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JULY 24 TCM FILM DISCUSSION FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS


147 replies to this topic

#1 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 01:22 PM

I think part of the appeal of Noir is the theme of the average Joe getting in above his head, making decisions that will change his life forever and often not in a positive way. For me the major problem with Rooney is that he's simply not "average": when he snarls at a bad guy, I can only imagine their reaction to be a laugh followed by something swift and violent, we simply cannot take Rooney seriously as a Noir protagonist. 

 

Someone made a similar comment with regards to Fred MacMurray and his role in Double Indemnity.    This person knew Fred from his Disney movies.     My point here is that any bias is within the viewer and NOT the actor.   An actor only has to be convincing.   



#2 Sir David

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 02:30 PM

The problem I have with Mickey Rooney is that I just can't get his role in the Andy Hardy movies out of my mind.  I didn't have that problem with Raymond Burr, William, and even Dick Powell.  I was able to let go of Perry Mason, Hamilton Burger, and all of Powell's musicals...  But I just couldn't do it with Rooney...

I think part of the appeal of Noir is the theme of the average Joe getting in above his head, making decisions that will change his life forever and often not in a positive way. For me the major problem with Rooney is that he's simply not "average": when he snarls at a bad guy, I can only imagine their reaction to be a laugh followed by something swift and violent, we simply cannot take Rooney seriously as a Noir protagonist. 


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#3 Janeko

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 09:31 PM

The Strip

 

Oh, my! Never wanted to watch this in the first place but for the sake of watching all the movies on the course (I'm up to 95) I fixed myself a stiff drink, gritted my teeth, and hit the play button. 

 

Mickey Rooney: no no no. How are we supposed to take him seriously as a Noir protagonist at 5'2"? I don't want to be height-ist here, but...

 

Musical Numbers without a real link to the plot: too many, too samey! I mean, the film was short enough (apologies for the pun) without 10-20 minutes of it being musical numbers! 

 

Paper thin plot: definitely. 

 

Femme fatale: more femme yawn. Seriously, he fell for her why? And all the while passing up a more than passable hat-check girl who (for some inexplicable reason) is crazy for him. 

 

Ach, I've run out of energy for this one. Summary: meh! 

The problem I have with Mickey Rooney is that I just can't get his role in the Andy Hardy movies out of my mind.  I didn't have that problem with Raymond Burr, William, and even Dick Powell.  I was able to let go of Perry Mason, Hamilton Burger, and all of Powell's musicals...  But I just couldn't do it with Rooney...



#4 Sir David

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 03:46 PM

The Strip

 

Oh, my! Never wanted to watch this in the first place but for the sake of watching all the movies on the course (I'm up to 95) I fixed myself a stiff drink, gritted my teeth, and hit the play button. 

 

Mickey Rooney: no no no. How are we supposed to take him seriously as a Noir protagonist at 5'2"? I don't want to be height-ist here, but...

 

Musical Numbers without a real link to the plot: too many, too samey! I mean, the film was short enough (apologies for the pun) without 10-20 minutes of it being musical numbers! 

 

Paper thin plot: definitely. 

 

Femme fatale: more femme yawn. Seriously, he fell for her why? And all the while passing up a more than passable hat-check girl who (for some inexplicable reason) is crazy for him. 

 

Ach, I've run out of energy for this one. Summary: meh! 



#5 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:50 PM

According to Madonna,   Lady Gaga stole what we see in that promo from the movie Macao.     ;)

Thanks for that.  It's a really strong image!



#6 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 05:40 PM

OK.  Re: "Macao"  Here's an update:  Has anyone seen the promo for AHS "Hotel" with Lady Gaga's hand tapping the bell?  Consider the closeup of Gloria Grahame's hand at the gambling table doing a similar tap with claws and glove looking eerily similar.  Hmmm.  Considering AHS is the hippest of the hip, that would be quite an homage to "Macao!" if that indeed was the inspiration for it.  Any thoughts?

