Barton_Keyes

Noir Alley

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6 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

I have absolutely no idea how such things work (converting a radio to an "oscillator" and if it could be done.) But I suspect that Raoul Walsh and the screenwriters are counting on their 1949 audience being as woefully stupid as I am when it comes to home electronics. I think, whether it's possible to turn a radio into an oscillator or not, we're supposed to think it is. And don't forget, there is a scene where Fallon is first introduced to the audience, in which there's a bit of dialogue suggesting he's good with electronics.

Not to waste too much more time arguing this point, but, if Fallon doesn't take Verna's radio and mess about with it, where does he get that oscillator he plants in the heist truck?? I ask you.

As many folks have pointed out, audiences in those days likely only saw the film one time and

didn't have our ability to watch movies over and over again and notice things that probably flew

right by the people who only saw it once. I just take it as that old Hollywood magic. Sure a guy

can take a radio and convert it into a oscillator or an oscillator can just sort of show up on its

own. Just like there happened to be a lamp over the mirror in the men's room that Fallon could

hang his jacket on and cover up his message when the other criminal came in to tell him to hurry

it up. And the audience has time to muse about Cody's relationship with Fallon, while ITRW a guy

like Fallon would have been concerned with staying alive and getting his job done. 

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I'm late to the Nightmare Alley discussion, I watched the film a couple weeks ago when it aired on Noir Alley.  I also own a copy of the film, but wanted to hear Eddie Muller's comments.

I really enjoy this film.  For whatever reason though, I always fall asleep.  I honestly don't know why, because I legitimately like the film and don't find it boring in the least.  Maybe I just need to make a pot of coffee and watch it again. 

Tyrone Power was excellent in this film and it was quite a difference from his swashbuckler, romantic hero type roles.  Earlier in the evening, prior to watching Nightmare Alley, I had watched The Black Swan with Power and Maureen O'Hara.  I liked Power's portrayal of Stan, a man who seems sympathetic in the beginning, but quickly unveils his true character.  In the scene where Stan gives Pete his fifth of moonshine and Pete dies because he drank Zeena's wood grain alcohol, did Stan mistake the bottles on purpose?  Or was it a legitimate mistake? I ask because Pete's death comes after Stan asks Zeena if she wants to perform her mind reading trick with him instead of Pete.  Pete's death definitely sets up Stan's ability to join up with Zeena, learn "the code" and eventually leave the carnival.

I told my husband about the discussion on the board about Stan and Molly having sex and is that why they were forced into a shotgun marriage.  That idea had never occured to me, but my husband was like "well of course they do, why do you think they had to get married?"  I guess I need to REALLY watch the movie to pick up on this.  It makes sense.

For me, the standout in this film is Joan Blondell.  As others said, she brings such an earthy sensuality to her role as Zeena.  Her persona works well for a woman who reads tarot cards and ultimately wants to take care of everyone, including Pete, whose alcoholism is serious and needs professional assistance.  Zeena continues to take care of him, just so she can save money to send him to rehab.  Blondell deserves to be as well known as some of her contemporaries.  I think Blondell never really got to appear in *that* film to cement her status.  She never got a 'Philadelphia Story,' or Now Voyager, to push her into the higher echelon of stardom. 

My husband loves Coleen Gray, because he thinks she is very pretty in Nightmare Alley.  I would agree, she is very beautiful and I enjoy her scenes as "Electric Girl." I thought she was excellent as the young girl who was pushed into marriage and is probably way in over her head when it comes to dealing with Power.  I like Gray's character because she's the antithesis of the Helen Walker character.  She provides a nice balance.

I followed Lorna's recommendation and borrowed this book from the library:

Image result for crime novels nightmare alley

I'm reading Nightmare Alley right now! So far, the beginning of the story is much different than the movie.  I also look forward to reading Thieves Like Us.  I loved They Live By Night

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I watched White Heat last week.  I think this is the third time I've seen this film.  I just watched it for the first time a couple years ago when I got the "TCM Greatest Gangster Films: James Cagney" collection.  White Heat is one of the four films featured.  I agree with many of the opinions that have already been expressed in this discussion.

I never considered Edmond O'Brien's "what's holding him up?" comment as being cold-blooded, but having read Tom's comment prior to watching the Noir Alley feature (I DVR'd it), I watched it with a different perspective.  I do agree that it is cold.  For that brief moment, O'Brien is just as cold-hearted as the gangsters he's trying to gun down.  I like O'Brien.  He's an interesting actor for me.  I can't decide if I think he's attractive or average.  He's kind of attractive in the same way that I find Claude Rains and Barry Sullivan somewhat attractive.  The first movie I saw O'Brien in was A Girl, A Guy and a Gob with Lucille Ball and George Murphy.  I liked him in that film.  I think I've tried to watch A Barefoot Contessa, but honestly I can't remember anything about it. 

