Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #3 (FROM THE LOVE PARADE)

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Agree with others that the Lubitsch touch is very vaudevillian and stagy -- today it seems so heavy handed, as if we couldn't figure out it was a gun in her hand without focusing on it by itself first -- and yet the scene is still funny and entertaining today. The disappearing 4th wall and the switches between languages add to it when, if someone just told you about it you might assume they would be distracting.

The use of sound was not just ornamental, it actually helps to advance the plot, whether the gunshots or the arguing behind the closed doors. 

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First, there is the garter that came out of what we believe is the bedroom.  It tells part of the story.  He is a playboy.  The lavish surroundings tell you that he is placed well financially.  The dialogue tells you just enough in English and the French that follows and the actors' mannerisms tells the rest of the story, so you don't need to understand French.  Chevalier and the actress playing Paulette are fabulous.  She is so expressive with her body and her language.  I don't need to understand French to know that she is going back to her husband, but she's still disgusted that he can't zip her dress.  Apparently,  he doesn't have enough practice, but Chevalier does. 

I love the argument behind closed doors.  The dog sleeping on the sofa is not disturbed, so he must hear this regularly.  The sound lets you know that someone is agitated and strikes your curiosity about what the ruckus is about. 

The theme is escape from the tight economy, so the fancy clothes, stockings, garters, and opulent surroundings suggest another world. 

 

 

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What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

Lubitsch touch is exhibited through the use of Props in ways the viewer would least expect.  The use of the gun by McDonald the first time.  Effect sadness, why?, The gun again--OH MY I am not dead! Try again--OH MY I'm not dead.  Is she dead? McDonald gets up--the next prop--the zipper.  WHAT YOU CAN'T HELP! OK, I WILL GO TO HE MAN i KNOW CAN DO IT.  

Finally, the gun(s) again-- She has tried it before.  

Lubitsch helps the audience forget about everything outside the theater and get involved with the episode in front of them.  I can only imagine the theater audience laughing as I was.  Such a great clip. 

Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.

Again sound is demonstrated through the use of the gun.  The only sound we hear aside from dialogue is the gun.  We do not hear the zipper, the drawer opening etc.  At least the dialogue and the sound of the gun are the memorable parts of the clip. Without the gun this transition from silent film to sound shows how this new technique was being experimented with.  

Finally, the dialogue in English helped me understand what was really happening.  

What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

I would expect more Sexuality without the actual sex. Suggestive ideas, laughter, and escapism.

I anticipate the idea that nothing is sacred and is allowed for the movie audience to now hear as well as view. 

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The Lubitsch touch is a delight .. the movie moves along nicely with fun innuendos popping up .. one after another. The garter .. the gun .. the zipper scenes are a hoot!  Paulette shooting herself was a "work of illusion" in itself ..

but Alfred's  (Maurice Chevalier) reaction is so smooth.  When the gun is turned on him & fired and he searches his chest for the "hit"... all laughs break loose.  This is entertainment at it's best!

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In this scene it is important that the sound appears as background; Before the appearance of the protagonists they hear their voices arguing, this makes us enter into climate. I really like this great director's films. Within his "touch" we can mention the drawer full of revolvers, Maurice Chevallier who touches the body after the shot, and his attempt to apologise while holding the league in his hand. They are all elements of humour that give another meaning to what is supposed to be a dramatic or serious scene. One element that will continue to be given is that it is a screwball comedy

 

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This movie is a lot of fun! 

1. Probably the most obvious props are the garter and the drawer of guns. It gives the viewer the impression that Chevailer's character is a ladies man and he plays around a lot.

2. What came to my mind was the dialogue itself. The characters were speaking French quite a bit. Even if you are not fluent in the language the viewer can figure out what is going on from the actor's expressions. I liked how the wife was complaining in French to her husband when he was struggling to zip up her dress. 

3. Most common themes I see are extravagance and slapstick. And a bit of sexuality, almost a playfulness to it, especially in a Lubitsch movie. 

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1.  "The Lubitsch Touch" is on the props, the dialogue, and the staging to show Count Alfred Renard was totally a Casanova, womaniser, playboy ...... i.e just NOT A [Royal] Marriage Material.  Look at all the female clothing/fashion accessories, and how many guns, he collected from all those married females he had affairs with in the drawer!  Arguing in French with this female whose husband came to catch them "in action" gives you more of the Details of this character for sure.