 

According to Madonna,   Lady Gaga stole what we see in that promo from the movie Macao.     ;)


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#7 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 05:38 PM

Macao

 

It was nice to see Von Sternberg's name in the credits. I didn't see too many of his touches until midway through.  The shot's near the piano.  Mitchum shows Grahame the diamond.  She leaves through the curtain-strips.  The camera pulls back through it with her and shoots a little longer through the curtain.  Also, just before Dexter and Mitchum were to leave for Hong Kong, at the dock there was a shot of their reflections in the dark water.  It was upside down and off-putting.  Great effect.  Von Sternberg's eye led some visual class.  Stylistically, visually, you felt like you were looking at something shot in the 1930s.

 

It was also nice to see William Bendix not play a psycho for a change!  In Abbott and Costello's film "Who Done It?" there was a scene between Bendix and Costello.  Costello was furious at production and said that heads would roll if "you ever put me in a movie with somebody funnier than me again!"

 

Until I started watching these off-the-beaten-path movies, I had little knowledge of Jane Russell, other than her promotion as a sexual commodity.  She actually has a terrific down to earth quality about her and holds her own on screen.  Kudos to her.  

 

I don't think this was under the category of "film noir as a genre."  It had film noir style in spots, thanks to Mr. Von Sternberg.  Loved GG's cat-like gloves when she shook the dice at the gambling table--that closeup of her "claw" tapping was a little exotically scary to me, in the same way that Gale Sondergard's appearance behind the beaded curtains in "The Letter" spooked me even more so.

 

Robert Mitchum makes his track believable, and Brad Dexter is always great at shaking things up in these things.

 

I like this one.  I'd watch it again on a rainy Saturday afternoon along with "His Kind of Woman."  A great double feature! 

OK.  Re: "Macao"  Here's an update:  Has anyone seen the promo for AHS "Hotel" with Lady Gaga's hand tapping the bell?  Consider the closeup of Gloria Grahame's hand at the gambling table doing a similar tap with claws and glove looking eerily similar.  Hmmm.  Considering AHS is the hippest of the hip, that would be quite an homage to "Macao!" if that indeed was the inspiration for it.  Any thoughts?



#8 Jon Severino

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Posted 02 August 2015 - 01:54 AM

WEEK 8
 
ROADBLOCK (1951): The Marrying Kind.
To get a femme fatale you gotta jump through hoops but if she turns ingenue, ease off. 
 
STRIP, THE (1951): Andy Hardy Joins The Mob.
Great music but a darker performance from Rooney would've helped. 
 
BEWARE, MY LOVELY (1952): Woman Trapped In Home By A Dissociative.
Story of a typical 50s housewife.
 
CLASH BY NIGHT (1952): Both Sides Now.
I've looked at noir from both sides now but my vote's for Monroe on the sawbuck.
 
KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (1952): Noir Mask.
Losing your identity is a prerequisite to committing a crime.
 
MACAO (1952): Garden Of Getting Even.
In this noir paradise, Russell is the beguiling Eve and Mitchum is the man (and feet) of clay.
 
TALK ABOUT A STRANGER (1952): Red Dog.
Moral: Don't blame the stranger without asking him to name names.
 
SPLIT SECOND (1953): No Exit.
Nine flawed characters in search of a deus ex machina.
 
NARROW MARGIN, THE (1952): Train Set.
Intriguing enough to be seen twice if only to appreciate Marie Windsor's nuanced performance.
 
HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951): Worthy At Half The Price.
How movies can help you to act in real life. Brilliant suspense and comedy--two perfect double features in one.
 
LOCKET, THE (1946): The Luckless
Psychological study of the folly of a woman's materialism as a fulfillment of an unfortunate childhood mirrored in a narrative that unravels her mind like peeling an onion.
 
ANGEL FACE (1953): Cognitive Dissonance
The discordant chords as the car crash interrupts Diane's dreamy classical melody and foreshadows her own rude awakening from her dream state when she realizes what she's done.
 
