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Out of the Past Podcast: Official Discussion Topic


29 replies to this topic

#1 AnthonyMannPhD

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 09:01 PM

I listened to a dozen+ episodes and finally bailed.

I enjoyed hearing them discuss some of the canonical noir titles (like Out of the Past), but a number of the episodes are downright maddening.

Whoever said they run wild on Touch of Evil is correct. The hyperbolic-breathless-academic tone of that one was awful. They act as if no noir had previously done the kind of deconstruction that Welles performs. (Kiss Me Deadly and The Killing being two prominent examples.)

I wholeheartedly disagree with their take on The Glass Key, the episode that finally led me to unsubscribe. They completely overlook the amount of violence heaped on Ladd's character. It is one of the more obvious ways that the film anticipates the non-heroic hero (in Porfirio's words) of later titles. For 1942, it's a remarkable thing to see. It sounds like they similarly miss the mark on I Wake Up Screaming, a film I would absolutely characterize as full-blown noir.

In the case of The Glass Key, they drone on about how "cleaned up" the film is from its source material. And yet they give The Big Sleep a pass and treat it as a "darker" noir than The Glass Key! If anything, the latter is visually more expressionistic and thematically more subversive (check out Ladd making out with the wife of the stuffed shirt moments before he commits suicide). Both have Hollywood endings, but to act like The Glass Key isn't an important film given its violence, sadism, and vulnerable protagonist is laughable.

I love the idea of a noir podcast, but this one misses the mark on too many occasions.
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#2 Marianne

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 12:17 AM

Out of the Past:

Podcast for I Wake up Screaming (dir. H. Bruce Humberstone)

 

This film wasn’t on the Summer of Darkness list and we didn’t see it for the Dr. Edwards’s course, but I decided to listen to Edwards’s and Clute’s podcast of I Wake up Screaming (1941) because I love the movie and the book (and I especially love the title). You can find the podcast at Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir podcast (Episode 38, August 3, 2007). You can listen to it at

http://hwcdn.libsyn....582ba5663ebed59

If the link is deleted, do an online search for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir, and scroll down to Episode 38.

 

I’m going to focus on Clute and Edwards’s use of the term proto-noir to describe I Wake up Screaming because I would call this film a bona fide film noir.

 

*****Spoilers*****

 

Edwards points out the noir characteristics of the film, such as low-key expressive lighting, the authentic New York City milieu, the presence of Elisha Cook Jr. and his particular role in the film. Edwards also says, however, that the world of this film is still fundamentally intact, so it cannot be a true film noir, but I disagree with that assertion:

• Jill’s sister Vicky is dead, so it’s not quite true that the world of the film is intact.

• The detective Ed Cornell is dead by the end of the film. He might not be a sympathetic character, but viewers don’t have to root for him to understand what he represented in the film: corruption, sexual obsession, stalking. And the world of the film is, again, not intact.

• I’m not so sure that the effects of the Great Depression are lifting, as represented in this film. My favorite scene in the film comes when Jill Lynn and Frankie Christopher have just arrived on the sidewalk outside the Pegasus Club. Frankie meets an ex-boxer, an acquaintance of his, who is not doing so well: He still has “that ringing” in his head. Frankie is sympathetic and gives him some money for “a big dinner.” After the ex-boxer walks off, Jill asks Frankie about him.

• Jill: “He seemed to know you were going to give him that money.”

• Frankie: “Always do. I may be a has-been myself someday.”

I thought the scene showed Frankie’s generosity and caring for other people—and his recognition that poverty and need could happen to him at any moment.

• The shot of Frankie Christopher in shadow on the stairs in the Lynns’ apartment building doesn’t take the viewer out of the narrative thread (much like a throwaway shot or dance sequence would in a musical, as Dr. Edwards maintains). That shot is meant to show that Frankie is eavesdropping on Harry Williams and waiting for him to incriminate himself. That’s an important noir detail, an important part of Frankie’s own civilian investigation. (In the podcast, Shannon Clute includes other points that support the use of this shot in the film.)

