Egythea_A

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  1. I like how the clips go behind the scenes to reveal the tricks such as the rotating backdrop and the seesaw horse. It says to me that the laughs don't depend on the filmmaking techniques. You can pull back the curtain and reveal the guy turning the crank and it's still funny.
  2. But most theaters had live music, didn't they? At least one musician. And on an interesting side note, Japanese and maybe other east Asian theaters had a live narrator, a "benshi", from the beginning. People creatively filled the void of missing sound in early cinema.
  3. Filmmakers use camera movement and editing to direct our eye, to guide us through the scene. Without it, it's completely up to the actors to make the scene flow. With their perfectly timed choreography the brothers Chaplin carried it off splendidly. I like the little elements of surprise in Syd's unpredictable reaction times - once he spins around in a split-second, next time it's a leisurely turn that allows Charlie to snag two pieces. Charlie uses the magician's technique of diverting Syd's attention, first eying the dog as a possible suspect, and later looking for imaginary mice or ants on the countertop who must have have carried off the cake! Looking forward to the whole film.
  4. I wonder if any comedians today would endure any sort of physical discomfort or even risk to perform funny scenes. Even if they wanted to, studio rules, insurance and liability considerations etc wouldn't allow it, I'm sure. And we have stuntpeople to do the extreme physical acting.
  5. The dog snagged two sausages at the beginning. That started the crime wave. Looks like Charlie made a halfhearted attempt to return the purloined wursts but faliled, and then got the idea to go for the cakes. Nice little intro to the main gag.
  6. 1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not? Not necessarily "greatest", but "golden age" yes - if we define the "golden age" of any art/entertainment form as the period of its first flowering. 2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era? Evolved. Cary Grant was mentioned - just take the "torn dress" scene from BRINGING UP BABY. The perfect marriage of physical and verbal comedy. I laugh tears every time the moment KH realizes her back end is exposed. 3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era? They kept them alive in the pre-home-video / TCM / Youtube etc era but also defined and limited which performers were prominent - the Big 3 of course, and maybe Langdon and Chase and Keystone Kops and Bathing Beauties, not much else that I know of.
  7. Part 1 is on Vimeo. At around 12 minutes starts a fascinating and insightful look at the making of "The Cure". Chaplin tried and rejected a whole host of stagings, even intricate and difficult ones, before he found what worked for his character. He didn't want the film to be just a string of zany gags. Every action should make sense and be right for his character and result in a coherent, flowing whole. That's probably a reason why his shorts are loved worldwide to this day.
  8. Watched both. Noticed the later one by Alice Guy gives us a few seconds of delightful anticipation as the boy comes out from the background and hides behind the bush for an instant before stepping on the hose. While in the original Lumiere one he enters the frame suddenly, right next to the gardener. Each entrance is funny but in a different way. To the original question - yes, I see the seeds of slapstick in this short. Big coconut-sized seeds. One more humorous component I sensed is a streak of anti-authoritarianism. An adult with a job and responsibilities and authority in the garden gets pranked by a youthful trickster. And I have to admit the gardener set himself up for it by looking into the hose-end - a sensible reaction to the water-blockage but the danger of getting sprayed is right there.
  9. I stand corrected. Thanks! Can't edit posts here, must be more careful!
  10. CRY DANGER and THE PROWLER - Superb recommendations! Let me add a personal fave: PHANTOM LADY (1944, Universal) - another one directed by Robert Siodmak, one of the German emigres in Hollywood, who directed THE KILLERS and CRISS CROSS. Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, it features Ella Raines as a gutsy female lead who falls neither in the "femme fatale" nor "good girl" category but has elements of both and more, as she descends all alone into dark, dangerous, unladylike places to extract information from inexplicably tight-lipped witnesses to clear her falsely accused employer (and secret crush). It's thick with noir atmosphere and a sense of dread and peril. It's available in the TCM "Dark Crimes" DVD set with THE GLASS KEY and THE BLUE DAHLIA, which are also Universal noirs well worth seeing.
