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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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JULY 3 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 14 FILMS


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#1 Marianne

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 09:22 AM

The Window (1949)

 

Great movie that I didn’t see during the class, and I’m glad I did see it recently. I was on edge right away because the movie opens with Tommy Woodry, the main character, playing dead and acting physically hurt. When he reaches for the gun, I assumed he found a real one. But then he starts calling out to his friends, and the tone of the movie lightens up a little bit—for a little while.

 

The on-location scenes place the viewer right in Tommy’s urban neighborhood. The chase through the abandoned tenement building was suspenseful, although the abandoned building looked more like a set to me. But the wooden stairs crashing down looked real enough. That shot must have been spectacular in a movie theater with a big screen: The point of view was from under the stairs and the pieces come crashing down from overhead.

 

I noticed that some of Tommy’s problems didn’t necessarily come from the tall tales he tells. Adults are more likely to believe adults than children, it seems to me, and Tommy was no exception in this script. The police detective believed Tommy’s mother and not Tommy about the Kelersons, although the detective did go up to the Kelersons’ apartment to pose as a repair estimator and snoop around, just to be on the safe side (so adults are capable of telling tall tales, too). The patrol officer didn’t believe Tommy when he shouted out the window of the cab for help and said that the Kelersons weren’t his parents. The ending, when the parents finally believe that Tommy was telling the truth all along, seemed a bit saccharine to me, but after all that poor kid went through (knocked unconscious, perched on a railing five stories up in a staged “accident,” almost falling from a loose beam), I felt like the film needed a happy ending.


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#2 Marianne

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 08:42 AM

White Heat

I never was a huge fan of James Cagney, and White Heat didn’t really change my mind. I was very interested in seeing the movie because of Edmond O’Brien, and in that regard, I wasn’t disappointed. I thought Edmond O’Brien, as the undercover agent, was one of his best roles.

 

The theme of insanity runs throughout the film:

• Cody’s “crisis”; he describes it like having a red-hot buzz saw in his head. (Migraines?)

• Cody suffers another crisis in prison; he doesn’t want any doctors.

• His second crisis in prison occurs when he hears that his mother is dead. He throws food, jumps onto the dinner table, punches prison guards. The next time we see him in the film, he’s wearing a straightjacket in small prison room.

• Diagnosis by prison doctor: Cody is violent, homicidal. He’s committed to an institution.

• He escapes. While he’s in hiding, he admits to Pardo (Edmond O’Brien) that he talks to his dead mother. Given Cody’s history, this should be a warning sign.

• When Cody is cornered by the police, he starts to refer to himself in the third person. Even his fellow gang member doesn’t want to follow him to the top of the oil tank.

• Cody kills himself by shooting into the top of the oil tank and starting an inferno.

• We learn in the film that his father and brother were committed to an institution.

 

Too bad the film didn’t investigate this theme in more depth. Maybe it would have felt more like a film noir to me. Reading some of the earlier posts about White Heat made me appreciate it more, but I don’t know that I’ll seek it out for a second viewing.



#3 Marianne

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 08:40 AM

White Heat: A couple pivotal scenes really hit me on this one...The one where Cody is at the lunch table in jail and he hears his mom is dead, that sort of crying noise he makes is one of the most frightening sounds I've ever heard...and he's smashing down on the plate at the same time...it's a cross between desolation and rage in a way where neither appears to be given the full strength. But the blend between them is horrifying. Then Cody's final sequence...when he is shot and the background music vanishes, so all you hear is the gunshots and that joker-from-batman laughter...it's chilling. Cagney's work in this film is the stuff of nightmares in those two sequences...absolutely terrifying...but it really shows what a fantastic actor he was...that more than 50 years later his performance still has the power to frighten. 

I wish White Heat had focused even more on the theme of insanity. I agree that the scene when Cody hears that his mother is dead and the final sequence are chilling, but I don't know if it's enough to make me see the film again.



