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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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


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#21 morrison94114

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:37 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.


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#22 Sir David

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:26 PM

Interesting. I wonder if the time period has anything to do with appreciating this film. My borrowed copy of the DVD for Lady in the Lake came with commentary, and I have to admit it was interesting to hear the commentators' analysis. (I can't remember who the commentators were and I returned the DVD.) They discussed the current technology and the difficulties it posed for filming from the first person. Were 1940s audiences accustomed to getting their entertainment in live theater and from large movie screens, and so this presentation was more palatable to them? Are we so used to small computer screens and bright color moving all the time that we get bored with something like first-person point of view in a movie? I don't know the answers, but I do know that if I ever watch Lady in the Lake again, it will be with commentary from someone knowledgeable about the movie and the time when it was released. Some historical perspective might help . . . me, anyway!

I'm not sure it has anything to do with modern audiences, after all a large proportion of modern computer games are first person pov, so - if anything - we should be more accepting of it. I think rather that it's just not a good film: Montgomery miscast himself, the acting and dialogue is wooden and he played fast and loose with the source material. Still, someone somewhere liked it...it just wasn't me! 



#23 VanHazard

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 04:20 PM

 I asked for " a new perspective on how to approach a second viewing of Lady in the Lake  and you posted an excellent way. 

That would be the perfect way to appreciate this film a second time. This sharing of ideas on the message board has been invaluable.

 

Thank you and Thank you All.  

 

I'll have to check, but the commentary you mention re Lady in the Lake may be that of Alain Silver and James Ursini; a special feature of the film included in the boxed set Film Noir Vol 3 by Warner.   The same boxed set also includes a companion documentary Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light that some might find interesting.  The latter offers comments by directors Christopher Nolan, Frank Miller, and writers James Ellroy and Brian Helgeland.   


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#24 Kaykitties

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 03:58 PM

Postman & OutOfPast. Both femmes fatales' enter dressed in white. They catch the eye of The Guy. They have an agenda--to make money or get money. Both realize they need help with their plans and use sex appeal to achieve their goals. Both r married, but that doesn't matter. Stealing and murder don't matter either. They r willing to cross the line. The Guys fall for them, realize the danger and go away. They meet the Femmes again & r irresistibly drawn to them. The attraction is too great. The Guys fall. They become part of the agenda. Both Femmes die. Evil doesn't win out. In Postman Frank is taken all the way down with Cora. In Out Of Past Jeff is redeemed.

#25 HEYMOE

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 03:04 PM

Interesting. I wonder if the time period has anything to do with appreciating this film. My borrowed copy of the DVD for Lady in the Lake came with commentary, and I have to admit it was interesting to hear the commentators' analysis. (I can't remember who the commentators were and I returned the DVD.) They discussed the current technology and the difficulties it posed for filming from the first person. Were 1940s audiences accustomed to getting their entertainment in live theater and from large movie screens, and so this presentation was more palatable to them? Are we so used to small computer screens and bright color moving all the time that we get bored with something like first-person point of view in a movie? I don't know the answers, but I do know that if I ever watch Lady in the Lake again, it will be with commentary from someone knowledgeable about the movie and the time when it was released. Some historical perspective might help . . . me, anyway!

 I asked for " a new perspective on how to approach a second viewing of Lady in the Lake  and you posted an excellent way. 

That would be the perfect way to appreciate this film a second time. This sharing of ideas on the message board has been invaluable.

 

Thank you and Thank you All.  


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#26 Marianne

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 01:23 PM

I was curious as well. According to TCM article, "Critics were impressed with the film. Newsweek called it " a brilliant tour de force," and The New York Times reported that "The picture is definitely different and affords one a fresh and interesting perspective on a murder mystery."

 

The idea of filming from a first person POV was innovating but the acting was a distraction throughout. Unless someone can give me a new perspective on how to approach a second viewing, I think I won't.

Interesting. I wonder if the time period has anything to do with appreciating this film. My borrowed copy of the DVD for Lady in the Lake came with commentary, and I have to admit it was interesting to hear the commentators' analysis. (I can't remember who the commentators were and I returned the DVD.) They discussed the current technology and the difficulties it posed for filming from the first person. Were 1940s audiences accustomed to getting their entertainment in live theater and from large movie screens, and so this presentation was more palatable to them? Are we so used to small computer screens and bright color moving all the time that we get bored with something like first-person point of view in a movie? I don't know the answers, but I do know that if I ever watch Lady in the Lake again, it will be with commentary from someone knowledgeable about the movie and the time when it was released. Some historical perspective might help . . . me, anyway!


