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JUNE 26 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS


162 replies to this topic

#1 Marianne

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 01:46 PM

Dickie Moore died on September 7,  2015.    You may have just found that out, but it didn't happen 'today'.

 

Thanks for confirming. None of the articles I read online gave the day of Dickie Moore's death.



#2 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 12:40 PM

Just found out that Dickie Moore passed away today (September 12, 2015). So cute in Our Gang.

 

Dickie Moore died on September 7,  2015.    You may have just found that out, but it didn't happen 'today'.



#3 Marianne

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 12:36 PM

 

Out of the Past

 

. . . Movie trivia: According to Wikipedia. Dickie Moore, who played The Kid, is one of the few living members of Our Gang from the original Hal Roach series and also one of the few living actors of the silent film era. He’s now 89.

 

 

Just found out that Dickie Moore passed away today (September 12, 2015). So cute in Our Gang.



#4 Marianne

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 05:35 PM

The Third Man

 

Before I forget...just why did Harry Lime want Holly Martin to meet him in Vienna anyway? 

 

I was fully prepared to hate this film because 1. Orson Welles, and 2. Zither music. In the end though I think I could have liked it...Welles was hardly in it and did very little to annoy me but the whole movie (for me) was rendered virtually un-watchable by that awful music! Every single moment there was a lull, up it popped...dum dee dum dee dummdee dum...until I found my teeth physically aching and finger hovering above the fast-forward button. Please someone tell me that there's a version you can get without the score! 

 

Anyway. Ignoring the score, it made great use of the setting in post-war Vienna, lots of dramatic night lighting and Noir skewed angles, great set-pieces and the scenes in the sewers were terrific and a suitably serpentine plot. I enjoyed Joseph Cotton's acting and Trevor Howard was good and even - dare I say it - Orson Welles played his part well.

 

That Zither music though...

 

I think the zither music was supposed to get on your nerves by the end of the movie! Harry Lime seemed like lots of fun until Holly Martin found out what he was really doing in Vienna. That's when things start to unravel and, I believe, the zither music gets a lot more repetitive.

 

Harry Lime invited Holly Martin to Vienna with an offer of a job. Jobs and food and just about everything were scarce during and after the war in Europe. Unless, of course, you're Harry Lime working in the black market.



#5 Sir David

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 02:29 PM

Berlin Express

 

A Realist movie, and - for me - a very important movie. I've seen many photos of post-war ruination but seeing it in a movie setting really brought home just how devastating it must've been to have had to live in such a setting after the war. How did the people cope? How did they live? How difficult it must've been to have rebuilt...I don't even know if I would have know how or where to begin. I wonder too if the struggle to survive (and the personal selfishness - in the form of basic survival) it must have engendered sowed the seeds of the future decline of so many of the standards people held dear before the war leading us to the selfishness we see all around us today? 

 

The plot was, in my opinion, not really all that important in terms of everything else, but it was an enjoyable movie. Robert Ryan I liked, though this could be more because he carried my surname in the movie, than anything else! I liked Eddie Muller's comments about the filming of Merle Oberon by her husband...I agree, he did manage to make her look average in pretty well every scene! 

 

The backdrop was the real star though (even though in a tragic way). I wonder what the actors thought as they performed against such a depressing "real" background? 



#6 Sir David

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 02:51 PM

Act of Violence

 

I think I must be all Noired out after watching this, my 86th film from the schedule, because I simply couldn't care less about the two protagonists. Van Heflin deserved his Noir-come-uppance for being a stool-pigeon, of course, but they never made Ryan at all sympathetic enough for us to really care that he was a good guy hell-bent on revenge, he was simply there. It's as if they expected the limp alone to make us think he was threatening but at the same time deserving of getting revenge for it and his happy ending.

 

Personally, I think it would have been a far better film had Van Helfin continued to lie and deny and portray himself as the victim until the very end. Still, it is what it is, and there were some great noir visuals if nothing else and I thought Mary Astor as the worn-out hustler was excellent: I wish she'd had a more prominent role. 



#7 Sir David

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 04:35 PM

The Third Man

 

Before I forget...just why did Harry Lime want Holly Martin to meet him in Vienna anyway? 