#4 Sir David

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 02:34 AM

Scene of the Crime

 

A Realist procedural by and large, it showed a bunch of police investigative techniques that would have been as fascinating to audiences in 1949 as they are to fans of shows like CSI today. I liked the way Van Johnson's character would explain procedures and give tips (such as the best way to approach an informant) to his new rookie partner, but it never got in the way of moving the plot forward at a rapid clip.

 

I thought it had a great trampy femme fatale too (are all the best ones blond?), Lili, played by Gloria DeHaven, who had the best line in the entire movie: when carted away by the cops, she's told they'll throw the book at her and she replies, "the book...there's a crime on every page for me!".  

 

I liked it. 



#5 pestocat

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 06:57 PM

White Heat

It was not until about halfway into this film that I saw film noir elements. It was when Cagney showed signs of mental illness. A mother complex, severe headaches, etc. The film temperament changed from the ordinary to film noir. 

 


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#6 Marianne

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Posted 12 July 2015 - 08:51 AM

I believe there was a reference that Louise was not well off and was always looking for ways to capitalize on any opportunities as when she negotiated and extra $50 for her sketch and the return of the painting that George purchased in order to keep quiet. Her bidding against herself was her wanting to get more money for the painting. Which begs the question - was the antique collector in on it?

I think you're right about Louise not being well off. I haven't seen the movie again, but I do remember that she had several children and no husband "in the picture." (I know -- a pun.) Once this class is finished, I really will have to check out The Big Clock again.



#7 Sir David

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 03:35 PM

The Big Clock

 

One of the gems I would never have discovered without this course. A terrific film, I really enjoyed it. 

 

I liked the comedic touches in the movie, it lightened the mood after so much existential despair in so many of the movies! But it was definitely Noir in many ways, from the motivation of many of the players and especially in the cinematography. I especially liked the way the film opened panning from one tall building to the taller next one till we get to the peak of the capitalist heap in the publisher's building where the camera stops. 

 

And what a capitalist! It doesn't surprise me that the writer was hauled up in front of the House for Un-American Activities: the film portrays the media mogul as the worst kind of heartless capitalist (find out who left that light-bulb burning and fire him!), and the part is played to scene-stealing perfection by Charles Laughton and his vile mustache! 

 

Is there a better, monstrous, villain in Noir? I loved every scene with Laughton in and to some extent the rest of the cast slightly paled in comparison (though I thought Rita Johnson as Laughton's girlfriend was terrific). Can't help think though that the mores of the day were reflected in the way the film pans out in the end: George ends up with his faithful but rather dull wife (was he really ever that bothered about going on vacation with her if it took him that long to even try hard), the fun girl - who he might well have been a better fit with - is dead (of course, she was a serial adultress), the bad guys are dead, and Colonel Potter is trapped in the elevator. 

 

A movie I'll remember (and buy!) and won't hesitate to recommend! Thanks TCM! 


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#8 morrison94114

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 01:23 PM

Just wanted to rave about Claire Trevor in Key Largo. The scene where she is bullied into singing in exchange for a drink is absolutely harrowing. Its simultaneously engrossing and hard to watch. The sense of degradation and loss that she projects is masterful. I'm hard pressed to think of another film in which a character is so psychologically abused. I wouldn't say Key Largo is one of the films I've been most excited about seeing, but Trevor was fantastic.


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#9 morrison94114

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 12:57 PM

To repeat what many others have already said, I'm not at all convinced that Johnny Belinda should be considered film noir. The rape scene certainly has the dramatic high-contract lighting of noir, but elsewhere the cinematography is fairly straightforward. More importantly, this film doesn't have the overall sense of doom that I'm becoming accustomed to seeing in noir films. Yes, a terrible thing happens and the whole town reacts visciously, but in the end Belinda is vindicated, the bad guy is dead, and she gets to live with her child and the adoring doctor. I'd call this a melodrama, less so than a Douglas SIrk film, but still in the same territory. The TCM database notes on the film state that the film examines psychological themes that are found in noir films, but I don't really see the connection.