Cagney's portrayal of Cody Jarrett is terrifying and I can't picture anyone else in the part.  It's a shame that James Cagney ended up regretting the film.  I think it's one of the highlights of his career.  Jarrett is such a complex character: a man who has no qualms about robbing and murdering people, even members of his own gang; but at the same time, he's devoted to his mother; while also seemingly letting his guard down at times for people like O'Brien whom he meets in prison.  Jarrett is ruthless, but also has an underlying vulnerability.  I also thought it was interesting how his migraines were portrayed.  As someone who very infrequently has migraines, I have never seen someone act the way Cagney does when he has an "attack." The migraines seemed to be the movie's way of explaining his behavior.

The cafeteria scene was particularly memorable.  Here are hundreds of people, minding their own business, eating their meal.  Cagney gets word that his Ma passed and he flips out.  The scene is still silent except for Cagney.  He is escorted out and the inmates go on eating as if nothing happened.  I also found it weird that Ma Jarrett's death is handled so nonchalantly.  For a character who is so important to the main character, it would have been nice to see how she died.

I really liked Virginia Mayo's character, Verna.  I had never really seen Mayo prior to this film and The Secret World of Walter Mitty, and I really enjoyed her part as the gangster's moll.  She is heartless and really doesn't care about Ma or Cody.  She'll hang out with whoever will give her more stuff.  She hooks up with Steve Cochran, then is back with Cody.  I also liked that she loved listening to music on the radio.  Mayo has quickly become one of my new favorite performers.  I recorded a bunch of her movies last year when she was featured on SUTS.  I believe I still have: South Sea Woman, She's Working Her Way Through College, Red Light, and Smart Girls Don't Talk recorded.  I thought I had recorded Flaxy Martin, but apparently I did not. I also own The Best Years of Our Lives, but haven't watched it yet.

I think my favorite part of this film are the scenes with the police and the methods they use to track Cody. The oscillating signal, the maps, the straight edge, the little circle antenna on top of the police car, all of that was fascinating.  One of my favorite aspects of classic film is seeing what methods and technologies people used to find answers to their questions prior to the technology that I use today to find the same information.  This is why I love Desk Set so much.  The ladies in Desk Set are basically a human Google or Wikipedia. 

The ending of White Heat is iconic and one of the greatest endings in film history.  "Go big or go home," Raoul Walsh must have been saying when he put together that scene.  If you hadn't seen it before and didn't know about it beforehand, I feel like it would be a very impactful ending.

I look forward to Key Largo next week.  I haven't seen this film in quite some time.

 

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The topic of F.B.I. undercover agents infiltrating gangs, as per Hank Fallon in White Heat, reminds me of a 1997 crime drama Donnie Brasco (based, I believe, on a true event). In this film it's Jonny Depp as a government agent who gets accepted into a gang through gangster Al Pacino. Unlike Fallon with Cody Jarrett, however, whom some posters here praise for his cool professionalism, Depp gradually bonds with Pacino, even more so, as time passes, than with his own family and his government superiors on the outside. When it comes time to pull Depp out of the gang Depp has great difficulty on following through because when his true I.D. is known it will mean the death of Pacino for having brought him into the gang and for standing by him.

It's a strong film about friendship and loyalty (even to a hood) versus doing the "right" thing, as far as the government is concerned. When White Heat was made in 1949 I don't think Hollywood, which was still presenting the F.B.I. in strictly black and white clean cut good guy presentations, would have contemplated presenting Hank Fallon's character as suffering from the same emotional conflicts, even if only to a slight degree at the time when he shoots Jarrett. I still think the Cagney film would have been a bit stronger if it had. It's still a great film anyway, of course.

By the way Donnie Brasco is well worth seeing. Both Depp and, particularly, Pacino, are terrific in the film.

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7 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

 In the scene where Stan gives Pete his fifth of moonshine and Pete dies because he drank Zeena's wood grain alcohol, did Stan mistake the bottles on purpose?  Or was it a legitimate mistake?

It was an accident. There is a scene after Pete's death in which Stan goes back to where he had pulled out the wood alcohol for him and discovers that the real gin bottle, or whatever it was, was still there, much to his surprise. He then realizes that he is responsible for Pete's death.