  11. CRISS CROSS opening sequence - we fly over the northern part of downtown LA with iconic City Hall and descend somewhere in what's probaly the former Bunker Hill area, now gone but a lot of noir scenes were set there, often featuring the funicular tram known as Angel's Flight we see in ACT OF VIOLENCE and in KISS ME DEADLY, where, if I remember correctly, the opera fan lives in one of the wooden houses that lined its inclined track. It's night, and underscoring the darkness is another thrilling score by Miklos Rozsa whose noir credits are long: DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE KILLERS, THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS, BRUTE FORCE, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, just to name the ones in the Summer of Darkness lineup. We drop in on an intense, secret lovers' meeting in a parking lot, hiding between the cars. The furtiveness and desparation of Steve and Anna's rendezvous places us straight into noir territory. We gather that Steve's engaging in a dangerous heist which'll force them to stay apart a while and suppress their need for each other's company, and furthermore that Anna is trying to evade a domineering husband. Even without knowing the movie, something in Steve and Anna's demeanor says that their future happiness is far from certain. Steve shows vulnerability, Anne may be concealing something. Great acting from Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo. Inside the club, Slim Dundee, Dan Duryea at his most reptilian, is immeditaley identifiable as Anna's husband and the cause of her troubles. Again we have a low camera angle to make him appear imposing. Great evasive sparring in their dialogue and additional spice from the maitre d's jaded observations, as already wonderfully stated in other posts. --- The DAILY DOSES OF DARKNESS have been a superb learning tool. Alot of what I learned came from the Doses. I sharpened my viewing skills, learning to spot the filmmaking techniques used in a clip and how they serve the story and themes. And how the themes are conveyed through dialogue and acting. Most importantly, with practice comes the ability to pick up on these elements without over-analyzing and thus losing the entertainment value of the movie - indeed, enjoyment is enhanced by gaining a deeper understanding of how all the parts work together! And not to forget the immeasurable benefit of reading everyone's posts and sharing our thoughts here in the forum. Huge thanks to Prof. Edwards, TCM, and all fellow posters for the time and effort put into making this class such a pleasurable learning experience!
  12. Need to read this board bottom-to-top like KISS ME DEADLY's opening credits - then I would've seen NIGHT AND THE CITY alread mentioned! A must-see!
  13. Great choice. Let me add 2 more directed by Jules Dassin: THIEVES' HIGHWAY, (1949), with Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb - italian-american California fruit growing family fights a diabolic protection racket - and NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) - made in London after Dassin was forced to flee US, narrowly escaping Communist witchhunters. Stars Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney and Googie Withers (British). One of the best-ever portraits of the downfall of a small-time street hustler. Fascinating look at London underworld. Both from 20th Cen Fox. Seldom, if at all, on TCM but available on Criterion DVDs, Hulu Plus streaming.
  14. 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?
  15. A scene just as painfully brutal as yesterday's DDD. And some similar techniques used here - shots from below to make the brute appear more imposing, and a cutaway during the worst blows where we hear only the sound and see the reactions of others. Hume Cronyn may be physically far less imposing than Raymond Burr but his bearing and mannerisms make up for it - the slow, deliberate walk, the condescending way he talks to Louis (Sam Levene), how he's taken off his shirt to keep to keep it from getting stained, and of course how he plays a bit of Wagner to drown out the less pleasant sounds and also to season the proceedings with a dash of culture. A brute with refinement and good taste is so much more sinister than one who's just a brute. Which brings me to the substantive difference between yesterday's and today's scene - Capt. Munsey is a thug with a badge. He has all the trappings of authority at his disposal. This, I think, is something that came into noir in the postwar period and continued through into the 1950's - the filmmakers dared to show abuse of institutional power, the ugly side of authority. The audience, now that the war was over, didn't need comforting and distraction so much any more and was receptive to more grit and realism in the movies. And with the outside enemy vanquished, it was no longer unpatriotic to look inward and expose the ugly blemishes in our own institutions of power and authority. I suppose the association of Wagner with the Nazis was very present in peoples' minds at the time, as it is now. But that said, the music itself is lovely and the composer gets a bad rap because his themes of Nordic mythology were so adored by the Nazis.

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