Dr. Rich Edwards

JULY 10 TCM FILM DISCUSSION FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 15 FILMS

91 posts in this topic

I enjoyed Edmond O'Brien portrayal in this movie. I think he often seemed befuddled and out of place which i think is appropriate considering all that was happening to him. After all he was just told that had been poisoned and now had to deal with the type of people he probably never associated with before. He even had to act tough and try to rough some people up. That probably didn't happen in his day-to-day accounting world. I agree he doesn't fit the role of the stereotypical ladies man but that's just film noir. I agree with all of your other insights, they were great. I also agree this is a fantastic movie it's one of my favorites.

 

Edmond O'Brien worked for me too, in DOA. His Frank Bigelow is an everyman. Does every person, for that matter, do WE emote as exquisitely as Garfield, Lancaster, Ryan do, in our daily lives? Of course O'Brien's expressiveness is nowhere near those great leading men. But he made Frank sweaty and hyperkinetic, as you'd expect of a man racing death, almost to the point of appearing cartoonish when he raced down stairs or ripped open a door.

 

I found a really tragic love story wrapped up in D.O.A. and it said alot about how women were portrayed in 50s noir. Paula and Frank tormented each other because Frank couldn't tell her what was going on and Paula was oblivious til the end that something was amiss. Frank's intentions weren't bad but a woman was just not someone who'd be able to help him in this situation. He wanted to keep her out of it so he had to hurt her. Paula, for her part, was so afraid to lose Frank that it gave her tunnel vision. By the time they realize how great their love is, it's too late.

 

By contrast, in PHANTOM LADY just 6 years earlier, a woman goes all by herself into deeply dangerous and disreputable places to save her man. By the time DOA comes along, the ladies have to stay home.

 

More later, gotta run.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe with this class, the other studios Fox, Columbia, Universal will take notice and release some unknown noirs from the 40s and 50s

As TCM watchers we get alot of exposure to WB, MGM, and RKO films (Turner owns their libraries) but of course some great noirs came from the other studios too. Paramount, one of the 5 majors (as laid out in the studio overview that was one of our class reading pieces a few weeks ago), had Billy Wilder with his trio of Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd, and Ace in the Hole, which reflected some of that European wit and black humor Paramount was known for from the early era, having had expats like Ernst Lubitsch and Marlene Dietrich under contract. The other major, Fox, had Otto Preminger, John Brahm, and others. Many of their noirs tend to be complex and psychologically intriguing - Laura, Nightmare Alley.

 

We get less chance to see Columbia and Universal noirs on TV (here in the US); those studios have also lagged behind in putting their library out on DVD, though Columbia has issued some fine noir collections in the last 10 or so years. As smaller studios their output didn't reach the same numbers as the majors but there are some great ones - Columbia did Gilda and The Lady from Shanghai, and in the 50s, lower-budgeted gems like Fritz Lang's The Big Heat and Human Desire (remake of La Bete Humaine from the first week). Universal had the great Robert Siodmak working for them (The Killers, Criss Cross, Phantom Lady) and there was a lot of crossover from their horror series so they had a way with setting up eerie, creepy scenes.

 

Finally, so many noirs from the small independent studios are coming to screens large and small for us to enjoy. Movies like Detour and D.O.A. prove that the stuff of great noir can't necessarily be bought with big production budgets!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed Edmond O'Brien portrayal in this movie. I think he often seemed befuddled and out of place which i think is appropriate considering all that was happening to him. After all he was just told that had been poisoned and now had to deal with the type of people he probably never associated with before. He even had to act tough and try to rough some people up. That probably didn't happen in his day-to-day accounting world. I agree he doesn't fit the role of the stereotypical ladies man but that's just film noir. I agree with all of your other insights, they were great. I also agree this is a fantastic movie it's one of my favorites.

 

 

Fair enough. I think he went beyond befuddled though, and to where it's just an actor pushing emotions without it seeming natural or compelling enough, but then again a lot of that happened before Brando and the method hit the scene more. I'd also add that his final scene and his fall was one of the worst performances in a scene of that type that I've seen ever. 

