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


147 replies to this topic

#21 dwallace

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 12:42 AM

There was a scene in Clash By Night that struck me and that I keep coming back to.  It is when Mae (Barbara Stanwick) and Jerry (Paul Douglas) go on a date to the movies.  In those days the films had many showings that included a second, usually "B" film, newsreels, cartoons (often several), a short, or two (like the "Extras" that TCM shows between showing) that might be a travelogue, or some type of documentary.  It was not uncommon to buy your ticket while the show was already going on, and as Mae says to Jerry:  "This is where we came in".  

 

You did not see the beginning of the film, but you could sit through everything and then leave when the film reached the point where you had begun watching.  Then you would get up and leave.  As a youngster I can remember doing that a number of times, before I was allowed to go to movies by myself.  My mother had the tendency to think that if the show started at 5 that was when you left the house.  Imagine being a young child and going to see Old Yeller, sitting there still crying through all the other showings to see the beginning.  It was far worse than when Bambi's mother was killed by the hunters.  (Hmmmm Hollywood pseudo-psychology would trace that to all my problems later in life probably as Robert Mitchum as Norman would do in The Locket.

 

I can recall my wife and I going to see a movie at a multiplex and deciding another film being shown there was on our list, and it was early enough, why not get tickets to both and see both of them.  one thing we decided, we would never do that again.  The seats in the multiplex are nothing like the seats were in the grand movie palaces that existed into the '70's in my town.  The old seats so much more comfortable, but no longer available since American bottoms had spread too much.  There were four big ones still in operation full time, into the '70's, and 5 others that kept trying to keep open and serve all day movies for kids, and then in the evening more adult fare.  Can remember The Three Stooges in Outer Space, during the day at one, and at night Clint Eastwood's "spaghetti western"  For a Fistfull of Dollars.

 

Those were the days, what few Drive-In theaters were left gave you that experience in your car for awhile, but now even there, if there is one (I have one a half-hour from home) you now get a cartoon, maybe a short, and the main feature.


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#22 ciro_barbaro

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 09:21 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! 


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#23 VanHazard

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 08:53 PM

I liked the film but your point about McGraw being miscast rings true.

 

 

Also agree about McGraw being wrong for the role in Roadblock, but Mitchum might have been even worse.  Maybe Edmond O'Brien (he played same kind of role in The Killers, after all), John Payne or even Dick Powell.    ??

 

I think the real nice twist in Roadblock was the way Diane, (Joan Dixon) flipped from being a vintage femme fatale to just the opposite.   The transformation was even more surprising because she was the only character who seemed to believe it was both sincere and lasting.   Dixon was credible in both aspects of the role.   Nicely done!  



#24 RichardW

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 07:15 PM

Roadblock (1951)

RKO Radio Pictures

 

 

I was disappointed with Roadblock. I’m a fan of Charles McGraw but I feel he was miscast here. The role called for more charisma or spunk. His delivery was stiff at times.

He was so much better in his previous films. The role called for a Robert Mitchum type. Also, the story never quite intrigued me.

 

I thought Dianne (Joan Dixon) played the perfect femme fatale until- she softened up and tells Peters, “Who cares about money?“ WHAT? Femme fatales do not say that!

 

The RKO look was undeniable in all the scenes. Nicholas Musuraca knows how to “Paint” a scene. My standard line applies again here- Roadblock is beautiful to look at.

 

Overall this noir had its good moments but only fair at best.

 

I liked the film but your point about McGraw being miscast rings true.


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#25 sheriff34

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:51 PM

Thanks sherrif34  for helping me out with the ending. I wanted to keep this movie. Maybe the storyline wasn`t the greatest, but the music was wonderful. I had never heard of Jack Teagarden the trombonist until TCM broadcast the Clint Eastword produced JOHNNY MERCER 100th anniversary special in November 2009. THIS TIME THE DREAM`S ON ME. The song was written by Johnny and Harold Arlen for the 1941 movie BLUES IN THE NIGHT. Johnny and Jack Teagarden met on The Paul Whitman radio show. I assume that TCM could only show THE STRIP once.My dvr player contains many film noirs. Too bad the player doesn`t have a larger capacity for storage.

I am happy to have been of some help. I remember that TCM broadcast with Clint Eastwood. I loved it. Regardless of how we feel about The Strip, having that movie would be fun in that you could watch it just for the music alone.



#26 sheriff34

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:44 PM

The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.

