ebegley2

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  1. Welcome to our New York City chapter of TCM! This is a great place for folks to post their thoughts, suggestions, opinions, and start any topic as well. For example, of our 70 members (as of 1/6/18) we know that many are from New Jersey, Long Island, and even Connecticut! Well, here in this forum, we could have a topic titled "New Jersey movie group" for folks planning any movie viewing in the Garden State. We also know that members who work in Manhattan get together at times for conversation; we could call that topic "Monthly Movie Talk Meetings" or something suitable. Some of our members can use the "insert other media" link below or attach files of themselves when they were interviewed for TCM, or show photos of TCM-related events. Or just share pictures. In 2017, one of our founding-five members asked some "getting to know your movie tastes" questions so maybe Claire will now post those same questions in a new topic here.... The idea is to make this forum your very own, all you wonderful Osborne Legacy Chapter members :-)
  2. 1. 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? He is self-assured in dress, manner, and voice. A man of many quips who gets the lay of the lay yet doesn't seem phased by it, nor impressed with himself as a keen observer of character. 2. Do you see a difference in Bogart's portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade in The Maltese Falcon? Yes, as Spade he blended more with the slithery background music that introduces a would-be femme fatale and he almost submits to his desires and need of her. However, as Marlowe, he is above any pretense to falling for the so-called charms of Vickers. Bogart as Spade was desperate to get the falcon and the other "stuff" of his dreams; as Marlowe, Bogart is doing HIS job, not doing a job. 3. In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? POV from hero/protagonist needs no voice-over; our identification with him is immediate in his breezy non-conformity as though HE needs nothing from these wealthy people; they instead need him. So the dark desperation can be absent in a noir -- IF the shadowy morality overlays the visual ambiguity.
  3. 1. What mood or atmosphere—through the visual design and the voiceover narration—is being established in this realistic documentary sequence? Visually, we are shown a peaceful, orderly landscape -- the natural one of farms and waterways, plus the human peaceful, orderly landscape of braceros awaiting entry to work the land. The mood of the narrator, however, anticipates something going awry as he voices the fact that most workers from Mexico follow the laws, implying that this movie will show a "border incident" focusing on injustice. 2. What do you think documentary realism adds to the evolution and increased range of the film noir style? The vast outdoors and innocuous, placid settings also have underpinnings of deceit, disaster, and despair. Noir need not be confined to limited interiors, nor to dark contrasts with light -- it can happen both "in sunshine and in shadow." 3. In what ways can the opening of Border Incident be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? Noir is no longer restricted to the subjective first person POV and can be felt in bucolic natural scenes as well.
  4. 1. 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). Contrasts of light and dark; encroaching, unavoidable fatal fate; close-ups of despair, almost resigned terror fading to a concluding relief. 2. How does this sequence shift its visual design from realism to formalism, as it moves from the diner to the Swede's room? The diner is lit; the Swede's room is not; we see the faces and reactions of the diner staff but only see cigarette smoke from the Swede. Yet, his voice says it all -- his fate of inevitable doom is upon him and he philosophically accepts that "he made a mistake ... once." 3. In what ways can this sequence from The Killers be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? It concretizes the abstractions of random shadows, deadly consequences for incautious choices, visual shadows and ambiguous morality, the underplayed yet intense performances.
  5. 1. What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene? She seems to want attention and affection from Johnny Farrell and can get it by grabbing the spotlight so that he has no choice but to react, though his reaction is all negative. 2. What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence? The shadowy grayish areas evoke questions such as: Why won't he love her openly? Why does she love someone obviously not good for her? What is the revenge motive on both their parts? Why is she so vulnerable in wanting his good opinion? 3. In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir? We are made to pause and reflect on the shadowy significance of moral character, and we must re-evaluate what we've been shown so far. The camera angles suggest we identify with Gilda, as does the music which is bold and blaring -- her dress is bold and her dance is blaring as well. The music is hot and emphasizes her need to warm up her cold husband, dancing provocatively and singing suggestively with that object in mind: an audience of one (him) is her purpose in showcasing herself before an audience of many.
  6. 1. How do you feel the noir influence operates in this scene from Mildred Pierce? Noir operates by establishing the villain immediately as the daughter who callously lies about being pregnant and is unconcerned at her mother discovering the true reason underlying her avariciousness. We are influenced to pity the unsuspecting, loving mother who is so willing to throw all her support behind her child while at the same time, we marvel at how the main character has been holding her blinders so tightly that she refused to see the real Veda. 2. 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. The scene unfolds with Mildred standing and Veda partly reclining. During the exposition, their positions become equivalent, as each stands but Mildred gets the first close-up so that we are expected to understand her more as a victim, as the protagonist being betrayed by a loved one upon whom she has lavished a lifetime of love and devotion. Veda's brutality both in her vicious speech and in her powerful slap after Mildred rips the bribery check have the effect of being gut-punched, as seen by Veda's height over Mildred on the stairs. Mildred's heart is "pierced" by Veda's admission. 3. In what ways can this scene from Mildred Pierce be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? The shifting POV, the contrast of Veda's large white shoulder flower against a background of her dark dress, the depth of the betrayal, and the ambiguity of their future paths once "kill you" is said by the protagonist to the antagonist are all aspects of noir style.