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958): "There's room at the top they are telling you still..." (John Lennon)
You'll never be free climbing the corporate ladder unless you cover your tracks.


#9 MyMoll

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 11:29 PM

for me robert ryan was a nut job,weird, creepy, scaring the ladies but the kind that just got out of being arrested

Beware My Lovely

I need some help with this one. The opening sequence was OK and then Howard runs out of the house after seeing a body on the floor in the next room. Next we start what I thought was going to show how it all happened. Was that first segment a dream of Howard's as to how he hope his new assignment would go. In that first segment we got just small hints of Howard's mental issues. I agree with others that was like Psycho in many ways. But in the end all was OK, nobody got hurt. This seemed strange.


I'm NOT blogging #NoirSummer because it's over,
But I'm still blogging classic movies and Noir because
JOY LOVES OLD MOVIES
Follow me @ 
http://joysnoir.weebly.com

 

6751415_orig.jpg


#10 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 04:30 PM

Yes, she was great, I thought; I was very surprised to hear that her career fell off so much so rapidly after this movie. Wonder what happened to cause that? 

 

Well after a few films that didn't do well at the box office (one with John Wayne that was a real loser,  Tycoon)  RKO didn't renew her contract.   She married Leo Durocher and became the first lady of baseball doing only the occasional film.   


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#11 pestocat

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 12:44 PM

Beware My Lovely

I need some help with this one. The opening sequence was OK and then Howard runs out of the house after seeing a body on the floor in the next room. Next we start what I thought was going to show how it all happened. Was that first segment a dream of Howard's as to how he hope his new assignment would go. In that first segment we got just small hints of Howard's mental issues. I agree with others that was like Psycho in many ways. But in the end all was OK, nobody got hurt. This seemed strange.


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#12 Sir David

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 05:21 PM

The Locket is a well made film and the best work by Laraine Day.   (she was fine in Mr. Lucky with Cary Grant and of course the Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent).

 

As for Mitchum;  well we have to remember that this film was made before Mitchum had developed a reputation.  So here he is cast as an artist named Norman.     Yea,  that leap out the window was a surprise since it was due to extreme guilt.    I guess going to confession didn't work!

Yes, she was great, I thought; I was very surprised to hear that her career fell off so much so rapidly after this movie. Wonder what happened to cause that? 



#13 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 04:28 PM

The Locket

 

I liked this far more than I had expected to (RKO again, I note!) to be honest. It had a lot of Noir touches that surprised me for a movie from 1946. For a start the flashback-within-a-flashback-within-a-flashback must have been highly original for that time, and then we had: a femme fatale who ruined the lives of her three lovers, possibly killed her employer and indirectly killed the valet who was executed for his murder; Noir shadow play from cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, extreme close-ups, existential angst, lust for things you can't have, Realist images of people coping in London during the Blitz...the list goes on! 

 

But...who thought it a good idea that Robert Mitchum could ever be called Norman?? And his death, a jaunty leap from a tower block window, I didn't see that one coming! 

 

The Locket is a well made film and the best work by Laraine Day.   (she was fine in Mr. Lucky with Cary Grant and of course the Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent).

 

As for Mitchum;  well we have to remember that this film was made before Mitchum had developed a reputation.  So here he is cast as an artist named Norman.     Yea,  that leap out the window was a surprise since it was due to extreme guilt.    I guess going to confession didn't work!



#14 Sir David

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 03:58 PM

The Locket

 

I liked this far more than I had expected to (RKO again, I note!) to be honest. It had a lot of Noir touches that surprised me for a movie from 1946. For a start the flashback-within-a-flashback-within-a-flashback must have been highly original for that time, and then we had: a femme fatale who ruined the lives of her three lovers, possibly killed her employer and indirectly killed the valet who was executed for his murder; Noir shadow play from cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, extreme close-ups, existential angst, lust for things you can't have, Realist images of people coping in London during the Blitz...the list goes on! 

