Dr. Rich Edwards

JUNE 19 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS

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just dawned on me, the girl George Raft is talking to now played Robert Mitchum's girl in Out of the Past... 6 degrees of seperation

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Before taking this course I would watch movies just to watch them and now I look at movies in a different light.

 

Love to hear that! Honestly, to me, that is the main point of a course like this. Thanks for sharing that!

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Love to hear that! Honestly, to me, that is the main point of a course like this. Thanks for sharing that!

I'd like to "second" this comment.  As I had posted yesterday about not realizing how innovative it was to show ceilings in a film, I am amazed at how all these years (I'm a retiree) I've been watching films without "seeing" so much.  It's amazing to me just how much I've missed, and I consider myself a pretty observant person.  I am so grateful for this course.  I am learning so much!!

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In The Killers I loved the use of shadows and light to convey mood. I also enjoyed how tilted angles were used to convey an upcoming change in fortune. For example I noticed tilted angles before the hold up and the low-angle shot before Kitty's secret was revealed.

 

The clouds in the funeral scene reminded me of the cloud effects used in the graveyard scenes in the old universal Frankenstein movies - or maybe that's just because I was looking for something. I surprised to hear in the lecture that film noir drew from that source and I really wanted to see it. :)

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I just watched the last 15 minutes of THE KILLERS although I have seen it at least twice before. Believe it or not, this was the first time I FINALLY understood the plot, outcome, and reason for "the killers" to hunt down The Swede. I find many times with some really complicated noirs, I lose track of the players and wind up not understanding the plot once all is said and done. For some reason, watching just the last few minutes of the movie just lit the light bulb for me. I find that trying to follow who's who and who did what in a noir is an exercise in concentration and note taking. I have the same problem with THE BIG SLEEP: I still don't understand that movie although I have watched it at least five times. But at least on that one, I know I'm not alone. Once, during a TCMParty on Twitter, folks actually posted flow charts and diagrams of the characters and their roles in that movie because they found themselves lost, also. Still, I enjoy watching the movies just for the cinematography even if I do lose the plot. Anyone else?

I agree! I watched Cornered today and lost track of who is who and what their agenda was lol.

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Just watched The Killers -- what a convoluted story! Kitty is the picture girl for neutral evil: all she cares about in the end is trying to get her dying husband to take the rap for her crimes (!!!)

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There's a watch party for 'Hollow Triumph' or 'The Scar' on TCM tonight on the Twitter site #NoirSummer At 8pm Eastern Standard Time. Hope to see you there...

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Just watched The Killers -- what a convoluted story! Kitty is the picture girl for neutral evil: all she cares about in the end is trying to get her dying husband to take the rap for her crimes (!!!)

The Swede's saying that he did something wrong...once, is the understatement of the century!!!  Talk about being led down the path of destruction by a self serving woman!!!

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The Swede's saying that he did something wrong...once, is the understatement of the century!!!  Talk about being led down the path of destruction by a self serving woman!!!

Sucks that it's always the woman that brings these freaks down. Where's Zachary Scott when you need him?

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Sucks that it's always the woman that brings these freaks down. Where's Zachary Scott when you need him?

 

Yes,  Dimitrios could teach Kitty a thing or two!

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I agree! I watched Cornered today and lost track of who is who and what their agenda was lol.

 

Also agree.  As mentioned in an earlier post on yesterday's thread, not even Chandler made complete sense of the plot in his novel, The Big Sleep, but Hollywood Code restrictions made things infinitely worse for scriptwriters Faulkner, Brackett and Furthman.   They tried to hold the story together, but couldn't because of all the taboo elements Chandler wove into the book.     

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Also agree.  As mentioned in an earlier post on yesterday's thread, not even Chandler made complete sense of the plot in his novel, The Big Sleep, but Hollywood Code restrictions made things infinitely worse for scriptwriters Faulkner, Brackett and Furthman.   They tried to hold the story together, but couldn't because of all the taboo elements Chandler wove into the book.     

 

Have you seen the version of The Big Sleep that was shown only to arm forces personal overseas?  This version is easier to understand since more of the focus is placed on the plot instead of the romance between Marlow and Vivian (which in the book doesn't even take place since Marlow is having an affair with Mrs. Mars). 