#10 Ninnybit

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 02:44 AM

WARNING: These comments are not in keeping with the theme of the class.

 

Johnny Belinda

Odd movie. Lew Ayres is too old for her. 

 

Key Largo

great, great, great, great, great PLUS Claire Trevor's best. Better than in Stagecoach, and that is saying something. 

 

Lady From Shanghai

I sometimes find Orson Welles's motivations shakey. Some of Charles Kane's youthful exuberance just had to carry over into old age a little bit. I don't find money and power sufficient explanation for his total decrepitude. And why did he stick around Vienna hiding in doorways in The Third Man when he shoulda lammed outta there? (And why does Valli stick up for him; what, dead kids don't bother her?) And especially, why does he follow Rita Hayworth, a married woman surrounded by nutjobs, through the canal? It's always money, but it's always something else, too, that he's trying to get at--why do people do the things they do?--and I never thought he ever nailed that down. Maybe that's why the dialog in his movies is opaque, he wants you to know that he can't explain it, either. And maybe part of his answer is sex, and in that case I think he miscast himself. I don't buy him as heedlessly passionate. 

 

White Heat

Jimmy Cagney can do anything, and that's because he had a doting mother. 

 

The Window

Oohh--this was a good one. I hadn't seen this one before. Dopey ending, but so what. I always liked Arthur Kennedy.

 

Shadow on the Wall

Nancy Davis. You can see why she made other plans. 

 

High Wall

Robert Taylor. Never a big fan. He has dracula hair, plus he snitched. 



#11 Katrina

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 11:40 PM

Johnny Belinda: The most "Noir" sequence in the film, to me, is the one in the barn...she's just there alone on the farm and this drunken man come in...preys on her innocence. An ominous tone is set the moment that man comes in, and the shadows deepen, and then you see only her face, and this look of absolute terror as the shadows swallow the scene completely and it fades to black. It's such a powerful sequence. 

 

Key Largo: You get a nod to the documentary style realism of films like "Border Incident" with the little title card thing at the beginning of the film. I've seen this one several times but what always struck me was that the storm itself seems to become a character in the film. Not just something that happens...but, rather, something that takes on this mythical power. The most dangerous person in the entire film is terrified of the storm...and of the power that it has over him. That says something. It seems remarkable to set a Noir picture in a sunny bright place but the use of the hurricane allows for something bright to take on a dark & dangerous tone. 

 

The Lady from Shanghai: The initial meeting between michael and elsa I thought I noticed something...I could be completely wrong but that first shot there elsa seemed to be in sharp focus while michael was sort of hazy and soft in the frame. I don't know if I imagined it after having seen this a few times and knowing what happened or if that's actually the way it was shot. 

 

The Bribe: I've never seen this before but the cast was fantastic! The narration bothered me though...it was second person...as if the guy was schizophrenic. He kept saying things like "You've gotta remember this" talking about himself and it got really annoying. The final shoot-out with Carwood has this sort of surrealist manic quality. You can't really follow it but I think you aren't supposed to. I really think manic is the right word for it. 

 

Scene of the Crime: The thing that was most memorable in this film was that the opening credits featured a forensic investigation...think vintage CSI montage. It was pretty cool actually

 

They Lived by Night: the visual look of the piece was a sort of gritty realism. This one is very fatalistic...the ending is given away really early on when the "hero" is told that he shouldn't associate with these crooks because it will end badly...but true to the noir form, he knows better and does it anyway leading to his inevitable death. From that point on, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise he is going to die...from the first 10 minutes you know he is going to die...it's as simple as that. 

 

The Threat: this film had the same idea as the one right before as a plot device...escaped prisoners intent upon returning to a life of crime. This one has a strong motivating factor of VENGEANCE. I never understood throughout the entire film why Kluger didn't just kill those people instead of holding them hostage...it seemed an unnecessary risk when his intent all along was to murder them.

