JMS

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  1. 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? The Lodger feels more frenzied, with quick cuts. 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? ​What struck me immediately was the use of the masculine shadow on the wall followed immediately by the woman screaming. It reminded me of Frenzy. 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? The terrified facial expression sells the scream, even without sound. Also, see above.
  2. 1. That gave me a chuckle, annestone! Totally agree that the man casually smoking in front of the "SMOKING PROHIBITED" sign was pure signature Hitchcock dry wit/ironic humor! 2. It also struck me immediately that he was simultaneously mocking and addressing the British upper class, particularly the wealthy older males. No doubt, he'd be looking for backers in the future in that set! Now that's what I call a career long approach! I do recall Peter Bogdanovich talking about Hitchcock's fascination with the upper classes, particularly their sins and secrets, so to speak, in the DVD extras of "Dial M for Murder." Definitely recommend, worth checking out! 3. I didn't perceive any limitations, save the challenge of modern audience members like myself not being used to "reading" dialogue. Fabulous start! Thank you, Dr. Edwards and TCM!
  3. The tension between our three leads is almost too much to bear! I love how Siodmak tells us so much by what the characters hold back and don't tell us. Yvonne de Carlo is passionate, yet restrained, keeping some secret. Burt Lancaster is all out, completely enamored. Dan Duryea is indeed chilling, menacing, fierce. The sweeping views of Los Angeles suggest a bigger picture than the three leads can contain or control. Every moment pushes us forward. Wonderful pick!
  4. Wow! Hume Cronyn! What a disturbing scene. Talk about abuse of authority! The close-up of the spinning record and player while the captain's assault occurs off-screen is a deft solution. One of the many things I love about film noir is its willingness to show the corrupt and violent side of the law.
  5. A very young Raymond Burr with his signature baritone is absolutely chilling in this Daily Dose. No question, the shots, angles and lighting drip of German Expressionist and UFA influence. One is given the sense of the trap that Steve Brodie is in, the madness and violence of it, spinning out of control. Appropriately titled, this is certainly one to watch!
  6. Stark, intense, lonely, brimming. Everything you want in a film noir. One of the best. Fabulous pick! Sterling Hayden is one of the greats. Equal parts sympathetic and bitter. Love the subtle gun hand-off. The brokenness of the alleyway seems to pierce and mirror the heart of our anti-hero. Light without hope is still darkness.
  7. One of the most steamy, sultry and sexy of the Daily Doses. Perfect accompaniment from score by Miles Davis. Wow.
  8. I'm begining to see the trite elements in these Daily Doses: rushing trains, fast-paced music, running, gruff facial expressions and predictable dialogue, playing almost like a spoof of the hard-broiled dectective fiction. The production values are cleaner, but not necessarily stronger. Perhaps what we can call the style and substance of earlier film noir was lapsing into mere stylishness with less substance in these later films.
  9. The tension presented in this scene plays out so beautifully. How can it not, with such talented actors as the flashy yet profound Barbara Stanwyck, the ever-caddish yet charming Van Heflin, and the brooding, newly-discovered Kirk Douglas? The undercurrents of this Daily Dose, one of the only so far to be relegated to a single location, and a small office room, no less, are completely in the hands of our characters, whose familiarity is a youthful memory, but a powerful one. What we are left with between these three tragic souls, however polished on the outside, is a veneer about to crack wide open. Phenomenal!
  10. I enjoyed this week's lecture. It was both poetic and grounded in historical context. I find myself feeling verklempt as we close in on the end of the era of film noir-- and our course.
  11. I'm so grateful to Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation for their caring in restoring "Too Late For Tears." A fabulous film noir including the talents of Lizbeth Scott and Dan Duryea, our Daily Dose brings us the best print I have ever viewed. Images that stand out include the city lights, a dark car pulling up to a distance marker, jutting up like a tombstone, the shielded face of a driver, a light-colored car approaching from the opposite direction, implying perhaps moral superiority, as different lives about to collide, the winding miles of road, the birds' eye view. Lizabeth Scott lets us know that her moods are tumultous, as perilous as her attempt to control the car's direction. It is more likely her own sense of insecurity and longing for riches than a friend's judgment-- "His diamond-studded wife, looking down her nose at me like... like a big ugly house up there looks down on Hollywood." We are thrust into anticipation from the start.
  12. Superb opening sequence! Like "Shadow of a Doubt," I do see the noir style reflected in "Strangers on a Train." I think it is difficult to see Hitchcock in the context of film noir for four reasons: Hitchcock is in a class by himself, like David Lynch. Also, Hitchcock is quintessentially suspense. Hitchcock admittedly was fascinated by the dark underbelly of the upper classes-- which Peter Bogdonovich reitered in an interview regarding "Dial M for Murder"-- where films noir usually focused on middle to lower ones. Some exceptions to this rule include "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" and "The Big Sleep," but much of the classic film noir like "Double Indemnity" and "The Maltese Falcon," "Scarlett Street" and "D.O.A.," reflect more the struggles of the lower and middle classes. And, Hitchcock is so elegant, not at all gritty, as we are so used to experiencing in films noir. But, I would argue, I think that anything that Chandler touches must be crime and noir, much of his work not appearing in "Strangers on a Train" notwithstanding. The sophisticated, twisted plot and crime themes in "Strangers on a Train" most definitely reflect film noir. So glad this gem is included in our Doses this week, thank you!
  13. "As a general overview, that is good introduction to existentialism in noir, as you begin to see that filmmakers themselves probably only had a nascent grasp of the philosophy in the 1940s, but the underlying ideas of 'nothingness' 'sickness' 'loneliness' 'dread' and 'nausea' were ideas, even in a non-philosophical sense, present in culture in the 1940s and 1950s." I like this quote from this week's lecture. I immediately thought of Carl Jung. A student of Freud and father of Jungian psychology, Jung wrote of archetypes and the collective unconscious; that is, identity relative to long-standing, pervasive impulses that shape the individual and help form a larger historic and cultural reality. It makes sense that filmmakers of films noir, especially in leiu of WWII, the atomic bomb, Communism, the Korean War, and in a new wake of PTSD, experienced either directly or indirectly, would express death, loss of innocence, trauma, angst and dread, in terms of exisitential crises. Even without formal or academic grasp of existential philosophy, the filmmakers' experiences and perceptions likely embodied universal ones expressed by the existentialist thinkers. Once touched by darkness, its reality could not be denied. Perhaps films noir, then, was a means for the filmmakers, and their audiences, to share in and working through these colective fears.
  14. I was just reading John and Stephanie Blaser's essay "Film Noir's Progressive Portrayal of Women" and your comment echoes its message. I keep thinking of film noir's sympathy for the character, even the characters fatale, throughout their struggle for independence, "Live free or die," so to speak. Our heroes and anti-heroes, innocents and intrigantes, even fatales, willing to sacrifice the image of morality, and their very lives, for freedom, or love. There is a dignity, yet lonliness, involved in these choices. The precariousness of decision, the absurdity of the individual standing above the moral and universal spheres, where existence precedes essence or idea, thereby asserting such dignity of the individual within a chaotic world where concepts cannot save him or her, is the world of noir. The influence of existential philosophy is undeniable.

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