 

I was fully prepared to hate this film because 1. Orson Welles, and 2. Zither music. In the end though I think I could have liked it...Welles was hardly in it and did very little to annoy me but the whole movie (for me) was rendered virtually un-watchable by that awful music! Every single moment there was a lull, up it popped...dum dee dum dee dummdee dum...until I found my teeth physically aching and finger hovering above the fast-forward button. Please someone tell me that there's a version you can get without the score! 

 

Anyway. Ignoring the score, it made great use of the setting in post-war Vienna, lots of dramatic night lighting and Noir skewed angles, great set-pieces and the scenes in the sewers were terrific and a suitably serpentine plot. I enjoyed Joseph Cotton's acting and Trevor Howard was good and even - dare I say it - Orson Welles played his part well.

 

That Zither music though...

 

 



#8 stargazing

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:28 PM

"They Won't Believe Me"

 

*SPOILER ALERT*

 

I have a question about this one--how did Greta die? was it an accident? did she trip and fall? I couldn't tell what had happened. Interesting how the horse ended up as a witness/leading the police to her body.



#9 Shannon Muir

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:02 AM

Thanks for the explanation. But I have to admit that such an assumption seems almost like a flaw in Out of the Past, in any movie. If one didn't know this kind of convention in film noir, one would be hard-pressed to come up with "good people involved with those in the noir world" as an explanation. I prefer to have a movie be its own self-contained universe, to be honest.

This was exactly the same assumption about the Kid's motives both my husband and I arrived at on seeing this film. It also meant that, by doing so, she could have closure and not carry those doubts or uncertainty lingering with her past haunting her. It left her free to build a new future. In this way it ties in with the title.

 

Was also quite surprised for the time period that a deaf and dumb character played such a pivotal role instead of being relegated to either a comedy or very small position. That was kind of refreshing. As someone else said, I wonder what the extent of his role was in the book. Could it have been expanded on from the book, or could he even be an added character? We've seen that in modern cinema. I'm going to go see if I can locate the text and compare.



#10 Shannon Muir

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:54 AM

I was actually on my honeymoon when I stumbled across information about the class while trying to find out what movie was on TCM in the hotel room (turned out it was a Christopher Lee marathon day). We didn't come home for a few days after so I had to rely on the TCM app to try and catch up on some films, and based on the class materials decided to just do OUT OF THE PAST and THE THIRD MAN as my selections for the week. Getting back up to speed with the rest of my life - not to mention the other lectures and quizzes -  just didn't allow for any more viewing :(

 

I'll take these in reverse order. THE THIRD MAN proved to be visually stunning as well as a complicated and woven plot. An interesting side note is that my husband also loves radio drama and mentioned to me that the Harry Lyme character had a radio drama that opened with him being shot at in a sewer, and that the whole radio drama is a prequel to the events of THE THIRD MAN and that it ran before the film came out. It seems odd to both of us people would have been rooting for the Lyme character in another medium as protagonist while he's clearly the antagonist (I don't think villain works, Harry's got a bit more dimension to him) in the film. Still, we both enjoyed watching it together (though he'd already seen it by himself once before).

 

OUT OF THE PAST proved slightly hard to follow at times, and I can best compare it to metaphorically peeling off the layers of an onion about the lead's life. The part where things got most confusing was when the secretary and the first female associate in the latter part of the film were cast too similar in looks (for us anyway) and for a bit we lost track of which was which. Once the pieces fell into place, the film worked for us. Good use of framing, and staging... particularly items like the lamp getting knocked over and the storm blowing the door open as a metaphor for physical pleasure still sticks out.



#11 pestocat

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 03:23 PM

The Setup

I'm not a boxing fan and so was not looking forward to watching this film. But I really enjoyed this film noir display. As Bill is preparing for the match, he glances out the window to his apartment to see if his wife has left and decided to watch him after all. The boxing scenes are very good and seem very real. The close ups of the boxing audience were excellent. These are real boxing fans. The overexcited women were interesting to see. The night scenes where Julie is walking the streets while Bill is boxing has film noir shadows. There the French poetic realism, Bill is 35 and past his prime he wants to win just one more in order to get the to the next level. As with the other 'elder' boxers, there is that dream to just win one more so that they move up. But they never get there and come back and are beat up and are sent off to the hospital. There is no hope. Lots of shadows as Bill is beat up in the dark alley. But in the end Bill's right hand is broken so bad that he knows he can't again and so he knows that Julie is happy too. 