Egythea_A, thank you for your comments. I had trouble understanding Carala's direct involvement with his arms dealing during the war and the connection with Indonesia  and Algiers. Thanks for the valuable information about the conflict between France and Indonesia. I had no idea. It's certainly helpful to have information like that at your fingertips. It makes viewing the movie more meaningful.  Julien's and Carala's conversation about Algiers and Indonesia now make perfect sense. You are right when you say that the subject would have been more familiar to French audiences than to the American audience. I'm proof of that. 

I understand how the French courts would have gone easier with Julien than with Florence. I suppose they would look upon Carala as a war criminal and realize that Julien, in all probability, executed him.

I don't know when I have seen a film that portrays such a palpable and intense love between to people as Julien and Florence. Very moving. Thanks to you I can view it again on an entirely different level. Thank you.


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#27 Egythea_A

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 06:09 PM

I wonder if Carala collaborated with the Nazis; was this made clear in Elevator to the Gallows? He's held in high esteem by everyone in the police station except Florence. Once the officers hear that she is Mrs. Carala, she is given preferential treatment. They will let her go, her husband doesn't even have to know about it, she won't have a record. And the worst crime committed in the film seems to be Florence's adultery. Is this because she's a woman cheating on a man? Because Carala is so well-respected and she should be punished even more severely? If Carala were revealed to be a war criminal, would he have been tried by the international community before the International Military Tribunal, in something similar to the Nuremberg trials?

 

Thanks for pointing that out. I rewatched the relevant parts and there's no explicit mention of Carala's role in the occupation, just that he profited off the Indochina and Algeria wars. Julien seemed to function as a sort of "front" or "whitewasher" for Carala. With his reputation as a war hero he was someone who could lend the firm's dealings an air of respectability. More than that I could not gather from Julien and Simon Carala's brief dialogue before the murder. True, if it were known that Carala once made deals with the Nazis or Vichy government, he wouldn't be where he was. Maybe there was some mention of Carala's past in one of the extras on the DVD.

 

At the end, the authorities clearly see Florence's guilt as far greater than Julien's because she put him up to it.

 

Great movie, and interesting to contrast and compare to American noir!


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#28 Egythea_A

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 05:36 PM

 

Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

....

 

 The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.

 

 

Seemed jarring for me too, first time. Also, young Mitchum as an artist(!) in THE LOCKET. His face is just so indelibly fused with the type of character he plays in OUT OF THE PAST. Putting his Westerns aside, it takes a bit of effort to believe him in a non-trenchcoat role but it's worth it. :)

 

Well-to-do characters with a more or less twisted psychology and complex family (blood and extended) relationships, that's something Otto Preminger liked to portray in his Fox noirs - LAURA, WHIRLPOOL, FALLEN ANGEL. I always find his characters intriguing.

 

The relationship of Frank and Mary is unusual for the time. I liked that Mona Freeman's Mary was down-to-earth and levelheaded. Though genuinely fond and caring of Frank, she wasn't going to cling to him when she realized it was futile. The role of the film noir "good girl" is so often trite and thankless but here it's really fleshed out.


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#29 Marianne

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 05:35 PM

The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.

I wonder if Carala collaborated with the Nazis; was this made clear in Elevator to the Gallows? He's held in high esteem by everyone in the police station except Florence. Once the officers hear that she is Mrs. Carala, she is given preferential treatment. They will let her go, her husband doesn't even have to know about it, she won't have a record. And the worst crime committed in the film seems to be Florence's adultery. Is this because she's a woman cheating on a man? Because Carala is so well-respected and she should be punished even more severely? If Carala were revealed to be a war criminal, would he have been tried by the international community before the International Military Tribunal, in something similar to the Nuremberg trials?



#30 Egythea_A

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 05:02 PM

The Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

 

The Elevator to the Gallows is without a doubt, one of the best.

 

...

 

Postwar antagonism was still evident as in Buckner's and Louis' conversation at the motel. Julien and Florence's arms dealing husband discussed some old WW2 subjects such Indonesia and "now Algiers". Presumably, Florence's husband was a war time profiteer skimming off the Nazi's. I don't know. I didn't get whether or not Julian had been complicit in those dealings.

 

At the end Florence would never see Julien again and was to, possibly, receive the stiffest penalty for her part in her husband's death, according to  the detective who, by the way, reminded me of Bruno Cremer who portrayed Jules Maigret in one of the many Maigret TV series.

 

Miles Davis......well, enough said. Perfect.