 

White Heat: A couple pivotal scenes really hit me on this one...The one where Cody is at the lunch table in jail and he hears his mom is dead, that sort of crying noise he makes is one of the most frightening sounds I've ever heard...and he's smashing down on the plate at the same time...it's a cross between desolation and rage in a way where neither appears to be given the full strength. But the blend between them is horrifying. Then Cody's final sequence...when he is shot and the background music vanishes, so all you hear is the gunshots and that joker-from-batman laughter...it's chilling. Cagney's work in this film is the stuff of nightmares in those two sequences...absolutely terrifying...but it really shows what a fantastic actor he was...that more than 50 years later his performance still has the power to frighten. 

 

The Big Clock: Opens with stream of consciousness narrative style. It slides right into a flashback. And can I just say charles laughton with facial hair is just horrible...I can see why he didn't normally wear it...it looked really bad. The clock is a fascinating set piece both inside and out...it wasn't used as much as I expected it to be though

 

The Window: this one is interesting...in that it doesn't start off interesting...it wasn't until after the murder that it even caught my attention but by the time the killers decide to get rid of the little boy I found I couldn't really look away. 

 

Shadow on the wall: again the thing that caught me on this one is that a person would decide to try and murder a little girl...the same plot device that "the window" used but to a more extreme direction...the aunt tries several time and once nearly succeeds..she's not pulling any punches or really even having any regret. The opening on this one is creepy too...you get this sugary-sweet sitcom music...that is interrupted by a sudden intense strain...then they both blend together in this odd, disconcerting mixture that puts you on edge. 

 

High Wall: I love the use of "narco-synthesis" in this film.It relies on "flashbacks" to pull the truth out into the light. Like "Shadows on the wall" it also uses recovered memories as a plot device. it reminded me a little of two of my favorite screwballs "I love you again" and "love crazy" both william Powell/Myrna loy films. 

 

The Long Goodbye: "Neo-Noir" Based on one of Raymond Chandler's Marlowe books. It's not done as a period piece and I think it looses something bringing it into "modern" times (modern as in 1970s when the film was made)  One element of Noir displayed in this film were the intense shadows when marlowe is talking to the bartender. There are some 'nods' to classic films in this which were very appreciated as well. The dog that runs out in front of Marlowe's car, he yells out the window, and he calls the stray dog the same name as the dog from the thin man movies. There is a cool vintage car in front of the mental hospital place when marlowe goes in. And one of the goons belonging to Augustin mentioned George Raft. 

 

Marlowe: This is in the same vein as "the long goodbye" it is very much a product of the time period when the film was made (1960s) which includes in intensely campy opening...which really doesn't seem to go with the rest of the film which does take a more traditional chandler vibe. There was a very cool clip of Greta Garbo in one sequence. This one did a good job of capturing the quick, sharp dialogue of Chandler though. Two small examples: "That's your exist line Marlowe, follow it out."  & "Tell him you've met the last of a dying dynasty, king of the fools" I think both this one and the long goodbye do a good job at portraying Marlowe as being more honorable than the world intends him to be. "incorruptible" is perhaps too strong but it does fit..he plays by his own rules but always with the end game being doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. 

 

