Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #32: Over Now (Opening Scene from Criss Cross)

148 posts in this topic

Love the opening, we're being airlifted into something but we don't know what yet. Urban night scene, cars, lights, lots of activity but we're headed to one small particular. We're deked into thinking it's about the first couple, then the car, but finally we see the couple kissing in the darkness. When the light hits, their reaction and conversation quickly lets us know:

 

  • It's an affair and they'd be in trouble if someone they knew saw them
  • He's going to do something dangerous, and he's more nervous about it because she isn't supposed to be there tonight
  • Ah it's she who is cheating - but she was with him prior to that and she wants them to get back together
  • Whatever he's doing is big - they have to lay low for weeks, not days - but if it all goes off t will be worth it
  • She's acting concerned but not trying to talk him out of doing it - she knows there will be $$$ and wants some of it. She obviously has a ton - look at that mink - but she's greedy.
  • If he had any doubt about taking the risk for the money, now he's going to risk it all to be with her
  • She is playing this guy like a fiddle and she knows it...but he does not
  • Ah - she is the married one! She is a little afraid of her husband (hesitation on the stairs) but faces him down
  • He's obviously rich, important and a man of fear/influence. He's also suspicious as hell.
  • She oversells the excuse with too many details and is arrogant when questioned. Confidence? Or is she watering the seed of jealousy?
  • He probably wants her enough (who wouldn't?) to take the abuse, but he sure doesn't want to look like a chump in front of witnesses - especially a headwaiter!

Elevation plays a big role - of course, the whole opening chapter from the sky to the ground for starters. The stairs she must come down. The height of Dan Duryea and his placement next to her (and the headwaiter). And then the whole "crisscross" pun - the affair, the planned crime, the likely double-cross after the heist, even the streets in the aerial shot. You could go this way or that way - and fate or your choice will lead you down *this* road...

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The most prominent noir elements in this clip were those of forbidden love between Lancaster and De Carlo. For some reason, I've always been fascinated by movies, tv shows, and books that have infidelity as one of the main plot points. Kind of messed-up, but the fascination is there nonetheless. 

 

I think the Daily Doses have made me more perceptive of movies as a whole, and has made me notice more details that would have slipped under my radar.

NOTE OF BEING MORE PERCEPTIVE:  I JUST SCREENED LAURA FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME AND HEARD AND SAW THINGS THAT I MISSED BEFORE....THIS CLASS HAS DEFINITELY HEIGHTENED MY PERCEPTIVE ON FILMS NOIR AND IN LIFE ITSELF.  TRUE STORY:  SOME YEARS BACK I TOOK A STUDY COURSE ON HOW TO STUDY A SUBJECT, ANY SUBJECT.  THE PREMISE BEING THAT ONCE YOU KNOW THE NOMENCLATURE OF A STUDY, FOR INSTANCE IF THE SUBJECT PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU MUST LEARN ALL THE WORDS AND SYMBOLS THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHY.  ONCE YOU HAVE MASTERED THE NOMENCLATURE, THE STUDY BECOMES LESS FOREIGN AND EASIER TO LEARN.  WELL, DURING THIS COURSE, I HAD JOINED A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY HERE IN HOUSTON THROUGH AN EXHIBIT THAT I SAW AT THE HOUSTON DOWNTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY, WHERE MEMBERS HAD ON EXHIBIT THEIR PHOTOGRAPHS THAT HAD AWARDED THEM RIBBONS OF FIRST, SECOND OR THIRD PLACE IN THE 11 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE EXHIBIT.  THE EXHIBIT ALWAYS HELD IN JANUARY EACH YEAR.  ONCE I JOINED, I ENDED UP HAVING 2 OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS EXHIBITED THE FOLLOWING JANUARY AND WAS SO PLEASED IN FULL FILM NOIR PASSION TO BE ABLE TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE BEEN HUNG IN THE HOUSTON DOWNTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY.  PRIOR TO MY PLACING AND BEING HUNG, I FIRST DEFINED THE WORD PHOTOGRAPHY, WHICH LED MY SEEING WITH FRESH EYES.....ALL IMPORTANT TO A PHOTOGRAPHER, IN SEEING THE WORLD AROUND ME AND THE ART THAT I WAS ABLE TO CAPTURE ON FILM.  IT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE, AS FAR AS MY WORK WAS CONCERNED.  MY TALENT TRIPLED TO THE TREE TOPS AND BEYOND!!!  MY PICTURES REFLECTED THIS KNOWLEDGE AND STILL TODAY, I SEE WITH A PERSPECTIVE THAT I WOULD HAVE NEVER HAD, HAD I NOT DEFINED MY STUDY.  THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE.  BY THE WAY, THE DEFINITION OF PHOTOGRAPHY IS :  SIMPLY PUT:  PHOTO IS LIGHT AND GRAPHY IS WRITING.....SO TO DEFINE PHOTOGRAPHY IS SIMPLY PUT:  WRITING WITH LIGHT......AND IN FILM NOIR, IT IS WRITING WITH LIGHT AND AS LITTLE OF IT AS POSSIBLE AND THAT MAKES THE SHADOWS SO COOL AND INVITING AND SO PLEASING, ESPECIALLY IN PURPLE.....THANKS AGAIN.....

