kevroy7

Daily Dose of Darkness #4: Over a Barrel (The Opening Scene of Dark Passage)

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I think I'm too conditioned to current (or at least 1960's +) cinema as I could not accept the first-person view.  Interesting that what broke the illusion of this was the camera being too rigid to believe it was first person.  In today's world of wiggly-rogue camera shots, which I tend to dislike immensely, it's ironic that this scene felt staged due to it's lack of 'wiggly-ness'.  Have to say I am looking forward to watching the entire film now. Isn't that driver the same actor as the extremely nice gentleman (irony intended) in Scarlet Street?

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First person pov worked well for me. I found the more static camera a refreshing break from today's shakycam. It just meshed so well with the voiceover narration. Plus it turns out to be a great narrative device since this character will go through a transformation before we get to see him as Humphrey Bogart. But my dad raised me on these films so the style seems less stiff to me.

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The use of first person POV is very successful, you get to feel Vincent's every move. You almost feel like you are him with the way the director has the camera acting like its him. The tension is palpable, having first person POV makes you fell like you could cut the tension with a knife. While Vincent was in the car with the guy you felt so worried that the police were going to get you, and with the guy asking a bunch of questions, it makes you feel so on edge. This opening scene is so important because it really sets you up for what is about to happen. As said in the Curator's note first person POV wasn't used much, but boy when it was and done well it was worth it.

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In today's world of wiggly-rogue camera shots, which I tend to dislike immensely, it's ironic that this scene felt staged due to it's lack of 'wiggly-ness'. ?

Oh boy do I loathe wiggle cam, too. I have to leave wiggle cam movies. I get sick. i found a couple of web sites that warn which movies are in wiggle cam so you can avoid them, but nobody's keeping them up to date.

 

The pov works for me, tho it's not special effects by today's standard. It immediately makes you sympathize with the guy on the run. You have to. You're him.

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Dunno about POV working at all well here. I have always felt it gimmicky, and the movie suffers for it. What really works is the legendary taxi scene where Bogie gets the tip on the plastic surgeon. He is in the back seat in silhouette and the scene is filmed from the windscreen with the cabbie in the front seat to the right and Bogie to the left. Brilliant!

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Agree with Ninnybit's comment: you ARE him, and so you can't help but empathize with his plight, even though you know he's a convicted felon. As far as being conditioned to shakycam these days, yes, this camera work does look stiff by comparison. However, I'm always impressed when I see unconventional camera work like this in the pre-Steadicam days. There's a good chance you'd smash up a camera rolling one down a hill in a barrel. Speaking of that, I loved the shot from inside the barrel as Bogart's character runs away from it. Like looking down a rifle scope or a gun barrel at him as he races away from danger. Foreshadowing?

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I haven't seen the complete film yet, but in viewing the clip, and understanding the other comments that there is plastic surgery happening later, (also peeked at the next clip in the youtube lineup) l think the POV camera was used less to get in the viewers' heads and more to avoid having to drastically change Bogart's facial appearance to make the surgery a success. 

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I find the first person pov as artificial as any unnatural camera angle, and in this case possibly more so as we don't start with it. The first shot is a more conventional angle on the hands in the barrel, and the second shot is also relatively conventional. Moving to first person as the barrel is rolling down the hill draws attention to it. However, artifical doesn't necessarily mean bad - it just means made by human skill as opposed to naturally occuring. Great use of sound, and the car stops with the road sign nicely positioned in the background. Also signs of artifice, but all suggesting a story told with lots of attention to technique.

 

I don't find the camera movement too stiff. Our brains stabilize what the eyes see - a camera that reproduces actual eye and head movement gives an image far shakier that what we 'see,' but lately that shaky image has been used to claim realism.