The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers: Incredible cast on this one and I'm a huge stanwyck fan so I couldn't have loved this more. The dialogue on this one was insanely great...I recorded several wonderful lines in my notes: "Your father was a nothing, a mill hand. The best thing he ever did for you was to die" (here we are seeing the moral character of the aunt...and when she beats the kitten it is the ultimate expression of her dark soul. They say that the way people treat animals reflects on their character, so if that is accurate this truly shoes her to be of reprehensible character. When she ends up at the bottom to the staircase there is no missing her) "You mustn't think I'm drunk. I'm not. It's just that I'm sick-inside of me-I'm sick." (Walter right before he falls down the stairs...here you get a full reflection of his heart. He IS sick...but it's not an illness, more of a broken concious..something that his father withered away till he has to drink to fill the hole. He drinks because he's in love with martha and she doesn't love him but he also drinks because inside he IS broken..) "I thought you loved me" (Martha has this devil-whispering-in-his-ear moment with Sam at the top of the stairs right after walter fell where she is trying to manipulate his 'love' for her into homicide. She urges him on the same way Lana Turner did in 'The Postman Always Rings Twice'...but to a stronger degree...she personifies evil in this little scene here. So when he doesn't allow her urging to push him to work against his conscious she tells him in this line that he would've done it if he really loved her. "I feel sorry for you-both of you" (In this sequence Sam is showing them how toxic their relationship really in...but in a way that's non aggressive. he seems intense on distancing himself. In spite of the three of them having a similar childhood...he's the only one that was able to escape from that town...and in so doing, was able to LIVE in a way Walter and Martha never could. They were trapped, first by walter's father and then by their own mutual guilt and self destructive tendencies. When Sam makes what seems like a narrow escape from what quickly becomes  a murder suicide, it becomes clear that he isn't part of that world and that maybe he never was)


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#12 arblas

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 03:30 PM

 At the end of They By Night, the scene in the night club when the female singer was singing to 

Keechie and Bowie she became like a number of a Greek chorus signaling the doom awaiting Bowie.
 


#13 Cinemapeg

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 02:43 PM

The Window struck hard at the idea of crushing imagination, using the character of a child to exemplify the expectation of the adage "going along to get along" in the post war years. I found this a fascinating well-done noir, with the sets acting as character to build great tension. Plus, the early example of the latch key kid, many years before the term was coined.

The Bribe was a fun exploration of another tumultuous relationship, with the stars of their day in their roles a treat, in shadows and heat and the pain of sore feet.

The Clock seemed a stab at class, again, the story of a successful corporate man, who, by virtue of his wealth and prominence is not only literally, but also figuratively, above the law, as he resides in his "ivory tower" designing to manipulate others, to do his bidding. I thought in this movie the clock, itself, acted as the femme fatale; time, the thing we cannot get enough of, or have too much of...the battle of 9-5, and the measuring of our worth based on it, a mistress/mister we can never manage or make happy.

#14 HEYMOE

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 02:20 PM

I would have to see the movie again to look for the detail about Louise Patterson's reason for buying her own painting. I know that she was in the store at the beginning of the movie, being out-bid by George Stroud for her own painting. Did she recognize him because he had bought some of her other paintings? It seemed that she protects his identity when the Janoth employees are trying to identify the murderer. One of her paintings is hanging in his office, and I think it was Janoth who noticed it. Maybe she did, too, and decided it was worth protecting a valued customer! Elsa Lanchester was great in her role as Louise Patterson, and she is one of many good reasons to see the movie again.

I believe there was a reference that Louise was not well off and was always looking for ways to capitalize on any opportunities as when she negotiated and extra $50 for her sketch and the return of the painting that George purchased in order to keep quiet. Her bidding against herself was her wanting to get more money for the painting. Which begs the question - was the antique collector in on it?


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#15 Marianne

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 11:40 AM

I really enjoyed The Big Clock, but, like you, I didn't fell like it was really noir.  To steal Foster Hirsch's term, I felt that it was more noir-stained than actual noir.  It had elements of it, but it was a bit too light-hearted for me to consider it true noir.  You are right in saying that George Stroud seemed to be having too much fun; he wasn't your typical tormented noir hero.  The film was definitely a comment on the corruption of big business, which seems to fit very well into the world of noir, but tonally, it just didn't seem in line with other films noir.

 

On a random note, did they ever explain why Louise Patterson was trying to buy her own painting?  I loved the humor Elsa Lanchester brought to the role, but I was unclear about that point.  I thought perhaps there was a line explaining it that I missed because I was focused on something else.