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My only comment on this film is that I have not seen it in a very long time and am looking forward to it.

 

It has been a delight to read all of your comments over the past weeks as your perspectives and insights increased my understanding and enjoyment of these films. I also appreciate your "likes" as it let me know that my thoughts were resonating with some of you.

 

I had a blast and want to thank Professor Edwards, Eddie Muller, all of my fellow student and noir buffs and most of all the Studios, Casts and Crews that made these great films. A tip of the hat to a wonderfully dark period in film.

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WOW!!!  I WISH I HAD WRITTEN THIS AND I FEEL I COULD EVEN ADD TO IT BY SAYING THAT ON 99 RIVER STREET I ALMOST GOT ALL WET, BUT WOUND UP BACK AT DINER HAVING COFFEE WITH ALL THE THRONG OF FILMS NOIR, EVERY ACTOR, EVERY MUSICIAN, EVERYONE OF THE WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WHO MADE THESE FILMS...FRITZ LANG ASKED TO SEE MY PHOTOGRAPHY AND Miklos Rozsa'S MUSIC IS PLAYING PURPLE PLEASURE JUST FOR ME.....WHEN THE BELL RANG, IT WAS THE POSTMAN SAYING HE COULDN'T DELIVER MY LETTER BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE AND MY LIFE WAS SPARED ANOTHER DAY TO WATCH YET ANOTHER FILMS NOIR.....HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE, TIP MY FEDORA ONE MORE TIME....I LOVE ROBERT MITCHUM, HATING THAT HE DIES IN A LOT OF HIS BEST MOVIES....TO LIVE TO SEE ONE MORE FILMS NOIR.  THANKS VERY MUCH FOR LETTING ME SHARE....

Diane Dyan Biggs: Thank you for sharing your comments with me. I enjoyed reading them. We could write forever about films noir. It seems there is no end in sight.  Robert Mitchum..he will never be replaced. Speaking of fedoras...I love it that men wore hats!! I am tipping my fedora to you as well and, just maybe, get another cup of coffee!

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Well those two are first rate,  little known noirs.    TCM has shown Cry Danger and since it is an RKO picture they should show it again fairly soon.   While Rhonda Fleming was in a handful of noirs (Out of the Past being the most iconic),  in Cry Danger she has the central women role instead of a secondary part.   Richard Erdman as Powell's sidekick is great in this film.

 

The Prowler is interesting.   Nice to see Van Heflin get the lead male role instead of his typical secondary role,  as well as being such a flawed character and Evelyn Keyes is featured in a part that is almost as good as she was in 99 River Street.   

I absolutely agree, I was lucky enough to see both on the big screen at TCM fest (Cry Danger a few years ago) and both of them at this past Noir City KC.

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-- Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir?

 

The TCM message board gave us the opportunity to discuss the TCM movies we watched every Friday along with the 32 Daily Doses.