     Arguing from another room into this living room where WE are watching implies that "another" room was the Bedroom they were about to do Something but a Garter belonged to Somebody Else was also Found by the female he was having affair with.  Then, the suspense or conflict coming from the opposite direction where Another Door is with that female's husband then Count Alfred Renard's boss, i.e. the Ambassador, who gave him a bit challenge and bad news.

2.  The Sound actually is Truly Realistic in this film.  You can tell the argument and the commotion from behind the closed doors to Enter where WE are both when he and his affair appear in front of us and the husband of the affair Trying to come in.  Count Alfred Renard actually did Break the Fourth Wall to give us the Crucial Information!  Thus, even if you don't understand French, you know for sure What's Coming!

3.  Well, Lots of Comedies for The Great "Depression"!  Lots of Romance and Love Affairs to distract minds struggling with the Depressive Economy and Daily Hardships people had to endure at that time.

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I had never seen this movie until now!  I loved it. I was tickled from the very start to finish.

1. The  opulent  apartment, the dressing of the characters, the dazzling jewels & fur (close-up), setting of Paris, Chevalier's extreme French accent (or would that be French-affected English?) and cool, suave personality all set a standard  for male stars to come.

2.From the  beginning- The movie begins behind closed doors.The sound of voices, entices the audience to  ease-drop. Then  Chevalier , upon entrance, "recognizes" we have been there all along by  breaking the wall with "She's terribly  jealous". Letting us into the movie and explaining the personality of the then unseen woman.

3. I think the implied sexual encounter, the schtick with Chevalier helping the fumbling husband with the gun, and then the wife's dress only intensifies the persona of this experienced, desirable lover. ( I think Cary Grant alone comes to mind). The drawer, with the collection of guns, lets us know just how many conquests . All this within a sophisticated, lightheartedness leading us into the world of screwball comedy.

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This is a new film to me as well and I look forward to watching the whole thing now!

1. I agree with many that the props I noticed included the beautiful apartment, the garter, gun, and drawer full of similar items. The dialogue of little English and mostly French made me think of a silent film because you were gathering information based on the actors body language and facial expressions. 

2. I specifically noticed the gun shot and was greatly surprised by it. I wasn’t expecting it to happen because I was thinking in the lines of the Depression era having a more lighthearted approach. Then the husband comes in and shoots Chevalier and Chevalier’s dramatical reaction to trying to find the wound males the scene comical. Then the camera turns to  a close up of MacDonald as she opens her eyes. I find these reactions essential to the effectiveness of the film. 

3. This screwball comedy demonstrates the humorous battle of the sexes of who is going to out-wit whom. Did Chevalier think she were dead or did she play him? Seeing the humor play out in this clip reveals more of the escapism the Depression era films demonstrated. 

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1. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? I thought this was a delightful scene. I had never heard of the Lubitsch touch. I want to meet Alfred because he is charming and fun. I liked the way he spoke English to the audience. The props helped to explain what was happening between the characters. The drawer full of guns was a great way to let us in on the female character. She was a busy girl!

 2. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. I agree with others who commented about the conversations that could be heard behind the doors. We also would have missed the comments from Alfred that were spoken in English to the audience.

3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? The main characters are once again "the idle rich" who have time to be involved in a "screwball comedy" instead of scraping together a living and worrying about the mundane of ordinary life - a true escape!

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What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

Light. Lubitsch's films were always sophisticated and funny and this scene is no different. The set sparkles and is well-lit. Flashy. Chevalier is mischief and witty and confident in his own place. The drawer full of small handguns tells us this is a scene that he has seen play out many times. Perhaps not all in the same way (i.e. blanks), but with similar results. 

Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.

The thing I noticed most was the switch between French and English almost as though this is a silent film that replaces the silence with unintrepreted French but uses Chevalier's narration as title cards. She argues with her husband in French and most of us don't understand what is being said, but we understand the gestures and the tone of voice. Exasperated with her husband's inability to zip up the dress, she stomps across the room, turns and presents the zipper to Chevalier. Up the zipper goes and up goes Chevalier's shoulders in a shrug and grin, now firmly placed above the husband in the pecking order of desirability.

What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

Certainly the light and airy feeling of the sets and lighting. In an earlier lecture the comments were made about the inferior-positioned male being smarter than his so-called superior. I'm not sure how inferior Chevalier is financially to the husband prior to this scene, but he elevates through the action of the scene as I mentioned in #2.

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1) All of the guns in the drawer made me laugh. It implies that the ambassador has made regular practice of seducing married ladies.

