Dr. Rich Edwards

June 5 TCM Film Noir Discussions for #NoirSummer for All 13 Films

320 posts in this topic

The only one I've gotten to see so far was Scarlet Street, but it struck me as a tragedy rather than noir. A lonely man gets cheated by a scam artist and his girlfriend (who has issues of her own) and it ends rather badly. Really sad story, imo.

 

Scarlet Street is more noir adjacent. It features a lot of the stylistic touchstones of noir while also sharing the same fatalistic feel. I agree it is sad, but what struck me is that everyone in that movie is a victim. There are no victors. I stopped feeling bad for Christopher Cross after awhile, though, because it became clear that the only one allowing him to be cheated was himself. He had the power improve his life and get everything he wanted(out of his marriage, a successful art career), but he chose to achieve those goals through lying, cheating, stealing and finally murdering. As pathetic a character as he is, he sowed his own oats.

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Edit : Sorry, Working Dead, but it seems I deleted your name as a source when I tried to partially quote your text...

 

 

No worries. Look, I just did it, too, CinePhage. Stupid formatting.

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I hope to be able to learn a lot from everyone and the movies we are about to see... Dark Passage is one of my favorites. I didn't realize that it was apart of the Film Noir genre. For me the start of the film is very powerful, you are the character. You're caught up in the alluding the police and trying desperately not trying to have people recognize you. And what luck to find a cabbie who knows a doctor who can change your looks without any questions. What bravery you show in trusting the cabbie & doctor. Plus running into Lauren's character who volunteers in taking care of you. This movie is so suspenseful & when you first watch it you NEVER would have thought it would have ended in the way it did. A great movie!

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I hope to be able to learn a lot from everyone and the movies we are about to see... Dark Passage is one of my favorites. I didn't realize that it was apart of the Film Noir genre. For me the start of the film is very powerful, you are the character. You're caught up in the alluding the police and trying desperately not trying to have people recognize you. And what luck to find a cabbie who knows a doctor who can change your looks without any questions. What bravery you show in trusting the cabbie & doctor. Plus running into Lauren's character who volunteers in taking care of you. This movie is so suspenseful & when you first watch it you NEVER would have thought it would have ended in the way it did. A great movie!

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It's a good thing I have Fridays off; a whole day of film noir. The only issue is the east coast scheduling. I missed out on watching M. :unsure:

 

Response to La Bete Humaine:

I felt that the plot was a bit convoluted but perhaps this could be due to the language difference. I had to do some outside research to get the gyst of the plot. Accurate subtitles make a huge difference. I really liked the character of Lumiere's co-engineer (Dabadie?). He provided a comedic element, and I felt he stole many of the scenes.

Simone Simon was stunningly beautiful. Her character seemed to teeter between damsel in distress and a femme fatale. This combination works well as women can't be pigeon-holed to be one or the other. We sometimes have a bit of innocence and mixed with vamp behavior.

As for its noir elements: great screen shots (particularly with Lumiere in the train's corridor as he sees Severine), Lumiere's internal conflict, camera angles.

 

Yes - stunningly beautiful - I'm amazed she couldn't make it in Hollywood

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BORN TO KILL

 

A lot of greed and looking out for number 1 for most characters in this one, but I found one sympathetic character---the dog!

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I just finished watching "M" and all I can say is "Wow!"  The ending just made my jaw drop.  It's almost preaching about watching closely our children, and isn't that the same today?  Peter Lorre's acting was superb.  His monologues in the basement when being tried by criminals was outstanding.  It was so emotional, and gut-wrenching, much more than the parts he got in Hollywood later.  Great movie!  It makes me feel film noir, not just watch it.  The lighting, the shadows, the stark scenery, the sounds and sometimes the lack of sound, all added to the elements of Film Noir.

 

A 1931 film that can still draw the viewer in and hold his/her attention.  Remarkable.

 

To me, M is a movie that will withstand time -- as with Shakespeare -- a story that can have any backdrop - be set in any time.  The same questions that those in the trial were asking are the same questions that still plague society today - should a murderer be killed?  If imprisoned, will he just get out and commit the same crimes again?  Is there any hope of rehabilitation? 

 

A great way to start the course off - loved the filming

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Yes - stunningly beautiful - I'm amazed she couldn't make it in Hollywood

I'm not. She copped an attitude on set,and the director nor Zanuck we're going to put up with that crap. She can say she didn't,but Zanuck was the one who brought her to Hollywood,and wouldn't have dumped her so fast if it was something else.

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Just finished Scarlet Street after making a threesome from the aforementioned "M" and La Bete Humaine...not being much of a "tweeter" I am posting here for the first time. All were such a treat and completely new to me (imagine!) so thank you to TCM and Canvas for this opportunity as it was an evening well spent!