 

*****

 

So back to the idea of proto-noir: A Greater Boston area repertory theater is running a year-long program in celebration of the unofficial seventy-fifth anniversary of noir. Here’s an excerpt from their website (bold emphasis mine):

 

In the original French articles that identify film noir, The Maltese Falcon is the earliest film cited, but it has since become clear that the genre really came together slightly earlier. It is now widely considered that the first true film noir is The Stranger on the Third Floor from 1940 and so we base our timeline around that film. In fact, the roots of noir go back even further—to some of the earliest feature films. In this proto-noir series we highlight some of the titles that have noir elements but predate the definition of the genre. Here you’ll find the chiaroscuro 1930s horror films of Universal . . . ; films by German directors like Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, who emigrated to Hollywood and infused it with their unique style; the almost unbearable suspense and frightening violence of Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage; breezy private detective films starring William Powell; and even an appearance by one of film noir’s favorite sons, Humphrey Bogart. . . .

 

So the definitions of proto-noir, film noir, and neo-noir remain somewhat fluid, depending on who is doing the defining.

 

*****

 

The podcast about I Wake up Screaming offers many more points, and it’s worth listening to after watching the film for all the observations that Clute and Edwards make about it.


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#3 crimewave

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 01:18 PM

+1 on the idea that Batman Begins has noirish elements but at its core is still a comic book hero crime fighting vehicle.  It has the past/future mix of art direction like Blade Runner, and of course a lot of the pre-Robin style found in Detective Comics 27-37.  In these issues, Batman is human, vulnerable, capable of being wounded type superhero.  He's a wealthy vigilante of sorts, carries a gun and isn't put in the position of having to save Robin.  In some respects, similar to The Shadow pulps.  Noir's roots are more with detective pulps than detective superhero comics.  In terms of the Clute and Edwards podcasts, it smartly pays for them to have a broad definition of "neo-noir" as, along with more content, it prompts more discussion.

 

-Mark 



#4 Marianne

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 05:47 PM

Out of the Past: Podcast for Batman Begins (dir. Christopher Nolan)

 

I listened to Edwards’s and Clute’s podcast of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) at Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir podcast (Episode 3, July 15, 2005). You can listen to it at

http://hwcdn.libsyn....5a2c93021733ed4. If the link is deleted, do an online search for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir, and scroll down to Episode 3.

 

I particularly like the discussion of the literary origins of film noir, and character-driven noir versus visually driven noir. Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards make several great points about the noir features of Batman Begins:

• Christian Bale is one of the best “Batmen.” He is a noir character that is driven by his past, something that he cannot let go.

• Nolan respects his literary source and doesn’t turn the film into a bubblegum blockbuster.

He turned to John Huston (noir) and David Lean (action epic) for inspiration. Batman Begins is combination of the two.

• A post-9/11 Batman: One who lives in a society whose people live with fear; he is something to be feared, and he has his own fears; if you instill fear in a populace, it will destroy itself. (Given the recent news about the November 2015 attacks in Paris, France, and the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino, California, this discussion is again pertinent, sad to say.)

• The lead is a noir character in the person of Batman. The film is centered on a conflicted hero and does not emphasize the villains.

• Gotham is a German expressionist city: could have been a setting from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

• Falcone’s speech to Bruce Wayne about corruption and his control of power is straight out of Raymond Chandler or straight out of Force of Evil (1949).

 

They also point out the following not-so-noir details about Batman Begins:

• No femme fatale (a wholesome love interest instead).

• Protagonist starts out ambiguous but is redeemed before the end of the film.

 

I just can’t imagine a film noir or a neo-noir with a main character who dresses up in a costume to fight crime. It’s too far out of the realm of film noir for me. The setting looked mostly like crumbling tenements, and the subway/monorail looked too futuristic for me to think of it as noir. The interior of the subway cars looked shabby and were covered with graffiti, but that’s not terribly noir either as far as I can tell. In fact, the film’s urban settings seemed to be making more of a political statement in showing the differences between haves and have-nots.