 

For those of you who have not seen this movie, I would highly recommend it. It just might be worth your while.

 

The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.


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#31 Marianne

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 04:18 PM

 



iiRobert Mitchum didn't work for m either as a doctor/surgeon in NOT AS A STRANGER  1955. I like the film for other reasons, and Charles Bickford is believable portraying the elder doctor.

Well, I'm adding Not as a Stranger to my list of movies to see after this course ends because Robert Mitchum will be worth seeing, whether he's an ambulance driver or a surgeon! Thanks for the suggestion.



#32 sapphiere

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 02:03 PM

 

Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

Diane insinuates herself into Frank’s life:

• Offers him a chance to race at Pebble Beach.

• Offers him a job as chauffer.

• Willing to have an affair with an employee of the house. Not exactly employer/employee relationship because she’s not the head of the house, but still creepy because she wants to keep him around as hired help.

 

I learned a lot from Eddie Muller’s commentary on my borrowed copy of the DVD for Angel Face. Here are some of the points I remember especially:

• One of the greatest “meeting noir” moments is when Frank sees Diane for the first time and she’s playing the piano (that includes the slap exchange).

• The movie is mostly about class and class differences. References to class and money are interspersed throughout the movie and woven into the plot effortlessly.

• Female characters have all the power. Only Diane and Frank’s lawyer is not in the thrall of one of the female characters.

• The postwar angst about women working is class-based, not gender-based: Femme fatales don’t work for a living (Diane Tremayne); good women in films noir do work for a living (Mary Wilton). Muller gave many examples from other films in both categories.

 

These are all great points that made sense to me. The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.

iiRobert Mitchum didn't work for m either as a doctor/surgeon in NOT AS A STRANGER  1955. I like the film for other reasons, and Charles Bickford is believable portraying the elder doctor.


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#33 sapphiere

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 01:36 PM

I am sorry you have had so much trouble. It's annoying at best. Unfortunately, I deleted this movie to make room for more recordings. Toward the end of the film I, too, had some interruptions so I was watching the final part in segments. I believe I got the jist: Stan tells everyone that he killed Sonny. This was to cover up for Jane whom he still cared for. He already knew Jane killed Sonny. No one believed him. He finally admits that Jane had, in fact, killed Sonny and was subsequently not charged with Sonny's murder. Stan then returns to his music career.  Some else might want to weigh in on this, as well. Always open for suggestions and corrections. Keep posting!

Thanks sherrif34  for helping me out with the ending. I wanted to keep this movie. Maybe the storyline wasn`t the greatest, but the music was wonderful. I had never heard of Jack Teagarden the trombonist until TCM broadcast the Clint Eastword produced JOHNNY MERCER 100th anniversary special in November 2009. THIS TIME THE DREAM`S ON ME. The song was written by Johnny and Harold Arlen for the 1941 movie BLUES IN THE NIGHT. Johnny and Jack Teagarden met on The Paul Whitman radio show. I assume that TCM could only show THE STRIP once.My dvr player contains many film noirs. Too bad the player doesn`t have a larger capacity for storage.


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#34 sheriff34

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 09:17 AM

My Directv went off twice during this film. I figured out the story line where the movie was continuing the first time I lost the picture. The second time was at the end of the film. Mickey goes back to Fluff`s after finding out his gal died. TCM on demand is not repeating THE STRIP which I do not understand. The rest of the film noirs have been available in June and so far in July. Heck I liked this little film, and can somebody fill me in with the finale.

I am sorry you have had so much trouble. It's annoying at best. Unfortunately, I deleted this movie to make room for more recordings. Toward the end of the film I, too, had some interruptions so I was watching the final part in segments. I believe I got the jist: Stan tells everyone that he killed Sonny. This was to cover up for Jane whom he still cared for. He already knew Jane killed Sonny. No one believed him. He finally admits that Jane had, in fact, killed Sonny and was subsequently not charged with Sonny's murder. Stan then returns to his music career.  Some else might want to weigh in on this, as well. Always open for suggestions and corrections. Keep posting!


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#35 Marianne

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 07:38 AM

Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

Diane insinuates herself into Frank’s life:

• Offers him a chance to race at Pebble Beach.

• Offers him a job as chauffer.

• Willing to have an affair with an employee of the house. Not exactly employer/employee relationship because she’s not the head of the house, but still creepy because she wants to keep him around as hired help.