 

But...who thought it a good idea that Robert Mitchum could ever be called Norman?? And his death, a jaunty leap from a tower block window, I didn't see that one coming! 

 


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#15 Sir David

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 02:49 PM

Talk About a Stranger

 

A Noir...really? For the first half of the film I thought I was watching a slightly surreal episode of Leave It to Beaver! And, gosh darn it, didn't little Bud want a dog ever so much? 

 

Still, from the half-way point you could see the tone of the film turn darker and start to reflect the paranoid fear of the stranger, the unknown, that was starting to become prevalent in the 1950s, as Bud started his investigations (and smearing) of the newcomer to town. But, of course, in the end Beaver...sorry, Bud...learns his lesson and everything turns out just peachy! 

 

Not sure this one will stay too long in the memory banks, to be honest. 



#16 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 01:52 PM

I had such a fantastic time watching His Kind of Woman. I had never heard of it before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud at Vincent Price, whom I adore--he always acted like he was having so much fun at whatever role he was given.

 

The juxtaposition between Robert Mitchum's character and Vincent Price's character was the most interesting to me. Plus, the slapstick comedy--film noir has slapstick comedy? I would have never thought that before watching this movie!--was just so enjoyable.

 

I kept thinking that Vincent Price's character kept quoting Shakespeare. Shakespeare used humor in all of his tragedies. Really, Hamlet is one of the funniest and darkest plays ever. (The character of Hamlet is hysterically funny! He's just snarking about everyone around him.) Shakespeare used humor to lighten the mood. And, this is what Vincent Price's character seemed to me. Really, this movie was kind of two different movies. You've got the pretty dark, world-weary Robert Mitchum's character and you've got Vincent Price on the bow of the sinking ship.

 

To me, this one was the gem of the film noirs that I didn't know about prior to this course. Never heard about it before. So glad that I discovered it now.

 

Kat

 

I'm also a big fan of His Kind of Women,  but based on the comments here I can see that the 'two films in one' concept turned a lot of people off.     Of course the film could have been made as a 'pure' noir film and cast an actor other then Price with a much smaller part of the want-a-be-hero actor,  but I'm glad Price was cast since he adds so much to the film. 


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#17 historylover

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 01:43 PM

I had such a fantastic time watching His Kind of Woman. I had never heard of it before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud at Vincent Price, whom I adore--he always acted like he was having so much fun at whatever role he was given.

 

The juxtaposition between Robert Mitchum's character and Vincent Price's character was the most interesting to me. Plus, the slapstick comedy--film noir has slapstick comedy? I would have never thought that before watching this movie!--was just so enjoyable.

 

I kept thinking that Vincent Price's character kept quoting Shakespeare. Shakespeare used humor in all of his tragedies. Really, Hamlet is one of the funniest and darkest plays ever. (The character of Hamlet is hysterically funny! He's just snarking about everyone around him.) Shakespeare used humor to lighten the mood. And, this is what Vincent Price's character seemed to me. Really, this movie was kind of two different movies. You've got the pretty dark, world-weary Robert Mitchum's character and you've got Vincent Price on the bow of the sinking ship.

 

To me, this one was the gem of the film noirs that I didn't know about prior to this course. Never heard about it before. So glad that I discovered it now.

 

Kat


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#18 morrison94114

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 01:05 PM

The Strip was sort of noir lite in my opinion. The presence of a gangster who has his men beat up Mickey Rooney somehow doesn't push this film into noir territory for me. This films seems to me essentially a love story and the gangster is just a hurdle that Rooney must overcome to get his girl. The cinematography doesn't seem to capture the usual noir look either. And whoever decided that the name of the nightclub should be Fluff's deserves some sort of special award for cluelessness or for absurd irony, I'm not sure which.

 

As others have stated, it's hard to buy Mickey Rooney as a romantic lead. I admit I'm not that familiar with his filmography from this middle period of his career, but clearly this film and the statements quoted from Rooney on the TCM database indicate that this film shows a successful child actor trying hard to transition into a mature actor.

