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papyrusbeetle

MIRAGE (1965) - serve me some NOIR!

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WOW! Is this gorgeous NOIR, or what.?

But---it's also Neo-Noir, in which terror originates from a government or a corporation which is out of control.

 

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I love this film. One of Edward Dmytryk's best. I wish TCM would air it more often.

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This one has great New York locations and an excellent supporting cast. Diane Baker is a helpful female but she may not be what she seems. George Kennedy is a violent thug who gives Peck some pain. Robert H. Harris is a nasty, short tempered psychiatrist. And best of all we have Walter Matthau as a wisecracking private eye.

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Interestingly (and everything about this film is!) the use a similar "symbol" and "catch-phrase" for the 

weirdo cult in the great episode of MATLOCK about the "cult," when he defends a man (the actor who played

Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) on the original "Andy Griffith Show" is accused of murdering a cult leader.

MATLOCK - SEASON 3, EPISODE 18, "THE CULT"

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Love this one!  I remember watching it a long, long time ago (on network TV, or one of the independents).  For the longest time, I wondered whether this movie really even existed, as I remembered the premise, but not the name.

Finally saw it on TCM several years ago and really enjoyed it.  I even came across the original one sheet and hung it in my den!   It is a neat little neo-noir with a good cast and solid direction by Dmytrik.   Seldom shown on TCM and it definitely deserves a showing.

IMG_0944 2.jpg

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Haven't seen Mirage in quite a few years.  Interesting to think of it as film noir.  My take on the film the two or three times I've seen it is it had an exciting, engrossing story.  But it could have been much better if the visuals were more interesting and in tune with the story.  I remember the cimemagography as pedestrian, cinema verite style.  The film would have been much better in color, "psychedelic""  special effects, fast cutting, what Stanley Donen might have done as director, for example.

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That's a mighty intriguing idea. To make it psychedelic. Except that I wouldn't have wanted it to turn out like 'The Chairman' or 'Arabesque' --other Peck flicks in color; faster cutting, more pizazz.  One thing I admire about 'Mirage' is the sober, prurient photographic style is very 'dream-like' and scary in a way for that alone. The starkness of it, similar enough to the way our subconscious renders the world, makes it more penetrating and less easily dismissed as something highly-colored might be.

I personally don't think of it as 'noir', I think of it as a thriller in the style of Hitchcock.

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It would be interesting to read a definition of "thriller"!

"film noir" (to me) is entrapment in a situation that makes no sense.

And i think we can agree that Gregory Peck enters one in this wild film.

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Mystery: What did happen in the past.
Thriller: What is happening now.
Suspense: What will happen in the future.

There's some good discussion around the net on the differences between mystery, thriller, and suspense. I'll try to recall where I stumbled over them (notably missing will be 'noir' which is not a literary genre at all, and doesn't even have any examples. It just doesn't exist as text or words on any page, ever written, by any author ever).

In the meantime, here's Hitchcock's famous comment on 'suspense':

 
There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise", and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean. We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these same conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it's about to explode!" In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.
 

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On 2/9/2019 at 7:55 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

That's a mighty intriguing idea. To make it psychedelic. Except that I wouldn't have wanted it to turn out like 'The Chairman' or 'Arabesque' --other Peck flicks in color; faster cutting, more pizazz.  One thing I admire about 'Mirage' is the sober, prurient photographic style is very 'dream-like' and scary in a way for that alone. The starkness of it, similar enough to the way our subconscious renders the world, makes it more penetrating and less easily dismissed as something highly-colored might be.

I agree. I have a feeling most people dream in black and white. I can only remember two or three dreams I've ever had in "color." And even then the colors were not very bright or vivid. They were darker colors.

screen-shot-2019-01-30-at-2.24.37-pm.jpg

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Its true. Well said, TB. You're leaning in the right direction on this one.

The brain does not have any retinal cells; color-differentiation takes place only in the eye. Its not used in the deepest emotional centers. When the brain is dreaming it is pulling from all sorts of primitive mental resources: fear, dread, regret, remorse. Its not simply recapitulating or replaying the petty functions of the eye.  Why would it waste energy replaying ideas in color? Ideas do not possess 'color'. Ever been scared late at night? There's no color on a dark night, yet your fright can soar. Fear can thrive on a mere outline or a shape. Black and white is all you need to make a form.

Woody Allen spoke to all this once in an interview; its no surprise he chooses b&w often as his choice of photography. Why did Polanski film 'Knife in the Water' in b&w? Its not just a style choice; its understanding photography. I've seen all this discussed in plenty of psychology and psychology-based film criticism ...going all the way back to Rudolf Arnhelm.

We mostly dream (and nightmare) in black-and-white --gestalt theory itself, is black-and-white--and its all very fundamental to why classic b&w movies are so powerful. Its why not only film noir but Warner Bros crime films are so shattering. Gestalt theory, something Uncle Joe doesn't have a clue about how to address ...it doesn't fit in with his ideas on 'style'.

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I often pay attention to the background when there's a movie theatre to see what's playing when I watch a film. It may be a bit of a blurry image behind Paul Newman but take a look at what was playing in 1971's Sometimes A Great Notion. Hey, Paul, I've got a great notion you're missing a good film!

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On 2/9/2019 at 9:55 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

That's a mighty intriguing idea. To make it psychedelic. Except that I wouldn't have wanted it to turn out like 'The Chairman' or 'Arabesque' --other Peck flicks in color; faster cutting, more pizazz.  One thing I admire about 'Mirage' is the sober, prurient photographic style is very 'dream-like' and scary in a way for that alone. The starkness of it, similar enough to the way our subconscious renders the world, makes it more penetrating and less easily dismissed as something highly-colored might be.

I personally don't think of it as 'noir', I think of it as a thriller in the style of Hitchcock.

Yeh, too many people love to throw around that "noir" word. Mirage is a Hitchcock-type thriller, a bit old fashioned. I suppose, but intriguing and generally effective. Walter Matthau is a gem in it. And, like you Sage, I'll take it any day of the week over a couple of Peck's other colour-saturated, psychedelic thrillers of that same time like Arabesque (despite Sophia's presence) and The Chairman, the latter being a film I saw at the show at the time and knew at the time was, frankly, rather second rate.

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Thx. Yeah I admit I am an adamant fan of black & white photography for the reasons I stated above. Many mammals are color-blind. Fear is color-blind. Its what allows you to survive a long night against tooth & claw in the wilderness.

Matthau rules.

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