Dr. Rich Edwards

July 31 Film Discussion for #NoirSummer for all 13 Films

157 posts in this topic

I see your point about television helping save the day, but on the other hand, it was also portrayed as a 5,000 volt killer.

I agree with the point you make as well.

 

Upon re-reading my words: 

 

In Daily Dose #24 (Opening scene from 99 River Street) the curator mentioned, “. . . Phil Karlson [possibly] commenting on the limitations of television in the 1950s." Here the director may be suggesting the opposite- that television has no limits and is a legitimate source of entertainment.

 

I see that I may have left an impression that I disagreed with the curator’s assessment. To clarify, my thoughts were that Suddenly director, Lewis Allen, might be suggesting (not the opposite) but rather that a change was occurring wherein television was being viewed in a more positive light.  

 

Still, it remains a 5,000 volt killer

 

I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

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The Asphalt Jungle:

Black and White Cinematography Makes “Blind Accident” Gorgeous

 

Doc Riedenschneider repeats, using a slightly different phrase, what could be said and has been said about the role of fate in film noir in general: “Blind accident. What can you do against blind accident?” The cinematography, by Harold Rosson, is wonderful in The Asphalt Jungle. And it seems to accentuate the twists and turns of blind accident for all the major characters in the film.

 

During and after the credits, the camera does a slow pan of cobblestones and pavement; it seems to be almost at ground level. The police car approaches starting on the left-hand side of the screen in the distance and moves slowly along the street, still in the distance. The rest of the opening sequence is even more spectacular on a second viewing (we saw it the first time in the Daily Dose). On second viewing, I could pick out more details: litter, dirty pillars, rubble, an old brick façade, wires criss-crossing the sky. Later in the movie, several nighttime shots show black cars gleaming under streetlights; they were like paintings.

 

Depth of focus is used to great advantage in this movie. Some sequences start with a long shot, and the camera either moves in closer or cutting to the next shot has the camera in closer. Two examples:

• Emmerich going down the stairs to talk to the detectives: The detectives look up at the camera, at Emmerich, as he approaches.

• The cab driver comes in to the police commissioner’s office to report his sighting of Doc Riedenschneider: At first he is in the background, but he moves closer, into a medium shot, to tell his story.

 

Dix looks out the jeweler’s window several times, and each shot could be a painting of a street scene in any Midwest town. He sees people walking along the street, as though it were any other night. After the alarms go off, the point of view and the street scenes change. Now it is viewer who sees police cars moving toward the center of the screen and pedestrians walking in toward the center. The cars, the pedestrians, and the viewer’s eye are moving in on the center of the crime scene—and the bank heist participants are being hemmed in by the law.

 

Dix is the only one who seems to form close bonds with others in the film. Reidenschneider and Dix become close, even though their heist unravels and they have to go their separate ways. Dix doesn’t even accept a single jewel, neither does Doll, after Reidenschneider decides to go on the run. Dix is also close to Gus; the viewer sees that in his visits to Gus’s café at the start of the film. Dix and Doll seem to share some affection, although Dix seems almost oblivious at times about it; his first love is horses.

 

Another great ending: Dix gets what he wants. He makes it out of the asphalt jungle and returns to Hickorywood Farm.  But his gunshot wound is worsening and he collapses in a field. The final shot of the horses around him and Doll running toward the farmhouse in the distance was both pastoral and sad. In spite of his menacing demeanor and his crime spree, I could see why Doll fell for Dix. I think that was the filmmakers’ intention.

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

 

I've decided that I probably fall into the camp that would define Noir in a rather more narrow way than some of the TCM programmers who set out the 120 films included in the course. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was an entertaining film, for sure, but in my humble opinion not a Noir. There were few of the signs we've come to expect to tell us that that's what we're watching. The lighting was even, the composition traditional, there were very few night scenes, no narrative voice-over, no flashback, no femme fatale, no private dick, no existential angst, no greed, and the good guy it transpires wasn't even good and therefore got what he deserves. So, if there is no evidence of Noir, then what makes others say it is one? 

 

I've come to the conclusion that if it's a Fritz Lang movie made during a certain time then it's automatically seen as "Noir", but that seems restricting to Lang as a director as to me as a viewer: I wonder if Lang thought he was making a Noir or simply a Thriller? 

