Marianne

Members
  • Content count

    724
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    1

About Marianne

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling
  • Location
    Greater Boston area
  • Interests
    Freelance editor and blogger. I've been reading mystery and detective stories since I was a child. I read every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on when I was young. Since taking Richard Edwards's "Summer of Darkness" course in the summer of 2015 and watching noir faithfully ever since, I think I can say that I am no longer new to film noir and neo-noir.

Recent Profile Visitors

355 profile views
  1. R.I.P. John Mahoney (1940-2018)

    CoziTV is doing an all-day to tribute to Martin Crane (John Mahoney) in Frasier today (Saturday, February 10).
  2. R.I.P. John Mahoney (1940-2018)

    I am very sorry to hear about John Mahoney's passing. I love him in Frasier. Always good for a laugh, that show. John Mahoney is also in one of my favorite movies: Moonstruck.
  3. Recently Watched Mystery/Crime/Noir/Etc.

    I didn't enjoy Crime Without Passion much the first time that I saw it, but I did see it a second time and it was well worth it. I'm not sure that the Furies were meant to lure people into temptation as much as they were there to represent the consequences: all that falling glass was meant to cut and slash. Seeing this film, especially the opening sequence, on the big screen of the 1930s must have been amazing. And the plot twists were actually plausible. The last ten minutes or so of the film are also amazing.
  4. *CANDIDS* 2

    Wishing you well. Wishing you back in 2018.
  5. The Informer (1935, dir. John Ford) Gypo Nolan, walking at night on the fog-shrouded streets of Dublin, sees a poster advertising a £20 reward for the capture of his friend Frankie McPhillip. He tears the poster down, but when he learns that his girlfriend Katie has to turn to prostitution to support herself, Gypo has found his motivation for informing and collecting the reward money. If Gypo and Katie could earn £20, they would have enough money to pay for passage to America for the two of them. All Gypo’s subsequent actions can be attributed to his desire to help Katie, his remorse, and his desire to forget. I give The Informer 11½ out of 18 on our list of characteristics defining proto-noir. The Informer is a fantastic film. My “score” might seem rather low because the film is really a noir through and through. It may be missing some traditional noir elements, but the desperation and angst written into the narrative are powerful emotions portrayed so well by the actors, especially Victor McLaglen in the lead role of Gypo Nolan. *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** Characteristics borrowed from film noir to define proto-noir: 1. Unusual narration or plot development N/A 2. Flashbacks N/A 3. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) N/A 4. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A 5. The instrument of fate Gypo’s last night on earth is ruled by fate and his fateful decision to turn in his friend Frankie McPhillip. He is pushed to that decision by desperation. 6. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Gypo is consumed by guilt and regret over his decision to turn in his friend Frankie McPhillip. Most of the film follows his attempts to forget what his is done and to atone for it. 7. Violence or the threat of violence Dublin is a city that is occupied by British soldiers. Dubliners are under a constant threat of violence at the hands of the occupiers, especially if they are suspected of working for “the organization,” a stand-in for the IRA. 8. Urban and nighttime settings The entire film takes place on one night in the foggy streets of Dublin, a city torn by violence because of the occupation by British soldiers. 9. Greed I’ll give this one a half-point. It’s not really greed that motivates Gypo. See number 11. 10. Betrayal Betrayal, the decision to betray, and the repercussions of that decision are the main themes. 11. Philosophical themes involving alienation, loneliness The main character Gypo is tormented by his decision to betray his friend. He is desperate and alone. He feels his desperation even more acutely when his girlfriend Katie is forced into prostitution to pay her rent. 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) N/A 13. Allusion to postwar or wartime themes N/A 14. Chiaroscuro for black and white films Fog and shadow are used to great effect. 15. Unusual camera and/or lighting techniques See number 16. Another example is the use of double exposures to portray characters’ thoughts and desires. 16. European or U.S. film influenced by European styles (for example, German expressionism, French poetic realism, and so on) John Ford was influenced by German expressionism, especially by the work of F. W. Murnau. This influence is evident in the camera techniques used throughout The Informer. 17. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) I’ll count this one because the only characters that are portrayed negatively are some of the British soldiers, but the story isn’t about them and there’s no reason to portray them as anything other than one-dimensional. 18. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” I’m going to count this one: It’s not exactly expertise that triumphs. Rather, it’s the act of forgiveness that triumphs. I guess one could say that both expertise and good triumph.
  6. Rose Marie, 1923-2017