 

I learned a lot from Eddie Muller’s commentary on my borrowed copy of the DVD for Angel Face. Here are some of the points I remember especially:

• One of the greatest “meeting noir” moments is when Frank sees Diane for the first time and she’s playing the piano (that includes the slap exchange).

• The movie is mostly about class and class differences. References to class and money are interspersed throughout the movie and woven into the plot effortlessly.

• Female characters have all the power. Only Diane and Frank’s lawyer is not in the thrall of one of the female characters.

• The postwar angst about women working is class-based, not gender-based: Femme fatales don’t work for a living (Diane Tremayne); good women in films noir do work for a living (Mary Wilton). Muller gave many examples from other films in both categories.

 

These are all great points that made sense to me. The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.


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#36 Sir David

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 05:05 AM

Angel Face

 

I loved Eddie Muller's recounting of the tale behind this movie, probably a lot more than the film itself, which for me was a fairly slight tale ultimately. It seemed to take Noir to an extreme in punishing the protagonist's transgressions too. I mean, all Frank did was to go out for an evening with a lady who wasn't his girlfriend! And for this he is doomed. It seems cruel more than anything else, after all, he's a good guy: a Vet and an ambulance driver...sheesh...the rest of us have no chance!!

 

 


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#37 HEYMOE

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 05:46 PM

Elevator to the Gallows

 

 

Murphy’s law is simple: If anything can go wrong, it will. The plan seemed simple- kill the boss without getting caught then meet the girlfriend afterwards. For a moment all seems okay, until Julien realizes he has left behind a piece of incriminating evidence. He must return to the scene of the crime and all goes downhill for everyone thereafter.

 

The film’s clever plot embraces nihilism to showcase the plight of Julien, his femme fatale girlfriend, Florence and two Parisian teenagers.

 

The back and white cinematography, the music by Miles Davis, the directing by Louis Malle all adds up to an excellent and suspenseful French noir. This was a pleasant surprise.


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#38 sheriff34

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 05:29 PM

The Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

 

The Elevator to the Gallows is without a doubt, one of the best.

 

I am glad this was a suggestion for the course. I am inspired to learn about the history and camera work behind foreign films. I have been reticent in the past to watch movies with subtitles, because, for me, they can be distracting. Since, I discovered that if I watch these films at least a couple of times, I can get past the subtitles. As I did with The Bicycle Thief. It is now one of my favorites.

 

The viewing guide was helpful and informative...lots of information about the background of this movie. For example, I did not know Malle was such a Miles Davis fan.

 

There are so many elements in this movie that I don't quite know how or where to begin.

 

The cinematography was superb. The choker shots of Florence Carala in the phone booth, during the opening sequence, allowed the viewer to become one with her in her emotions and apprehensions. She is speaking to her lover, Julien Tavernier and finalizing their plans to murder her husband. The photographic noir element abounds in this film.

 

The night-for-night photography was spectacular. My favorite scene is where Florence wanders aimlessly through the streets after she believes Julien has double crossed her. I felt like I was wandering with her as she weaved through the traffic and pedestrians.

 

The parallel subplot of Louis and Veronique and their petty crime spree is ignited when Louis steals Julien's car. As Julien leaves the office and after he murdered Florence's husband, he looks up at the office building only to see the rope he used in the murder hanging from the balcony of the office. He leaves his car to retrieve the rope but gets stuck in the elevator shaft.  When Julien does not return, Louis seizes the opportunity and makes off with Julien's car along with Veronique, his girlfirend. In the meantime, Florence has been waiting for Julien to arrive at their prearranged spot. She sees Julien's car drive by. The car keeps going. She only sees Veronique but cannot see the driver. She assumes Julien has double crossed her.

 

Thinking he would be coming back, Julien had tucked his revolver in his coat pocket which he left in the car. As she and Louis are driving, Veronique discovers the gun at which time their fate turns from petty crime to murder. Louis registers them in a motel under the name Julien Tavernier. He has, in reality, stolen Julien's identity. He is a thief, after all. At the motel, Louis becomes embroiled in a verbal confrontation with German tourists. He attempts to steal their car and when the owner, Buckner, points a cigar at him, Louis thinks it's a gun and kills him with Julien's revolver. The hunt is on for Buckner's killer and here is where Florence becomes immersed in finding Julien.

 

She has to sort through the mistaken identity and that's what becomes her albatross. She can't find him and was given information based on the wrong Julien (Louis). She and Julian are still so connected that in one scene, Julien pulls his jacket collar tighter around his neck as does Florence at the exact same time.

