Isaac Wright-Lichter

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About Isaac Wright-Lichter

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  1. I really love Fritz Lang, so I'm most looking forward to "The Blue Gardenia", "While the City Sleeps", and "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt", because they're his "newspaper Noir" trilogy. I already own and have seen "The Big Heat", which is also a really great movie but I'm really excited to add three more of his films to my collection. A great way to take the sting out of Summer of Darkness's ending.
  2. The opening to "Strangers on a Train" suggests there is a lot of truth to the idea that what we wear says a lot about our personalities at least as far as movies are concerned. The way the two men's feet are filmed, it gives the impression that they are walking towards each other. Bruno's shoes are very idiosyncratic, while Guy's are more plain. From this early scene in the film, we can tell Bruno is a little strange, and probably a bit of an operator judging by how he begins talking to Guy, moves to sit next to him, and then says he isn't much of talker. Right away at this point in the scene, I wondered what Bruno was up to.
  3. This is a great opening for a film about a prison. We the audience feel caged inside what we learn to be a prison vehicle full of convicts. All we see are the small bits of light coming through the window and we hear the motor. I personally wasn't sure where we were till a few moments later. The next nice touch was when the women look at the world through the gate, knowing it would be a long time before they saw it again.
  4. The lighting in this scene is brilliant. When the hitch-hiker gets into the car, his face is completely in the shadows. When he pulls the gun out and points it at the two guys in the car, he leans forward into the light. Aside from these points, the lighting is shadowy with the majority of the two men's faces in the light but also shrouded in shadow. The tension in the scene escalates when the hitch hiker draws the gun, but when he raids the car's trunk and discovers one of them likes shooting he smiles, believing he has found a good pair of "companions". Before having seen the film, this scene was enough to really hook me into wondering what would happen next.
  5. I find "D.O.A." really fascinating for a variety of reasons. I think the premise is very interesting--a man is poisoned and only has a limited time to solve his own murder. I can only imagine how Frank would be feeling, and thinking of myself in that situation filled me with a lot of the dread that Porfirio wrote about in his article. This one and the scene from "The Hitch-Hiker" I could feel the most dread watching. In both scenes these men's lives are in danger, but the men in "The Hitch-Hiker" have a chance of surviving. We know that Frank is going to die no matter what.
  6. I think that the backwards opening crawl was a very nice touch here. It signifies that everything happening here is backwards, and not exactly what it seems. We don't know what or where Christina is running from, but we know that she is desperate to get away from it to the point of jumping in front of Hammer's car to get his attention. When we learn that she has recently escaped from a mental institution, she manages to convince Hammer to keep from turning her over the highway police by holding and caressing his hand. Hammer submits to her charms, with tragic results later in the scene. From this scene we can tell Hammer is ultimately a sympathetic man, who is vulnerable to being charmed by strangers supposedly escaped from mental institutions.
  7. Isaac Wright-Lichter