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On 5/14/2019 at 11:52 PM, Vautrin said:

As many folks have pointed out, audiences in those days likely only saw the film one time and

didn't have our ability to watch movies over and over again and notice things that probably flew

right by the people who only saw it once. I just take it as that old Hollywood magic. Sure a guy

can take a radio and convert it into a oscillator or an oscillator can just sort of show up on its

own. Just like there happened to be a lamp over the mirror in the men's room that Fallon could

hang his jacket on and cover up his message when the other criminal came in to tell him to hurry

it up. And the audience has time to muse about Cody's relationship with Fallon, while ITRW a guy

like Fallon would have been concerned with staying alive and getting his job done. 

D'oh, you're right...we old movie fans (actually, any kind of movie fan) can watch a film repeatedly, pause it if we want to study a certain scene, and do all kinds of things that the original audience certainly would not have been able to do (nor probably even would want to.) So, while it's fun to discuss and argue  the finer points of some of these old movies, it is, when all is said and done, "only a movie".

...but it's still fun to discuss and argue about them !

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On 5/14/2019 at 5:46 PM, misswonderly3 said:

I have absolutely no idea how such things work (converting a radio to an "oscillator" and if it could be done.) But I suspect that Raoul Walsh and the screenwriters are counting on their 1949 audience being as woefully stupid as I am when it comes to home electronics. I think, whether it's possible to turn a radio into an oscillator or not, we're supposed to think it is. And don't forget, there is a scene where Fallon is first introduced to the audience, in which there's a bit of dialogue suggesting he's good with electronics.

Not to waste too much more time arguing this point, but, if Fallon doesn't take Verna's radio and mess about with it, where does he get that oscillator he plants in the heist truck?? I ask you.

Reminds of the Red Skelton movie, Whistling in the Dark,  where he converted a radio so that he could broadcast on it.  Never mind he did not have tower or antenna to send the signal.  Also, Nancy Drew's boyfriend, Ted Nickerson, converted an x-ray machine into one he could send telegraph messages with.  Also without an antenna or a line.

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5 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

D'oh, you're right...we old movie fans (actually, any kind of movie fan) can watch a film repeatedly, pause it if we want to study a certain scene, and do all kinds of things that the original audience certainly would not have been able to do (nor probably even would want to.) So, while it's fun to discuss and argue  the finer points of some of these old movies, it is, when all is said and done, "only a movie".

...but it's still fun to discuss and argue about them !

It does give people the ability to minutely analyse things that were perhaps never meant to be

so closely analysed, but sure that's fun too. There is a site for The Andy Griffith Show fans

which I visit sometimes and they really get down into the weeds on all sorts of trivial topics,

which is a result of endless reruns of that show. I also thought that Big Ed was kind of

stupid. He seems to be just waiting around for crazy Cody to show up instead

of getting the hell out of there and going underground.

 

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Yeah, but he had to be offed so the plot could progress..........there had to be some payoff there.

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1 hour ago, Vautrin said:

 I also thought that Big Ed was kind of

stupid. He seems to be just waiting around for crazy Cody to show up instead

of getting the hell out of there and going underground.

 

Ed knew that Cody wouldn't stop hunting for him and he didn't want to keep looking over his shoulder, so he decided to wait for him for the showdown. He made the mistake of trusting Verna, however.

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Appears that Key Largo is the Noir for this Sat. & Sun, 18th and 19th.

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4 minutes ago, TheCid said:

Appears that Key Largo is the Noir for this Sat. & Sun, 18th and 19th.

whiteheat4.jpg

"Johnny Rocco, that fat slob? Ya think he's tough? The sissy's afraid of thunderstorms. Look at him. He even blinks when he fires a gun."

giphy.gif

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Yeah, I'll probably skip it. I've seen it enough. Plus it's a rerun.

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16 hours ago, Hibi said:

Yeah, I'll probably skip it. I've seen it enough. Plus it's a rerun.

You can't mean a "rerun" of Key Largo on TCM, since they've shown that movie many many times. ("Rerun" would be an understatement.)

So I assume you mean, it's a re-run of the Noir Alley showing of Key Largo, Eddie's comments and everything. ?? I didn't know they did that, showed re-runs of Noir Alley. Maybe there's a bit of a break for summer? (But no, I don't think there was a summer break last year...except in August, when they did, as always, "Summer Under the Stars".)

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5 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

You can't mean a "rerun" of Key Largo on TCM, since they've shown that movie many many times. ("Rerun" would be an understatement.)

