sreggie

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About sreggie

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  • Birthday 11/16/1957

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    http://classicmovieman.blogspot.com/
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    Chicago, IL
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    I'm interested in classic film of all genres. I enjoy writing for my blog and promoting classic films through monthly film events.
  1. Powell’s dancing seems light and effortless, where Keeler’s dancing seems heavy and difficult. With Keeler I get the impression that the dancing is hard (and it probably is), but with Powell, she makes it seem easy (maybe I could do that, except for the back bends!). Powell is an all around dancer, able to master and incorporate several styles into her tap, where Keller has one style that she keeps repeating.
  2. I think the casting of Bergman and Grant in #Notorious confirms and challenges their movie personas; we reflexively like them because of their glamour and fame, so we’re willing to go with them on what for both is a darker journey. For a good portion of the film, I really can't stand Grant's arrogance and contempt for Bergman's character (I'm pulling for her the whole time though), but it all makes sense in the end. The movie is so complex: the Bergman and Grant characters are damaged from the beginning and it seems they both need to hit bottom before they can realize their true feeling for each other. Going into the film liking Bergman and Grant as personalities gets you emotionally involved with them both from the beginning.
  3. Q: 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? A: The way the shot is constructed makes me feel nervous. I'm in the two boys' shoes and the headmaster's office seems huge and the walk to his desk takes forever. Q: 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? A: It adds to the tension and suspense of the scene. You feel like you're in the heads of the two guys in the room. It intensifies the nervous tension. 3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. A: In all the films there is a feeling of closing in or confinement: the murder victim in The Lodger; the chorus girls coming down the spiral staircase in The Pleasure Garden; and the fighter sitting alone in The Ring.
  4. Q: 1. Compare the opening of The Lodger to the opening of The Pleasure Garden - what similarities and differences do you see between the two films? A: Both films start with interesting or intriguing visuals that grab your attention immediately. Both openings feature women (a group of women performers in The Pleasure Garden and one woman in close-up in The Lodger). Q: 2. Identify elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Even if you are not sure if it is the "Hitchcock style," what images or techniques stand out in your mind as powerful storytelling? Or images that provide an excess of emotion? A: The focus on the woman's face, emotions are similar to those in Psycho. Both are murders, but Hitchcock used close ups to help the audience get into a character's head to get you emotionally involved with the characters. For example, the close up of Ingrid Bergman in Notorious when she realizes her husband and mother-in-law know she's a spy and that they're poisoning her. Q3: 3. Even though this is a "silent" film, the opening image is one of a woman screaming. What do you notice in how Hitchcock frames that particular shot that makes it work in a silent film even though no audible scream that can be heard. And what other screams like that come to mind from Hitchcock's later work? A: Hitchcock shoots the actress's face at an angle which adds to the terror. The extreme close-up makes you feel that the killer is on top of her and there is no escape. The obvious comparison is to Psycho. Janet Leigh's character has no where to go; she's trapped in the shower making it easy for the killer. The extreme close-up of Leigh is similar to the one in opening of The Lodger. Leigh's scream would be just as terrifying with no dialogue or sound because of Hitchcock's framing of the scene and the amazing editing and cutting.
  5. Q: How are the “entrances” of John Garfield and Lana Turner staged in this sequence? What do their “entrances” reveal about their character? A: John Garfield comes on the scene as a hitch-hiker, someone who appears to be a drifter. He’s got an ordinary everyman quality to him. Lana Turner on the other hand, enters the scene like a goddess. She’s dressed in white shorts, top, and turban. And like a goddess, she’s aloof, but aware of her impact on men; she’s bothered by the fact that Garfield’s character didn’t fall at her feet in worship (he’ll do that later!). Q: What are some of the noir elements in this sequence? A: The flashback narration by Garfield. The nice shadows inside the diner, the lattice shadows on the wall, the venetian blinds form shadows that fall over Garfield. Those same shadows fall on Turner when she moves into Garfield’s space to retrieve her lipstick. Q: What did you notice in this sequence that you identify with the MGM “house style?” (Answer this question only if you are already familiar with other MGM films noir from this time period). A: The scenes feature great key lighting that shows both Garfield and Turner at their best. No odd angles, but rather pretty straightforward (but effective) camera work. Also the gas station and the diner look beautifully well kept. Nothing bleak or low-rent about the place.