#12 Jon Severino

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 11:36 PM

WEEK 4
 
POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (MGM,47): Dead Letters.
When Chambers (Garfield) burns the "Man Wanted" sign after hearing Cora (Lana) is married, his fate is sealed.
 
THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME (RKO,47): Unbelievable.
Ballentine, though innocent, committed the crimes in his heart so he thinks no jury will believe him.  
 
THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH (RKO,47): Bygones.
After being baptized by water and fire, they see the light. 
 
LADY IN THE LAKE (MGM,47): Private eyes.
Movie's 1st person POV fails because audiences identify with movie stars more easily than with themselves.
 
OUT OF THE PAST (RKO,47): To betray or not to be.
Kathy is treacherous because she attracts the treacherous type.
 
POSSESSED (WB,47): Interpretation Of Dreams.
Madness as a waking dream of fears and wish-fulfillment.
 
ACT OF VIOLENCE (MGM,48): Informer? (I hardly knew her).
Another noir protagonist who finds the country is no sanctuary from his past sins.
 
THE SET-UP (RKO,49): Pocket Full Of Mumbles. 
A boxer's managers fix a fight and forgot to tell him figuring him for a loser.
 
THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS (WB,44): Truth Is Scarier Than Fiction.
A novelist is intrigued by the story of a cadaver and while investigating, finds he's alive and deadly.
 
BERLIN EXPRESS (RKO,48): Insult To Codebreakers.
Heavy-handed allegory about Allied cooperation in war torn Berlin but thrilling action.
 
THE STRANGER (RKO,46): At least the clocks ran on time.
Time runs out on a Nazi war criminal. Welles proves he can make an on-time under-budget movie & it shows.
 
THE THIRD MAN (Selznick,49): Sublime.
Great speech and score. Why did Lime call Holly? Was he suppose to be the 3rd man or the corpse? 
Did the balloon man stumble because he's drunk or because Vienna is crooked?

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#13 Katrina

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 11:57 AM

1. The Postman Always Rings Twice: Cora has to be one of the most manipulative women in film history. While it's true that Frank started the ball rolling when he insisted on hitting on a married woman, she certainly uses it for her advantage. At one point she tells Frank that if he loved her he would kill her husband. There is nothing colder than that.  You see it all the way through the piece that she is perfectly willing to hold things over Frank's head, to threaten him, to manipulate him with the "love" she has for him.I think that when Frank and Cora run away that first time, the moment they turn around on that road, Frank, Cora & Nick are all dead from that point forward. I think had they kept going the love affair would've been measured in weeks, over before it had barely begun. But her decision to keep a man who lured her away from her husband in her sphere of orbit is clearly because she plans on using him. There is a constant stream of cross/double cross in this one that is insane. As far as stylistic elements are concerned, the scene that stuck with me visually was the one where they club nick. The camera focuses on Frank's shoes and the bottle right next to them. the bottle goes up and the camera next cuts to a close up of Cora's face. You never see Nick...just see the horror on Cora's face. It's a fascinating sequence from the audience's perspective and from the elements of Noir perspective. The things that are left to the imagination allow for the scene to be infinitely more horrifying than it would've been if they had shown us what happened.

 

2. They Won't Believe Me: The story is told by means of testimony being told from the witness stand...a bit like Murder, My Sweet was a story being told in a police interrogation room...the opening has the same sort of feeling to it. Larry isn't a likable person, he's a cheater, a ladies man & a liar. We talked a lot about the concept of fate last week, how one of the characteristics of a Noir film is that the man character doesn't seem to be able to take responsibility for the fact that they caused the problem themselves. In this case while he wasn't a killer, he did make the decision to let the police believe that the woman's body in the car was his wife. He also took one look at the jury's grim expressions and believed he was doomed so he tried to make a break for it. Those were his decisions, both of which cost him everything. You can't feel bad for him as much as you would normally because he isn't a likable character. 