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#27 HEYMOE

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 07:09 AM

Highlight of the course

 

I may have missed it, but I do not remember seeing a TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS for

"The Means - Part 4 of 4: Podcast on Detour."

 

I mention this in hopes that anyone who may have missed listening to the 38-minutes audio recording would give it a chance. For me it is the highlight of the course thus far. Once I heard it two weeks ago, I immediately wanted to see the film again and I did. As a result I now have a greater appreciation for both the film and its director, Edgar G. Ulmer. 

 

Detour was an excellent film noir when I first saw it. Now I see it as a masterpiece.

 

Podcast Synopsis: Edgar G. Ulmer's 1945 film "Detour" is commonly lauded as a B-noir that overcame production limitations with artful minimalism. In this context, instances of obtrusive lighting and camerawork are viewed as minor blemishes--the best quality that could be expected from a poverty row feature. Clute and Edwards argue that the film should be granted a far greater measure of technical mastery, that the so-called flubs purposefully call attention to the very cinematic means used to construct the narrative.In this optic, the film is not good despite its "flubs" but great because of them; they render it a self-conscious noir meta-narrative--a film about the making of noir films. These qualities combine with a great script and superlative acting, by Tom Neal and Ann Savage, . . .create[s] the template for all noir post-1945. 

 

The Means - Part 4 of 4: Podcast on Detour - https://learn.canvas..._item_id=130642 


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#28 HEYMOE

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 10:34 PM

Lady in the Lake

This was a terrible movie. I couldn't finish it. The first person POV did not work. Robert Montgomery sounded as if he was reading the dialog off the scrip. There was no emotion in his voice. At times this seemed like a high school play as the acting was not good at all. I'm sure Bogart or Dick Powell could have made this story work, but Robert and his directing could not. I wonder what the reviewers said about this movie at the time.

I was curious as well. According to TCM article, "Critics were impressed with the film. Newsweek called it " a brilliant tour de force," and The New York Times reported that "The picture is definitely different and affords one a fresh and interesting perspective on a murder mystery."

 

The idea of filming from a first person POV was innovating but the acting was a distraction throughout. Unless someone can give me a new perspective on how to approach a second viewing, I think I won't.


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#29 Marianne

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 09:12 PM

Oh, I agree with you that Heart of Darkness shouldn't be required reading for film noir buffs!  I think film noir is a substantial enough genre/movement/style by itself to be studied in its own right.  I just thought the novella offered another possible example of a writer veering away from a blacker ending, however flawed that ending may become.  In fact, perhaps Marlow's explanation is evidence of that flaw?  Anyway, I also want to see this again (and again)!

Okay, so maybe after I see Out of the Past again, I should reread Heart of Darkness!!!!



#30 Egythea_A

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:53 PM

So I just listened to the Out of the Past podcast on the Third Man where Shannon Clute and our professor discusses whether the Third Man is noir. Note Clute strongly disagrees that the movie is noir and while Edwards defends it's noir status he seems to defend it more on its visual style.

Clute's main argument is that the film via Harry Lime is too B&W and not ambiguous enough. But I completely disagree. For one I don't think noir can't have truly evil villains. It's not Lime's story, it's Martins' story. And for me what Martins learns and experiences in the Third Man is what makes the narrative very much a noir.

The podcast brings up that Holly Martins writes dime Westerns that often have a very Black & White morality. I do think this is important to Holly's character but in the fact that where he goes into the situation like a Western Hero: Trying to prove his dead friend's innocence and show the corruption of the bad "sherrif" (in this case the Trevor Howard character) and help the girl in the end the opposite happens.

Instead Holly has a rude awakening that this isn't like his Western hero stories. For all his bluster to his friend's innocence he is made to look a fool. His friend wasn't innocent or even murdered. And even though he helps the police catch Lime he has to do so by betraying his best friend and shooting him. To me that is not a B&W situation at all. Yes we can say Lime was truly evil but in a B&W story, it would not be Holly's friend.