 

Edmond O'Brien worked for me too, in DOA. His Frank Bigelow is an everyman. Does every person, for that matter, do WE emote as exquisitely as Garfield, Lancaster, Ryan do, in our daily lives? Of course O'Brien's expressiveness is nowhere near those great leading men. But he made Frank sweaty and hyperkinetic, as you'd expect of a man racing death, almost to the point of appearing cartoonish when he raced down stairs or ripped open a door.

 

I found a really tragic love story wrapped up in D.O.A. and it said alot about how women were portrayed in 50s noir. Paula and Frank tormented each other because Frank couldn't tell her what was going on and Paula was oblivious til the end that something was amiss. Frank's intentions weren't bad but a woman was just not someone who'd be able to help him in this situation. He wanted to keep her out of it so he had to hurt her. Paula, for her part, was so afraid to lose Frank that it gave her tunnel vision. By the time they realize how great their love is, it's too late.

 

By contrast, in PHANTOM LADY just 6 years earlier, a woman goes all by herself into deeply dangerous and disreputable places to save her man. By the time DOA comes along, the ladies have to stay home.

 

More later, gotta run.

 

Is Frank an everyman though? It seems like yes and no.  I guess in the sense that he's a man after WWII who has seen a lot of horrors and doesn't want to talk about it to his significant other or love interests, then yes. But his playboy type ways and lifestyle seem very much against the prevailing social values of his time (i.e. running behind his girlfriend's back and looking to have late night meetings with other women). In an existential sense, he is an everyman in that death is inevitable for everybody and everyone is under the sentence of death; Frank is just in a unique position because he has a clear timeframe for when his will occur and he knows someone else is behind his death.

 

Paula does try to help him, and in one sense she symbolically does as he realizes that he truly loves her and regrets his empty playboy-ing ways seemingly at the end, arguably finding some 'authenticity'. But he stonewalls her from really finding out more and being able to help. It's very curious in a way that Frank doesn't communicate to more people exactly the urgency behind his situation (i.e. I'm going to die soon! I've been poisoned! etc.). Personally speaking, I think more people, even if they were desparate, out to find what happened, and get some payback, would communicate that more. I'll watch again, but I never got a strong sense of why Frank never does that, even after he's moved past his initially understandable reaction of complete denial and running fits.

 

O'Brien's performance, imo, was fine for the last third of the film (barring the ending scene). But I think that's largely due to the great directing, camera movement, and misc-en-scene to all of those sequences. His facials and body language were quite good for the shoot out scene, but the performance as a whole just seemed too uneven to me. Outside of the ending scene, the two aspects of the performance I'd point too are 1) the ladies man I mentioned before and 2) his transformation to a hard-boiled detective tough guy. From the dialogue in the last scene or two where he has morphed more fully into this hard-boiled detective role as he's unwrapping the mystery and getting used to investigating people, you get a sense that he's supposed to be able to project hardened, determine Charles Bronson resolve or, alternatively, a Toshiro Mifune-like devil may care bad A attitude from how other characters start to respond to him, but I just didn't see it in the on-screen performance during those scenes. The Big Heat is the next major noir I can think of where we see that type of character, though I'm not sure if it's perfectly executed either, but it's also a really, really good film with a clear vision.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first time I've watched Caged, and I was impressed with the film.  Eleanor Parker's transition from young innocent to a hardened criminal type was well done and sad to watch. By the time she was released from prison, her saddle shoes looked absurd.  One of the earlier posts said that her turning point was her head being shaved, and I agree with that. 

 

Agnes Moorehead's attempts to make positive changes in the running of the prison was like trying to hold back the ocean with a sponge!  The dirty politices and corruption were just too deeply ingrained.  Unfortunately, not much has changed over the years.....Talk about  a sense of disillusionment and hoplessness...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

totally agree with you, these are the noirs i like too- anything noir in the 60s is neo noir to me.. i like my noirs old school

I agree with this, too.  The films from the 40's and 50's, with their wonderful style and array of "stars" and well loved character actors,  are priceless, even the "not so good" ones.   I also love the "old school" films noir!!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm watching On Dangerous Ground.  Within the first minute of the film, I recognized the unmistakeable sound of a score by Bernard Herrmann.  How I love all of the music he wrote!!

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love pretty much all Films Noir from the protos through the last tendrils in the 60's, even the color ones they all have their own qualities. 