 

3. The Woman on the Beach: There is this wild surrealist dream sequence in the beginning of the film. There is also this strong notion of obsession. The blind painter is obsessed with his art and his wife becomes someone else's obsession. It's the idea of obsession controlling them. This upstanding naval officer finds himself driven to murder for love of a woman...it comes not from love but from his obsession. 

 

4. Lady in the Lake: I did not understand why the film credits had christmas music in them at all...didn't fit with anything about the film...it opens like remember the night or christmas in Connecticut...not like a noir film. Though the random gun at the end of the title sequence. I didn't like the first person camera stuff...I felt like it was way overused in this film. I also kind of felt like the big payoff was too hinted at...I figured out pretty quickly that the body in the lake was the missing wife. From that point forward it was waiting for them to keep up. I think going back to the daily dose for dark passage, first person POV can be a useful tool...but using it for the entire film is unnerving and distracting. I get why, the idea is probably to replicate the first person narrative from the marlowe books but it doesn't translate well to the big screen. Also the whole subplot with him being a writer...I'm reading the book right now...just started it...and that bit is so far not in there at all. 

 

5. Out of the Past: I heard someone say once that where plays are concerned, the story typically starts when something comes along to destroy the status quo. I think that is definitely what we are dealing with in this film. You have the idea of someone living a happy quiet existence which is shattered by the arrival of an old friend. It is this old friend that upends his life....it reminded me of "The Killers" in that the Swede had settled into a new existence until the man who had betrayed him rediscovered him and sent the killers after him. 

 

6. Possessed: This entire film feels like a decent into madness..One of the shrinks she sees early on says that basically you know you're crazy when you can no longer distinguish between the things that only exist in your mind and the things that are actually happening. The Filmmakers are very clever with how they show that...they shoot her first delusion as if it's actually happening...the only way we know it isn't is that the camera cuts from the dead body on the floor to a living version of the same person as she comes through the door. 

 

7. Act of Violence: Frank has this need to atone. It's what prompted his involvement in the housing complex, it is what prompted him to stand on a train track and try to get run over. It was what prompted him to save the life of the man who wanted to kill him. He was trying to do the right thing...and you can't hate him for that. 

 

8. The Set-Up: There is a small character in this one, Luther, that really interested me. He's intelligent, well-spoken and seemingly well regarded by the other boxers. This is fascinating to me, it was typical for films from the golden age of hollywood to portray black actors as unintelligent comic relief servant types. For one to be well spoken and well regarded was rare and memorable. 

 

9. The Mask of Dimitrios: there was a very cool quote by Leiden early in the film. "He died by Violence, that's justice isn't it?" Brings up an interesting point about Noir Films and the production code. The Production code wanted every bad guy to be punished...and it didn't care how really. Leiden seems to be poking fun at that fact...that it didn't really matter if the "justice" made sense in the story. It didn't matter if it was accidental or on purpose, it didn't even matter who enacted said justice so long as by the end of the film the bad people had paid for their crimes. 

 

10. The Stranger: fantastic cast in this one, absolutely fantastic. I particularly love that Edward G. Robinson played a "good" guy in this one. He did that a handful of times but is typically best remembered for his malevolent gangster characters. Seeing Well's character spiral out of control was fascinating too, when he sees that his wife survived the "accident" he arranged for her, he kind of looses it. And I doubt many films have used a clock as a murder weapon...but it was fantastic as a plot device...the clock itself became a character in the film...it gets a lot of screen time too. 

 

11. The Third Man: The sequence at the end, down in the sewers is fascinating. There is this one part where he is standing alone in this hallway tunnel and you hear voices from every opening around him.There is a strong sense of inevitability in that. Another facinating shot was his fingers coming up between the grate shot from the street above...so all you see are those creeping fingers trying to claw their way to the surface. It's very interesting strictly from a visual perspective. 