 

So, yes, Batman Begins has a lot of noir characteristics, but the Batman suit and the futuristic setting, plus the science-fiction gadgets and machines, just didn’t add up to neo-noir for me. I enjoyed Batman Begins, and it has plenty of noir characteristics, just as Clute and Edwards describe, but it still has a main character fighting crime in a costume.


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#5 Marianne

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 01:11 AM

Out of the Past: Podcast for It’s a Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra)

 

’Tis the season for Edwards’s and Clute’s podcast of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) at Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir podcast (Episode 13, December 15, 2005). You can listen to it at

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/9/9/e9987f05aea1641b/OOTP_2005_12_15_IAWL.mp3?c_id=2059979&expiration=1448931596&hwt=fc08c7301d48ab610ee5dcb0499f3c70

If the link is deleted, do an online search for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir, and scroll down to Episode 13.

 

Is It’s a Wonderful Life really a Christmas film? I’ve always thought it was such a dark film with its central theme of suicide.

 

Clute and Edwards point out that the film addresses the central philosophical question: Is life worth living? It’s an existential dilemma, as presented in Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus. It’s the same theme as The Killers, another film noir, in which the Swede figures that it’s no use fighting any longer against his past.

 

(I have to agree with them here. Jimmy Stewart convinces me every time that George Bailey had it with his life in Bedford Falls. The despair he feels on that bridge is a great bit of acting from Jimmy Stewart: It’s convincing, believable.)

 

From Clute and Edwards: Capra’s war experience during World War II making film documentaries, the Why We Fight series, influenced the making of It’s a Wonderful Life. This is Capra’s first film after making these war documentaries, and documentary realism played a role in Capra’s approach to this film. Jimmy Stewart is also back from his recent war experience, which he can draw on to depict a character suffering through an existential crisis.

 

Edwards: The critical sequence that qualifies this as a film noir: flashback sequence* when George Bailey sees what his life would be like if he had never been born. But the film is actually bleak for most of its duration.

 

*Not really a flashback; more like a fantasy sequence, with Clarence and George the only ones knowing about the change (that George had never been born). A lot of George's life is explained to Clarence via flashback, but that's not true of the sequence showing what would have happened if George had never been born.

 

Clute: The noir segment actually starts sooner: when George Bailey realizes that Uncle Billy has lost the bank deposit. He is despairing before he gets to the bridge and he treats his wife, children, and Uncle Billy pretty badly.

 

(Again, I agree, but I would go a step further: after years of covering for Uncle Billy, I thought George deserved to feel a little put out. Maybe he didn’t have to rough up his uncle, but then we would have a little less noir in this film.)

 

More points from Clute and Edwards:

• Pottersville: a noir city, with pool halls, strip clubs, dance halls, and bars.

• Gloria Grahame is a noir star in the making. She is vicious in the flashback. She’s a femme fatale with a limited role.

• Some details in It’s a Wonderful Life are similar to Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But before World War II, Capra’s films show the power of the people. After World War II, Capra’s themes revolve around the family, not the community. The family is rebuilt in response to trauma.

 

I know It’s a Wonderful Life is going to be on television this December, and I am really looking forward to seeing it—one more time—with “a noir eye” thanks to this podcast.


Edited by Marianne, 05 December 2015 - 02:19 PM.

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#6 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 02:22 PM

Thanks for this Richard!  I'm very much looking forward to listening and have already started with Sunset Blvd.

 

I've enjoyed all 3 of the podcasts I've listed too.  I wish I had known about and taken the course.

 

Does anyone know if the course will be repeated in 2016?

 

I've been rummaging around in the noir forum looking for discussion on that but have not found anything yet.

