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Everything posted by riffraf

  1. I love this film & have seen it many times & I too wonder why the director chose to add the whistles and sound effects whenever the San Francisco women are within eye-shot of this character. I'm wondering if the thought was to underscore and make the "attraction factor" and/or the"arousal" more pronounced or timeless? Timeless whereas hairstyles, fashion, body language etc. can change quickly but with this verbal cue...we know these women are suppose to be fashionable and attractive or Frank Bigelow is definitely interested in female companionship?
  2. First hit the "Quote" button. You can then write a comment below the quoted post. Or you can highlight only part of the post that you want to focus on and delete the rest!
  3. All four of the opening scenes we have reviewed this week start us off with a mostly darkened screen. The darkness of night is the backdrop for D.O.A., Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker while Cage opens within the confines of a darkened prison van. Fear and dread are consistent in all four clips as is "the disoriented individual facing a confused world". Existentialism is well represented within these films, what remains is for us to follow the characters in their respective dilemmas, watch fate deal the hand and observe the repercussions and outcomes for each. Just a personal observation. Is Edmond O'Brien under a black cloud, rather noir cloud or what? In The Hitch-Hiker he picks up a really wrong guy. In D.O.A. he drinks the wrong drink. In White Heat he's in the wrong place at the wrong time. In The Killers he's in the wrong room (the Swede's room) and gets beaten. So he was truly born to play Frank Bigelow in D.O.A. his swan song if you will.
  4. The opening scene in Caged seemed designed to put the viewer in the same frame within the prison van along with Eleanor Parker much the way the audience was forced to be a participant in Kill Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker. Right away we are moved to understand the motives at play (or at least try to) in what was probably one of the first women's prison films and a complete turn-around in noir gender roles. What we learn from this scene is a perfect example of Robert Porfirio's definition of existentialism. Eleanor Parker is the disoriented individual facing a confused world she cannot accept, but of course with the prison walls looming in the background, she has little choice. We assume the rest of the film will be about how she will be dealing with "the sickness, loneliness, dread and nausea." This should be a noir role-breaking film with a female lead rather than the typical femme fatale we were used to in the films of the 40s. I would chalk this up to another post World War II innovation to the film makers tools for film noir.
  5. I agree The Hitch-Hiker was filmed in a very tough and realistic manner from start to finish thanks to the talented Ms Lupino. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this movie left me exhausted and a bit un-nerved as this could happen to any of us. A filmed notion of reality keeping us aware of our ever-present vulnerability. I like the movie and appreciate the cinematic accomplishments it achieved but it's not one I can watch over and over again like Out of the Past, Postman Always Rings Twice or The Third Man. That could be the cultural shift the 1950s brought to film noir. In your face fear and paranoia.
  6. Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy will wish they stayed home & played golf instead.
  7. You're right! It's been a few years since I saw the entire film but I remember eagerly getting into "the moment/mood" of the movie and by the time it ended, I felt exhausted! You endure the total helplessness and torment experienced by the other characters. It was an ordeal to watch.
  8. Maybe if William Talman had been barefoot and wearing only a trench-coat, O'Brien and Lovejoy would have kept on driving, I would have! Or maybe they were just more trusting back then. If Tarantino had made the film, O'Brien and Lovejoy would have stopped, beaten and robbed Talman.
  9. I too was only familiar with William Talman when he was a clever (or not so clever) attorney going up against Perry Mason. I was very surprised to see him playing a heavy. But look out, he is BAD to the bone!
  10. Excellent! I'm inspired to write a song about this opening scene!
  11. The opening scene in The Hitch-Hiker is similar in many ways to the opening in Kiss Me Deadly. First off night-for-night shooting out on an open road. Starting with a low level close-up shot of the hitchhiker's feet and cutting to a wide shot of a car's headlights coming out of total darkness. In comparison to Kiss Me Deadly's opening with a close up of Cloris Leachman's feet running down a darkened highway eventually cutting to the lights of oncoming cars appearing out of the dark of night. They both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir as they put the audience in the role of a participating accomplice, right in the middle of the action without orienting us as to why we are here or what is taking place, thus making us ask ourselves all the pertinent questions. The film makers are making you look for answers as you objectively observe the actions of the various characters in the story. By doing so films noir has added a third dimension to the movie going experience by involving the audience, rather forcing the audience to participate to make sense or at least understand what the directors and writers were trying to convey through cinema storytelling.
  12. Good point concerning his level of commitment! I think that's exactly what the director wanted us to take from that scene!
  13. I have to admit I don't think I would have picked her up either. If I saw her the way Mike Hammer first saw her in the middle of the road, she looked more psychotic than what she was. Maybe she just boiled the pet rabbit on the stove and now wants to slash somebody...and I didn't think she was without clothes until Mike mentions it, so I totally missed any erotic or sexual signals there. I could only see visions of Glenn Close flipping out!