 

12. Point Blank: This Neo-Noir just made absolutely no sense to me...at all. I tried I really did but it's too disjointed and I couldn't follow it. 



#14 pestocat

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 05:23 PM

Act of Violence

This was an excellent film. The lighting and shadows were pure film noir. And the story also, just as French Poetic Realism. There was no hope. Bad things happened in WWII and all wars.



#15 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 05:05 PM

Act of Violence, the use of key lighting in close ups, showing the faces was great in this film, and the shadows throughout.  How different Mary Astor looked.

 

The Third Man I have always found entertaining.  The angled photography, almost unsettling especially when chasing Harry after first seeing him and in the children's hospital.

 

The cacophony of the voices as they chase Harry through the sewers. 



#16 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:59 PM

You're right! I had never seen this before and I was very impressed. In fact I became so caught up in the story and the "feeling" of the beautiful cinematography that I forgot to look for the elements we've been studying. :) This is one I'll definitely need to see again.

And such a young Janet Leigh!



#17 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:57 PM

Guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   I intensely dislike Lady in the Lake, and not only because of, IMHO, the failure of such an extended use of first person POV for Marlowe throughout the film.   It squanders really good characters and a really good plot, and because of the first person gimmickry also prevents the use of typical noir devices like shadow, camera angle and lighting to flesh-out Marlowe himself.   Maybe it's just that the first person POV is poorly done here.  

 

I also don't like Montgomery as Marlowe, and think the entire casts suffers from horribly bad acting...especially Nolan and Jayne Meadows.   To me, this is one of the best cases of 'Really Good Book', 'Really Bad Picture'.   

 

Barring the above, I really liked the film (tongue in cheek).  

I was very disappointed in the film and did not enjoy it.  I could see Montgomery as Marlowe, but not in the way he presented in the film.  The acting overall was bad and campy, and Montgomery sounded much different  in POV than he did in his narration shots.  The voice, laugh everything was too gimmicky.


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#18 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:52 PM

I'm glad they showed They Won't Believe Me. I love it just the way it is and the goofy ending. 

What makes it better is  all these women gaa gaa over Robert Young. I don't believe it. haa haa

underated noir.

The "dark pools" at Cora's ranch and on the island.  "I brought in my own verdict".  and then carries it out.


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#19 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:47 PM

I confess that I have often thought that I could live the rest of my life quite happily without ever seeing another boxing film. It seems like there is at least one boxing picture a year, some good, others not so much. I don't have anything against the sport, and I can certainly see why writers and directors are drawn to the subject since it gives them an opportunity to address the man vs. man theme head on. There's no metaphor needed to suggest how we battle each other when you're showing two men punching each other in the face.

 

So imagine my surprise when I was completely enthralled by The Set-Up. The long, long slug fest in the center of the film was photographed so vividly. This treatment seems way ahead of its time and is, I daresay, worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Raging Bull. It was that good.

 

Add to that a cast full of those character actors who are instantly familiar though I can rarely remember their names.

 

Then there is the smashed hand at the end of the film that connects it directly with The Killers. Interesting connection.

 

One reason that I'll always appreciate following this course is that it has caused me to re-evaluate Robert Ryan. He's always been good in the films I've seen him in, but he really seems to shine in lower budget films. In The Set-Up his physicality is front and center, making him completely believable as the boxer. He seems to hold back emotionally, which works perfectly with his character, the sensitive guy who is tougher than nails.

I agree.  Bill as a 35 year old boxer and his wife concerned about him, Not wanting him hurt...we "...both won tonight".  Shadows and faces in darkness then a cut to harsh key lighting directly on faces.



#20 dwallace

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:44 PM

What an interesting day of films.  Some I question how "noir" they are other than the technique, I don't see the rest of the pattern there as in:  The Woman on the Beach, Berlin Express, even The Stranger.

 

Some were too fun to watch and just couldn't take a lot of notes, like Mask of Demetrios watching Lorre and Greenstreet was too much fun and the cast of character actors.  And Berlin Express, as well.

 

Point Blank very interesting neo-noir.  Was any of it true?  Or was it just the last thoughts of a dying man on Alcatraz?





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