  7. 1. How would you compare the opening of M to the opening ofMinistry of Fear? In M the clock symbolizes the mother's workday with a cuckoo reminder of the noonday mealtime for her child. In MOF, Lang opens with not just a clock but a heavy wall clock with an ominous pendulum striking a note of fear to supplement the film title. In M, time moves quickly and much happens in the first 5 minutes whereas in MOF, time is the enemy and a man alone in a dark room staring at a clock is most of the opening. 2. Describe in your own words how Fritz Lang uses the clock in this scene as a major element to set mood and atmosphere. The clock inside the room moves 1 minute from 5:55 to 5:56 and it took so long that we feel the s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s of the time crawling for the man awaiting his freedom. When the doctor enters the room, it is almost 6:00 and the doc regrets not having had the clock re-sprung to keep accurate time. Thus, the clock representing time is inaccurate, frustrating, and antagonistic. 3. In what ways can this opening scene from Ministry of Fear be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? The opening forces viewers to focus on time in the most negative ways: heavy, slow, unfair in the inmate having had to stay too log in the asylum. yet, upon his departure, we see the heavy, dark overview of the camera showing us the spiky, ominous shadows that resemble clutching fingers on the gate. Are the shadows of darkness clutching the exiting character? Will he be trapped in time?
  8. 1. Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective? Marlowe is an actively physical detective who says what he thinks out loud, rather than holding all information close to his vest. As he speaks, he moves and "manhandles" the deceptive young woman who is seeking information about the jade. He seems to turn the tables on her, so to speak. He also knows she's not to be trusted so he locks her in his office until he culls the info from her that he needs. 2. Why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context? In noir, the main character is active, physical, and smart, usually because (s)he has to be. Marlowe hints at this, and in noir, the clues are part of the shadowy ambiguity. 3. In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? In noir, the ambiguity happens instantly and here, we aren't sure if the young woman is good or bad (usually only the main character is neither good nor bad) until she give off signals of being antagonistic to him.
  9. 1. What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" Some examples of a character study of furnishings and faces in Laura come from Lydecker, and some from McPherson. Lydecker's narration reveals him to be a self-important, verbose snob, wedded to trappings of taste, but his "lavish" (his word) abode shows ostentation among his ecelectic collection, which includes masked faces. Or are they death masks? He wears a mask himself which McPherson sees through, as when McPherson reads him a column written 2 years ago that Lydecker wrote about which had a similar M.O. that killed Laura: a shotgun, point-blank. This indicates the research done by the detective, something the 2 previous detectives overlooked. Lydecker refers to him admiringly because McPherson carries gun wounds in his leg as a reminder of his past courage. Although McPherson himself has no taste (he's intrigued by double-blown glass, dose not close the glass door after opening the case of "treasures" nor does he actually stop to admire the grandfather clock; he merely checks his own watch against the time on the piece. The idea is to demonstrate that one man lacks "taste in furnishings" while the other has bought every taste he could, to give an impression of good taste and character. They are opposites in both furnishings and character. 2. What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? Preminger knows his audience will at first be taken in by W.L. as the narrator, the wealthy wit, the extravagant collector who is seemingly comfortable in his own skin while still puffing up his ego with self-congratulatory recognition of Mark McPherson's history.The director depicts W.L. sitting above others (his bath has a step), exalted by his power of the written word to influence, yet he assures us that W.L. is essentially harmless, as we glimpse his lightweight anatomy. Had Preminger excluded that angle, we'd have not seen the bony chest. 3. In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? Many noir films begin outside, much as we viewers are "outsiders," and then "enter" a noir world, the way we watch ourselves go inside the mind and matter of the main character. Laura, on the other hand, opens within the world of the narrator, not only withIN, but he is IN a tub, naked, so the viewer sees him truly from the inside-out, not the outside-in. Despite this, we wonder about his vulnerability.
  10. 1. Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful? Yes, because we are enveloped into a man's mind immediately and we instinctively realize he might, or must, be innocent. It is also successful in making viewers feel his fear as he imagines the danger, and when he is "caught" by the driver guessing his true identity as the escapee, we understand his need to punch his way out of the situation. 2. How do you think the use of a first person POV added to the tension of this scene? We are the "I" as he narrates his journey and feel his tension between his relief at escaping and his fear at getting caught. 3. In what ways can the opening of Dark Passage be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? Yes, because we gravitate toward the character-in-trouble, and we get sucked into the shadows of ambiguity -- in this case, we sense he should be free, but we don't know for sure, especially when he is harsh toward the driver rather than sounding grateful for the ride, since we believe he could have asked the driver to shut the radio, claiming a headache.