 

Of this last Fridays batch (only Destination Murder I've never seen) some highlights for me (I'm visually oriented)

 

Side Street - Love this one, the un-named star of this is Lower Manhattan (sort of a video archeology) and the cinematography of the climactic cab chase through the labyrinth of narrow streets with glimpses of the soon to be demolished 3rd Avenue El.

 

The Tattooed Stranger - Brooklyn, waterfront

 

D.O.A - love the on location sequences in San Francisco & LA with the iconic Bradbury Building.

 

Kiss Me Deadly- LA again with the bonus of Angels Flight & Bunker Hill

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the Cigarjoe, I love all the film noirs and feel each period has something different to offer. One of the many fun things about this class is we have been able to see the progression while also given the chance to discuss them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Making poor choices goes to the heart of noir.   What we are is a result of the choices we make (or don't make).   Trouble is, choices are almost never made in a vacuum or on a level playing field.   They're almost always weighed down and burdened by the accumulated baggage of the past.  

 

Which broaches the question: is any choice truly 'free'?   Not in noir, it isn't.   The choices characters make are invariably compelled by their nature or by the forward momentum of the past, the cruel necessity of the present or the lure of a better, 'free' tomorrow, influencing, if not

 

But are these decisions truly 'bad' or flawed?   Can these characters, in these situations, have made any other choice but the one they made?   Would different decisions have truly changed the narrative?   If you grant that their hands may indeed have been forced by the past and by circumstances and their own true nature, could any outcome other than the one achieved have been possible?

Freedom is often assumed to be associated with freedom "to" but equally or possibly even more necessary that noir details is freedom "from" and I am enjoying how cinema and the varied studios and artists are dealing with these points.

 

Also, you ask a good question about "bad versus flawed." This time period of filmmaking certainly spotlights and acknowledges the struggle of the individual adjusting within the context of an increasingly mechanized/industrial/corporate world and begins to address the interior of man; the duality of the human brain---logic versus imagination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched Kiss Me Deadly last night.  Was anyone else disappointed with the big reveal of the murderer.  The only reaction I had was that, it was the guy from a movie earlier that day.  I admit, I might've dosed out during some of the movie but I didn't remember seeing him previously.  I didn't see why they had a be "Taddah!" moment.  Why didn't they just show him all the way through the movie?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm watching On Dangerous Ground.  Within the first minute of the film, I recognized the unmistakeable sound of a score by Bernard Herrmann.  How I love all of the music he wrote!!

 

 

Did you notice how similar Herrmann's score was in On Dangerous Ground to what he did for in North By Northwest?  The score for when they trek through the snow was virtually revisited, intact, for Hitch.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched Kiss Me Deadly last night.  Was anyone else disappointed with the big reveal of the murderer.  The only reaction I had was that, it was the guy from a movie earlier that day.  I admit, I might've dosed out during some of the movie but I didn't remember seeing him previously.  I didn't see why they had a be "Taddah!" moment.  Why didn't they just show him all the way through the movie?

 

 

Actually, no.  I wasn't bothered by keeping Dr. Soberin under wraps for most of the film.   The character was made more ominous, more mysterious by virtue of us only seeing his very distinct shoes and pant cuffs...a play...perhaps...on a similar device being used in both The Third Man and in Laura.   Besides, Soberin's presence and menace, as played by Albert Dekker, was all in his voice.   

 

Besides, Kiss Me Deadly isn't really about revealing who was responsible for murder.   Soberin, like Gabrielle, like Mike Hammer and Christina, are all involved in something bigger, darker, more lethal and threatening, than mere murder.   This is the element that Aldrich introduced to Spillane's story that isn't in the novel, but it perfectly captures the oppressive fear and insanity of the Atomic Age and Cold War period.    

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched The Hitchhiker last night and loved it!!  In 71 minutes Ida Lupino created an awesome film noir!!  William Talman was so menacing!! A man liviing for himself, making his own rules with the help, of course, of the gun.  The audience is certainly caught up in the anguish and fear of the characters.  I was so worried that one of the men would be shot down by Talman just before the end of the film!!  And Edmund O'Brien certainly was a lot more expressive in this film as he begged God for help!!  This is a film that I definitely want to add to my DVD collection!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In considering this week's themes of alienation, disillusionment and partial victories at best, as well as noir's rejection of power within conventional female relationships, these motifs are on full display in Caged.