 

When discussing the movies, we picked and chose what we though important. We saw a 90 minute film (on average) and we wrote on their themes, story, acting, back story, music, sequences, noir techniques and tools, influence …etc. That was fun and informative but not everyone wrote on the same things.

 

The Daily Doses were different. Here we were assigned a 3 minute clip to view with suggestions on what to focus on. It was in the course of reading through these posts that I learned the most. The range of ideas that came from these short clips seemed unlimited. Sometimes late at night, I would read posts that were just as fresh as the earlier ones. At times, posts a week or two later had the same effect.

 

My Favorite Daily Dose in terms of the clips as is were in numerical order:

7. Ministry of Fear, 10. The Killers, 16. The Third Man, 23. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,  and 30. Desperate.

 

Of the films I’ve watched thus far this summer, the two that made the biggest impact in terms of What is Film Noir are Detour and The Lady From Shanghai.

 

The Podcast on Detour was invaluable and my favorite moment in the course.

 

The board discussion on The Lady From Shanghai saw a series of back and forth that weekend. I thought of all the films, this one generated the most passionate views and opinions.

 

I will never forget this summer. 

 

Thank you all.

 

Side notes:

I’m disappointed we never saw Riffifi because I have heard so many good things regarding its importance in noir.

 

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In watching this scene, I thought it was an interesting use of the headlights of the car backing into the parking space.  When the headlights illuminated Steve and Anna, they were both startled, as if they had been caught red-handed.  We can see early on what the plot will be as Anna re-enters the party where her husband, Mr. Dundee, is looking for her.  Another noir technique: rapid-fire dialogue, as he questions where she'd been and she fires right back at him with quick but vague answers.  

I think that in this scene I've discovered what may be one of my favorite lines, ever.  It is spoken by the maitre'd (Waxie?) after Mr. Dundee leaves the room: "This rotten line of work, the rotten class of people you have to put up with."  Ain't it the truth.  I'm really looking forward to seeing Criss Cross and the other Daily Dose films tomorrow.

 

Watching the Daily Doses every week whetted my appetite to see the featured films in their entirety.  In most cases I wasn't disappointed, in others I could see why they were considered "B" films.  I think I had more fun just being immersed in the plots and being entertained than in analyzing techniques or other elements in the making of each film.  But isn't that the point?!

 

Thanks Professor Edwards, TCM, Canvas, Ball State University, Dr. Muller, and anyone else involved in the development and execution of this course whom I may have forgotten.  The tremendous amount of work you've all put into this course was worth it.  I've had a great time.

 

Even though there's no such thing as "the perfect crime", this was one "heist" that may go unsolved for decades to come!  

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There's just something about the way Lancaster suffers that makes him ideal for film noir. He looks young and old at the same time, naively earnest in his clipped speech and tortured and weary in his slow grimaces. 

 

And where he provides the suffering, Yvonne De Carlo gives us all the stunning style we could ever want. Who wouldn't kill for the opportunity to suffer in her presence?

 

These daily doses have been the highlight of  the course for me. I've fallen in love with the TCM message boards this  summer, and I look forward to hanging out there some more.

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CRISS CROSS opening sequence - we fly over the northern part of downtown LA with iconic City Hall and descend somewhere in what's probaly the former Bunker Hill area, now gone but a lot of noir scenes were set there, often featuring the funicular tram known as Angel's Flight we see in ACT OF VIOLENCE and in KISS ME DEADLY, where, if I remember correctly, the opera fan lives in one of the wooden houses that lined its inclined track.

 

It's night, and underscoring the darkness is another thrilling score by Miklos Rozsa whose noir credits are long: DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE KILLERS, THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS, BRUTE FORCE, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, just to name the ones in the Summer of Darkness lineup.