 

While I realize this is a noir study with some meaningful unifying features I cant help but feel strongly the separation by culture and history, particularly due to the spread of years from these pre WWII era European films and this later american trope. I found the historical value of these earlier works by Franz and Renoir particularly absorbing and while both may have merely meant to instill strong, street personas, they also captured details of daily life that add a piquant value over time.

 

"M" was positively gripping for many reasons and I am quite sure, once I hop off my pop-corn cloud and do some reading, I will find much relating to Germany and its times within the themes of this film. In and of itself, however, and great thanks to its main players including the remarkable Franz and incomparable Lorre, this film is rare and takes you in and in until nothing else is happening. And its been awhile, sadly, that I have felt this in cinema. Innocence-experience, compulsion-calculation, dark-light. Whether a jolly balloon weightless and straining to fly or a child's body defaced in an unknown and dark tomb, this has all the weight and ascendancy you can imagine. Lorre's final scene has an agony in it you will rarely see again. As a start, this entire series has very big gumshoes to fill following this remarkable classic!

 

La Bete Humaine puts you in the engineers seat. I don't think a film has ever conveyed locomotives to me in the visceral way this film has and with the powerful trance and direction it gives its main character, helping him to literally remain on track. While I could do without the film score, which felt ill-placed here and the occasional side-by-side cheek smash (with facial-specified lighting) of our intrepid couple, this is a story that you want to see unfold despite the obvious. You want to take up the mantle of Jean Gabin, our anti-hero. He understands pain and suffering, he knows the truth of things and still he loves, as if, as a broken man, he needs a broken woman. Simone Simon is our bad girl who knows she is (how French!)...both perpetrator and victim. French film for me lives in a kind of pre-conscious dream-like place. It seems like there are lots of metaphors and meaningful elements I am supposed to see that give it this murky darkness and a general lack of answers which I suppose I am being asked to come to conclusion about on my own. I'm not sure I ever get there put appreciate the unsettled feeling! While not as captivating as "M", this was a treat despite its sadness and confusion and I will not forget the beauty of watching our hero driving his train with deftness and focus.

 

Scarlet Street felt more like type though it has a stellar cast and was beautifully crafted. Having seen the other two first, by comparison there is an awful lot of talking going on! This was a very busy film verbally and in one or two places tiresome for me because it seems to miss the existential weight of the others, the beauty of emptiness, of vision and sound not about people. Perhaps the fault is mine for watching it last though this was the order provided in the schedule. But through this shines Edward G Robinson, as he is apt to do, elevating this story with his brightness as the innocent foil meandering into (and sometime through) the clutches of the criminal intellect. The ending feels unintended (perhaps not the original outcome) and part of the fun of this film (as a first-time viewer) is that it feels it could go in many directions because his character's lack of awareness gives the story the possibility it needs to remain buoyant. On a side note, I realize these were the "good ol days" and our dame "Kitty" gets the lion's share of smacks. I wonder if these scenes in particular were the reason it was banned in a few states when it was originally released. A lot of violent focus on her throughout actually. Thank goodness we have another view of a "smart" and sassy roomie "Millie" who knows the score and refuses to enjoy the company of the likes of "Johnny".

 

Lastly I want to mention the use of humor in these films, which was an unexpected treat--and added to a range of mood that I appreciated. It was almost as if their creators wanted to step aside and demonstrate  that you need light to create shadow. Wry humor was not something I thought I would see in any of these and yet, there it was.

 

This is merely a short description and I am very much interested in anyone else's comparison and/or contrast of these three. Thank you in advance for your comments!

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Dark Passage

 

Vincent Parry (aka Allan Linnell) says to his friend, George Fellsinger the jazz musician, about Madge (played by Agnes Moorehead): “Maybe someday she’ll get run over or something.” My favorite line in the movie. One of the other characters described Madge as someone who was only happy when she was making other people unhappy. It was very satisfying to know that Vincent (and we) learned that Madge killed his wife and his friend, even if he couldn’t prove it in court. I found myself hoping that Vincent and Irene would make it somehow, and I enjoyed that part of the movie.

 

Dark Passage was filmed in 1947, and the filming seemed a little more sophisticated than previous film noir. One thing was filming from the first-person POV. I personally didn’t like it as a storytelling device, but I could see that it was an attempt to try something that was pretty new. But what I really noticed were the scenes of San Francisco and of the prison behind the opening credits. They set up the location and the mood very clearly for the viewer from the very beginning, which is a bit different from earlier films, where the viewer often sees the list of the cast of characters against a painted background and music playing.