  14. Actually the title sequence was George Lucas tribute to the style used in the 1930s Flash Gordon serials.
  15. In the opening scene of Kiss Me Deadly we observe that the character of Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman) is running away from something out of fear. She's breathless, barefoot, clothed only in an overcoat and is desperate to flag down a car. Private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) we learn is man who keeps his cool in spite of "this woman" who caused him to run off the road. He likes his slick sports car, listening to cool jazz and doesn't like being bothered but obviously has an aptitude for staying cool, at least for now. By the time the two of them reach a police road block we clearly perceive Mike to be a man unwilling to disburden himself of this woman fitting the description of an asylum escapee. He does have a heart or is at least curious enough to learn more. The major themes introduced in the opening is desperation, isolation, darkness and one of looming doom. After a couple of cars have passed her by, Christina is out of breath and out of ideas. Standing in the middle of the highway, she will either be hit and end it all, or she will get a ride and a chance for escape (from whatever). After a near miss and Ralph Meeker skids off to the side of the road, his medium close up, glaring at Cloris Leachman while trying to restart his engine is priceless! He's not happy about the situation but he is still maintaining his cool. "You almost wrecked my car!...Well? (no response)...Get in!" She hesitates. Irritated that he has to open the passenger side door for this woman, Mike is still casual and confident as underscored by his radio playing Nat King Cole's Rather Have The Blues. She gets in and we are on our way to Noir City. Most of the major elements of a noir feature are displayed within the opening minutes of Kiss Me Deadly and you, the audience is involved as we hitch a ride along with Christina Bailey, as our anti hero Mike Hammer tries to figure out the who, why and how of what's happening. It's a long ride, so turn the radio back on!
  16. Good call on the dialogue and actors! I too loved Alida Valli's performance and after viewing this multiple times and having trouble trying figure out her character and why she was the way she was. By looking at her role as an "actor" and searching the script for a handle on how she should be played, I finally caught it. When Cotten goes backstage to her dressing room he eventually asks her if she was in love with Harry, she replies she doesn't know...she doesn't know anything anymore, she only knows "she wants to be dead too!" No wonder she has no interest in Cotten's advances. She's as much a ghost of a person as Harry is, just kind of going through the motions of life without caring. Thus the ending scene between her and Cotton was most appropriate. As we all know there are no small parts only small actors. I would point out a wonderfully well played "moment" (don't blink) by the minister/religious character during the second time around at the burial site near the end of the movie. Without any dialog, he is upset, didn't want to perform this ritual again and he's out of there! It's so short and fast, it took me many screenings before catching it!
  17. Good call! You'll find some of the Criterion extras includes an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich sharing some of his points of conversations with Orson Welles, abridged recording of Graham Greene's treatment read by Richard Clarke, documentary footage of the real "sewer police of Vienna", trailers and more...you'll love it!
  18. What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) entrance so effective in this scene from The Third Man is the use of the key film noir tools, light, shadow and music. The man in black is more effective by remaining hidden in the shadows keeping the suspense high and the motives unknown. Is Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) in danger? Could this be a messenger? Countless possibilities especially considering the cast of players and suspects the film has introduced up to this point. It's the cat's meow that alerts Holly to the figure lurking in the shadowed doorway across the dimly lit street. As Holly finds himself a better lit, safe position he starts shouting taunts. Only when a light is turned on in an upper story apartment by an upset tenet, is a spotlight effect created over the doorway, illuminating the mystery person to be "the late" Harry Lime. If you have not seen the entire film, this is a *Spoiler Alert*, please read no further. We learned earlier from Anna Schmidt (Valli) that her cat was only friendly towards Harry, so if we had taken that clue to heart we would have realized the man in the shadows couldn't be anyone else. Within the first few minutes of the movie we learn that Harry Lime was killed or murdered so without relying on a flashback we have multiple characters telling their versions of the story. Harry's "accidental" discovery shows we were duped as well the other characters in the film and now we have to figure out the rest of the mystery. Carol Reed does an amazing job using all the tools of noir from the low key lighting and heavy shadows, doomed characters (we start off at a funeral), military police on the prowl searching/investigating, locals living in fear, black market deals, a scarred city framed in odd camera angles, night shots, political uncertainty and all of it underscored with this very unusual and very effective zither music accentuating the pulse of the film. The realism could not be any better than what we are seeing with this burnt and bombed out vision of Vienna. This would have been next to impossible to replicate on a sound stage. You know this is the real deal. And the sewer scenes complete with swarms of rats (you've got to see this on the big screen!) multiple arches, chambers, shadows galore...and you can almost smell it (as Bernard Lee says, "Sweet isn't it?"). I haven't checked lately but I know a number of years ago that was one of Vienna's most popular tourist attractions, and of course, the cemetery! I believe Carol Reed raised the bar with this one by using tried and true film techniques and inventing many of his own not to mention working so close with his actors and cinematographer Robert Krasker.
  19. Excellent point! And not too far off topic: I was fortunate enough to have met another film fan, the very down to earth Quentin Tarantino at one of his film fests in Austin, Texas where the newspaper had quoted his comments about film audiences and their behavior. I shared with him an experience I had at the Rice Media Center during a screening of The Wild One. There too a younger audience were laughing at the film's characters using slang of 50s, "cool", "crazy" etc. I felt incensed that these people were not allowing themselves to get lost in the moment and appreciate the movie magic. Not to mention I was equally embarrassed for the film's director Laszlo Benedek who was there for Q & A. Tarantino replied, "I know, I know. Some people just don't f**king get it!" One of the few downsides to seeing a classic film with a large audience.
  20. A really nice companion piece! Thanks for sharing!
  21. I'm wondering if the purpose of the turban was to keep our focus or Garfield's focus on her face and eyes? After all we've already been distracted by her legs, the heels, the shorts and halter. Maybe the turban was applying the brakes to see this woman's face since so much concentration was spent checking her out below the neck. Then possibly director Garnett wanted a symbolic halo effect. Then again maybe Turner just wanted it that way. Who would know for sure? : )

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