Barton_Keyes

June 2015 TCM Spotlight: The Summer of Darkness

30 posts in this topic

What Nino Frank says about the Philip Marlowe of "Murder My Sweet" being a different kind of private eye is evident on many levels.  Dick Powell as Marlowe is more personally invested... when Ann Shirley asks him who cares about who stole the emeralds he replies that he does.  It's personal.

Powell can be ruthless.  Note the way he goes after Ann Shirley, even resorting to physical violence,

to find out what he wants to know.  He leads her into a trap and then springs it to get  a look at her bankbook.  From the moment they meet they are too close in each others personal spaces to be conducting business.  I fell for the trap too.  I thought the way he touched her he was making advances, being familiar.  The way he put his arm around her to lead her into his inner sanctum.  The way he slyly locks the door.  The way he takes her hand, stroking it all the while he is questioning her.  And then suddenly the romantic becomes ruthless...clever and physical..but not in the way I had expected.  Marlowe's more "true to life" in that though he always has a cynical edge, is a hard bouiled dick, He's alternately charming, ruthless, no nonsense, funny and very committed to his own personal code of what's right and wrong.  His character is much more fleshed out..He freely admits his failure to protect his client and is bothered by it...wants to somehow right the wrong of his client getting killed by "solving" the robbery of the jewels, as though somehow that will balance the scales of blind justice again.  The solution to the crime will be his absolution for not protecting his client..

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The openings of the two Lang films, M and Ministry of Fear both rely heavily on the use of sound.  In M the sound of the children playing is comforting, reassuring to the mothers.  In Ministry of Fear the ticking of the clock is sinister, almost threatening...maddening.  The music over the credits of Ministry combines with the simple ticking of the clock to become infused with a whole other meaning.  Instead of being soothing, comforting, and rhythmical it's ominous, creating an atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia.  When the camera finally pulls back it reveals a room that's shadowy, dark, even a little spooky.  There are bars on the windows and our first introduction to the protagonist is from behind and he is in total shadow. Through his choice of images and the way they are lit Lang poses question after question to the viewer.  Where are we?  Who is the person steeped in shadow?  Why is he sitting in the dark in a room with bars on the windows?  What is he waiting for?  When the doctor enters his mood is almost jovial but Milland isn't buying it.  He's free and can't wait to get away from the quiet to the hustle and bustle of the big city of London.  The doctor recommends against it but again Milland pays no attention.  If we hadn't had the spoiler reveal in the quote before the clip we would have been asking ourselves what did the doctor mean by warning him to stay away from the police...that they wouldn't tolerate a second charge.  Second charge?  What was the first?  And then as Milland finally leaves the thick walled heavily gated facility he walks by the sign of the establishment, Lembridge Asylum, which answers one of our questions but begs even more to be answered.  Lang has set us a puzzle to figure out but he hasn't given us the cover of the box so we don't know what we're looking at.  We also don't have all the pieces to start.  They are being given to us one by one and still don't seem to fit together.  Can't wait to see the whole film again on Friday! 

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I think the way he acts....almost worse than the "bad guys", was a new way of creating the hero.  It was not a traditional black and white story, but a black in white story in technicolor.  The colors and lines were blurred between both sides of the law, very mush as it is today.  Sometimes the bad guys are the good guys, and sometimes the good guys are really the bad guys.

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I think the way he acts....almost worse than the "bad guys", was a new way of creating the hero.  It was not a traditional black and white story, but a black in white story in technicolor.  The colors and lines were blurred between both sides of the law, very mush as it is today.  Sometimes the bad guys are the good guys, and sometimes the good guys are really the bad guys.

GREAT comment. Welcome to the boards. 

 

I think it's interesting when the lines get re-blurred back to the original distinctions of right and wrong. A smart filmmaker will explore the reversals from all angles.

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