 

We drop in on an intense, secret lovers' meeting in a parking lot, hiding between the cars. The furtiveness and desparation of Steve and Anna's rendezvous places us straight into noir territory. We gather that Steve's engaging in a dangerous heist which'll force them to stay apart a while and suppress their need for each other's company, and furthermore that Anna is trying to evade a domineering husband. Even without knowing the movie, something in Steve and Anna's demeanor says that their future happiness is far from certain. Steve shows vulnerability, Anne may be concealing something. Great acting from Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo.

 

Inside the club, Slim Dundee, Dan Duryea at his most reptilian, is immeditaley identifiable as Anna's husband and the cause of her troubles. Again we have a low camera angle to make him appear imposing. Great evasive sparring in their dialogue and additional spice from the maitre d's jaded observations, as already wonderfully stated in other posts.

 

---

 

The DAILY DOSES OF DARKNESS have been a superb learning tool. Alot of what I learned came from the Doses. I sharpened my viewing skills, learning to spot the filmmaking techniques used in a clip and how they serve the story and themes. And how the themes are conveyed through dialogue and acting. Most importantly, with practice comes the ability to pick up on these elements without over-analyzing and thus losing the entertainment value of the movie - indeed, enjoyment is enhanced by gaining a deeper understanding of how all the parts work together!

 

And not to forget the immeasurable benefit of reading everyone's posts and sharing our thoughts here in the forum. Huge thanks to Prof. Edwards, TCM, and all fellow posters for the time and effort put into making this class such a pleasurable learning experience!

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– Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance.

 

Criss Cross begins with long aerial take (1 min. 15 sec.) of downtown Los Angeles at night, slowly closing in on the parking lot where the first scene takes place.  The grim Miklós Rózsa score seems to tell us that fate is reaching down to touch the life of someone in that parking lot.

• At this point, I feel that almost any black and white film that was made between 1941 and 1958 and begins with an image of Los Angeles City Hall can be considered film noir.  Think of D.O.A. for example.  The building became a virtual icon of film noir.

• The close-up of Anna Dundee (Yvonne  De Carlo) that begins at 2:24 brings us face to face with a classic femme fatale gazing wide-eyed out of the darkness and luring Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) to a sorry end.

• Anna’s descent into the nightclub exhibits typical film noir cinematography employing deep focus, low-key lighting, low-angle shots, stairs, shadows from chairs and railings, and diagonal lines from the roof beams.

• The smart-mouth repartee between Anna and husband Slim (Dan Duryea )is also typical of the film noir style of dialogue.

• As for substance, we can discern from this opening scene that Anna and Steve have a history together
(“everything that went before”), that Anna is currently cheating on Slim with Steve and is trying to hide the relationship from Slim, and that a complicated caper is to take place in the next 24 hours that is supposed to lead eventually to Anna’s and Steve’s happiness together.  At least that’s what Steve thinks.  I think that hits the bull’s-eye for film noir substance.

• Right after Anna tells Steve, “After it’s done, after it’s all over and we’re safe, it’ll be just and me.  You and me.  The way it should have been all along from the start,” and strokes Steve’s temple (at 2:39), we begin hearing the Latin stylings of Esy Morales and his orchestra coming from the nightclub, and that continues through the rest of the clip.  In so many films noir, Latin America seems to serve as an idealized place where lovers and crooks imagine they can escape and fulfill their frustrated love and/or enjoy their ill-gotten gains in tropical freedom beyond the long arm of the law.  Could that be the implication of the Latin music here?

 

– Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir?

 

The Daily Doses contributed in a major way to my learning about film noir.  They forced me to concentrate on a few minutes of a film with an analytic eye that usually gets lost when I get caught up in watching and enjoying a movie and am unable to keep a critical and analytic eye trained on how the filmmakers created the magic.  And of course, there is the value that comes through being forced to put my thoughts down in writing, which made me grapple with my ideas and way of expressing them.

 

Thank you to Prof. Edwards for his insights and direction of the course and to all of my fellow students.  It has been a great Summer of Darkness!

