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)