 

Marie Allen, played by Eleanor Parker, enters prison for her non-violent role in a robbery, clearly timid and fearful.  She maintains emotional ties that the noir world views as conventional and powerless: a loving wife to a dead husband, a loving mother to an unborn son, and a loving daughter to her self-involved mother.  These relationships inflict emotional traumas, as she's imprisoned because she unwittingly rode in a car with her husband when he committed a robbery and was killed, she is forced to give up her newborn son because her mother will not care for the baby until Marie's release, and her parole is initially denied because her stepfather refuses to let her live with him and Marie's mother.  

 

The three male parole board members refusing her release mimic the trifecta of male influence on her present condition--husband, son and stepfather--and the end result of the hearing begins Marie's radical transformation to the more powerful noir female.  The emotional wounds inflicted by alienation and disillusionment stemming from her conventional family ties basically destroy her in this noir environment, with a hardened, emotionless and sharp- edged Marie soon taking the place of the innocent and loving Marie who first entered it.    

 

Her transformation seems complete after Marie's random discovery of a kitten, with the final emotional attachment it brings resulting in a riot that not only causes the kitten's death but also lands Marie in solitary confinement.  The unintended death of the kitten and Marie's subsequent placement in solitary represents her severed emotional connections at that point, which previously hindered her progress through this noir world.  She emerges from solitary shorn of her hair, her emotions, and far more calculating in navigating her surroundings.  She now reflects the more typically powerful, though not necessarily more successful, female in films noir.  

 

These themes of pessimism, alienation, partial or tenuous victories, and powerful but not successful females continue throughout the film to its conclusion.  Even without the male anti-hero teamed up with a femme fatale, the film does a great job of exemplifying multiple noir themes in relation to the female experience in a noir world.  It is quite a film.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I am watching “Kiss Me Deadly,” I am starting to think James Bond.  Ok, although he is certainly above-average looking with a lovely smile, Ralph Meeker is not the glamour Gus of Roger Moore; but the fast cars, the women throwing themselves at him, the gadgets (yes, the answering machine is a little primitive; but for the time, it was unique).  I will confess I fell asleep after Hammer opened the box in the locker and discovered something radioactive?? I think.  I woke up to hear Eddie Muller mention they we able to restore the “happy” ending so Hammer and Velda don’t die at the end.  Honestly, from what I saw, I think “Kiss Me Deadly” (notwithstanding the credits that run backwards at the beginning) is a pretty awful movie. But from what I saw of him, Ralph Meeker was delightful to look at....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never knew Film Noir could be so... Well, whatever D.O.A. is. - which is a bit hard to describe. Funny? Cartoonish? Parody? Muller's description of D.O.A. as cartoon-like, Chuck Jones-ish is good - but it falls a bit short. For example, the film uses a wolf whistle sound effect when pretty women walk by. A WOLF WHISTLE. And, unlike the cartoons, it uses the wolf whistle numerous times.

 

Another element that surprised me was the quality of the acting of the minor players. I felt like I was watching a Hal Roach film with Our Gang direction feeding the lines directly to the actors and giving them stage directions during the shoot. ("Now nod and move to your right, henchman number 3.") The character of Paula was, uh, that is, OK I'll have to get back to you on that, but Edmond O'Brien stole the show with his over-the-top, William Shatner on double-espresso performance that Muller nails with his reference to Daffy Duck.

 

I know the first few minutes (an always/already dead man walking down maze-like corridors of the impersonal panopticonic police/state bureaucracy) foreshadowed a film that would tie in strongly with our themes of existential ennui and psychological angst, but c'mon - the film was just too (whatever it is - see above) to pull it off. And whatever it was - it was a perfect one of those! 

 

Wait, ALMOST PREFECT... one thing was missing. One thing would have rounded the film out and filled any gap. There should have been, at a few choice spots, a sad trombone effect. http://www.sadtrombone.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm watching On Dangerous Ground.  Within the first minute of the film, I recognized the unmistakeable sound of a score by Bernard Herrmann.  How I love all of the music he wrote!!