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The night for night lighting in the outside scenes,  the angles formed by the way the camera cut across the rows of lights, the horizontal and vertical lines of the buildings' architecture, the low key lighting in the parking lot, the way Steve and Anna are hiding in the shadows, all are noir style.  Steve is dressed in regular stree clothes, Anna is dressed to kill (no pun intended).  She is a femme fatale  desparate to be free of her husband and promising Steve anything and everything!  And he looks so lovestruck.  Her inability to stick to the plan of not seeing him and expressing all those anxieties about the rest of the plan spell doom but he doesn't seem to see it.....

 

Despite the differences in lighting and the fact that Steve and Anna are together, this opening reminded me so much of the scene from Elevators to the Gallows.  There's that same furtive quality to their conversation so you know they're up to no good.  And when she says "after it's done, after it's all over and we're safe..." I groaned.  Where have I heard that before!!  It's never going to be safe.  They have already started down the path of destruction.....

 

Slim comes across as a man who considers his wife his property and he wants to know where she is and what she's doing and who she's with at all times.  It's like she's another prize race horse kept in a pasture, as in Out of the Past.  A well kept race horse, judging by that dress and that fur!!  But he is the one ultimately in control...

 

I was surprised when Anna told Slim to shut up and leave her alone.  I half expected him to slap her across the face.  Too many people around?  She'll probably pay for that later.

 

I was also surprised by the indiscretion of the maitre d'.  I wouldn't want Slim to be angry with me.  Regardless of the white dinner jacket, he's no Mr. Nice Guy!!

 

I want to give the second question more thought before I post my answer...

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Well those two are first rate,  little known noirs.    TCM has shown Cry Danger and since it is an RKO picture they should show it again fairly soon.   While Rhonda Fleming was in a handful of noirs (Out of the Past being the most iconic),  in Cry Danger she has the central women role instead of a secondary part.   Richard Erdman as Powell's sidekick is great in this film.

 

The Prowler is interesting.   Nice to see Van Heflin get the lead male role instead of his typical secondary role,  as well as being such a flawed character and Evelyn Keyes is featured in a part that is almost as good as she was in 99 River Street.   

 

CRY DANGER and THE PROWLER - Superb recommendations!

 

Let me add a personal fave: PHANTOM LADY (1944, Universal) - another one directed by Robert Siodmak, one of the German emigres in Hollywood, who directed THE KILLERS and CRISS CROSS. Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, it features Ella Raines as a gutsy female lead who falls neither in the "femme fatale" nor "good girl" category but has elements of both and more, as she descends all alone into dark, dangerous, unladylike places to extract information from inexplicably tight-lipped witnesses to clear her falsely accused employer (and secret crush). It's thick with noir atmosphere and a sense of dread and peril.

 

It's available in the TCM "Dark Crimes" DVD set with THE GLASS KEY and THE BLUE DAHLIA, which are also Universal noirs well worth seeing.