 

After B&B got married, Jack Warner had Hawks redo the film beefing up the romance and removing scenes that helped explain the story.   To me this explains why the final general public release of the film is confusing more so than code restrictions (but yea, those don't help).

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I have been having so much fun these past few Fridays watching and tweeting. Wanted to say hey to everyone. So.. Hey!! :-)

This whole summer will be noirly fabulous! Looking forward to reading & posting here.

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The Big Sleep (1946):

 

While Gilda was better upon rewatching, I cannot say that The Big Sleep shared that experience. I first watched the film some years ago and I was swept up in the presentation and the whirlwind relationship between Bogart and Bacall at that time, especially if you've seen To Have and Have Not. This time, I was not visually stunned so instead, I turned to the performances and narrative. I took notes throughout, in the form of questions that arose from the processes of investigation. I ended up with between 30 and 40 questions and two large ones that the film failed to account for, though I'm considering reading the book to seek the answers.

 

Basic Plot: Philip Marlowe, a well-polished big city private detective, is hired by a rich, elderly man by the name of General Sternwood to attend to the payment of money for the blackmailing of his young, wild daughter Carmen. While going back-and-forth with a little romantic repartee with the General's older daughter, Vivian, he encounters a web of intrigue with layers deeper than the grave awaiting many of the characters for the "big sleep."

 

Howard Hawks knows how to direct a film, and some of the sequences I really liked, such as the interactions with the bookstore bombshell, the initial meeting between Marlowe and Vivian, the whole apartment struggle involving Marlowe, Agnes, and Joe, and the relationship between Jones and Marlowe especially the murder as seen through frosted glass.

 

Bogart as Marlowe is perfect, but Dorothy Malone as the bookstore seducer and Martha Vickers as the impulsive, intoxicated and intoxicating Carmen steal the show from Bacall. Vivian isn't given much to do other than appear from the shadows when Marlowe shows up and spit out stilted dialogue (lightning can strike twice but it doesn't in this case, To Have and Have Not was a rare moment). I was however pleasantly surprised by all the female roles. In Gilda, there is only one major female character (and the only one who speaks), but this film has Vivian, Carmen, Agnes (the antique store black widow), Mona Mars, the bookstore worker, and the female taxi driver and waitress (ALL OF WHICH SPEAK).  

 

The Big Sleep’s staple noir elements: urban center (looks like it could be foggy San Francisco, hilly Los Angeles, or crowded, alley-laden New York), the chiaroscuro lighting, manipulative females, interaction between the upper echelons of society, the average man, and a criminal underbelly, sharp dialogue loaded with sexual innuendo, and the private detective hero described by "Simple Art of Murder" author Raymond Chandler (who wrote the original Big Sleep in 1939).

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Ricardo Montalban detecting... I love Mystery Street and Vivian has the coolest voice on film

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The Big Sleep (1946):

 

While Gilda was better upon rewatching, I cannot say that The Big Sleep shared that experience. I first watched the film some years ago and I was swept up in the presentation and the whirlwind relationship between Bogart and Bacall at that time, especially if you've seen To Have and Have Not. This time, I was not visually stunned so instead, I turned to the performances and narrative. I took notes throughout, in the form of questions that arose from the processes of investigation. I ended up with between 30 and 40 questions and two large ones that the film failed to account for, though I'm considering reading the book to seek the answers.

 

Basic Plot: Philip Marlowe, a well-polished big city private detective, is hired by a rich, elderly man by the name of General Sternwood to attend to the payment of money for the blackmailing of his young, wild daughter Carmen. While going back-and-forth with a little romantic repartee with the General's older daughter, Vivian, he encounters a web of intrigue with layers deeper than the grave awaiting many of the characters for the "big sleep."

 

Howard Hawks knows how to direct a film, and some of the sequences I really liked, such as the interactions with the bookstore bombshell, the initial meeting between Marlowe and Vivian, the whole apartment struggle involving Marlowe, Agnes, and Joe, and the relationship between Jones and Marlowe especially the murder as seen through frosted glass.

 

Bogart as Marlowe is perfect, but Dorothy Malone as the bookstore seducer and Martha Vickers as the impulsive, intoxicated and intoxicating Carmen steal the show from Bacall. Vivian isn't given much to do other than appear from the shadows when Marlowe shows up and spit out stilted dialogue (lightning can strike twice but it doesn't in this case, To Have and Have Not was a rare moment). I was however pleasantly surprised by all the female roles. In Gilda, there is only one major female character (and the only one who speaks), but this film has Vivian, Carmen, Agnes (the antique store black widow), Mona Mars, the bookstore worker, and the female taxi driver and waitress (ALL OF WHICH SPEAK).  