To add to this Holly asks for one thing to help the girl but not only does she refuse his help at the end of the film she walks away and doesn't even acknowledge him. He did the "right thing" but she would rather be turned over to the Russian part of the Vienna. Hardly the ending of a "Western Hero" and an ending very suitable to a noir.

Anyways this was one of my favorite podcasts of the series so I recommend everyone give it a listen.

 

That bugged me mightily too, as I listened to this entry in the terrific Clute-Edwards podcast series. I saw much more moral ambiguity and shading in the THIRD MAN story than did Mr. Clute. Holly Martins' pulp-Western black hat/white hat worldview, if he ever had it in the first place, was beaten into the ground by the time the movie was over. He went through a major disillusionment and survived it, as the last few seconds of the movie show us. As VanHazard wrote in his excellent earlier post, every character (but one) acts more or less opportunistically in this story. Wheeling and dealing and horse-trading and one hand washing the other is what it took to restore some semblance of order to this brokedown city. Who is to condemn? It's just politics on a smaller scale. All the deeds done in THE THIRD MAN can be regarded as on a moral continuum, with Harry Lime's nefarious racket on the extreme far end and Calloway's maneuverings to catch him much closer to the other, "good" end.

 

Holly killing Harry in the end wasn't a heroic white-hat deed. True, he did come to recognize Harry's evil after he witnessed first-hand its results. But down in the sewer, with an almost impercebtible gesture Harry asked Holly to pull the trigger. So he could die at once right there and not have to account for his crimes in front of a judge and jury. Like Anna said to Calloway at one point, if I remember correctly, "Better that Harry die than fall in the hands of your men". Holly did him the favor.

 

What makes the movie so troubling and fascinating is that it is NOT heroic. It shows us how everyone who knew Harry - his co-conspirators Kurz, Winkel, the Hungarian; Holly, Anna especially, and even her cat - was in Harry's thrall in spite of knowing what he'd done. Holly was nostalgic for his old friend, this charismatic figure who could fix anything. Anna was tragically in love with him. She stayed true til the end to her line, "A person doesn't change because you find out more."  The movie doesn't condemn anyone for being under Harry's spell. On the contrary -  after Anna's long walk at the end, I positively ache over her foolish love.


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#31 KingofNoirs

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:35 PM

But film noir buffs shouldn't have to read Heart of Darkness to understand The Kid's motivations in Out of the Past. It's been ages since I've read Heart of Darkness, but from the way you describe the ending, it sounds like the universe in the novel was complete. No one, including The Kid, in the movie explains why he lied to Ann or even if he knew Jeff's motivations. It was an unsatisfactory ending for me, but I still want to see it again.

Oh, I agree with you that Heart of Darkness shouldn't be required reading for film noir buffs!  I think film noir is a substantial enough genre/movement/style by itself to be studied in its own right.  I just thought the novella offered another possible example of a writer veering away from a blacker ending, however flawed that ending may become.  In fact, perhaps Marlow's explanation is evidence of that flaw?  Anyway, I also want to see this again (and again)!


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#32 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:28 PM

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.

 

Well to me the ending fits the mood of the entire film well and one doesn't need to know about noir conventions while watching the film to understand the ending.     The film is called 'Out of the Past' and even in death,  the past comes back to taint Jeff's character.   e.g. all the folks in the tiny town,  especially Ann's parents,  will view Jeff as a bad guy,  maybe even a murderer of multiple people.    

 

The theme of the movie was that Jeff wasn't bad at all and clearly didn't murder anyone but his past still came back to haunt him.  Even after he is dead and for the rest of eternity.    Doesn't that really say 'Out of the Past'?   

 

PS:  I do wonder if the book Build My Gallows High had the Kid doing something similar at the end or if this was an invention of the screenplay writer.  



#33 Marianne

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:19 PM

. . . Out of the Past reminds me of the end of Heart of Darkness.  The narrator (Marlowe) has returned to the "civilized" world of Europe after witnessing the death of Mr. Kurtz, who dies uttering, "The horror!  The horror!"  Kurtz's mourning fiancee then implores Marlowe to share Kurtz's last words, but Marlowe lies and tell her that "The last word he pronounced was—your name."  In the novella's penultimate paragraph, Marlowe explains to his listeners:  "I could not tell her. It would have been too dark—too dark altogether. . . ."