 

For me,  TCM's summer of noir as well as their partnership with Richard and his noir films on-line course was the best thing TCM has ever done.     In addition there was the follow-up discussions at this forum about noir films and actors and these were great.   

 

I don't know if the course will be repeated in 2016 but for your sake I hope it is.    Either way I recommend you use the noir forum.    There are a lot of very knowledgeable folks that use this forum (and ones like me that think they know more than they really do,  ha ha!).


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#7 tallhair

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 06:01 AM

Thanks for this Richard!  I'm very much looking forward to listening and have already started with Sunset Blvd.

 

I've enjoyed all 3 of the podcasts I've listed too.  I wish I had known about and taken the course.

 

Does anyone know if the course will be repeated in 2016?

 

I've been rummaging around in the noir forum looking for discussion on that but have not found anything yet.



#8 Marianne

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 11:10 AM

Behind the Black Mask: Podcast Interview

with Rian Johnson, director of Brick

 

Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards also host another podcast called Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed, in which they interview mystery writers. One of their earliest interviews is with Rian Johnson, director of Brick.

 

You can check out Clute’s and Edwards’s podcast interview with Rian Johnson at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/f/1/2f1a53c2ccd7d73c/BTBM_2006_08_15.mp3?c_id=2667487&expiration=1448243388&hwt=61cbf324939c68fb0a3bfb30ce0ca581

If the link is deleted, do an online search for Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed and scroll down to Episode 2.

 

I’m always fascinated hearing writers talk about their craft, and this podcast was especially fun because Rian Johnson talks about writing and crafting his film Brick. Rian Johnson discusses his literary inspirations (Dashiell Hammett), cinema inspirations (film noir and 1930s screwball comedies), and writing and creative process, and the quirky and wonderful dialogue and characters of Brick.

 

My favorite scenes in the movie Brick are those between Brendan Frye and the assistant vice principal Trueman. Great dialogue in these scenes, which I thought put the student Brendan and the assistant vice principal on an equal footing.


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#9 Marianne

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 12:20 PM

Out of the Past: Podcast for The Ice Harvest (dir. Harold Ramis)

 

Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir, Episode 42, podcast on The Ice Harvest, at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/3/e/d3e6f259125213c0/OOTP_2007_12_01_TIH.mp3?c_id=2060278&expiration=1447647112&hwt=c322f8aeddc93f7a55dc8e1f229d4d3a

If the link is deleted, search online for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir and scroll down to Episode 42.

 

Clute and Edwards just couldn’t convince me that The Ice Harvest is a neo-noir. I agree that the film has lots of noir characteristics. In fact, they made a lot of great observations about the use of film noir techniques that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And the film does have some comedic moments: I laughed out loud here and there. It takes place on Christmas Eve, and that alone lends itself naturally to some comedy. But I was surprised how bored I was too, and it’s less than an hour and half long! I really wanted to like the film. John Cusack (one of my favorites) and Billy Bob Thornton are great, but Oliver Platt really steals the show for me. He has some of the best lines, both serious and funny. I found his scenes with John Cusack to be the highlights; they were especially funny, but they’re not noir.

 

The podcast is about twice as long as usual because it includes an interview with the author Scott Phillips, who wrote the book The Ice Harvest, on which the film is based. This part of the podcast was fascinating because Phillips, Clute, and Edwards discuss the differences between the book and the film, and how hard it is to translate literature to film. It was also great to hear Phillips discuss his writing of the novel and how he felt about its translation to the screen. He talks about some of his experiences living in the Midwest and gives some facts about Wichita I hadn’t known.

 

I wish that I had read the novel first.


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#10 Marianne

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 12:08 PM

Out of the Past: Podcast for Brick (dir. Rian Johnson)

 

Check out Shannon Clute’s and Richard Edwards’s podcast about Brick at http://hwcdn.libsyn....a7c8e64a10ca17d

In case the link is deleted, go to Out of the Past at outofthepast.libsyn.com/ and scroll down to Episode 44.