    So sad to hear this news yesterday about Rose Marie. Thanks for all the wonderful clips about her. I always loved, and still love, The Dick Van Dyke Show. So funny. Still funny.
  7. Crime Without Passion (1934) Dir. Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur Lee Gentry is a highly successful, albeit unscrupulous, defense attorney who takes pride in his cleverness. We quickly learn that he is romantically involved with two women and wishes to end it with one and remain faithful to the other. His first attempt to break up with Carmen Brown fails. His second attempt ends in tragedy and now he must cover his tracks. . . . A two-minute montage follows, ending with an image of the film’s title. (More on this with # 16) I finally had a chance to see Crime Without Passion again. I had seen it for the first time about a year ago and didn’t enjoy it all that much, as I recall. Your review on this discussion thread convinced me to see it again. I give it 12½ out of 18 on our list of noir characteristics (see #4 and #8 below). Let me know what you think when you have a chance. *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** 1. Unusual narration or plot development – Yes Yes Lee Gentry (Claude Rains) imagines hearing plausible criminal charges against him while still in Carmen’s apartment soon after her death. He asks himself, “Where is that legal brain of mine?” His subconscious takes the form of his likeness on the screen as it begins to guide Gentry through the evidence that could do him in. 2. Flashbacks n/a 3. Crime/planning a crime (usually-but not always-murder) - Yes Yes Involuntary homicide; Tampering with evidence. 4. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale n/a Yes I think Lee Gentry is an homme fatale for Carmen Brown. He finds it very easy to drive her to distraction with his manufactured incidents of her infidelity and then arguing with her about it again and again. His accusations are not based on fact, but torments her about the issue. 5. The instrument of fate - Yes Yes Gentry’s gift to Carmen will have fateful consequences for both. But not because of the gift (I just saw the film yesterday, but I cannot remember anything about a gift!). I count this for the plot twists at the end. Lee Gentry acts on assumptions and incriminates himself needlessly. 6. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes Yes Carmen is heartbroken and humiliated in the way Gentry entrapped her with lies. She feels abandoned: “How can you humiliate me like this? I haven’t slept in 3 nights. I’m desperate.” I would add Lee Gentry’s desperation to this, too. His desperation leads him to assumptions and then to act to counteract those assumption, all of which lead to his downfall. 7. Violence or the threat of violence Yes Yes Homicide And Carmen’s threat of suicide. 8. Urban and nighttime settings n/a Yes Carmen works as a nightclub dancer. The Furies fly over a city at the start of the film, so the setting is a city, even if it is unnamed. 9. Greed n/a 10. Betrayal Yes Yes Lee Gentry is seeing two women at the same time. Caught in a lie by his girlfriend Katy Costello, he boasts, “I live by lies; make money by lies; I’ve become famous by lying.” Carmen too feels betrayed and tells Gentry, “You fooled me. You fooled me.” 11. Philosophical themes involving alienation, loneliness Yes Yes Carmen Brown, becomes distraught when her longtime boyfriend announces that he is leaving her to go with another. She then cries out in an existential manner, “I don’t want to live. I want to die.” I think the references to the Furies count here, too, even though they are mythology references. They are an attempt to explain human nature. 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes Yes Needing a reason to end his two-year romance with Carmen, Lee Gentry concocts a plan to make it look as if she is seeing an old boyfriend behind his back. After a prosecutorial-like argument with her boyfriend, filled with false accusations and innuendos, the heart-broken and confused mistress breaks down: “I never want to see you again. Never as long as I live. Get out before you drive me crazy. Get out! Lee Gentry is all about manipulating women, no matter what he feels for them in the moment or over the long term. 13. Allusion to postwar or wartime themes n/a 14. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, or intense or muted color or tinting added to black and white films (In either case, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) n/a 15. Unusual camera and/or lighting techniques Half Individually, no. But the editing in the opening montage gives the impression that new techniques were being implemented with the camera and lighting. 