 

The movie was filmed in great locations, in general. By the way, was Irene’s apartment building with the lighted elevator shaft a real one or a set built for the movie? I noticed both the exterior and interior shots, and wondered about her financial situation before the blackmailer pointed it out to Vincent.

 

My borrowed DVD of Dark Passage came with a Bugs Bunny cartoon short called “Slick Hare.” Very funny. I remembered parts of it from seeing it on television when I was a child. The DVD also included a special feature called “Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers: The Story of Dark Passage.” Informative commentary about bringing the story to the screen and about the political climate in the United States at the time. Worth checking out.

 

The house is located at 1360 Montgomery Street in Telegraph Hill. Check out this website....http://reelsf.com/reelsf/dark-passage-irenes-apartment

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I knew that the fringe benefit of taking this course would be to discover films I'd never heard of.  (If nothing else in life, I like to consider myself on an expert on the obscure).  

 

On that note, I am pleasantly surprised by both STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR and WOMAN ON THE RUN.  

 

As we have been instructed, I have been watching for direct links to German Expressionism.  Stranger most certainly has that in the dream sequences that almost blindsided me as a viewer.  (Without giving anything away, the sequence is particularly nightmarish and seems absolutely timeless).  

 

Woman on the Run is, quite simply, a solid little movie.  The obvious lesson is how the location of San Fransisco is used to create a noir-ish atmosphere.  What else is there to recommend it?  The story is constructed in a propulsive manner, and there is absolutely no wasted time.  Beyond that, I loved the last ten or fifteen minutes that were set on the boardwalk.  They had a very eerie Carnival of Souls feeling to them.  

 

Any other fans of these two movies?  

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Oops! For my first post I created a new one--I think now that I was supposed to place it here! For anyone wanting to read and reply its called Fritz/Renoir "Trilogy". 

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BORN TO KILL

 

A lot of greed and looking out for number 1 for most characters in this one, but I found one sympathetic character---the dog!

 

That's one of the things I liked about this one. The leads are fabulously unredeemable!

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My favorite of the first batch--of the ones I hadn't already seen, I mean (The Maltese Falcon is on a higher plain than most movies, period), is Woman on the Run. Simple and streamlined, which is the best way to do it if the characters are deep enough. The bad marriage unfolds as the chase happens, which is the kind of exposition I like because you get drawn in as you get more info. The reporter/bad guy was a real surprise. I didn't figure it out until the movie wanted me to. I thought the hysterical roller coaster ride was a bit over the top, but ok.

 

Of the first batch of films I was most disappointed in Nora Prentiss, which I think puts me at odds with everybody else in the course. I was really looking forward to that one and it just didn't do it for me. It was too long. I couldn't see why she loved the doctor and I didn't believe he'd throw over his family so easily. She was a femme fatale, xcept she was also the moral center. I was expecting her to wind him around her little finger, Of Human Bondage-style. But once she blew up his marriage, she became the good wife. And it did all that for about 30 minutes more than it should have.

 

I do agree that it felt long, but as someone who's been married for probably as long as the doctor and his wife, the whole "don't take each other for granted" thing spoke to me. She was fully engaged in their home life, as was her responsibility, and he in his practice. It's easy to forget to make time for each other. (The twin beds probably didn't help.) But I see why he and Nora hit it off. He was the first really nice guy to show interest (because she just couldn't see the club owner that way), and she led a more glamorous life than he had settled for. In the end, he took responsibility for what he'd done, and she will obviously end up with the club owner who adores her. That's really the best resolution. Long yes, but I found it really interesting from the "don't let this be you" perspective!

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Loving the course already: watching some great films, meeting some new actors and directors, can't wait to watch my next film! 

 

 

Just watched Born to Kill. Lust, murder, adultery, deception...no-one was coming out of that one unscathed! 

 

I thought Claire Trevor was wonderful (I think I have a new favorite!), you could almost see her changing emotions flickering across her face as she fought to stay in control. Esther Howard was a hoot as the landlady, some great scenes for her. The only actor I found unconvincing was Lawrence Tierney - the Homme Fatal, if you like - I can't quite see why so many women found him so irresistible in this movie, he seemed to really have one note: angry! 

 

One great biblical line quoted by the detective, struck me as a perfect summation of Noir:

 

"And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her." 

 

Coincidently, I've been watching a lot of noir for the past six months or so, and Clare Trevor is all over them. She's one of my favorites now too.

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I do agree that it felt long, but as someone who's been married for probably as long as the doctor and his wife, the whole "don't take each other for granted" thing spoke to me. She was fully engaged in their home life, as was her responsibility, and he in his practice. It's easy to forget to make time for each other. (The twin beds probably didn't help.) But I see why he and Nora hit it off. He was the first really nice guy to show interest (because she just couldn't see the club owner that way), and she led a more glamorous life than he had settled for. In the end, he took responsibility for what he'd done, and she will obviously end up with the club owner who adores her. That's really the best resolution. Long yes, but I found it really interesting from the "don't let this be you" perspective!