  6. Q: How are the “entrances” of John Garfield and Lana Turner staged in this sequence? What do their “entrances” reveal about their character? A: John Garfield comes on the scene as a hitch-hiker, someone who appears to be a drifter. He’s got an ordinary everyman quality to him. Lana Turner on the other hand, enters the scene like a goddess. She’s dressed in white shorts, top, and turban. And like a goddess, she’s aloof, but aware of her impact on men; she’s bothered by the fact that Garfield’s character didn’t fall at her feet in worship (he’ll do that later!). Q: What are some of the noir elements in this sequence? A: The flashback narration by Garfield. The nice shadows inside the diner, the lattice shadows on the wall, the venetian blinds form shadows that fall over Garfield. Those same shadows fall on Turner when she moves into Garfield’s space to retrieve her lipstick. Q: What did you notice in this sequence that you identify with the MGM “house style?” (Answer this question only if you are already familiar with other MGM films noir from this time period). A: The scenes feature great key lighting that shows both Garfield and Turner at their best. No odd angles, but rather pretty straightforward (but effective) camera work. Also the gas station and the diner look beautifully well kept. Nothing bleak or low-rent about the place.
  7. Q: How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film? A: We see a confident man who seems comfortable in his own skin. We learn very quicky that he’s not very tall, he’s a private detective, likes brandy, he’s 38, went to college, and used to work for the district attorney’s office until he got fired for insubordination. Q: Do you see a difference in Bogart’s portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade in The Maltese Falcon? A: Marlowe seems to be a little more relaxed than the Sam Spade character. Q: In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? A: It sets up the film’s plot by giving us most of the backstory in a few short minutes, giving us an idea as to what Marlowe's character will be up to.
  8. Q: What mood or atmosphere—through the visual design and the voiceover narration—is being established in this realistic documentary sequence? A: The introduction starts out as a Southern California agricultural history lesson and then the narration changes to reveal that this is going to be a story about Mexican workers victimized by unscrupulous people. Q: What do you think documentary realism adds to the evolution and increased range of the film noir style? A: It adds a sense of immediacy (you are there!), that hooks your interest almost immediately. Q: In what ways can the opening of Border Incident be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? A: The voice-over in Border Incident is like the flashback narrative that is a popular device in many films noirs. The opening scene starts out as a birds-eye view of Southern California, then progressively moves “down to earth.” The opening starts out as an overview, but ends with a focus on the boarder, where we assume the action will take place.The introduction is the set-up for the entire movie, which is typical of many films noir.
  9. Q: What are some of the influences you see in this sequence from other cinemas (such as German expressionism) or other art forms? For example, consider this scene in relation to the work of Fritz Lang (who also worked at UFA). A: The opening shot of the outside the diner has the camera positioned low and tilted at an angle. The realistic tough-guy dialogue and the interesting shot of the toughs leaving the diner and walking across the street to their car. Q: How does this sequence shift its visual design from realism to formalism, as it moves from the diner to the Swede’s room? A: When Nick runs from the diner to the Swede’s room, the camera angle switches from Nick running at street level to a shot of him from the Swede’s bedroom window. The camera then pulls into the bedroom, where we see the Swede on his bed in the dark. The camera continues to pan across the room to the front door where we see Nick enter. The lighting and shadows emphasize the Swede’s isolation and desperation. It’s a small space that makes him seem like a prisoner in his own room. Q: In what ways can this sequence from The Killers be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? A: As already mentioned, the clever camera work, the lights and shadows, the realistic dialogue, and the sense of gloom and dread that all of the above creates.