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NOTE OF BEING MORE PERCEPTIVE:  I JUST SCREENED LAURA FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME AND HEARD AND SAW THINGS THAT I MISSED BEFORE....THIS CLASS HAS DEFINITELY HEIGHTENED MY PERCEPTIVE ON FILMS NOIR AND IN LIFE ITSELF.  TRUE STORY:  SOME YEARS BACK I TOOK A STUDY COURSE ON HOW TO STUDY A SUBJECT, ANY SUBJECT.  THE PREMISE BEING THAT ONCE YOU KNOW THE NOMENCLATURE OF A STUDY, FOR INSTANCE IF THE SUBJECT PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU MUST LEARN ALL THE WORDS AND SYMBOLS THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHY.  ONCE YOU HAVE MASTERED THE NOMENCLATURE, THE STUDY BECOMES LESS FOREIGN AND EASIER TO LEARN.  WELL, DURING THIS COURSE, I HAD JOINED A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY HERE IN HOUSTON THROUGH AN EXHIBIT THAT I SAW AT THE HOUSTON DOWNTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY, WHERE MEMBERS HAD ON EXHIBIT THEIR PHOTOGRAPHS THAT HAD AWARDED THEM RIBBONS OF FIRST, SECOND OR THIRD PLACE IN THE 11 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE EXHIBIT.  THE EXHIBIT ALWAYS HELD IN JANUARY EACH YEAR.  ONCE I JOINED, I ENDED UP HAVING 2 OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS EXHIBITED THE FOLLOWING JANUARY AND WAS SO PLEASED IN FULL FILM NOIR PASSION TO BE ABLE TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE BEEN HUNG IN THE HOUSTON DOWNTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY.  PRIOR TO MY PLACING AND BEING HUNG, I FIRST DEFINED THE WORD PHOTOGRAPHY, WHICH LED MY SEEING WITH FRESH EYES.....ALL IMPORTANT TO A PHOTOGRAPHER, IN SEEING THE WORLD AROUND ME AND THE ART THAT I WAS ABLE TO CAPTURE ON FILM.  IT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE, AS FAR AS MY WORK WAS CONCERNED.  MY TALENT TRIPLED TO THE TREE TOPS AND BEYOND!!!  MY PICTURES REFLECTED THIS KNOWLEDGE AND STILL TODAY, I SEE WITH A PERSPECTIVE THAT I WOULD HAVE NEVER HAD, HAD I NOT DEFINED MY STUDY.  THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE.  BY THE WAY, THE DEFINITION OF PHOTOGRAPHY IS :  SIMPLY PUT:  PHOTO IS LIGHT AND GRAPHY IS WRITING.....SO TO DEFINE PHOTOGRAPHY IS SIMPLY PUT:  WRITING WITH LIGHT......AND IN FILM NOIR, IT IS WRITING WITH LIGHT AND AS LITTLE OF IT AS POSSIBLE AND THAT MAKES THE SHADOWS SO COOL AND INVITING AND SO PLEASING, ESPECIALLY IN PURPLE.....THANKS AGAIN.....

 

Diane –

     You might be interested in the title my new hero John Alton (Raw Deal, Mystery Street, Border Incident, Hollow Triumph, The People Against O'Hara) chose for his 1949 treatise on cinematography:  Painting With Light.  It's still in print and available from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520275845?colid=2Q2KSQYD3QMJ0&coliid=I14HEW77M1QG03&ref_=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl

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Reflections on the Daily Doses

 

When I started the course, I really knew nothing about films noir.  Because of the Daily Doses, I've been taught how a story is told in a particular way through lighting, use of shadows, camera angles, staging, dialog, music (or lack of it), what is seen and what is left to the imagination..... I've learned how to look for hidden meanings in scenes.  And I've learned just how wide ranging films noir can be, from the hard boiled detective story of The Big Sleep to a psychological film like The Hitchhiker.  And then there are the heist films....

 

At first, I struggled to answer the discussion questions.  But because of the daily "practice" provided by the Doses, my interpretive skills were sharpened and I was more easily able to participate in the discussions. The Doses provided me with a slow but sure, step by step way of creating a basic knowledge base that I can continue to build on with additional viewing and reading in the future.

 

The Doses also hooked me into watching films that I would have ordinarily "passed" on, enabling me to have God knows how many hours of movie viewing that were instructive, intriguing and fun!!

 

For me, the Daily Doses were a great way to learn!!  I am going to miss them!!

 

 

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Our last Daily Dose!  No, I don’t want to leave Noir Country!

 

Before this course, I always associated Miklos Rózsa with his scores for biblical epics.  His scores for films noir have been amazing, though, setting the dark, foreboding mood and complementing the action.  Criss Cross is a perfect film to end the course on.  It has all the elements we’ve come to associate with film noir: night, an urban setting, forbidden lovers, secrets, a troubled past, a plot, a controlling boyfriend.  Yvonne De Carlo as Anna is fascinating in this clip, tender and soft with Steve and firm and resentful to Slim.  She holds her ground when Slim aggressively questions her.  She knows that he suspects something, but she will not yield to him.  Of course, in true noir fashion, there will be several twists and turns along the way, and the title suggests the characters will double-cross each other before the film is over.