 

Foretelling of the future for Julien is an element that rings out through the movie:

A black cat creeps along the office balcony railing in front of Julien as he is about to, or, after he commits the murder;

The gates to the building where he works resemble the bars in a jail cell;

He nearly gets hanged when he's in the elevator shaft;

The rope he left behind is hanging from the balcony..looking very much like gallows;

The elevator becomes his temporary captor. He gets away, but not for long.

 

Postwar antagonism was still evident as in Buckner's and Louis' conversation at the motel. Julien and Florence's arms dealing husband discussed some old WW2 subjects such Indonesia and "now Algiers". Presumably, Florence's husband was a war time profiteer skimming off the Nazi's. I don't know. I didn't get whether or not Julian had been complicit in those dealings.

 

At the end Florence would never see Julien again and was to, possibly, receive the stiffest penalty for her part in her husband's death, according to  the detective who, by the way, reminded me of Bruno Cremer who portrayed Jules Maigret in one of the many Maigret TV series.

 

Miles Davis......well, enough said. Perfect.

 

For those of you who have not seen this movie, I would highly recommend it. It just might be worth your while.


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#39 sapphiere

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 04:05 PM

Agree. Don't forget he married Ava Gardner!! Of course, this is his personal life and not relative to the character he portrayed in The Strip.  Apparantly, Rooney was the movies' hot ticket item at the time and Gardner was on the rise. The studio approved and promoted their marriage. Undoubtedly, the studio could possibly have seen a good bottom line here?

My Directv went off twice during this film. I figured out the story line where the movie was continuing the first time I lost the picture. The second time was at the end of the film. Mickey goes back to Fluff`s after finding out his gal died. TCM on demand is not repeating THE STRIP which I do not understand. The rest of the film noirs have been available in June and so far in July. Heck I liked this little film, and can somebody fill me in with the finale.



#40 Marianne

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Posted 26 July 2015 - 03:57 PM

The Locket: Flashbacks, Lighting, and Psychiatry

 

The Flashbacks

• The first flashback is told by Dr. Harry Blair. His cigarette smoke obscures the camera shot and the present, and then his story proceeds with his voice-over. Very effective and very noir!

• The next flashback is from Norman Clyde, who is part of Blair’s flashback. A shadow crosses Norman’s face and then covers it completely before the transition to the flashback.

• The third flashback is told by Nancy while we’re still in Norman’s flashback. Lines of shadow and light across Nancy’s and Norman’s faces, and then we’re back even farther in time.

 

Nancy’s flashback is lit realistically. It’s all about the locket she receives from Karen and the humiliation she feels from having to return it and then being accused of stealing it. Karen’s mother says to the children, but mostly to her own daughter: “Now see what you’ve done.” She blames the children, especially her own daughter Karen. The scene where Karen’s mother “interrogates” Nancy seems to scar Nancy. It becomes imprinted on her memory via the tune from the music box.

 

Lighting

• The lighting throughout was wonderful, with the shadows obscuring faces partially, sometimes completely.

• The firelight effects during Nancy’s and Norman’s argument after the Bonner murder was soft but also moody and concealing. This is the point when Nancy’s flashback occurs.

• Norman comes back to Dr. Blair’s office, and there is a shot of him in the window of Blair’s reception area, looking up into bright light—he looks saintly, like a religious icon or a figure in a painting. He chats with the doctor in the doctor’s office and leaves the painting of an “eyeless” Nancy, and we hear a bloodcurdling scream. When Dr. Blair runs out to the reception area, he discovers that Norman has leapt to his death from the window where we saw him in bright light, the window of the reception area. How noir is that?! A window with bright light, Norman looking so saintly while framed by that window, and then he kills himself by jumping out of that same window.

 

Psychiatry as a Theme

• Nancy gets Karen’s locket on her wedding day. Music from the very same music box intrudes on her senses, intrudes into her thoughts. She has audio flashbacks (music box tune drowns out the wedding march) and visual flashbacks (sees images from her past in the patterns of the rug at her feet).  These flashbacks are done very effectively.

• Psychiatry as a field is portrayed in a rather optimistic light for a film noir. Dr. Blair is both doctor and patient. Blair is committed by Nancy to a psychiatric hospital after their London apartment is destroyed. (By the way, the footage of London burning during the German blitz looked real.) After Nancy’s flashbacks at her wedding, Dr. Blair says that he doesn’t have the answers, but he does say that Nancy needs love.


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