I'm a fan of Bernard Herrmann also. His career in film scoring began with Citizen Kane (1941) and ended with my favorites, Obsession (1976) and Taxi Driver (1976).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never knew Film Noir could be so... Well, whatever D.O.A. is. - which is a bit hard to describe. Funny? Cartoonish? Parody? Muller's description of D.O.A. as cartoon-like, Chuck Jones-ish is good - but it falls a bit short. For example, the film uses a wolf whistle sound effect when pretty women walk by. A WOLF WHISTLE. And, unlike the cartoons, it uses the wolf whistle numerous times.

 

Another element that surprised me was the quality of the acting of the minor players. I felt like I was watching a Hal Roach film with Our Gang direction feeding the lines directly to the actors and giving them stage directions during the shoot. ("Now nod and move to your right, henchman number 3.") The character of Paula was, uh, that is, OK I'll have to get back to you on that, but Edmond O'Brien stole the show with his over-the-top, William Shatner on double-espresso performance that Muller nails with his reference to Daffy Duck.

 

I know the first few minutes (an always/already dead man walking down maze-like corridors of the impersonal panopticonic police/state bureaucracy) foreshadowed a film that would tie in strongly with our themes of existential ennui and psychological angst, but c'mon - the film was just too (whatever it is - see above) to pull it off. And whatever it was - it was a perfect one of those! 

 

Wait, ALMOST PREFECT... one thing was missing. One thing would have rounded the film out and filled any gap. There should have been, at a few choice spots, a sad trombone effect. http://www.sadtrombone.com/

 

As I argued in the july 10 thread, I think many of the shortcomigns you point to are due to Edmond O'Brien's performance in the lead role, and not being fully up to it. I think the wolf whistle is deliberate and somewhat tongue in cheek, but it's meant to build to the inauthentic vs. authenic existential theme in the field, rather than just underscore the unbelievablility that all these hot blondes want to hop in the sack with this bungling lead character (and the brunette from the initial scenes too, I'd point out. Paula and the brunette exchanging combative eye contact in the early scenes was no coincidence.)

 

I still enjoy the movie quite a bit, and think the direction and action was able to largely compensate for O'Brien in the last third of the film, but he really throws me out of the movie at times. I'm sure Mate had to be frustrated at times. Anybody with more production history about D.O.A. have any details on this topic?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FOLLOW ME QUIETLY

 

If you're looking for a Noir with high production values, atmospheric cinematography, and credible performances, this is definitely not it. Excluding the climax it's obvious this film was produced on a real tight budget, also exemplified by it's under 60 minutes running time. 

 

But what a lovely, sinister story, and maybe one that showcases the discussed 'existentialism' at its creepiest. 

 

Detective Grant is looking for a psychopathic serial killer. Based on witnesses' descriptions he knows something about the killer's appearance. And that's where the weirdness and fun begins.

 

The description:  Medium hight, blue suit, tie  and a hat. Nothing more.

 

Grant decides to have a dummy produced, resembling the description.  This is the result.

 

CJib0ZFUwAE08Ae.jpg

 

Th dummy sits in a chair in Grant's office. Nobody seems to question the fact that everyone walking into this office - even Grant's colleagues - basically fits the description. It could be any guy.

 

But what and who is 'any guy'?

Is 'any guy' a potential serial killer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, no.  I wasn't bothered by keeping Dr. Soberin under wraps for most of the film.   The character was made more ominous, more mysterious by virtue of us only seeing his very distinct shoes and pant cuffs...a play...perhaps...on a similar device being used in both The Third Man and in Laura.   Besides, Soberin's presence and menace, as played by Albert Dekker, was all in his voice.   

 

Besides, Kiss Me Deadly isn't really about revealing who was responsible for murder.   Soberin, like Gabrielle, like Mike Hammer and Christina, are all involved in something bigger, darker, more lethal and threatening, than mere murder.   This is the element that Aldrich introduced to Spillane's story that isn't in the novel, but it perfectly captures the oppressive fear and insanity of the Atomic Age and Cold War period.    

Just me then, I guess.  I liked that he was mysterious and that they just show his shoes.  That's why it was so disappointing to see that it was nobody I knew.  I thought maybe I had nodded off and I had missed when he showed up earlier in the film.  It showed his shoes, there was a slow pan up to his face, dramatic blast of music and... hunh??  Who is this guy?  I guess I was expecting more of a "Harry! You're alive!" moment.  I think I would've liked it better if they had just left him mysterious and never showed his face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

D.O.A.