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I think the POV is necessary for the opening. Especially the barrel scene. Provides the viewer with a rather effective mental picture. An alternative is watching a double act the escape scene, shielding his face. At least we're not 'left' with a "Lady in the Lake" effect (with Robert Montgomery's POV throughout), which I find very unnerving, long-term. So, the short term with Bogart isn't bad, especially given that Bacall steals your attention away from Bogart early on. I get by the shakiness of the scene, given that it rather quickly moves on. Given that this is weakest pairing of Bogart and Bacall (imho), and given the early jailbreak/escape sequence, I think it works well enough to hold viewer interest. The guy that gives Bogart a ride is fun to watch. His reappearance later could have been left out, but it kind of works. I think it might have been better as 'one guy' in a "one frightning moment" situation, thus creating 'suspense', (you'd always wonder). Not a bad opening for what almost feels like a B-noir (Cast not considered). Few other options as I see it, of course, that's just my POV.

PS - Bacall shows a bit of bad girl character early on, by stopping to help a strange banged up man from a barrel-roll. Of course, that's beyond the 4-min mark.

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I disagree with those that say the POV doesn't work - i think the camera work is powerful, and works up until the point of the unnatural angles of the arms punching Baker (Clifton Young). 

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I love this movie and think that the POV works at the beginning. You want to know what this man looks like, so it grabs your attention. I read the book before seeing the movie (and I highly recommend it as it is slightly different), so I knew what happened, but I was still intrigued the first time I saw this film. I like the approach that was taken with POV at the beginning. Consider how this could have easily been detrimental to the film if they had used another actor and dubbed Bogart's voice or if they had tried to use makeup or a mask (something I've seen done in other films). Using the actor's POV was a unique approach and made it more interesting to me, but it was not overused in this film. I agree with the person who said that effect was distracting in the Lady in the Lake.

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I've seen this film many times, but the opening scene STILL makes me want to see the film again, right now! I think the POV is effective in that you instantly want to make up your mind about someone by their face, appearance, expressions, mannerisms. But here, you can't, and so it makes the mystery even more compelling. Is this really a criminal, or a falsely accused man? Did he really kill his wife??

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Using the 1st person POV builds drama in the scene. Film Noir is all about drama both visually and psychologically. Even the mention of the upholstery adds significance to the storyline by making the viewer notice it now so it will be ominous later. The full frame close-up of the driver is a stark contrast to the anonymity of the passenger and menacing, as well. He seems too close, inside the passenger's personal space as are his questions. Once again, right from the start, the viewer is immediately drawn into the tension of the plot.

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Well, that was a nice combination of first person and follow shots, mostly used effectively.

 

I think the POV from inside the barrel escaping the truck would have been less effective, but perhaps the shot of Bogie running through the tunnel and shedding his shirt would have been better as first-person. But after getting close to the road, the full time FP-POV was the right choice:

 

  • head snapping back and forth to follow sirens, track the motorcycles, etc. 
  • conveyed the difference between safely shrouded in the tunnel or the bushes and the wide open exposure of the road and the fields
  • the uninterrupted view of the driver as he morphed from friendly to curious to suspicious

Not certain why the driver was more combative than scared when he realized he had a murder in the car, but that's a nit for another thread.

 

The other prevalent Film Noir feature was the voice-over. Without getting to see Bogie's anguish or concern I guess someone had to communicate the emotion of the moment, but I almost wonder if the scene would have worked better without it - I think his animated breathing and the sounds of running thorough brush and water could have been as effective.

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We can see that someone is escaping from prison since he was in a barrow that said the name. He jiggles the barrow and falls out of the truck. with police siorons in the background. then we switch to a POV shot of rolling down the hill from the prisoners point of view. we know its going to be a wild ride from this point on. the prisoner gets out of the barrow but the camera stays inside like its trying to hide. we watch has this man gets out, stumbles and takes off his shirt. We switch to a POV shot from the mans eyes, we see him hide clothes fast, we now see everything from the man’s point of view. (today’s times we see this a lot in FPS video games) While everything is from the mans POV we also hear his voice (voice over he could be thinking or talking to him self)  This style brings us into the the mind of this man, we see the man get into the car with someone and drive away. While the driver drives he asks the man questions.  The camera looks at the driver and the road. Then the radio! The news man comes on says to be on the look out for a convict, the convict then punches the driver all from his point of view.  