  10. Q: What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene? A: You get the sense that Hayworth's character may have had a few drinks before this performance. As smooth as it is, she seems to be acting out. The striptease is very seductive, but you don't see very much. She removes two gloves and a necklace. It's kind of a metaphor that let's the audience know there is more to this character than has hitherto been revealed. Q: What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence? A: As mentioned above, we only see a few "layers" removed, which connotes that there is more to this character (Gilda) than we think we know. The song is about a woman who was the cause of so much harm, especially to a man named McGrew. Will she also be the cause of harm to Johnny? Has she harmed other men? Q: In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir? A: As with any film, music can set a tone, and in the case of Gilda, it can help tell a story and advance the narrative.
  11. Q: How do you feel the noir influence operates in this scene from Mildred Pierce? A: The interior scenes have wonderful light and shadows, including the window blinds casting a great shadow (A foreshadow of the jail bars in Veda's future?) behind Mildred (Crawford). Both actresses are dressed in black, which helps make the mood seem somber and serious. Q: How does Curtiz arrange these two actresses to heighten the tension of the scene? Pay attention to how they move and how they are framed in the scene, especially the use of close-ups. A: The scene starts with Veda (Blyth) on the couch in a subordinate position while Mildred stands over her. Then the actresses move behind the couch both standing. Veda plays with the check while Mildred realizes Veda lied about being pregnant. Mildred grabs Veda by the shoulders to confront her. While Veda is spewing forth her rage at her mother, the scene is shot over Mildred's shoulder. cutting to Mildred in closeup to get her reaction. When Veda runs toward the stairs with Mildred following her, she is positioned higher than her mother and her closeup is shot from below, from Crawford's vantage point on the stairs. Crawford's closeup, after she orders Veda out of the house, is shot from above, to emphasize her isolation and alienation from her daughter. Q: In what ways can this scene from Mildred Pierce be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? A: The scene is violent in both its dialogue and action. The characters hold nothing back in their confrontation. The cutting and editing, including the reaction shot closeups, the superior and subordinate camera angles, add to the tension in the scene and are emblematic of the noir style.
  12. Dick Powell's Marlowe is cool and confident. He smartly determines that Miss Allison is really Ann Grayle. Perhaps Ann was a little too put together for a reporter from the Post and perhaps her nails were too perfectly manicured to type her own stories. she definitely looks more like an heiress than a reporter. The dialogue is sharp and purposeful. Marlowe locks Ann in the office to make sure he gets the information he wants and succeeds, moving the plot forward.
  13. Of course he is a poet, a writer with that opening narration. How did I miss that?
  14. Q: What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" A: The opening focuses on the luxurious NY City apartment of Waldo Lydecker, which is filled with interesting furnishings and faces, including a wall of African masks and other artifacts. The detective, Mark McPherson is handsome and well dressed. Lydecker's bathroom is like his apartment, "lavish," with details like monogrammed towels and a bathtub desk for his typewriter. Lydecker also gives us some background on McPherson and his exploits in a case, Waldo calls the "Siege of Babylon" on Long Island. We find out that McPherson has a shin "full of lead." Q: What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? A: We're "introduced" to Waldo Lydecker at first through the narration that opens the movie. Then we realize that he's watching detective McPherson from his bathroom. He observes McPherson surveying his apartment and the objects of art he has on display on the walls and in showcases. When McPherson opens one of the display cases and touches one of the objects, Lydecker speaks. He tells McPherson to be careful because those objects are priceless. It gives us a little glimpse into his character and what is important to him. We finally see Lydecker soaking in a tub with a built-in desk for his typewriter. The way that he comfortably holds court from his bathtub, we get another glimpse into the character of Lydecker. He's used to the finer things in life for sure. Q: In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? A: The voice over narration is an important contribution to the film noir style. The narration is combined with the tour of Lydecker's apartment and our first glimpse of McPherson, which sets the tone for the film and gives us an idea of who the major players are and that the plot hinges on a murder. After all what is film noir without a murder?

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