16. European or U.S. film influenced by European styles (for example, German expressionism, French poetic realism, and so on) Yes Yes The opening montage is mesmerizing. An extreme close-up of an eye is facing the camera as we read the intertitle at the beginning of the film. A slow dissolve then shows another extreme close-up of a hand-held gun, also facing the camera- then back to the eye then we see the gun’s chamber begin to rotate. A shot! The eye shuts in fear. A silhouette of a man standing in the dark, holding something shiny in his hand, CUT TO: a woman in dark clothes falling to the ground, her hands holding her stomach. CUT TO: a single blood drop, splashed on the ground, followed by three Furies flying up from it; all in German Expressionism manner. There is a lot more but words cannot give it justice, and I won’t try further. 17. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Yes Yes We learn that Lee Gentry is a good person when his secretary tells him, “You’re the nicest man I ever knew.” Plus, there’s a certain degree of nobility for his profession as he seems to be drawn to ‘completely hopeless’ cases. The press refers to him as being ‘The Champion of the Damned’ and he agrees with them, “I am.” Still, there’s a shady side to him as well and Carmen Brown tells him; “You’re horrible! Horrible!” In fact, he tells us himself, “In love, I am a monster.” 18. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” n/a This is a well written story registering 10 ½ Yeses on our template of 18 proto-noir characteristics.
  8. We are repeating the list of film noir characteristics we have been using to investigate proto-noir. Please use as many or as few characteristics as you like to discuss proto-noir. I started the discussion thread as a way to continue applying what we learned in Dr. Edwards’s course, TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (aka Summer of Darkness: Investigating Film Noir). Also included (below the list of characteristics) is the most up-to-date list of proto-noir films; we have been adding—and continue to add—titles to the list. The list is broken down by decade, and alphabetized within each decade. In the future, I’ll alternate between the proto-noir film list alphabetized by decade and the list alphabetized in its entirety. Characteristics borrowed from film noir to define proto-noir: 1. Unusual narration or plot development 2. Flashbacks 3. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) 4. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale 5. The instrument of fate 6. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) 7. Violence or the threat of violence 8. Urban and nighttime settings 9. Greed 10. Betrayal 11. Philosophical themes involving alienation, loneliness 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) 13. Allusion to postwar or wartime themes 14. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, or intense or muted color or tinting added to black and white films (In either case, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) 15. Unusual camera and/or lighting techniques 16. European or U.S. film influenced by European styles (for example, German expressionism, French poetic realism, and so on) 17. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) 18. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” List of proto-noir titles alphabetized by decade (note that some of these films may be hard to find): Blackmail (1929), dir. Alfred Hitchcock The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), dir. Robert Wiene Convict 13 (1920), dirs. Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton The Docks of New York (1928), dir. Josef von Sternberg The Hole in the Wall (1929), dir. Robert Florey Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922), dir Fritz Lang The Last Command (1928), dir. Josef von Sternberg Thunderbolt (1929), dir. Josef von Sternberg Underworld (1927), dir. Josef von Sternberg Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), dir. Michael Curtiz La bête humaine (1938), dir. Jean Renoir Crime and Punishment (1935), dir. Josef von Sternberg Crime without Passion (1934), dirs. Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur Dangerous to Know (1938), dir Robert Florey The Devil Is a Woman (1935), dir. Josef von Sternberg Fury (1936), dir. Fritz Lang The Glass Key (1935), dir. Frank Tuttle G Men (1935), dir. William Keighley Heat Lightning (1934), dir. Mervyn LeRoy I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), dir. Mervyn LeRoy The Informer (1935), dir. John Ford The Invisible Man (1933), dir. James Whale Le jour se lève (1939), dir. Michel Carné The Kennel Murder Case (1933), dir. Michael Curtiz Let Us Live (1939), dir. John Brahm Little Caesar (1931), dir. Mervyn LeRoy M (1931), dir. Fritz Lang The Mummy (1932), dir. Karl Freund Night Must Fall (1937), dir. Richard Thorpe Pépé le Moko (1937), dir. Julien Duvivier Port of Shadows (Le quai des brumes) (1938), dir. Marcel Carné Private Detective 62 (1933), dir. Michael Curtiz The Roaring Twenties (1939), dir. Raoul Walsh Sabotage (1936), dir. Alfred Hitchcock Scarface (1932), dir. Howard Hawks and Richard Rossan The Secret Six (1931), dir. George W. Hill Shanghai Express (1932), dir. Josef von Sternberg Smart Money (1931), dir. Alfred