NOIR Neophyte

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  1. Thank you, dwallace ~ replying to your comment: "Never seen a dog yet that liked me", took that idea from Shakespeare and Richard III That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; Beware My Lovely proves you better listen to your dog. Fantastic acting by Ryan as the man who wanted to join up but they laughed at him and gave him "coffee and doughnuts". (prep for Bad Day at Blackrock). They way he runs his hands over the floor after saying "Floors are my specialty". Almost like caressing a woman, much different than when Ruth comes in and teases him. Then just walks out the door. These are excellent and beautifully expressed points about an altogether extraordinary performance by Robert Ryan. I still can't believe the producers (or whoever) didn't use the original name of the play, "The Man," for the film. As I have mentioned before, the title "Beware, My Lovely" is SO awful, a parody of NOIR. I think for some reason the powers behind the movie tried to push the film into the noir genre, probably for financial reasons. As with other films we have discussed, I am not sure "Beware, My Lovely" (aka "The Man") quite belongs in NOIR~DOM.
  2. “The Narrow Margin” WHAT!!! Not even a second thought, much less a tear, for the dead policewoman?
  3. “Beware, My Lovely” I actually may have seen this movie once upon a time when I was a little girl. There was something about when the children come into the house with the Christmas presents that I seem to remember. But first things first. Are Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino great actors or what? And Robert Ryan, wow, he was tall and handsome and tender. The acting was great, the cinematography was first-class, so when you think about it, what separates a great work of art like “The Letter” from a movie like “Beware, My Lovely?” “The Letter” was adapted by Howard Koch from Somerset Maugham’s play. Doing some research, I discovered Mel Dinelli adapted his own Broadway play “The Man” into “Beware, My Lovely.” Whereas "The Letter" blossomed via its location shooting, I think "The Man" was probably better served by the confines of a proscenium arch. After watching “Beware, My Lovely,” I also did a little research on Ryan. It seems in the summer of 1960, he starred opposite Katherine Hepburn at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, playing Antony to Hepburn's Cleopatra. Unfortunately, that was well before the time of my summer excursions up to Stratford. He also played “Coriolanus” off-Broadway and “Othello” in Nottingham, England. Robert Ryan is one actor I truly would have liked to have seen on stage in classical roles. “Kansas City Confidential” I do like a happy ending, and some of the script twists in “Kansas City Confidential” are quite good. There was one thing that surprised me. I thought the gasoline Foster was carrying in his station wagon leaked through the floor and splashed onto the money. But, then again, maybe it didn’t. I thought perhaps the plot device for transporting the gasoline in the first place (which is not a clever thing to do) was to get the money inadvertently wet and, in turn, accidentally set on fire. I was waiting for it, but it didn’t happen. The movie benefits from three disgustingly evil villains in Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, and Neville Brand. And when he is being a daddy, you do want to give Preston Foster a big hug. What I find troublesome about this movie are the leads, John Payne and Coleen Gray. For me, Payne probably was a good choice for the lead, as he is not someone I would be immediately sympathetic to. In fact, he never grew on me, even by the end of the movie. I felt Coleen Gray, who I don’t think I have ever seen before, was too plastic for the daughter/law school student. Her face looked botoxed to me, with not even one tiny line under her eyes. When I went to law school, all of our eyes were perpetually tired for three years, including summer breaks. A girl going to law school in her day would have to have been BEYOND driven. I don’t think “Pumpkin” would have made it past first-year “Torts.” I’m not being catty ~ well, maybe just a teeny, weeny, little bit….
  4. I usually never watch the Daily Dose more than once before I write down my impressions. I like my notes to be absolutely my first feelings about what I have seen. There have only been a few of the Daily Doses that I have seen before. Actually, I could count them all on one hand and still probably have a couple of fingers left. So, today I watched a second time before I decided to write anything. I am always intrigued by foreign films (wouldn’t THAT be a great summertime course, please TCM). I wanted to hear not only Miles Davis again but also the delicious French language again. YUMMY on both counts. One thing, if someone could help me out with something. What is the contraption with the 7 and the 4 that turns to 5? I think it’s a clock because Julien says it’s seven o’clock, “sept heures.” But France uses a 24-hour clock. Is it seven o’clock in the morning? If it were seven o’clock in the evening, I think Julien would say, “sept heures du soir” (literally, seven o’clock in the evening). In any case, if it is seven o'clock in the evening, I'm pretty sure the clock contraption would read 19 with a 4 turning to 5. Of course, all these linguistic rules may just be for us foreigners. And, needless to say, I am not the “Script~Girl” (apparently there is no French appellation for that job) for the movie. I'm putting down “Elevator to the Gallows” as a must watch.