2)When the foreign language was used, it drew me into the character’s actions and tone of voice. The sound of their voices was “used” to convey their mood and relationship. The background voices also added much to the surroundings. A party of people was very near. 

3) Again, the opulent surroundings convey the “bight sliding” common to the Depression era films.

 

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The scene where the husband fusses with the zipper so she goes to her lover and he zips her up right away and goes "Voila!" the nonverbal expressions the men exchange. The drawer full of guns dares a viewer to question just how often guns are drawn on him. How he checked if he was injured after he was "shot" was pure genius. It makes the viewer relax and enjoy the moment, not too serious, not too scary, keeps the viewer still engaged. 
How he opens the door but closes it and rethinks going out once he hears the crowds noise. He takes out a handkerchief instead to "unwind" from the recent stress.  I loved how the dog is so used to noise and fuss that he doesn't even move from his chair when the couple comes out of the room arguing. 

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The use of the unusual,props were clearly the main topic of the scene. The garter she handed him, only to lift her skirt and show she still had two!! Which leads you to believe she is not the only one ... The sophisticated look of the scenery tends the viewer to believe that the wealthy can be quite devious... the draw full of guns, tells you she is not the only one in his life to take this extreme action. 

The French dialogue was quite interesting, then to turn to English. Kept my interest up. I would like to see the scenes leading up to this clip. I find myself trying  to think of what it would look like in color. 

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       In a few short minutes, Lubitsch establishes the character of Alfred: he is a charming scoundrel and womanizer who is calm and quick-witted under pressure. The Lubitsch touch and the silent legacy combine to have most of this information conveyed visually. The garter is a prop that advances the story and establishes his roguishness - two garters is acceptable but three is a problem. The scene would work without sound, as the dialogue adds more context than content. But, the context makes the scene more effective and the use of sound punctuates the action.  I like the use of the violin to heighten the suspense as the husband picks up the pistol and prepares to shoot Alfred. The clip ends with an effective blend of the verbal and the visual that came to characterize the Lubitsch Touch, as Alfred, holding the garter, tries to explain to the Ambassador who confronts him on his indiscretions: "I'm sure that the stories you have heard about me have been horribly . . . (then he realizes he is holding the garter and tries to hide it) horribly exaggerated."      

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1. It is easy to infer that Chevalier's character is a womanizer by the casual way he remarks to the audience that the woman is jealous after finding a garter that isn't hers. He is not worried about her husband finding them together or that the woman draws a gun. He seemed to already sense it had blanks especially after he puts it in the drawer with countless others he has accumulated.

2. Most of the dialogue is in French as if what the actual conversation consists of is not as important as the situation as a whole. When the audience is supposed to notice something, the main character announces it, like when he tells us her husband has arrived.

3. I think the comedy of serious situations, such as adultery and attempted suicide. The lightheartedness of life and the escape of everyday problems.

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  1. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

In improvisational comedy, there is a quality of storytelling called "hightening."  A concept or theme is introduced and then the actors then build upon that concept to "highten" the emotional intensity or bring about a comedic result.  Lubitsch uses this idea of "hightening" when Chevalier shows one garter (a scandal in itself) explaining it must be hers.  She then hikes up her dress to reveal her exposed legs and the fact that she's wearing two garters (hightening the scandal and thus the humor).  The same is true with the gun; once Chevalier takes possession of the harmless - yet dramatically utilized - weapon, he tosses it into a drawer full of (we assume) similarly harmless handguns.  This gag "hightens" the emotional use of the gun and again, yields a comedic result.  In these examples, this idea of building up a concept, or "hightening", is a key component of Lubitsch's work.

  1. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.

The fact that we hear the argument behind a closed door without ever seeing them fight sets up both the story as well as Alfred's character.  His first line, "She's very jealous." delivered with a wry smile and charming demeanor conveys so much.  Then there's the use of the gunshot.  When she seemingly shoots herself, we hear the shot so we will recognize it later.  Then, when the husband shoots Alfred and we hear the sound, Chevalier doesn't even blink.  We are both confused and amused because we just saw the wife "die".  Without the gunshot, the gag that the gun is one of many loaded with blanks would not be effective, or even make sense.

  1. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

The masculine lothario is going to be elegant, humorous, and charming.  We are going to like him, despite his misogynistic behavior.  Violence is almost always to be used as slapstick or in someway will have a comedic result.  Above all, love, romance, and even sex, will always be playful and rarely tragic.  The man and woman will fight, but eventually, all will work out in the end for them.