 
Watching it for a second time I saw that everything is fast pace from the moment the scene starts. mostly its from the man’s point of view and that too is also quick cuts and fast. the scene slows down when he sits in the car, we can catch our breath until the news builtin and we are back on a wild ride. 

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Having seen this film several years ago I was initially shocked at the use of the first person POV but having seen other uses of it in both film, Lady in the Lake, and even an episode of MASH on TV, it now isn't so unique. Rare, yes but not unknown.

 

I don't think that it was super successful in this case. The initial establishing shot of the barrel and hands detracted from the later first person POV's use. Had the entire thing been done in first person, with just seeing his view out of the barrel, and perhaps having him look down at it after going down the hill to establish the prison name on it, may have been more interesting.

 

Once you get into first person it is well done. It gives a sense of immediacy and tension with the accompanying voiceover narration and shifting camera angles as he moves around. The camera angles are well done, don't shift too crazily, and establish the story at this point well.

 

The one film I thought of while watching this, not film noir though, was Saving Private Ryan. The opening Omaha Beach scene shifts between various points of view and uses slow motion and even the addition of heavy breathing while running to add to the experience of the landing. Two different genres using similar techniques.

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The opening first person POV has always been a hook for me. It draws me along for the anticipated adventure. The guy who picks Perry up is so annoying with all his questions I was ready to cheer when Perry knocked him out. On the other hand; the cab driver assures me I'm going the right way, love that guy.

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If the POV approach had not been utilized here Bogart's vicious attack of the driver might lead one to believe the rest of this film would focus simply on the efforts to re-capture this violent criminal. But the use of POV makes one begin to question what exactly is going on here and quickly and powerfully draws in the viewer's interest and anticipation of a more complex story to come.

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While I liked the use of POV shots, some of them were less successful than others. At times, the views and angles taken by the camera seemed like they would be unnatural for a person to actually be executing. But, this once again has the action-packed and inviting opening that I expect. Did he really kill his wife? How did he manage to escape? Why? Where will be go now?

 

I could listen to Bogie's voice all day.

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"Well whadda ya know?" Who would say such a thing to an escaped convict??  That character was a little unbelievable, I felt.

I did like the POV shots once he came out of the barrel and made his way towards the road, however I don't think it was necessary.  In fact I would have preferred it not to have been in POV.  The steady shot on the driver, the punches, the hand waving down the car... They just didn't seem to look natural.

 

 

I did really like the shot of him getting out of the barrel.. As his body gets darker the further away he gets.  

This film has been on my do watch list for a long time and I am looking forward to seeing the rest after this little taste.

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I've seen the film Dark Passage, so I understand why Bogart's face is hidden in the beginning of the film (sorry everyone, not giving away any spoilers!). In context, the film is quite disturbing as it goes along because of this, but it is perhaps one of the best film noir films that I have seen out there. It's rather a cross between a horror and crime film! To me, it's unique in the world of film noir and is definitely worth a watch (plus, it's Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall!).

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I've seen the film Dark Passage, so I understand why Bogart's face is hidden in the beginning of the film (sorry everyone, not giving away any spoilers!). In context, the film is quite disturbing as it goes along because of this, but it is perhaps one of the best film noir films that I have seen out there. It's rather a cross between a horror and crime film! To me, it's unique in the world of film noir and is definitely worth a watch (plus, it's Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall!).

I'm in the same boat here, I know WHY we don't see him...

  Looking at it not for what it is but as a cinematic storytelling device, by using the first person camera angle we are able to get a feeling for the calculated but frantic nature of his escape. He isn't desperate to get away from the cops or afraid of being caught. It's more than that. He is trying to be smart about it. He is trying to think over his options. You get to hear that stream of consciousness in the voice-over. And after he has secured his ride, you feel his unease as the driver continues to pepper him with questions. I don't know if any of that would have come across to the audience in the same way if we weren't made to feel as if we were the one escaping.

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