  5. This opening doesn’t make sense. It is beautifully shot: the black and white is so crisp; the reflection of Robert Ryan in the mirror; the great scenes of the railroad tracks and the train. But what is going on? Ok, it’s 1918 and maybe there wasn’t a telephone in the house, although it seems to be a relatively affluent house in a “nice” neighborhood; but why did Robert Ryan run away so horrified? If he killed the woman, he wouldn’t have had the reaction he did. If he didn’t kill the woman, pick up the phone, or go outside to the Salvation Army for help, or if you are a local handyman, you should know where the local police station is. Why did he run away? One last thing. The title of the movie, "Beware, My Lovely," is awful and in itself a parody of film noir.
  6. Thank you, 500efr, for your very excellent insights with regard to OTTO. I do admire the iLearn Research team at Ball State University for developing OTTO. However, the minute I went to the OTTO site, I knew I didn’t want to do it. I think you absolutely must SEE THE MOVIE FIRST. When I do my Daily Dose of Darkness, I watch the clip in its totality and then scribble down my first impressions. The Daily Dose is less than five minutes. How can you begin to annotate a movie you have never seen when the action is constantly changing? Technology is a wonderful thing, but not always the appropriate thing. Again, thank you for your very insightful comments about OTTO, which very well may have its uses under the right circumstances.
  7. As I am watching the opening credits of “The Narrow Margin,” you know this is a “B” movie; and I start wondering where are the “B” movies of today? A silly question really, for I was able to answer it within a second. Television. I gather there is a whole plethora of “B” material on the many Cable and pay Internet venues available to the modern audience. The other thing that intrigued me about the opening of “The Narrow Margin” was the handsome actor playing one of the detectives. Who is this guy? Charles McGraw. I had to research his filmography on Wikipedia; and I discovered he had been in a zillion movies (including “The Killers” and “Berlin Express,” both of which I had recently watched for this course). YIKES ~ Why didn’t I remember him? Was “The Narrow Margin” his big leading role? I know I digress, but returning to the discussion of our “MEANS” module, I think the studio system gave so much work to so many people and these “B” movies were analogous to the minors in baseball. To get back to the question at hand ~ Is “The Narrow Margin” a parody of the Noir genre? All I know at this point is that Charles McGraw was leading man, i.e., major league, material. I may just watch “The Narrow Margin” Friday at 8:00 p.m. I do so enjoy Eddie Muller’s introductions, and I would like to see what the “hoodlum’s” wife looks like.
  8. “Kansas City Confidential” Another delicious opening.... LOVE the documentary style. The first thing I’m thinking is that the flower boxes for the florist, "Yvonne," next door could hold rifles to hold up the bank. Three (3) boxes easily going into the florist; two (2) guards going in and out of the bank. Is Pete Harris the driver of the Flower Delivery Truck? Probably not. I think I saw a hotel address for Pete whoever he is. We’ll have to watch and see how the crooks get the flower man. It's always GREAT to start off a movie with questions....
  9. “Too Late for Tears” I have already mentioned that I applaud Eddie Muller, UCLA, and the funders who made the restoration of this film possible. The premise of the movie is great, but the film is more than a little far-fetched. There are more holes in the script that in a hunk of good Jarlsberg. I did like seeing Lizabeth Scott, who certainly was an interesting talent; and I remember seeing Don DeFore on TV when I was a little girl. One thing I have learned from this course is that Noirs certainly run the gamut from: The truly great works of art, like “The Letter” and “Sunset Boulevard” The not-bad, like “The Scar” (or “Hollow Triumph”) and “Detour” The really not-good-at-all but fun, like “Too Late for Tears.”