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What is most noticeable to me about these scene is that it is almost entirely in French, yet I know exactly what is happening, the emotions of the characters.  I know the relationship between the woman and her husband:  I would expect him to grab her by the arm and drag her out screaming.  Yet this husband, after thinking she is dead, chooses to forget his anger at her betrayal and takes a moment to zip her dress and help her with her cape.  He takes care of her, guiding her to the door.  Alfred, after the initial surprise of the husband barging in, doesn't really seem to be to worried.  The woman shoots herself, and Alfred is almost blase - he doesn't react.  He doesn't flinch when the husband shoots him.  Alfred checks the gun, sees it's loaded with blanks, and smiles.  He knows this woman, and he's amused by her ploy.  He knows she was never really a threat, and he knows the husband isn't, either.  He slips the gun into the drawer with its predecessors - Alfred is no stranger to this scenario.  He knows how it's all going down, and he plays it almost as a farce.  In hindsight, I wonder at myself for not picking up on the clues from Alfred's behavior - How did I not see this coming?  

All this, and I don't speak a word of French.  

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The visual wit of Lubitsch is first revealed, when Paulette lifts her dress and shows not one but two garters. We can surmise from the third garter that Alfred is a player, and she has every reason to be jealous! "Her husband!" The use of gunshots and a quick cut to the girl lying on the floor works well to fool us into believing she is dead. The swell of the music enhances the atmosphere and heightens the suspense, as we see a closeup of the husband's face. Alfred shakes his head, as if he's seen it all before, and surprises us by opening a drawer full of guns on some lacy white material. He smiles, proving that the upper class never cracks under pressure. An effective use of dialogue was the alternating of English and French, which Alfred translates for us, also displaying his calm coolness under pressure. "Voila!" One gets the feeling it's just another fine mess he's gotten into. In the future, musicals might transition from the silent-film era acting style, as seen in the staged suicide, and focus more on the romantic comedy aspects of the screwball films.

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  • I feel the Lubitsch touch begins in the opening dialogue; that is, when Chevalier's character addresses the viewing audience. His note, "She's terribly jealous," is a male character gaslighting to bring witnesses onto his side of the argument...a roguish move if there ever was one. The lover, female, is stereotypically hysterical while he remains the elegant man of reason. The audience immediately doubts the woman placing emphasis and gaze at the male lead. Of course, the garter and guns give a fuller picture of Alfred's philandering, but so does the fact that Alfred and the woman were in the bedroom. It is only a few moments later we learn the woman is also a philanderer...but, the characters are French, which eases the audiences (and the Code enforcers?) moral anxiety. (I still say, Code be damned, there was sex going on.)
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  • I think the French language adds a lot to the scene's effectiveness.  The French are so loose and risqué. The audience may not understand French, but they are brought in as willing, eager eavesdroppers. When Alfred addresses the audience directly, the audience's buy-in becomes complete. The audience is now part of the plot and willing participants to what happens next. The music after the woman "shoots herself" (wink, wink) heightens the tension..what will happen next?! And the music has a rather "we will duel to see who earns the woman's hand" sound to it. This is a man's game of love. Then the silence between Alfred and the husband lends itself to audience complicity and gives an opening for comedic gesturing -- a holdover from silent films.
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  • I think there will be a carry over of broad gestures reminiscent of silent filmmaking. There may also be comedic, direct interaction with the audience as an intro or punchline. The era's musicals will be focused on love and love's misunderstandings. I feel comedy also relieves Code tensions allowing filmmakers to get away with allusions to sex and, perhaps, other forbidden subjects of the Code (e.g., cross-dressing women/men, gay/lesbian  lifestyles).

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1. I really enjoyed the presentation of the props, like the garter and fake revolver(s), zoomed in at first to allow us to come to our own conclusions before we see the role they actually play in the scene. The cinematography used for the revolver was especially effective because of all the reversals of expectations it created. At first we see it in her bag, and the context make us think it's a sign of danger to come. When she shoots herself, the danger seems to be over, until the husband turns the gun on Chevalier (the music is very effective here), but that climax is absurdified when he checks his body for wounds and we realize the gun is a fake. We feel like we get the joke and the gag seems to be over, until Chevalier opens the drawer again and the camera zooms in on all the other fake revolvers. We realize that this kind of situation has happened before, and Chevalier is just a few steps ahead of us! The straight-on shots of Chevalier somehow present him as the "conductor" of everything too; he winks at us and even speaks directly to us. I also thought the joke with the buttoning up of her dress was very funny- what a clever and subtle way to suggest a previous sexual encounter (since she knew he was able to button her dress without a problem- he's evidently done it before). 