 

The Big Sleep’s staple noir elements: urban center (looks like it could be foggy San Francisco, hilly Los Angeles, or crowded, alley-laden New York), the chiaroscuro lighting, manipulative females, interaction between the upper echelons of society, the average man, and a criminal underbelly, sharp dialogue loaded with sexual innuendo, and the private detective hero described by "Simple Art of Murder" author Raymond Chandler (who wrote the original Big Sleep in 1939).

 

Well said.   Glad to see someone else loves Martha Vickers as much as I do.   Ok, she had a very limited film career but I have a collection of still photos of her and the Warner publicity department really knew their stuff in those days.   She looks just great.   I went to see The Big Sleep on the big screen in Hollywood and than went  to Edmunds Cinema Bookstore on Hollywood Blvd.   I purchase every photo of her they had.   

 

The fact that Mickey Rooney was married to both Ava Garner and Martha Vickers during the 40s makes my head spin!   

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There's a watch party for 'Hollow Triumph' or 'The Scar' on TCM tonight on the Twitter site #NoirSummer At 8pm Eastern Standard Time. Hope to see you there...

This party was great fun! I saw and learned so much by reading all the posts. A great deal more than I would have ever seen on my own.

kymzg on Twitter

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I'm watching Mystery Street (for the first time)  and there was a scene that really caught my attention. It was when Vivian was driving the drunk's car toward Hyannis. I had to search through my book collection and realized where I had seen that scene before. I knew it looked familiar.

 

101004.jpg

 

Great book, by the way. It's the introduction of Lt. Dudley Smith (of the L.A. Quartet).

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Well said.   Glad to see someone else loves Martha Vickers as much as I do.   Ok, she had a very limited film career but I have a collection of still photos of her and the Warner publicity department really knew their stuff in those days.   She looks just great.   I went to see The Big Sleep on the big screen in Hollywood and than went  to Edmunds Cinema Bookstore on Hollywood Blvd.   I purchase every photo of her they had.   

 

The fact that Mickey Rooney was married to both Ava Garner and Martha Vickers during the 40s makes my head spin!   

Excellent point. Maybe it's a coincidence that Rooney caught Gardner at the beginning of her career and Vicker's at the end. Maybe he's really funny, or good at other things. We'll never know.

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It is hard being on Mountain time and working on Fridays but did catch one hour of Hollow Triumph. It pulled me right in staring Paul Henreid while playing a man on the run. The end left another woman to feed her femme fatale. 

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The Big Sleep (1946) [CONTINUED]

 

SEE THIS POST IF YOU ARE STILL REELING FROM THE STORY, WONDERING WHO KILLED WHO, WHO BLACKMAILED WHO, AND WHY.

 

The Big Sleep is infamous for its complicated, twisted story which leaves a few thread untied, probably on purpose. This is what we're supposed to think happened:

 

[spoilerS]

 

Parties Involved: Sternwoods (the General, daughters Vivian and Carmen, and driver Owen Taylor), Mars (Eddie, wife Mona, and hitman Canino), Geiger (Geiger, employees Lundgren and  Agnes, Agnes’s boyfriends Joe Brody and Harry Jones), AND the man connecting them all: Sean Regan, friend of General Sternwood, Mona Mars, and person of interest to Geiger’s blackmailing crew.

 

First, keep in mind: Is Sean Regan dead or merely missing?

 

Joe Brody, a low-level criminal, had blackmailed rich Carmen Sternwood before, and was an "adversary" of a racketeer named Geiger, as he was dating Geiger's secretary, Agnes. Carmen, followed by Joe, goes to the house of her new blackmailer, Geiger. Owen Taylor, the Sternwood driver who was in love with Carmen, follows her to Geiger's as well. Taylor shoots Geiger (Death #1) and steals the film with the incriminating photos of Carmen. A fleeing Taylor is followed by Joe who pulls him over with a ruse and knocks him out, stealing the film. Taylor is found dead (Death #2). In retaliation, Lundgren, one of Geiger's men, kills Joe who he thinks murdered Geiger (Death #3).  Marlowe turns in Lundgren, now both of Carmen's blackmailers are dead and the killers of Geiger, Taylor, and Joe are behind bars or also dead.