 

I'm not sure what to make of this movie. I'd heard of it, but not seen it previously, and was looking forward to seeing it for the first time as part of this course. But...it wasn't quite as I expected it to be. Overall I think I enjoyed the movie but there are far too many "buts" for it to be really good. 

 

A dramatic start, for me, was almost immediately ruined by the cop's stony indifference to a guy coming in and reporting a murder. Indeed, they only barely reacted to the revelation that it was his own murder! Are LA cops that jaded and hard-boiled, or is that kind of thing quite common in the City of Angels? 

 

And...what was it with that awful wolf-whistle? Seriously, who signed off on that? It was awful, unnecessary and completely destroyed the tension of the tale the dying Bigelow was telling. We get it, he was a man looking to play for a last time before possibly settling down, that much was obvious by his lecherous leering and certainly didn't require the sound effects! 

 

I wasn't really impressed by Edmond O'Brien's acting; it seemed to me his best acting came when he was running through the city, or walking in time to the music! Both these elements incidentally were highlights for me, both were filmed and choreographed with skill and flair. The scene when he ran from the hospital was especially effective: it was almost as if he was trying to run from himself, run from fate, run from the death sentence he had just been delivered. Good to see too the real San Francisco in the background. 

 

Also good to see was the Bradbury Building used so effectively. Loved the way they lit that place and it was a great link for me to one of my favorite films, Blade Runner. 

 

In summary, I thought D.O.A. was an odd film: lots of darkness mixed with strangely hokey comedic touches, I'm sure I'll remember it for a while! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Hitch-Hiker

 

William Talman as Emmett Myers portrayed constant malevolence, constant malice. It was exhausting. The landscape was bright by day, with constant sun, but the film still felt claustrophobic with just the three main characters (Emmet Myers, Roy Collins, and Gilbert Bowen) most of the time. I almost felt like I, too, was being held hostage by the time the movie ended.

 

I do remember one shot of the front end of Roy and Gilbert’s car moving at an exaggerated speed. It seemed like the camera was on another car filming and getting knocked around by the rugged terrain. It was very unsettling, very unnerving, and very effective because the technique was used once for a limited time. It seemed to portray how Roy and Gilbert must have felt about being held at gunpoint.

 

Edmond O’Brien gave one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever seen from him. But the very last scene when he and his friend walk off screen following the police officers almost seemed flat. He was back to being his old one-dimensional self once again, but that could have been because of the writing or the direction in The Hitch-Hiker.

 

What was most interesting to me was the dynamic between the two friends. Bowen (played by Frank Lovejoy) was matter-of-fact and practical in his approach to the hostage dilemma. Roy Collins (played by Edmond O’Brien) was edgy and emotional. At one point, he pleads for a small plane to stop for them, to hear them. He also gives in to an angry outburst directed against Emmett Myers, the hostage taker. I have read that The Hitch-Hiker is based on actual events and that Ida Lupino interviewed the two men who survived being kidnapped. I wonder if the dynamic portrayed in the film was true-to-life or written into the script.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll copy what I just posted in another thread about DOA, since it just aired and is for this week.

 

Wow! I enjoyed DOA, and I think it's a near perfect filmfor this week's lecture topics and themes. So many existential themes in this movie!

 

Alienation, doom, desperation, chance/bad luck le, searching for meaning in a cruel meaningless world, authentic values/self vs. inauthenic (this is where I think the whole ladykilling and love part of the movie comes in, and parse how the movie almost seems like two movies), making an existential choice about which to value and recognizing one's role in creating those values, a decidely un-heroic hero, a man under the sentence of death, etc.

 

One major caveat, however, Edmund O'Brien! I still enjoyed this movie, but wow...he was really miscast in my opinion and lacked the range and subtlety needed for many of the emotional parts of this role. There was lots of really pushing/forces emotions to numerous acting scenes. He wasn't very believable at all as a guy that all these ladies would swoon over even though the script really positions him as that. And he's not that great at portraying possessed, the force of nature whirlwind nature to this part--the Death Wish, , tough guy part of the role--where he's a guy driven by vengeance. And that you will believe isn't afraid of death, because he's already doomed, but he wants to make sure he doesn't die too soon/before he is satisfied he's figured out who killed him and gone after that person. I understand why some of you criticized the sequence showing Frank Bigelow's life that he will miss "flash before his eyes" at the newsstand, but I think the director had to make that choice as the lesser of evils. It was a way to "show not tell" the audience that insight which was a better alternative than relying on O'Brien to emotionally convey that to the audience or to have him directly say it with voiceover dialogue.