    British Noir

    Have you seen Christopher Nolan's "Following" (1998)? It's his first feature length film, and a good Neo-Noir film. It's told mostly in flashback, and is about a writer who takes to following strangers to see where they go, what they do, and other details about them partially to get inspiration for his characters. One day he follows a man who turns out to be a thief involved with some pretty bad people. Give it a watch! I think you can probably find the whole thing on YouTube...
  8. "The Third Man" has always been one of my favorite movies. It's beautifully filmed, extremely well written and acted, and brilliantly directed. Its cinematography captures the devastation and ironic beauty of Post War Europe, in this case Vienna, in a similar way that Fellini would film Italy in his films, or Truffaut would film France in "The 400 Blows". The tilted angles the city is filmed from in certain scenes suggests how off balanced everything was in this turbulent time. This particular scene is one of the most important, as it the first time that it is revealed to Holly (and to the audience) that Harry Lime (Orson Welles) is not dead. Holly cries out and taunts the figure in the shadows, before the light from a nearby window reveals that it was Lime. Holly is shocked, but Lime smiles, indicating that he thinks this is all terrific fun. Holly runs to him, and nearly is hit by a car, the same way that Lime had allegedly been killed. One thing that I never noticed before came a moment later when Holly tries to convince Calloway that he had seen Lime. He says "I chased his shadow", which also interestingly enough speaks to the fact that he's been unknowingly chasing Lime's "shadow", or rather the people overshadowed by Lime and his crimes, throughout the whole film.
  9. Like many of the other daily doses of darkness, this one seems to be in flashback. Garfield says over the voice over that he had hitch-hiked a ride. When he gets out, he seems to be a polite, cheerful, idealistic young man, eager to find where he really belongs in the world. He also seems to be rather enjoying the journey. Turner's entrance however, beginning with her feet suggests that she is going to a larger than life, even otherworldly figure. The first shot of her we see is of her feet, implying she will walk all over and overshadow someone, possibly Garfield. Right away we see how Garfield is taken with Turner, and we know that this drifter may have found what he has been looking for.
  10. Peter Lorre's entrance is calm and comparatively normal. He steps out of the elevator, talking to himself, and enters his room. The soundtrack tenses up, so we know something is about to happen. Sure enough, the room has been ransacked, and Sydney Greenstreet walks out and holds Lorre at gunpoint. They begin a conversation regarding what their "games" are regarding this mysterious mask. Lorre also retains his understated and very funny delivery of his lines in the moment when he says that he can concluding that Greenstreet is either a thief or a drunk, before leaning towards Greenstreet and asking softly, "Are you drunk?" From what I gather from this scene, Lorre and Greenstreet retain their personalities from "The Maltese Falcon". Lorre seems twitchy and nervous, while Greenstreet is calm, well spoken and extremely polite. What's more, they both seem to be looking for this mask of Dimitrios, although they seem to be trying to find it before the other one does, rather than looking for it together as the had done with the falcon.
  11. This scene from "Out of the Past" exhibits many of the hallmarks of a Film Noir. It's a flashback, with Jeff telling Ann about his history with Whit. When he sees Kathy, who turns out to be a superb example of a treacherous Noir femme fetale, we see fairly quickly that he is attracted to her. She is resistant to him, although we see that she may yet see Jeff. After telling Jeff about the other cantina he can go to, he tells her to wear the earrings he tried to give her, and she says, "I go there sometimes." These characters don't engage in the verbal fencing matches as Bogart and Bacall in "The Big Sleep" or MacMurray and Stanwyck do in "Double Indemnity", but the immediate intentions of both characters are more or less spelled out in this scene.
  12. In these early moments of "The Big Sleep", we see that Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlow is perceptive and well informed by how much he already knows about General Sternwood and his family prior to visiting them. We also see that he has a sense of humor from his encounter with Carmen Sternwood. She throws flirtations at him--"you're not very tall, are you?"--and he throws them right back at her--"well, I tried to be." These factors make him feel much more approachable than Sam Spade. Spade ultimately does the right thing and all, but his character is cold, detached, and intimidating. We don't get those vibes from Marlowe. We understand he's probably strict as he is a private detective AND played by Humphrey Bogart, but he feels much more likable than Spade.
  13. The dark shadows certainly suggest German Expressionism. The scene where he's telling "The Swede" that there are two men looking for him to kill him, the room is dark, and the Swede's face is completely surrounded in shadow. The only sign of life from him is the sound of his voice. Another nice touch to the scene was the shadow of the lamp, and the other guy in the scene on the wall. It reminded me of the opening scene in "Ministry of Fear", where Ray Milland is sitting in the shadows watching the clock ticking away until he can be released from the asylum. This film was also made by a German emigre filmmaker and veteran of the German film industry, the one and only Fritz Lang. As for the transition from realism to formalism, both of the sets--the diner and the apartment--look very realistic. My thought was that the diner was a real diner and the apartment was a pre-made set. Or if it was a real apartment then it was least specifically stylized for the purpose of being The Swede's residence.
  14. The first thing that comes into my head seeing this is that Gilda is either a). drunk, b. attention seeking, or c). both. Either way, by scene's end we see that there is going to be trouble when she is brought to Johnny who slaps her face. The song she sings "Put the Blame on Mame" is about a amorous woman named Mame, who's activities, particularly her koochee-koo (spelling?) dance, caused not only the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, but the shooting of Dan McGrew as well. I haven't watched "Gilda" yet, but I know a little about the plot. I'm wondering if this is intended to be a parallel of Gilda herself, as being a dangerous woman who has a destructive influence on the gangsters and gamblers she hangs around, particularly those who fall in love with her. Looking forward to seeing the film soon!
  15. The opening for "Border Incident" doesn't necessarily feel like a Film Noir at first. It feels more like a travelogue. The bright scenery, and the cheery voice over narration does not feel particularly Noir-like at all. However, when we see and hear about the Mexicans trying to get into the United States, and then the ones who get in illegally, we get the sense that this is the primary source of drama in the film. It reminds me of "Casablanca", which opens with a very travelogue-like opening where the narrator talks about the refugee trail from Europe to Casablanca, and then mentions that many do not obtain an exit visa and are stuck. We get the feeling that this going to be a strong source of drama in the film. Or like Danny DeVito in the opening of "L.A. Confidential" saying that Los Angeles is sold through the media as heaven on earth, despite it being crime and scandal ridden. Although this is much more direct. DeVito's character is literally telling us that things are bad in spite of appearances, while "Casablanca" and "Border Incident" mention problems in paradise, but not that we as consumers are being taken for a ride. I like that the opening shots of "Border Incident" are aerial photography. It makes everything look so picturesque and beautiful from a distance, but, being a Film Noir, we know that closer up there is a much more sinister ugly side to this worker's "garden". The diagonal lines and angles that the camera captures the fields and canal from increase this feeling as well.

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