  11. 1. Were you surprised by what happens in the opening scene ofThe Letter? No, because I am familiar with this movie and didn't realize it could be considered noir. Directors will film one side usually, such as the shadows, or the bucolic setting. Others will show us all the "good" then all the "bad", perhaps even vice versa. A surprise here is that Wyler doesn't show us the peaceful, white bird on the fence until it is impacted by death, nor the peaceful, white dogs sleeping until they, too, awake at the sound of Death. The moon, however, and the white-clothed natives do foreshadow the end when the moon shows us the native woman hiding in shadows, ready to kill the jealous, murdering lover (from the opening shot -- well, maybe opening sequence is clearer to write than opening shot) played by Davis. Even the white pants on the man show ambiguity -- yes, his affair with a married woman was (especially then) immoral but his white pants could symbolize an effort at redemption, trying (and dying) to end the affair. 2. In what ways can the opening of The Letter be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? The dark/light juxtaposition captured by the film lens darting from the white moon to the dark tree trunk, from the white-shirted natives to the dark, thatched roof, from the white bird flying away upon the sound of a gunshot to the dark ground as the lens goes "up the stairs" to where the man staggers out of the house, and finally to the white-speckled dogs jumping up at yet more gunshot sounds to darkness when the moon is covered by clouds -- and again back to the light when the moon is revealed once more, and we notice the white pants on the victim, dead on the dark dirt. The contrast pulls us in opposites several times in the opening, foreshadowing that the main character will pull us (and the cast) back and forth as well. The camera also lets us see the hard-working (buckets of raw, liquid rubber) and peaceful (sleeping -- it is very late) natives as against the duplicitous whites.
  12. 1. What does the film's realistic depiction of a train add to this opening? The depiction is a stabilizing, or lulling, factor -- we all know most train rides are safe, but we also hear of catastrophes that can occur any time. It keeps us on an even keel because even when the camera views the tracks from wheel level, and when curves appear along the drive, and when the engineer and conductor exchange dialogue with directions, the road always balances and the rails are stable, under the train to steady the viewer, the riders, and the safe normalcy doesn't ever startle the workers standing by tracks. Yet, we all know a random mistake or a split-second distraction can create a crash that turns the passengers' worlds upside-down. 2. What are some of the specific shots, sounds, or techniques that add "darker touches" to this opening scene? The view from below, track-level almost might symbolize the underside of humanity (bete humaine). The clash of loud sounds pull us away from rational thoughts; the disharmony of clangs, roars, whistles, engines, iron grates, fire burning, tunnel-and-bridge noises all combine to startle us, to yank us into this immediacy of the train's environment. Musical harmony enters after 3 or 4 minutes but by them we cannot escape the push/pull (the thrust and jerking) of "the human beast." 3. In what ways can the opening of La Bete Humaine be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? A false sense of routine, care, and security as if they cast a shield of protection around viewer and actor. The set-up of typical actions done daily which become, in noir, the BC (before the crisis) contrasted with the AC (after the life-shattering crisis). It shows the importance of initial mood.
  13. 1. What word or combination of words best conveys the mood that Fritz Lang is trying to create in this opening scene? Combo of words -- dark, dreary, dangerous. Dark opening in the courtyard, dark song is chanted, dark hallway, dark interiors, dark uniform and streets, dark shadow of the man. Dreary adult lives of drudgery and duty. Dreary interiors with a dreary exchange of words during the interchange of baskets which foreshadow the danger that can affect anyone of them -- the woman giving the basket has just seen the children; the woman receiving the basket will never see her Elsie alive again. Yet she's the one assuring the basket-giver that as long the women can hear the kinder, they can be relieved their kids are alive. Danger -- in the lyrics, in the scene of scared parents waiting for the schoolchildren to come out, in the street traffic, in the poster. Of course, the ultimate danger in the shadow of the child killer. 2. In what ways can the opening of M be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? In 2 ways -- ambiguity and foreshadowing. The atmosphere of ambiguity which shows darkness and lightness, or innocence: dark words-innocent children; dark staircase-bright, clean clothes; dark interior-bright smile anticipating mealtime with child; fearful parents (dark atmosphere)-sunshine at noon as kids exit school; dark shadow on light poster. The foreshadowing of the light (blonde, yet her mother is brunette) girl reciting a dark chant about death; the foreshadowing of the same leading girl escaping death by jumping back to the sidewalk for safety; she then trusts the adult male (cop) to stop traffic danger for her to cross safely; the innocent post (to her) which serves for her as a place to play ball (throw-catch) that the viewer reads as dangerous, due to the dark works written in the poster; finally, the poster represents the suspension in time between the girl who just escaped danger by trusting the adult male authority and the killer coming close enough to distract her and exploit her innocent trust.

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