I would have to see the movie again to look for the detail about Louise Patterson's reason for buying her own painting. I know that she was in the store at the beginning of the movie, being out-bid by George Stroud for her own painting. Did she recognize him because he had bought some of her other paintings? It seemed that she protects his identity when the Janoth employees are trying to identify the murderer. One of her paintings is hanging in his office, and I think it was Janoth who noticed it. Maybe she did, too, and decided it was worth protecting a valued customer! Elsa Lanchester was great in her role as Louise Patterson, and she is one of many good reasons to see the movie again.


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#16 Joifuljoi

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 10:32 AM

"The Bribe", I believe I've seen it before...very good movie.

 

It reeked of MGM...Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton!

 

Charles Laughton was such a great character actor, I know a major one, but his character roles to me are the best.

 

Vincent Price, from the milquetoast in "Laura" to "ever the villain".  He's so good at it.

 

He was great though in "His Kind of Woman" with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell.

 

This was a dark, skulking, eerie, film noir...I really liked it!



#17 Sir David

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 06:40 AM

The Window

 

I enjoyed this. A taut little movie, economical in length and script, stripping much of what's unnecessary from the film. But such terrific direction to keep the story and suspense going throughout. The cinematography was completely Noir: night shooting, skewed angles, hard shadows and bars. Superb really, a little gem. 

 

It has to be said too that there was a terrific acting job from Bobby Driscoll, which was made all the more poignant when you learn that the actor himself died later in life from drugs or exposure in a tenement just like this one. 

 

 


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#18 rrrick

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 04:22 AM

This film was new to me too, and I'm equally enthusiastic. In a sense Tommy is punished for exercising his imagination. I think the parents' reaction to Tommy's stories fits in perfectly with noir themes brought out in other films such as the aptly titled They Won't Believe Me. This film amps up that sense of anxiety about the evil that lurks outside your window and the lack of help that the authority figures are supposed to provide. Good point that in the end we don't know anything about the reason for the murder or what happens to Mrs. Kellerson. If I have a criticism, it's that the final scene in the car between Tommy and his parents is a little trite and preachy. But given what has come before in the film, the parents' reassurance that everything will be OK doesn't convince me as readily as it seems to convince Tommy.

 

In addition to Bobby Driscoll's excellent performance (poor Bobby), Paul Stewart is wonderful as the creepy would-be child killer.

I agree with the ending being 'Hollywood' all's well that end's well, but at the same time it's kind of a bitter coda to your observation about the boy's imagination being cut off. If I'm not mistaken his final remark is something like: 'I promise I'll never make up stories again'. There's something sad in this...

 

The film really had an impact on me, so two additional observations. 

 

I absolutely loved the opening sequence, in which the audience is set up to believe something that isn't true. But also the opening credits in which Bobby Driscol is introduced 'by courtesey of Walt Disney' - the studio for which he worked. The mentioning of Disney, the king of imagination and fairytales, sort of adds to the thematic layers of the film.

 

And I've been thinking of the neighborhood and especially the house that the family lives in. The fantastic location shots make clear that this is a poor, rundown neighborhood. And it turns out his home - which should be the safest place for anyone - is in fact a condemned building. The parallels are obvious....


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#19 Jon Severino

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 03:22 AM

 
JOHNNY BELINDA: Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.
In a small town outsiders are guilty until proven innocent.
 
KEY LARGO: Yellow Badge Of Courage.
A WW2 vet and self-proclaimed coward shows how he became a hero and lived to tell about it.
 
THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI: Lawyers In Love.
A lawyer, his partner and his wife take great pains with no gains to drive a fool errant to the crazy house.
 
THE BRIBE: "Does anything mean anything."
Deals with some stolen noir surplus scraps.
 
SCENE OF THE CRIME: Training Day. 
Effective police recruitment procedural.
 
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT: Two Wrongs Make Two Left.
Two kids elope without her father's blessing. Cathy O'Donnell is captivating.
 
THE THREAT: Cry Uncle.
A wife goes to great lengths to win an argument with her husband.
 