 

I had a totally different take on the film, but I do think the director and writer Rian Johnson did a great job. I thought Brick was closer to a parody of film noir. I found the podcast interesting, especially because I listened to it after seeing the movie. That seems to be best approach, at least for me, because Clute and Edwards examine the details, and I think they assume that you have seen the film before listening to the podcast.

 

I did wonder if they saw any parallels between Brick and The Maltese Falcon because I sure did. The dialogue in Brick is one of its strongest features, and I think that’s yet another correlation between Brick and film noir in general, not just The Maltese Falcon.


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#11 Marianne

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 09:16 AM

Out of the Past: Podcast for Rififi (and the Blacklist Period)

 

I saw Rififi a couple of weeks ago, and last night I discovered that Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards discuss Rififi on their podcast show Out of the Past. They spoke at length about Dassin’s experience as a blacklisted American director, and this part of the podcast I found fascinating. Dassin believed that people had to make a choice during this difficult period between their work and betraying their friends. And in the arts, as Dassin said, your work is very important: “It’s your oxygen; it’s your life.” In fact, the history behind the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the film industry’s response was the best part for me! I also enjoyed the discussion about Rififi as an allegory for Dassin’s experiences during this time, but the film itself was a long hour and fifty-eight minutes for me. I was bored with the almost real-time filming of the break-in, in spite of the camera angles and the camaraderie among thieves at their work. I still wish Tony’s girlfriend Mado had been treated better, and I still wish the movie had been twenty minutes shorter.

 

I had really hoped that Edwards’s and Clute’s enthusiasm would revive my interest in the film, but that just wasn’t the case for me. But I definitely recommend listening to the podcast! It provides examples of the human element and the tragedy of the HUAC episode in American history.


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#12 Marianne

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 08:26 AM

Don't forget Edmond O'Brien's wonderful onscreen narrative in The Wild Bunch (1969)!  In particular his descriptive conversation with Robert Ryan at the end or near end, an amazing and most valuable character actor!

 

Thanks to the Summer of Darkness and the podcast on D.O.A. by Edwards and Clute, Edmond O'Brien has become one of my favorites. He was great in Backfire, a film noir that wasn't part of the TCM lineup and worth seeing. I understand the film didn't get very good reviews when it was first released, but I enjoyed it. The plot took me by surprise, and I have to applaud any movie that can surprise me. Backfire surprised me twice.



#13 riffraf

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 04:08 AM

You have to see Edmond O'Brien in either The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Seven Days in May.  Then you will see what a great character actor he became.   Then, for chuckles, look at him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (yes, he's there!) with Charles Laughton.

 

Don't forget Edmond O'Brien's wonderful onscreen narrative in The Wild Bunch (1969)!  In particular his descriptive conversation with Robert Ryan at the end or near end, an amazing and most valuable character actor!


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#14 MCannady1

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Posted 16 August 2015 - 11:14 PM

I really enjoy listening to the podcasts. I've listened to over half now. The podcasts add yet another perspective to what is probably the most in depth, and  thorough inquiry into the subject of film noir ever. For example- I watched Union Station a number of years ago and I was struck by the impressive photography throughout the film. I learned now while listening to the DOA podcast that  Union Station was directed by Rudolph Mate who was cited as being one of the great cinematographers.

i"m now looking forward to watching Union Station and DOA with fresh eyes looking for particular techniques in filming that gave Mate his unique style.

 

I'm so glad to have discovered these podcasts and I hope you can some day find time to continue doing them.

 

This entire course has been such a great learning experience for me and I can't thank Professor Edwards enough for providing me and the 20,000 other students who participated in this - (the largest of it's kind learning project) -  this great opportunity. This was truly ground breaking!

They sound really worthwhile!  Never heard one yet, but I can tell you Union Station is a very good film that I saw a few years ago.