 

I have learned so much from this course, and it’s been a treat reading the thoughts of other people on this board.  The Daily Doses were wonder teasers that got me excited for the films on Friday.  These nine weeks have definitely deepened my understanding and appreciation for film noir, and the time period these films were made in.  So often in history, the post-war period and the 50s are ignored or derided as “boring”, but so much was happening, and these films reflect the attitudes and atmosphere of those times.  Thank you, Professor Edwards, for your insightful lectures and commentary, thank you TCM for putting Summer of Darkness together, and thank you to my fellow classmates for your great posts!

I second everything said here! :)

 

I love film noir and this course has definitely deepened my understanding.

 

Thank you so much for providing the course!

 

Never, never leave Noir Country! :)

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I second everything said here! :)

 

I love film noir and this course has definitely deepened my understanding.

 

Thank you so much for providing the course!

 

Never, never leave Noir Country! :)

The great thing about Noir Country is, you never can leave!  (Just ask the Swede!)

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Daily Dose of Darkness #32: Over Now

(Opening Scene from Criss Cross)

 

• Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance.

Of all the clips that we have seen, this one was like watching a series of paintings. The aerial shot behind the credits was spectacular for its blacks, whites, lights, and all its shades of gray. The fly-in wasn’t exactly smooth, but who cares with a cityscape made to look this gorgeous? Let’s blame 1940s technology! When the camera gets closer to the parking lot, the scene cuts to the gleaming cars lined like a series of dark and white chocolate candies in a box. The dramatic music tells me this isn’t going to end well. But then I knew that as soon as I saw Dan Duryea’s name! And then we see Yvonne DeCarlo and Burt Lancaster embracing and hiding out in the parking lot proclaiming their undying love for one another. The close-up of DeCarlo (the femme fatale—I would bet money and chocolate on this guess) was especially effective, I thought. She talks right to the camera and tries to convince the viewers, too.

• Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir?

I enjoyed analyzing the Daily Doses and applying what I learned in the readings and lectures. It was a bit more difficult at the beginning, of course, but I enjoy analyzing film, literature—I’m one to examine and make connections. And it got easier as the course went on and I learned more about film noir in particular. And it was great to see what others thought, too. Thank you for providing the Daily Dose of Darkness clips and the forum on TCM to discuss them.

• I’m sorry this is our last Daily Dose!

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This film epitomized film noir with its right out of the gate intensity. The passion and also danger you sense is profound. In a darkened parking lot, two lovers meet at the risk of being caught. Move to the interior of the club with the controlling and untrusting husband. It all feels like the world is about to end, encased in shadows an seduction. I love film noir. This class has helped me appreciate the important part that film noir plays in the history of film. It brought an intensity and precision to film technique that has inpired generations of filmmakers.

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Our class may be over but our investigation into the dark vast depths of cinema will continue in our search for clues and tell-tale signs of film noir!  

 

Also many thanks to Eddie Muller and the gang of co-conspirators at TCM for helping make this such a classy learning experience, as I failed to mention them in my earlier post, Thank you!!!!  

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Criss Cross is a great film… noir elements we can notice in the beginning, the excellent background music, the darkness, while the camera is slowly approaching the protagonists, who are suddenly illuminated by the headlight of a car, hence we see their faces and hear their dialogue, she worried.  The next scene presents an excellent archetypal film noir actor...

Concerned dialogues in the dark, something that will take place, a third in discord... Great start to a great film noir...

The Daily dose of Noir allowed us, day by day, delving into the issue with concrete examples, which facilitated greatly the learning. They also motivated us to go back to see our favorite movies, and many others, with a more analytical eye, and enjoy all of them.

 THANK YOU, SO MUCH!!!!!

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I'm so sad!  This is the last Daily Dose!  I came into this course knowing very little about film noir, except that I loved the clothing and that they weren't sappy movies.  In this clip, it piques the interest because you see the two lovers in the parking lot, then find out that she's married to the jerk owner, and while you hope that something happens to him, you realize that something WILL, but that the lovers will end up with the same fate.  Love, love, LOVED the head waiter and his snippy responses.

Also, with watching "Face-Off" on SyFy, and now watching some of the movies from the film noir collection, I can see where the Westmore name got started in Hollywood.