E. Green The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932), dir. Michael Curtiz The Thin Man (1934), dir. W. S. Van Dyke 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), dir. Michael Curtiz You and Me (1938), dir. Fritz Lang You Only Live Once (1937), dir. Fritz Lang Blue, White and Perfect (1942), dir. Herbert I. Leeds City for Conquest (1940), dir. Anatole Litvak I Wake up Screaming (1941), dir. H. Bruce Humberstone The Letter (1940), dir. William Wyler The Man Who Wouldn’t Die (1942), dir. Herbert I. Leeds Michael Shayne, Private Detective (1940), dir. Eugene Forde Night Train to Munich (1940), dir. Carol Reed Sleepers West (1941), dir. Eugene Forde Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), dir. Boris Ingster They Drive by Night (1940), dir. Raoul Walsh
  9. In the Lake of the Woods (1996, dir. Carl Schenkel) John Waylan is running for U.S. senator from Minnesota when it is discovered that he either participated in or did nothing when he witnessed a massacre of civilians while he served in Vietnam. (The village is called Son My, but details about the massacre are comparable to the massacre at My Lai.) John and his wife Kathy escape to a friend’s cabin on a lake in Minnesota to put their lives back together when John loses the election after the scandal. Kathy disappears in the remote area, and people who know the couple start to wonder if John played a part in her disappearance. The rest of the film examines John Waylan’s state of mind and his relationship with his wife. In the Lake of the Woods is based on the book of the same name by Tim O’Brien. I became interested in his writing again after seeing his interviews in the recent PBS documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns. I read the novel, too, and I can recommend it, but it is tragic and sad, with discussion of the war and My Lai in particular. I was surprised by two details about the film version of O’Brien’s book: It was made for television and Hallmark Entertainment distributed it! I can give In the Lake of the Woods 11 out of 16 on our list of noir characteristics. *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** 1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) N/A 2. Flashbacks Flashbacks are interwoven throughout the story, and they are used in some innovative ways. See number 3. 3. Unusual narration See number 2. Are all the flashbacks really flashbacks, or are they alternative versions of what really happened? The film leaves it up to the viewer to decide. 4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) This one is a hard one to answer without giving anything away. I’ll count it for this film. 5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A 6. The instrument of fate Fate plays a role in John Waylan’s life in many ways, although one could also make the argument that he brought some of his troubles on himself. The one thing that is a constant in the story, however, is the PTSD that he suffers after his tour in Vietnam, and that certainly is not his fault. 7. Angst In the Lake of the Woods is all about angst, in all its forms: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for John Waylan as a Vietnam vet, despair for John after losing an important election because of scandal, worry about the disappearance of his wife Kathy for all who knew her, fear that John may have killed her. 8. Violence or the threat of violence John Waylan is a bit of a loose cannon, so no one seems to know what he is capable of. 9. Urban and nighttime settings N/A I can’t really count this one because most of the film takes place at an isolated cabin in the Minnesota woods. 10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes John’s experiences in Vietnam, and one experience in particular, haunt him. These experiences affect his life and his relationship with his wife. 11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness John Waylan is isolated both physically and emotionally. He feels alienated from everyone because of what he saw and experienced during his tour in Vietnam. He suffers from flashbacks and from PTSD. 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Does John’s PTSD lead him to commit violent acts? Does the PTSD cause his mind to blank out any events that he finds too troubling to remember? 13. Greed N/A 14. Betrayal N/A 15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) The story is told simply. None of the main characters are depicted as either good or bad. 16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” I’m going to count this one, not because expertise triumphs but because no one triumphs. The ending is clear in some ways, but no one who knows the Waylans has any answers. The ambiguity is perfect for a situation that is impossible to know with absolute certainty.