2. The French dialogue was a clever way to evoke the Parisian setting and an elite world without giving much emphasis to the actual affair (which seems less important here than the general sense that Chevalier's character is a womanizer); I'm not sure how this could have been done in a silent film. Chevalier's addresses to the audience ("She's jealous!" "Her husband!") almost remind me of captions in silent film, incorporating an older tradition into the new world of sound and showing off perhaps more of what a sound film can do. As some other commentators have noticed, I'd imagine the gunshot sound would be especially effective at the beginning of sound in films. It's very striking, and the music leading up to the second gunshot is emphatic too; the sound makes it all feel much more real and serious than it ends up being. 

3. I'd expect to see similar themes and characters- the rogue, secret affairs, etc. The idea of deflating more serious themes like death, violence, and adultery with gags like the gun trick seems to fit well with the escapism characteristic of Depression era movies.  

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1. His addressing the audience as well as his interaction with the dress gives the idea that the character of Alfred has been in this kind of situation before and actually takes pleasure out of it.

2. The sound of the gun going off was probably Lubitsch’s way of deceiving the audience. It’s pretty obvious today that she faked it, though for audiences back then who were still adapting to the process of sound, it may have not been as obvious and the sound may have been considered misleading.

3. The themes in this film probably wouldn’t have been used much longer, given that the Code would be enforced during the depression era. However, the idea of a character being reprimanded by his superiors and having to overcome that, as implied at the end of this clip, was probably a common theme.

Also, was anyone else surprised to learn that Chevalier was 40 when this was made? He looks a lot younger than his age.

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The "Lubitsch Touch" was clearly evident in the drawer full of pistols. We learn from those few seconds that this is a popular activity for him. He seduces married women whose husbands come to confront him and rescue their wives. Why does he seduce married women? Perhaps they are unavailable and therefore safe in order for him to avoid emotional intimacy. He might regard this as some sort of pleasurable escape. He is a charming, loveable rogue! When he pleads to remain in Paris, he gestures with his hands, one of which holds the garter. He realizes too late he is still holding it and tries to deflect attention to it, saying, "I'm sure that the stories you've heard about me are horribly exaggerated..."

The scene opens with them arguing behind closed doors, but because it might happen so often, the dog sleeps peacefully on the sofa, undisturbed by the argument. Alfred is saved from having to come up with an answer to her demand of who the extra garter belongs to when her husband arrives. It's not until the husband shoots Alfred that we understand it is just a sophisticated game. Alfred, however may have finally been caught as he is instructed to leave at once to return to Sylvania. 

This scene is interesting, from an audio perspective, because it sounds "incomplete". Our modern sound designs include so much sound, that it was noticeable that no sounds were made when the drawer opened, which perhaps accentuated the sounds of the gun shots and the door rattles because it was so sparse. His announcement of "voila" after zipping up her dress so quickly seemed to punctuate the silence and interrupt the awkward seething of the husband.

If we were to contextualize this clip, based on other films' subject matter and what was a popular focus at this time, this clip might show us the beginning of his transformation from a playboy to a devoted, loving husband who no longer feels the need to stray because he has found the perfect wife. His life is going to be perfect, but he has a few trials to experience first!

 

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1.  The accent in the voices and the size of the set give us an idea of what we will suspect with Alfred.

2.  The obvious sound was the gunshot and the humor behind those few minutes was priceless.

3.  Infidelity and frustration are themes

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1.  There are many details in the scene that may be missed, if not for the fact that the dialogue is mostly in French.  Even though I understood some of the dialogue, the reality is that one has to focus on the scene visually rather than audibly.  That caused me to notice some things that I might otherwise have ignored: the ornate carvings on the doors through whcih Chevalier appears; the dog sleeping on the couch next to those doors; the exquisiteness of the rolltop desk that contains the drawer full of small pistols.  All of this adds up to Chevalier being a well-to-do and important man.

2.  The sound that comes to mind is the sound of the first shot, followed by a crowd rushing to the place where it was fired.  It reinforces the notion that we are viewing someone important.  After the wife and her husband leave the room, Chevalier opens a window, where the crowd noise can still be heard.

3.  The one theme that comes to mind is the depiction of the "upper crust" as having rather loose morals.

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