 

I didn't think too much about the twin beds, because that's how relationships had to be portrayed back then. Remember Lucy and Ricky? They slept in separate beds, as well. It wasn't until the early sixties that popular filmed entertainment showed married couples in the same bed. Also, my grandparents remained married their entire lives, raised 6 kids, lived together and stayed intimate and loving despite, as long as I knew them, sleeping in separate but conjoined bedrooms. It didn't strike me as bizarre, but now it's kind of hard to imagine.

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I didn't think too much about the twin beds, because that's how relationships had to be portrayed back then. Remember Lucy and Ricky? They slept in separate beds, as well. It wasn't until the early sixties that popular filmed entertainment showed married couples in the same bed. Also, my grandparents remained married their entire lives, raised 6 kids, lived together and stayed intimate and loving despite, as long as I knew them, sleeping in separate but conjoined bedrooms. It didn't strike me as bizarre, but now it's kind of hard to imagine.

Heck,I prefer seperate rooms myself. Next time I get married (which I doubt) that's just my plan.????

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I watched Nora Prentiss for the first time and was a bit disappointed. Then I viewed Woman on the Run and realized what I think was missing from Nora Prentiss...The fast-paced clever banter, witty asides, and very quotable lines (such as in Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard) along with the smart comic relief (think the Eve Arden character in Mildred Pierce) that make noir films so enjoyable and memorable.

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The only one I've gotten to see so far was Scarlet Street, but it struck me as a tragedy rather than noir. A lonely man gets cheated by a scam artist and his girlfriend (who has issues of her own) and it ends rather badly. Really sad story, imo.

Pattyloof, I am in the same situation, as I have only seen Scarlet Street myself. 

 

I think in terms of lighting (or the absence of it), and then the general story, the "does Kitty love Chris or doesn't she," I think we can make somewhat of a case for noir. I agree though, mostly it is a tragedy--though I wonder at Chris' end, being a vagrant---I wonder if he wasn't somehow happy, amid his terror. Strange thought, I know. 

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“La Bete Humaine” ~ Funny that the title of this movie is “The Human Beast.”  The star of the movie is “La Lison.” Extraordinary, thrilling train sequences.

 

“The Letter” ~ I love this movie.  I think it is one of the greats.  Perfection all around.  The acting, the production, the direction, and what a fabulous screenplay.  SUCH TRUTH: “He’s going to forgive you.”  AND ULTIMATELY:  “With all my heart I still love the man I killed.”

 

“The Maltese Falcon” ~ Iconic Bogey.   Personally, I don’t think it holds a candle to “The Letter.”

 

“Nora Prentiss” ~ This is what I would call a stereotypical “B” movie.  Not terrible, not really first class.    Illicit love, fall from grace, slightly bizarre storyline.

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Many thanks for posting this website. I checked it out, then and now. It's a beautiful building -- then and now, in black and white and in color.

 

So refreshing to see that Irene's apartment building in DARK PASSAGE has been preserved in all its architectural glory. Thanks for sharing! Here in LA so many locations are gone forever but a few are still around - the Alto Nido apartment where Joe Gillis resided at the start of SUNSET BLVD, and of course the much-seen Bradbury Building downtown (I THE JURY, Losey's M, DOA, CHINATOWN, BLADE RUNNER.) Cheers for historical preservation!

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The film Laura's opening scene was not like the usual Noir opening scene. It was more brightly lit and attractive to the eye. Waldo watching from the other room was his way of reading the detective before actually having to speak with him. He noticed how sensitive the detective was to the surroundings. Waldo was soaking as if he hadn't a care in the world,  Well rehearsed and comfortable talking to the police. But, what is he hiding, he knew her better than anyone else... so he said. 

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So refreshing to see that Irene's apartment building in DARK PASSAGE has been preserved in all its architectural glory. Thanks for sharing! Here in LA so many locations are gone forever but a few are still around - the Alto Nido apartment where Joe Gillis resided at the start of SUNSET BLVD, and of course the much-seen Bradbury Building downtown (I THE JURY, Losey's M, DOA, CHINATOWN, BLADE RUNNER.) Cheers for historical preservation!

That's the one thing about So Cal,that nerves me.

It eats itself,in it's constant,and futile attempt to find an identity. I go there a lot,to location search for all the old Hollywood stuff,and it kills me when I find something has been turned into nothing more than a dumb bank,or some corner street mini mall. At least the cemeteries (yes I gravehunt) are still a place I can find what I'm looking for.

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