WHITE HEAT: Mother And Child Reunion.
The colder Cody's mother gets, the more desperate he is for her approval.
 
THE BIG CLOCK: Tic o' Green 
A cog is framed by corporate machinations but the big clock stops because time wounds all heels.
 
THE WINDOW (aka The Boy Who Cried Murder): Home Alone.
A masterclass in suspenseful direction, cinematography and scoring.
 
SHADOW ON THE WALL: The Shadow Knows.
A child suppresses a trauma down to a shadow which is remembered when she sees the shadow again.
But who keeps a bottle of clearly marked poison in their medicine cabinet?
 
HIGH WALL: The Truth Serum Shall Set You Free.
Kenet is legally innocent but can't clear his conscience until he clears his name.
 
THE LONG GOODBYE: "It's okay with me."
Marlowe avenges his frenemy's wife presumably because Marlowe loved her.
 
MARLOWE: Loose Ended Yarn
Like a spit ball there's enough spin to get you to chase it and then makes you want to get another swing at it. Nice homage to Marlene Dietrich.
 
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS: Don't Look Back In Ivers.
After causing two deaths, love leaves Ivers and then all she can love is power. Sam reminds her of this.


#20 morrison94114

morrison94114

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 08:08 PM

THE WINDOW

 

The great thing about a course and series like this is the unexpected hidden gems along the way. Sure I like watching and rewatching the MALTESE FALCONs, OUT OF THE PASTs, and LADY FROM SHANGHAIs, but it's a movie like THE WINDOW which makes it really worthwhile.

 

This is an exceptional movie in every way conceivable. It has a great, thrilling and truly suspenseful story. It has great acting performances, truly stunning and spectacular cinematography, and a wonderful score. But the true brilliance is the underlying psychological themes and how the film succeeds in addressing these. 

 

A murder is committed. There is an unseen witness. The witness is 10-year old Tommy. The killers are his neighbors in the apartment upstairs, just 'regular' people. The problem is nobody believes him. 

 

That irrational fear that most of us probably at one time had as a child - the fear of the darkness upstairs, something evil lurking there - has become reality. In Tommy's case 'the monsters in the dark in the attic' do exist.

 

And the biggest trauma of all. His parents don't believe him, and even worse, they scold and punish him for making things up. His father locks Tommy up in his room, nailing the windows shut to make sure Tommy can't leave the room. Due to circumstances Tommy is then left alone at home, in mortal fear for his upstairs killer neighbors.

 

It all leads to a truly nailbiting and chilling climax....

 

The beauty is this is a story about regular people in just a downtrodden neighborhood in the big city. It's obvious the parents have to work hard to make ends meet and try their best to lead a normal life and raise their boy in the best possible way. The use of real location shooting ads genuine authenticity to the story, making it even more relatable. 

 

In the end we don't know who was murdered, or why he was murdered, and it's not even clear if the killer is even captured or what. But that's not really the point. This is a film about a playful kid and youthful innocence facing the hardest and most traumatic confrontation possible: A dangerous world where anybody can be a murderer and you are completely on your own in having to deal with it.

 

Noir as noir can be.

This film was new to me too, and I'm equally enthusiastic. In a sense Tommy is punished for exercising his imagination. I think the parents' reaction to Tommy's stories fits in perfectly with noir themes brought out in other films such as the aptly titled They Won't Believe Me. This film amps up that sense of anxiety about the evil that lurks outside your window and the lack of help that the authority figures are supposed to provide. Good point that in the end we don't know anything about the reason for the murder or what happens to Mrs. Kellerson. If I have a criticism, it's that the final scene in the car between Tommy and his parents is a little trite and preachy. But given what has come before in the film, the parents' reassurance that everything will be OK doesn't convince me as readily as it seems to convince Tommy.

 

In addition to Bobby Driscoll's excellent performance (poor Bobby), Paul Stewart is wonderful as the creepy would-be child killer.


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