 

Because this is a B Noir, I doubt they could have gotten any of these actors, but just to throw some names out there I think either Kirk Douglas or Robert Mitchum would've been better fits for this demands of part as well as Bogart and Welles. (edit: forgot this name, but another option: William Holden).  Am I being too demanding? Did Edmond O'Brien convincingly portray the role to you all?

 

To add some extras: the second half of this movie is very much a noir of the 50s and like some of the ones last week. Noir on the move! There's tons of city chase scenes. The visual style is very noir. Numerous uses of deep focus, unbalanced compositions, low key lighting, high contrasts, use of shadows to suggest danger and alter egos, high key lighting early on to convey the normalcy of the everyday world of the movie between the flashback starting and the movie going to the fisherman's beat jazz club.

I'm not a big fan of Edmond O'Brien as an actor. I think he gives a much better performance in The Hitch-Hiker, but in D.O.A. he seems wooden and one-dimensional. His getting up and pitching off to the side at the end was laughable, but that might have been the fault of direction or a small budget (no stunt double) and not his choice. But the love scene between him and Paula on the street corner at night was . . . just awful. Or maybe it was supposed to be funny, I don't know. I've seen D.O.A. twice, and I have to admit I like the Cold War worry about iridium and nuclear science in general. The film seems dated today, but it is such a product of its time. I'm betting that the postwar unease and threat of annihilation by the Soviets may have been exaggerated here, but probably not by that much. I don't remember drills in school about protecting myself in the event of nuclear attack by hiding under my school desk, but some taking this class probably do! The scenes in the night club and and the weird zinging noise every time O'Brien saw a pretty woman in his hotel may have been a way to show how some people react in times of great stress: by having "fun," no matter the cost, and forgetting everything else, including sanity and responsibility.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

D.O.A.

 

I'm not sure what to make of this movie. I'd heard of it, but not seen it previously, and was looking forward to seeing it for the first time as part of this course. But...it wasn't quite as I expected it to be. Overall I think I enjoyed the movie but there are far too many "buts" for it to be really good. 

 

A dramatic start, for me, was almost immediately ruined by the cop's stony indifference to a guy coming in and reporting a murder. Indeed, they only barely reacted to the revelation that it was his own murder! Are LA cops that jaded and hard-boiled, or is that kind of thing quite common in the City of Angels? 

 

And...what was it with that awful wolf-whistle? Seriously, who signed off on that? It was awful, unnecessary and completely destroyed the tension of the tale the dying Bigelow was telling. We get it, he was a man looking to play for a last time before possibly settling down, that much was obvious by his lecherous leering and certainly didn't require the sound effects! 

 

I wasn't really impressed by Edmond O'Brien's acting; it seemed to me his best acting came when he was running through the city, or walking in time to the music! Both these elements incidentally were highlights for me, both were filmed and choreographed with skill and flair. The scene when he ran from the hospital was especially effective: it was almost as if he was trying to run from himself, run from fate, run from the death sentence he had just been delivered. Good to see too the real San Francisco in the background. 

 

Also good to see was the Bradbury Building used so effectively. Loved the way they lit that place and it was a great link for me to one of my favorite films, Blade Runner. 

 

In summary, I thought D.O.A. was an odd film: lots of darkness mixed with strangely hokey comedic touches, I'm sure I'll remember it for a while! 

I took the reaction of the police as an indication that they hear stuff like this all the time:  people coming in to report murders, confess to murders, etc.  Their reaction was probably their idea of being a "professional."  And, when O'Brien tells the "man in charge" that he's the victim, it turns out he already has heard about it, pulling out the report from a pile of paperwork.  I am definitely with you on that awful wolf whistle!  It was so annoying and spoiled the scenes.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a fan of Bernard Herrmann also. His career in film scoring began with Citizen Kane (1941) and ended with my favorites, Obsession (1976) and Taxi Driver (1976).

He also did the original theme for The Twilight Zone although his music got lost in the shuffle when the new theme was introduced.  That's the one everyone remembers now.....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us