  10. “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” Kirk Douglas is a district attorney who drinks too much. Barbara Stanwyck, his wife, is mildly interested in her husband. Van Heflin is a gambler trying to get as much out of life (and people) as he can. Van Heflin and Barbara Stanwyck are two out of three people who once knew each other and who now are very much interested in each other. Kirk Douglas is interested in them both. I have no idea where this movie is going, but I am going to watch it to find out.
  11. I love this opening. It’s so very 1950 (well, 1949). Jane is talking about not wanting to be patronized; and all of a sudden she gets her chance to show how “tough” and “take charge” she can be. Jane is undoubtedly one of the women who “manned” the home front when the boys were off fighting World War II. I am terribly impressed to read that Eddie Muller found three viable source materials for “Too Late for Tears” so that UCLA could achieve its restoration, as the film’s original negative was lost long ago. Too often (or in actuality, most of the time) I just don’t think about the fragility of the medium of older films. In our digital age, I have gotten used to assuming everything will always be “there” in binary ones and zeroes for us. I will be interested to hear what Eddie Muller has to say as he introduces “Too Late for Tears” on Friday evening.
  12. As I am watching “Kiss Me Deadly,” I am starting to think James Bond. Ok, although he is certainly above-average looking with a lovely smile, Ralph Meeker is not the glamour Gus of Roger Moore; but the fast cars, the women throwing themselves at him, the gadgets (yes, the answering machine is a little primitive; but for the time, it was unique). I will confess I fell asleep after Hammer opened the box in the locker and discovered something radioactive?? I think. I woke up to hear Eddie Muller mention they we able to restore the “happy” ending so Hammer and Velda don’t die at the end. Honestly, from what I saw, I think “Kiss Me Deadly” (notwithstanding the credits that run backwards at the beginning) is a pretty awful movie. But from what I saw of him, Ralph Meeker was delightful to look at....
  13. You may not believe this, but I saw this film when I was a very young girl. It was a special presentation on television. I don’t know how I happened to watch it. In those days television was kind of “safe,” so I guess my parents didn’t censor me from watching. Well, anyway, I remember I was very upset by the movie because somewhere along the line there is a little kitten that gets killed in the prison. Boy, did that upset me. Even after more than half a century I can remember how I felt. I am sure the kitten probably wasn’t injured, but at the time I believed it was. The long and the short of it is I am not going to watch “Caged.” I do love Eleanor Parker. She was not only beautiful, but also a wonderful actress. I particularly loved her (dubbed by the singing voice of Eileen Farrell) in “Interrupted Melody,” which I saw many years after “Caged.” But I absolutely do not want to see her holding that dead little kitten again. You can never underestimate the power of the movies....
  14. At first I didn’t realize the hitchhiker was in the back seat. I didn’t watch closely enough. I just assumed he was sitting in the front. When his face popped out of the back, you knew it was trouble. Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are moderately handsome, average looking men. The fellow in the back has a skewed face (and, of course, a gun). Two men picking up a third man next to a disabled car seems more reasonable than Ralph Meeker picking up an hysterical woman in the middle of the road. Although in both instances, you would think the driver has control of the situation and is doing a good deed. But then you know what they say: No good deed goes unpunished. I get the Kleenex in the glove compartment, but do men always carry .22 cartridges in there? OK, once they open the trunk there is food, blankets, and a shotgun. I guess they were going on a hunting trip. Now, we see the hitchhiker has a right eye that is not as open as the left, something with the eyelid. Like an onion the layers are being peeled back. I’ll be watching “The Hitch-Hiker” for sure. I have no idea what is going to happen, but I'm rooting for the good guys.
  15. I love the opening of "Kiss Me Deadly." I was suffering as I watched Cloris Leachman running in her bare feet. Yikes, that must have hurt. Altogether, aside from the bare feet, she looked pretty put together. Crisp, clean trenchcoat, but no pocketbook. Boy, does Ralph Meeker look young! But the credits are the most disarming thing about the opening. They run backwards. I have never seen that before. I am not sure why Meeker didn’t turn Cloris in at the roadblock since he just said he should have thrown her off a cliff. Why do people do what they do? Tempting fate? Looking for thrills? I’ll be looking forward to watching this movie Friday at 9:45 p.m.

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