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CRY DANGER and THE PROWLER - Superb recommendations!

 

Let me add a personal fave: PHANTOM LADY (1944, Universal) - another one directed by Robert Siodmak, one of the German emigres in Hollywood, who directed THE KILLERS and CRISS CROSS. Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, it features Ella Raines as a gutsy female lead who falls neither in the "femme fatale" nor "good girl" category but has elements of both and more, as she descends all alone into dark, dangerous, unladylike places to extract information from inexplicably tight-lipped witnesses to clear her falsely accused employer (and secret crush). It's thick with noir atmosphere and a sense of dread and peril.

 

It's available in the TCM "Dark Crimes" DVD set with THE GLASS KEY and THE BLUE DAHLIA, which are also Universal noirs well worth seeing.

 

Being a jazz musician I'm very aware of Phantom Lady,  an early noir.   Elisha Cook Jr. is really out there as a jazz drummer who gets in over his head.       FYI:  The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia are Paramount films.    Alan Ladd was under contract with Paramount at the start of his career and therefore his noir films are from that studio.    I highly recommend the 1948 film Chicago Deadline with Ladd, Arthur Kennedy and in unique role for her Donna Reed (well maybe not so unique given her role in From Here to Eternity but much different from her TV show).

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- Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance.

 

Driving, urgent music accompanies the appearance of the Universal International logo and continues as we see a documentary style aerial shot of Los Angeles City hall. It's the city, the big city (not the anonymous small midwestern city) it's night for night and the city hall dominates a maze of streetlights. 

 

Cut to a parking lot and passing cars weave in front of us revealing two people kissing.  They talk as passionately as they kiss.  The woman is fearful and the may tries to comfort her but he is equally or more fearful.  In extreme closeup Yvonne DeCarlo let's us know they have a past, but this desperate act will help them erase the past.  We know how that will turn out.

 

Cut to the always great Dan Duryea in the nightclub.  He's giving the third degree to the maitre d' regarding the whereabouts of his wife.  The contrast between Lancaster and Duryea is extreme.  Lancaster is a more casual man of the street.  Duryea is a slick haired glowing well groomed sadist.

 

Night, desperation, adultery, the regular guy vs the sharpie and an impending crime.  All the right ingredients.

 

-- Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir?

 

​I gained a great deal from the Daily Doses.  By watching only 3 minutes of film I was able to view the samples multiple times, take notes and apply the lessons.  It also gave me an introduction to many films noir I'd never seen.  I'll look forward to viewing them in full.

 

Thanks, Professor Edwards, for your hard work and enthusiasm curating these films and teaching the course.

 

 

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  Looking forward to 2pm today.  Thank you all on the message boards for all the information and insights to these great films.  I learned a great deal from the discussions and mostly the take away was that we all share the love of this art form, and to know that you are not the only crazy that love these films makes it truly special.  

 

  I was wondering if you(all message board contributors)  could name one movie that wasn't shown during this summer that you feel is one that was missed, so that i could watch them or look for them.  I noticed that pickup on south street, wasn't shown but mentioned, so that one would be a great one to add, but i will add "life at stake" a b movie that i liked.  

 

 Many thanks again to all.............................

One of my favorites is The Dark Corner starring . . . [drum roll] . . . Lucille Ball, of I Love Lucy fame. She's another example of Eddie Muller's contention that the working woman in postwar America holds it all together. Even friends and family members who swear they don't like film noir or even movies at all (I know, but what can I do?!) love this movie. I've seen it several times and it never disappoints.

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Let me add a personal fave: PHANTOM LADY (1944, Universal) -  features Ella Raines as a gutsy female lead who falls neither in the "femme fatale" nor "good girl" category but has elements of both and more, as she descends all alone into dark, dangerous, unladylike places to extract information from inexplicably tight-lipped witnesses to clear her falsely accused employer (and secret crush).

That description reminded me of "The Dark Corner" with Lucille Ball and Mark Stevens.  Mark Stevens starred in quite a few films noir.  He's one of my favorite "B" movie actors.

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