  10. The River King (2005, dir. Nick Willing) The story is based on Alice Hoffman’s novel of the same name. The body of a student from the local private school, the Haddan School, is found frozen in the river, and Officer Abe Grey and his partner Joey Tosh are given the task of investigating the circumstances of the boy’s death. Some people at the school and in the police department assume that the student, Gus Pierce, killed himself because he had trouble fitting in, but Abe becomes suspicious because he and Joey find a mysterious red substance (which may or may not be blood) under the boy’s shirt. Abe’s investigation of Gus’s death parallels his decision to confront the circumstances of his brother’s death many years ago. In both instances, he has to learn to face the truth. It is one of those movies in which every detail is important. I saw it twice and could appreciate it a whole lot more after a second viewing. Never heard of The River King? It is a Canadian and United Kingdom production that apparently was never released to theaters in the United States. Instead it went straight to DVD. It’s the neo-noir you’ve never heard of! I can give it 11 out of 16 on our list of neo-noir characteristics. *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** 1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color I’m going to count this for The River King because the ice, the snow, and the cold are like characters in the plot. Shots of the landscape reinforce the Abe’s solitude and his troubled state of mind, and they also emphasize the mood of the film, which is a story filled with uncertainty and restrained class hostility. 2. Flashbacks The flashbacks are crucial to the plot and specifically to Abe’s past. His memories are vivid, but he doesn’t know what they mean in relation to his past and the death of his brother Frank. 3. Unusual narration The way the flashbacks are handled leaves Abe and viewers wondering about their significance in the present, and only slowly is their significance in the past revealed. 4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) I can’t really say too much about this characteristic without giving away important plot surprise, but I would definitely count it. The fact that there is doubt about it only makes the film more noir. 5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A 6. The instrument of fate I’m going to count this because it is a bit of fate that brings the case of Gus’s death to Abe’s attention at just the right time for him to start pondering the significance of his brother’s death. The similarities between his current case and the past events surrounding his brother’s death increase as the plot progresses. 7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Plenty of angst for Abe, Gus, and Carlin. One of the underlying themes is how much people hold back to protect others from truths they might not be able to handle. Another theme is that holding back may be doing more of a disservice to others. 8. Violence or the threat of violence There is some threat of violence. The students at the Haddan School threaten violence against anyone who doesn’t “play along.” 9. Urban and nighttime settings N/A 10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A 11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness There is a divide between the people living in town and the Haddan School. It’s a familiar theme, but it’s treated a bit differently in The River King. It’s not just a rivalry between the town and the school. 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) See number 2 above. Abe has recurring flashbacks that he has trouble interpreting. 13. Greed N/A 14. Betrayal N/A 15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Everyone has secrets, and several characters keep secrets in order to protect others. No one seems to be portrayed as “the good guy” or “the bad guy.” 16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Expertise does triumph, but Abe has already lost his job as a police officer by this point. Everything that he gains is on a personal level. He can finally come to terms with his past.
  11. Noir Alley

    I finally read Megan Abbott's comments in her afterward to In a Lonely Place and did enjoy it. Still waiting for the 2003 edition from The Feminist Press with Lisa Maria Hogeland's afterward. Reading the novel made quite an impression on me, it seems: I'm still reading about it and thinking about it. It was a powerful story, one to reread in a year or two.
  12. Upgrade issues-- please fix

    I was being a bit facetious. I would prefer different fonts. I would take font choice over centered or flush right text any day!
  13. Newest post 1st?

    I tried placing my cursor on the thread title while in this specific discussion thread and it didn't work, alas. But it does work in the list of subforums. I still wish that we had the option of listing the most recent post first in each thread.
  14. Upgrade issues-- please fix

    I second that wish. And yet we can still align centered or flush right if we want.
  15. I received a certificate of completion as a PDF attachment to an e-mail.

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us