was absolutely great.
 
Note: It's interesting because all these other actors feel so timeless because most of them lived or died before I was born, but Michael Caine is still alive, so he did some more than questionable things where I was like, "Michael Caine, you're like my grandfather, you're Alfred." I know it sounds crazy.
 
Wonder why they chose not show Thief (1981)?


#38 CarolinaNoir

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 11:57 AM

Hollow Triumph

 

I've been focusing my viewing time on watching films I don't have in my personal collection.  Hollow Triumph is one, and after watching this wonderful film I will be adding it.  I've seen several films lensed by John Alton and this is one of the best.  It seemed like every scene was draped in chiaroscuro lighting.  I've always liked Paul Henried's films and this performance is no acceptation.  However, it's Joan Bennett that steals this film for me I loved her performance and she had some great lines.

 

I think Eduard Franz's roll as the searching brother is interesting.  In many noir films there is a character which represents the good side of society and that character tries to pull the noir protagonist out from the noir world.  I usually think of this character and many films nor usually represent this character as a woman.  However, in this film that character is represented by a man. 


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#39 cigarjoe

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 05:03 AM

I completely agree with all your points on Crossfire. I kept thinking of the Charleston gunman as Robert Young was explaining how hate takes root and explodes into death. It just made me sad. But I also thought it was interesting that he only talked about prejudice based on religion. Not on race.

 

And yes, we needed far more Mitchum than we got. His role was odd. I kept expecting his character to grow in importance as the investigation progressed, but he never really did.

 

And I love seeing Gloria Grahame in anything. I've only seen her do bad girl roles, so I don't know if she ever had a chance to branch out, but she does bad girl great.

Just a heads up, I believe the original source material had the prejudice based on homosexuality, it was changed for the film. 



#40 garovick

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:12 AM

I completely agree with all your points on Crossfire. I kept thinking of the Charleston gunman as Robert Young was explaining how hate takes root and explodes into death. It just made me sad. But I also thought it was interesting that he only talked about prejudice based on religion. Not on race.

 

And yes, we needed far more Mitchum than we got. His role was odd. I kept expecting his character to grow in importance as the investigation progressed, but he never really did.

 

And I love seeing Gloria Grahame in anything. I've only seen her do bad girl roles, so I don't know if she ever had a chance to branch out, but she does bad girl great.

Yes, it was odd about Michum's role. It seemed like he was kind of just along for the ride.


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