So I assume you mean, it's a re-run of the Noir Alley showing of Key Largo, Eddie's comments and everything. ?? I didn't know they did that, showed re-runs of Noir Alley. Maybe there's a bit of a break for summer? (But no, I don't think there was a summer break last year...except in August, when they did, as always, "Summer Under the Stars".)

The upcoming Saturday/Sunday showings will be the first time that Key Largo has appeared on Noir Alley.  The run-time is listed as 100 minutes for those who want to tune in for the introduction and wrap-up.  😊

To my knowledge, so far TCM has never had a Noir Alley rerun (other than the Saturday-Sunday showings on the same weekend).

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Why did Eddie say it was a repeat in his outro last week? I don't remember it running, but I remember him saying that. In any case, it's not something I want to watch again right now. I'll pass.

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45 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Why did Eddie say it was a repeat in his outro last week? I don't remember it running, but I remember him saying that. In any case, it's not something I want to watch again right now. I'll pass.

In the outro, Eddie was referring to the fact that Edward G. Robinson was coming back for an "encore" performance as a gangster in Key Largo.  The film itself will be a new subject for Eddie.  Of course, Edward G. has been on Noir Alley several times before, in films such as Double Indemnity, Scarlet Street, The Woman in the Window, and The Stranger.  I wonder if Edward G. has the most appearances by an actor on Noir Alley?  Not sure if perhaps Garfield or Mitchum or someone else can compete for the title.

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OK. That explains it then. I heard REPEAT. Guess I wasnt listening that closely. Anyway, it's not something I want to see again right now. I might tune in for his intro/outro.

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22 hours ago, Vautrin said:

It does give people the ability to minutely analyse things that were perhaps never meant to be

so closely analysed,

Ideas like this bring to mind (oh no, not again!) Vertigo a movie that played well to the general audience that Hitchcock envisioned, an audience whose primary aim was be merely entertained and knowing full well that when they leave the theater it will be gone forever. More perceptive viewers may have had (and some critics) serious afterthoughts but most will, upon leaving the theater, still be under the mesmerizing glow of the story and the way it was done. And those who did spot flaws, whether critics or average movie goers, probably didn't care.

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23 hours ago, TomJH said:

Ed knew that Cody wouldn't stop hunting for him and he didn't want to keep looking over his shoulder, so he decided to wait for him for the showdown. He made the mistake of trusting Verna, however.

Waiting for Cody to show up and hoping to knock him off was certainly one of Big Ed's options,

which didn't exactly work out as planned as Verna was a situational ethicist. I would have gone 

with Plan B: since Cody seems to hang out on the west coast, head for the northern woods of

Maine. 

Pacino was a more sympathetic character in Donnie Brasco than Cody. Someone you could truly

feel sorry for. That scene near the end where he slowly takes off and carefully puts away his

jewelry knowing that he won't be returning is so sad. He is so much in the life that he just goes

to his fate without a second thought.

If Cody got a gander at Johnny Rocco in the bathtub even he might make a hasty retreat. I know

he wouldn't want Ma to see that.

 

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2 hours ago, laffite said:

Ideas like this bring to mind (oh no, not again!) Vertigo a movie that played well to the general audience that Hitchcock envisioned, an audience whose primary aim was be merely entertained and knowing full well that when they leave the theater it will be gone forever. More perceptive viewers may have had (and some critics) serious afterthoughts but most will, upon leaving the theater, still be under the mesmerizing glow of the story and the way it was done. And those who did spot flaws, whether critics or average movie goers, probably didn't care.

Yes, I doubt no one knew in 1958 all the reams of paper to be spent on discussions of all the

possible meanings of Vertigo, including Hitchcock himself.

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6 hours ago, Vautrin said:

If Cody got a gander at Johnny Rocco in the bathtub even he might make a hasty retreat. I know

he wouldn't want Ma to see that.

 

giphy.gif

"Ma Jarrett's out there? Bring the old dame in here. Maybe she'll play with my rubber ducky."

giphy.gif

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22 hours ago, TomJH said:

giphy.gif

 

 

Yeah, bring the old bag in. I'm gonna show her something she hasn't seen

in forty years.

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tumblr_picpkxkAWK1qetnado1_400.gif

You should have seen the look on Ma Jarrett's

face when I showed her Johnny's Rocco. Thought

she was going to faint dead away. 

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tumblr_nrnmhp9AgF1qe4ru4o1_500.gif

And Ma wonders why my back is always out of whack.

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