 

But as Dr. Edwards notes in his film notes, this movie is worth watching for the musical numbers. Louis Armstrong's star quality is on full display. Even when he is in the background, I found myself watching him rather than the lead characters. Only in a Hollywood movie would an unknown drummer walk into a club and get hired on the spot to be the drummer in Louis Armstrong's band. Great songs--I'm still humming A Kiss to Build a Dream On.

 

 


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#19 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 12:47 PM

Roadblock

 

Saturday morning movietime local TV in the fifties.  Some good visuals.  Loved the moving camera following the car along the Los Angeles River.  Great chase scene.  McGraw good to a point.  He's great in other films.  He couldn't carry this one.  It needed an actor with greater range to pull off this unlikely personality scenario.  Also, it's kind of a cheap way out to talk about a heist and not show it.  I know, it was more about the story than the heist, but since he came off as a maladroit, we needed something to hold our interest, especially since you'd think he'd have some savvy covering his tracks considering the investigative business he was in.  He had to tell the postal lady that it was a fire extinguisher?  There were so many moments when the character screwed up and the actor didn't own it in some way to make it believable...I wanted him to get caught just for being so careless!  When his partner reveals he's onto him, and McGraw hits him with the bottle and abruptly runs out; that run was not his finest moment as an actor. It had a Jackie Gleason "and away we go!" quality so not appropriate.

 

Enjoyable.  Forgettable.


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#20 Marianne

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 10:08 AM

Elevator to the Gallows:

Love and Crime Are Impossible to Hide

 

I enjoyed trading posts with Egythea_A and others about this film. I wasn’t going to post anything more about Elevator to the Gallows, but I just can’t stop thinking about it!

 

What’s so noir about Elevator to the Gallows, I mean in addition to the doomed love and the murders and the police interrogation (done, it seems, with only a desk, great lighting, and three actors) and Louis’s juvenile delinquency and the fact that Carala is well-heeled arms dealer? I would say, the very strong hand of fate. More than any other film noir that I have seen so far in this course, fate seems strong enough in Elevator to the Gallows that it is almost like a separate character. The characters make decisions that turn out in ways that they never anticipated—and this starts almost from the beginning. Florence and Julien forget about the pictures on his camera, although they and viewers, too, don’t know that at the beginning. Julien never anticipates leaving the rope behind, getting stuck in an elevator, and his car being stolen. Louis never seems to believe that any of the things he does, including the murders, are his fault; he almost seems to believe that they happen by accident and he will never have to assume responsibility. Florence never anticipates proving Julien’s guilt for her husband’s murder by catching up with Louis at the photo lab shop. “If only . . .” could be said a thousand times about the plot in Elevator to the Gallows.

 

The title is interesting for its “visual play on words”: The elevator could be going up, to represent Florence and Julien’s love, but then their fate takes a downward turn, represented by the gallows, which is used to hang (down). If the elevator is also going down, then Elevator to the Gallows is noir through and through. Maybe that’s the correct interpretation, after all. The photo of Julien and Florence fades at the end, even though Florence maintains, in voice-over, that their love will never die.

 

The pictures on Tavernier’s little spy-gadget camera are what gives everyone away. Florence and Julien have pictures of themselves, obviously in love, on the camera. And there are pictures of Louis and Véronique with the two German tourists. Florence works so hard to find Véronique and Louis, and she succeeds. She tries to convince the police to pick them up, but then goes after Louis herself when she see him leave Véronique’s apartment. But when she arrives at the photo lab shop, right behind Louis, the police are already there, staring at all the pictures from the roll on Tavernier’s camera. It’s almost like their love gives them away. It reminds me of a Spanish proverb I heard once in translation: “Love and gold are impossible to hide.”

 

Maybe my one-sentence definition for film noir should be this: “Love and crime are impossible to hide.”


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