 

Joseph Conrad anticipated many of the themes later explored by the existentialists, who in turn influenced the writers of serie and film noir.  Perhaps Daniel Mainwaring felt that breaking Ann's heart would also be too dark an ending.

But film noir buffs shouldn't have to read Heart of Darkness to understand The Kid's motivations in Out of the Past. It's been ages since I've read Heart of Darkness, but from the way you describe the ending, it sounds like the universe in the novel was complete. No one, including The Kid, in the movie explains why he lied to Ann or even if he knew Jeff's motivations. It was an unsatisfactory ending for me, but I still want to see it again.


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#34 Sir David

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 07:11 PM

I also agree -- what I find really objectionable is that it does not do justice to Raymond Chandler's book, a wonderful (well, wonderfully told) story. Just ONE MORE movie that does not match up to the beauty of the book, in contrast to others, such as the Maltese Falcon and the Big Sleep.

Yeah, I hated it from the start with that tacked on idea about Marlowe submitting stories for a pulp magazine...I never understood what was wrong with him being hired to film a missing wife, just like in the book? In a complete coincidence I am re-reading that book right now: it's not my favorite of Chandler's but it's still a classic. 



#35 RichardW

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:47 PM

I have to agree. I've tried watching it a number of times but have yet to finish it! The only good thing about it is that you don't often get to see what a terrible Marlowe he was! 

 

Here's a link to a 1947 review in the New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/q64hwxc

I also agree -- what I find really objectionable is that it does not do justice to Raymond Chandler's book, a wonderful (well, wonderfully told) story. Just ONE MORE movie that does not match up to the beauty of the book, in contrast to others, such as the Maltese Falcon and the Big Sleep.



#36 sheriff34

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:44 PM

I have to agree. I've tried watching it a number of times but have yet to finish it! The only good thing about it is that you don't often get to see what a terrible Marlowe he was! 

 

Here's a link to a 1947 review in the New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/q64hwxc

Thank you for the link. The article was interesting in that I thought the review of Lady in the Lake wasn't quite as scathing as I imagined it would be. 



#37 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 06:00 PM

I have to agree. I've tried watching it a number of times but have yet to finish it! The only good thing about it is that you don't often get to see what a terrible Marlowe he was! 

 

 

 

I agree also.  Even Audrey Totter can't save this film. 


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#38 Sir David

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 05:56 PM

Lady in the Lake

This was a terrible movie. I couldn't finish it. The first person POV did not work. Robert Montgomery sounded as if he was reading the dialog off the scrip. There was no emotion in his voice. At times this seemed like a high school play as the acting was not good at all. I'm sure Bogart or Dick Powell could have made this story work, but Robert and his directing could not. I wonder what the reviewers said about this movie at the time.

I have to agree. I've tried watching it a number of times but have yet to finish it! The only good thing about it is that you don't often get to see what a terrible Marlowe he was! 

 

Here's a link to a 1947 review in the New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/q64hwxc


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#39 KingofNoirs

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 05:48 PM

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.

Not to be a pedant, but the ending of Out of the Past reminds me of the end of Heart of Darkness.  The narrator (Marlowe) has returned to the "civilized" world of Europe after witnessing the death of Mr. Kurtz, who dies uttering, "The horror!  The horror!"  Kurtz's mourning fiancee then implores Marlowe to share Kurtz's last words, but Marlowe lies and tell her that "The last word he pronounced was—your name."  In the novella's penultimate paragraph, Marlowe explains to his listeners:  "I could not tell her. It would have been too dark—too dark altogether. . . ."

 

Joseph Conrad anticipated many of the themes later explored by the existentialists, who in turn influenced the writers of serie and film noir.  Perhaps Daniel Mainwaring felt that breaking Ann's heart would also be too dark an ending.


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#40 pestocat

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 05:18 PM

Lady in the Lake

This was a terrible movie. I couldn't finish it. The first person POV did not work. Robert Montgomery sounded as if he was reading the dialog off the scrip. There was no emotion in his voice. At times this seemed like a high school play as the acting was not good at all. I'm sure Bogart or Dick Powell could have made this story work, but Robert and his directing could not. I wonder what the reviewers said about this movie at the time.


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