 

Meanwhile, gambler and gangster Eddie Mars is covering up the disappearance of a Sternwood family friend, Sean Regan, who unofficially ran off with Eddie's wife. The late Joe's girl and the late Geiger's secretary, Agnes, reaches out to Marlowe through Harry Jones to exchange information on the whereabouts of Mrs. Mars. One of Eddie Mars's thugs named Canino kills Jones to get to Agnes (Death #4). Marlowe, using Agnes's intel finds Mrs. Mars but no Regan, and kills Canino (Death #5). He confronts Mars at Geiger's house, and finds out that Mars had been blackmailing Vivian with the knowledge that in a jealous rage, Carmen killed Sean Regan. Eddie is killed by his own men through Marlowe's cunning (Death #6). Though Regan's is the 7th confirmed death, he is also Death #0, since he'd been dead a while and his death created this mess. It's like the three alternate endings to Clue all over again.

 

THIS STORY ..... WHOOOAAA. As a viewer, we witnessed "Deaths" #3 through #6, but one must wonder, did Taylor really kill Geiger or did Carmen? IF TAYLOR KILLED GEIGER TO PROTECT CARMEN, WHO HE WAS IN LOVE WITH, WHY DID HE TAKE THE FILM BUT LEAVE CARMEN AT THE HOUSE? Did Joe kill Taylor when he stole the film, or was it somebody else? Joe was a blackmailer and he stole the film, but he didn't come off as a killer. And did Carmen really kill Regan or in her stupor of intoxication, was made to believe she did (did Eddie kill him)?

 

By reviewing this plot, I am reminded of Daily Dose #6 and Chandler’s own words: “The essential question is no longer 'who-done-it?' but how does this protagonist act?” As complicated as this plot is and no matter how much I question it, the film is not really about that, it is merely the framework for conflict. The Maltese Falcon is not about the falcon the same way Indiana Jones is about the Holy Grail or the Ark, but about what people are willing to do to get it. It’s about our protagonist navigating this mess, this world of deception and extreme thirsts. Who killed Sean Regan and why? Yes, we wonder, but the presentation is what matters, how Marlowe talks and moves, the lines he crosses and the lines he won’t, who’s kissing who and who’s shooting, how there would be no shadows if light and dark didn’t meet every once in a while.

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The Big Sleep (1946) [CONTINUED]

 

SEE THIS POST IF YOU ARE STILL REELING FROM THE STORY, WONDERING WHO KILLED WHO, WHO BLACKMAILED WHO, AND WHY.

 

The Big Sleep is infamous for its complicated, twisted story which leaves a few thread untied, probably on purpose. This is what we're supposed to think happened:

 

[spoilerS]

 

Parties Involved: Sternwoods (the General, daughters Vivian and Carmen, and driver Owen Taylor), Mars (Eddie, wife Mona, and hitman Canino), Geiger (Geiger, employees Lundgren and  Agnes, Agnes’s boyfriends Joe Brody and Harry Jones), AND the man connecting them all: Sean Regan, friend of General Sternwood, Mona Mars, and person of interest to Geiger’s blackmailing crew.

 

First, keep in mind: Is Sean Regan dead or merely missing?

 

Joe Brody, a low-level criminal, had blackmailed rich Carmen Sternwood before, and was an "adversary" of a racketeer named Geiger, as he was dating Geiger's secretary, Agnes. Carmen, followed by Joe, goes to the house of her new blackmailer, Geiger. Owen Taylor, the Sternwood driver who was in love with Carmen, follows her to Geiger's as well. Taylor shoots Geiger (Death #1) and steals the film with the incriminating photos of Carmen. A fleeing Taylor is followed by Joe who pulls him over with a ruse and knocks him out, stealing the film. Taylor is found dead (Death #2). In retaliation, Lundgren, one of Geiger's men, kills Joe who he thinks murdered Geiger (Death #3).  Marlowe turns in Lundgren, now both of Carmen's blackmailers are dead and the killers of Geiger, Taylor, and Joe are behind bars or also dead.