#15 garovick

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 02:22 PM

I really enjoy listening to the podcasts. I've listened to over half now. The podcasts add yet another perspective to what is probably the most in depth, and  thorough inquiry into the subject of film noir ever. For example- I watched Union Station a number of years ago and I was struck by the impressive photography throughout the film. I learned now while listening to the DOA podcast that  Union Station was directed by Rudolph Mate who was cited as being one of the great cinematographers.

i"m now looking forward to watching Union Station and DOA with fresh eyes looking for particular techniques in filming that gave Mate his unique style.

 

I'm so glad to have discovered these podcasts and I hope you can some day find time to continue doing them.

 

This entire course has been such a great learning experience for me and I can't thank Professor Edwards enough for providing me and the 20,000 other students who participated in this - (the largest of it's kind learning project) -  this great opportunity. This was truly ground breaking!



#16 Egythea_A

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 03:24 AM


 

A Touch of Evil

 

Now, I've never seen the movie so I'm not qualified to make any comments about it, but I have to wonder at the...awe that they seem to hold Orson Welles and the virtual omniscience that they attribute to him in A Touch of Evil (the image of the bull with spears in it being somehow an allusion to the end of his hollywood career. Seriously?). It seems to me that you can analyze and over-analyze a scene into meaning almost anything and I felt this was the case in this podcast. I have to say I've never been convinced for the argument for Welles's greatness and I was stunned to hear some of the conclusions about this film and also in their analysis of The Lady from Shanghai.

 

Anyway, I will watch the film and make my own mind up and I like that this course in allows me and others to voice my opinions and say how and why I might agree or disagree. 

 

I"m enjoying the podcasts, they're tremendously informative and bring out a lot of new angles and connections. But in this case I have to agree with Sir David and BrianBlake. I'd like to know: as genius as Orson Welles was, did he put all that meta-stuff in there intentionally? Or are we finding it there after the fact?



#17 Marianne

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 07:48 PM

Out of the Past Podcast: His Kind of Woman!

Clute’s and Edwards’s podcast gave me a new appreciation for the humor in His Kind of Woman! Somehow the funny lines seem even funnier when they are retold—and believe me, I thought they were funny the first time around.

 

Here are some examples of what I thought was so amusing:

 

• Charles McGraw (as Thompson narrating at the beginning) calls Nick Ferraro an “upper-crust crumb.”

 

• Myron Winton: “People don’t go to the movies to see how miserable the world is. They want to eat popcorn and be happy.”

Martin Kraftt: “It [Cardigan’s movie] has a message no pigeon would carry.”

(These lines come after Cardigan’s movie within the movie, and the characters are discussing the film and offering their criticisms.)

 

• Dan Milner to Lenore Brent: “You’re not going to find a thing except yourself.”

 

• After the fight in Dan Milner’s apartment, Dan gets a phone call. This scene was also discussed during the podcast, but the humor wasn’t the only detail that impressed me about it. It takes Dan a while to answer the phone because he’s practically knocked out. My favorite line of the whole movie comes during his phone conversation: “No, I’m not busy, Corely. No, I was just getting ready to take my tie off. Wondering if I should hang myself with it.” All of the phone conversation is one-sided, but it’s conducted as though someone really were on the other end of the line. The built-in pauses, which are needed to make the phone conversation believable, add even more humor and comedic timing, it seems to me. (I’m laughing again, as I write this, and remembering Mitchum’s scene.)

 

Clute mentioned the cinematography and all the sharp lines of the shots. I heard, I think in an interview with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell on a DVD, that the set at the Mexican resort was built purposely for His Kind of Woman! It’s possible that it was constructed to make the most of the modern architectural lines. I did notice that the interior shots were more modern than earlier films noir. It was meant to look like a modern luxury resort and it did.


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#18 bluesbaby

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 04:10 PM

DOA

 

What I like about the podcasts is that they invariably make me think long and hard about the films in questions: make me questions some of my conclusions too. DOA was (almost) a case in point. I really enjoyed the discussion and realized that there were things I missed, or perhaps didn't appreciate at the time. I laughed out loud at their statement about Frank's death being the worst in Film history...because I was surprised I agreed! It was SO bad! But I really disagree with Edmond O'Brien being labelled a great character actor: I honestly think he was only any good running through the crowd and walking in step with the music! 