 

Meanwhile, gambler and gangster Eddie Mars is covering up the disappearance of a Sternwood family friend, Sean Regan, who unofficially ran off with Eddie's wife. The late Joe's girl and the late Geiger's secretary, Agnes, reaches out to Marlowe through Harry Jones to exchange information on the whereabouts of Mrs. Mars. One of Eddie Mars's thugs named Canino kills Jones to get to Agnes (Death #4). Marlowe, using Agnes's intel finds Mrs. Mars but no Regan, and kills Canino (Death #5). He confronts Mars at Geiger's house, and finds out that Mars had been blackmailing Vivian with the knowledge that in a jealous rage, Carmen killed Sean Regan. Eddie is killed by his own men through Marlowe's cunning (Death #6). Though Regan's is the 7th confirmed death, he is also Death #0, since he'd been dead a while and his death created this mess. It's like the three alternate endings to Clue all over again.

 

THIS STORY ..... WHOOOAAA. As a viewer, we witnessed "Deaths" #3 through #6, but one must wonder, did Taylor really kill Geiger or did Carmen? IF TAYLOR KILLED GEIGER TO PROTECT CARMEN, WHO HE WAS IN LOVE WITH, WHY DID HE TAKE THE FILM BUT LEAVE CARMEN AT THE HOUSE? Did Joe kill Taylor when he stole the film, or was it somebody else? Joe was a blackmailer and he stole the film, but he didn't come off as a killer. And did Carmen really kill Regan or in her stupor of intoxication, was made to believe she did (did Eddie kill him)?

 

By reviewing this plot, I am reminded of Daily Dose #6 and Chandler’s own words: “The essential question is no longer 'who-done-it?' but how does this protagonist act?” As complicated as this plot is and no matter how much I question it, the film is not really about that, it is merely the framework for conflict. The Maltese Falcon is not about the falcon the same way Indiana Jones is about the Holy Grail or the Ark, but about what people are willing to do to get it. It’s about our protagonist navigating this mess, this world of deception and extreme thirsts. Who killed Sean Regan and why? Yes, we wonder, but the presentation is what matters, how Marlowe talks and moves, the lines he crosses and the lines he won’t, who’s kissing who and who’s shooting, how there would be no shadows if light and dark didn’t meet every once in a while.

It is fun to discuss all this.  But is knowing who murdered whom really the most important thing about watching this film?  Isn't it really about seeing if Marlowe (Bogart) and Vivian (Bacall) end up together?  :)

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Cornered

 

Dick Powell had a diverse career having played lead roles in musicals, radio and film noir. He was excellent in "Murder, My Sweet" and "Cornered"

 

There is a scene early in "Cornered" where the Powell character is searching for any sign of a murderer he's pursuing. He looks through what seems like a burned down community. The camera follows him step by step revealing the devastation. This I believe is an example of formalism because the director wants to bring a degree of reality to the film through art direction, set design, character movement giving the illusion that the filming is on location. I liked this scene because I got to see what this week's video lecture said about a realist and a formalist.

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Some commonalities of this Friday's films:  they  expand the noir modality by introducing real-world issues, some of them trans-global.  For example:  the tungsten monopoly in Gilda, American agribusiness and the  mistreatment of cross-border migrants needed to support it in Border Incident, Crossfire's anti-Semitism in the military, forensic science in Mystery Street.  Sometimes these larger issues are revealed organically, starting out as subtext and becoming the key plotline by the end of the film.  Other times they are announced in newsreel fashion or pseudo-documentary style.  A consequence of the latter approach is to alienate some viewers (like me) who don't want or need to be hit over the head with the film's message telegraphed in advance.  

 

Similarly, I noticed much obvious moralizing  (read "preaching") in some of  tonight's crop - for example in Crossfire, Robert Young's long speech to the young soldier about  the tribulations of his Irish grandfather.  This feels so un-noirish.   Give me Glenn Ford raising one eyebrow, anytime.  Or in Mystery Street, the Harvard professor nagging Montalban about the dangers of focusing too hard on a single suspect and Montalban's attacks of conscience following encounters with the  annoyingly faithful wife of the unfaithful suspect.   There is a real softening of the hard-boiled eggs here even though the environment is grittier.  Also these grittier reality films lack the high style of  my favorite classic noir films although tonight's Gilda and The Big Sleep don't let the side down.

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