 

I want to go and watch it again now though...

 

A Touch of Evil

 

Now, I've never seen the movie so I'm not qualified to make any comments about it, but I have to wonder at the...awe that they seem to hold Orson Welles and the virtual omniscience that they attribute to him in A Touch of Evil (the image of the bull with spears in it being somehow an allusion to the end of his hollywood career. Seriously?). It seems to me that you can analyze and over-analyze a scene into meaning almost anything and I felt this was the case in this podcast. I have to say I've never been convinced for the argument for Welles's greatness and I was stunned to hear some of the conclusions about this film and also in their analysis of The Lady from Shanghai.

 

Anyway, I will watch the film and make my own mind up and I like that this course in allows me and others to voice my opinions and say how and why I might agree or disagree. 

You have to see Edmond O'Brien in either The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Seven Days in May.  Then you will see what a great character actor he became.   Then, for chuckles, look at him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (yes, he's there!) with Charles Laughton.



#19 williamasmith

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 10:45 AM

I found this podcast interesting, but it raises some very important issues in critical methodology.  For the record, I'd rate D.O.A. very near the top of the noir output--I'm a long-time enthusiast for film noir, and am well on the way to watching every film that TCM has broadcast in the current noir series.  (I'm contributing capsule reviews of each on a thread on Amazon's Movie Forum.)  I'm a long-time student of film.  I also come to this task with a couple of advanced degrees in English literature--I say that only to clarify my approach.

 

E. D. Hirsch makes a useful distinction in Validity In Interpretation between meaning and significance--meaning being defined by the intent of the author and thus a topic that it is possible to approach with a high degree of objectivity, and significance being defined by the reader's reaction and thus individual and subjective.  Much modern criticism confuses the two--in fact, much modern criticism denies the existence of meaning in the first sense, which strikes me as at the very least unreasonable, privileging as it does the reader over the author and ultimately undercutting the notion of meaning itself.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s take an auteurist point of view and take the director as the author, or at least a reasonable proxy for the author in a printed text.  Clute and Edwards discuss a sequence in D.O.A at some length, in which Frank Bigelow, learning that he has been fatally poisoned, runs pell-mell along a San Francisco street and stops in front of a newsstand, with a rack of Life magazines clearly visible.  Mate follows this with two vignettes of life that is closed off from him—the ball rolling into the screen followed by the little girl (which might well be an ironically positive inversion of a similar motif near the beginning of M) and then the woman waiting for her boyfriend, ignoring Bigelow.  Objectively, the meaning is clear.  Whether it works, or is believable or appropriate—I would opine that it does work and is an appropriate strategy in the film—is a matter of critical judgment.  To suggest, however, that Mate means (again in Hirsch’s sense) to suggest the exhaustion of the traditional means of noir goes well beyond a reasonable analysis of meaning.  The scene may well suggest that to a viewer—but it has nothing to do with what Mate had in mind.


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#20 BrianBlake

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 05:58 AM

I enjoy the podcasts quite a lot. I will sahy though that I agree that sometimes, with the Orson Welles movies in particular, Klute and Edwards go a little too overboard for my tastes in their interpretations. Personally, I thought their discussion of Lady of Shanghai was fine and not too much, but Touch of Evil was a bit much. It was almost like they jettisoned textual interpretation nearly completely on that one. There's lots of valid modes of interpretation, and I do like when approaching a movie from a multi-pronged perspective like contextually, intertextually, or autobiographically (which for movies is probably most easily done by focusingm on the auteur, but you know...you've gotta talk about the movie as a movie too! If you get too far away from that, there's too great a risk of just projecting meanings into the text. And Touch of Evil works very well as movie too, not just as an artistic meta-commentary on noir.


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