 

Anyway, saying all this, I did enjoy the film! 

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

 

I've decided that I probably fall into the camp that would define Noir in a rather more narrow way than some of the TCM programmers who set out the 120 films included in the course. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was an entertaining film, for sure, but in my humble opinion not a Noir. There were few of the signs we've come to expect to tell us that that's what we're watching. The lighting was even, the composition traditional, there were very few night scenes, no narrative voice-over, no flashback, no femme fatale, no private dick, no existential angst, no greed, and the good guy it transpires wasn't even good and therefore got what he deserves. So, if there is no evidence of Noir, then what makes others say it is one? 

 

I've come to the conclusion that if it's a Fritz Lang movie made during a certain time then it's automatically seen as "Noir", but that seems restricting to Lang as a director as to me as a viewer: I wonder if Lang thought he was making a Noir or simply a Thriller? 

 

Anyway, saying all this, I did enjoy the film! 

 

Well a Fritz Lang movie with Dana Andrews has to be a noir!      

 

While the film does lack most of the standard noir conventions as well as visuals,  the dark aspect of the film is in the Andrews' character Tom;   there is a coldness and sterility to his character.    But otherwise this being Lang's last American film, and being late in the cycle,  it ends up falling outside the cycle.    

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All of Fritz Lang´s films are very good... I like them  so much, but my favourite  is The asphalt Jungle.....

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All of Fritz Lang´s films are very good... I like them  so much, but my favourite  is The asphalt Jungle.....

 

The Asphalt Jungle is a John Huston film.

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The Asphalt Jungle is a John Huston film.

of course!!!   Thanks for the clarification! I was referring the films on the list, as had several of Lang in the list, I appointed him.

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The Asphalt Jungle:

Black and White Cinematography Makes “Blind Accident” Gorgeous

 

Doc Riedenschneider repeats, using a slightly different phrase, what could be said and has been said about the role of fate in film noir in general: “Blind accident. What can you do against blind accident?” The cinematography, by Harold Rosson, is wonderful in The Asphalt Jungle. And it seems to accentuate the twists and turns of blind accident for all the major characters in the film.

 

During and after the credits, the camera does a slow pan of cobblestones and pavement; it seems to be almost at ground level. The police car approaches starting on the left-hand side of the screen in the distance and moves slowly along the street, still in the distance. The rest of the opening sequence is even more spectacular on a second viewing (we saw it the first time in the Daily Dose). On second viewing, I could pick out more details: litter, dirty pillars, rubble, an old brick façade, wires criss-crossing the sky. Later in the movie, several nighttime shots show black cars gleaming under streetlights; they were like paintings.

 

Depth of focus is used to great advantage in this movie. Some sequences start with a long shot, and the camera either moves in closer or cutting to the next shot has the camera in closer. Two examples:

• Emmerich going down the stairs to talk to the detectives: The detectives look up at the camera, at Emmerich, as he approaches.

• The cab driver comes in to the police commissioner’s office to report his sighting of Doc Riedenschneider: At first he is in the background, but he moves closer, into a medium shot, to tell his story.

 

Dix looks out the jeweler’s window several times, and each shot could be a painting of a street scene in any Midwest town. He sees people walking along the street, as though it were any other night. After the alarms go off, the point of view and the street scenes change. Now it is viewer who sees police cars moving toward the center of the screen and pedestrians walking in toward the center. The cars, the pedestrians, and the viewer’s eye are moving in on the center of the crime scene—and the bank heist participants are being hemmed in by the law.

 

Dix is the only one who seems to form close bonds with others in the film. Reidenschneider and Dix become close, even though their heist unravels and they have to go their separate ways. Dix doesn’t even accept a single jewel, neither does Doll, after Reidenschneider decides to go on the run. Dix is also close to Gus; the viewer sees that in his visits to Gus’s café at the start of the film. Dix and Doll seem to share some affection, although Dix seems almost oblivious at times about it; his first love is horses.

 

Another great ending: Dix gets what he wants. He makes it out of the asphalt jungle and returns to Hickorywood Farm.  But his gunshot wound is worsening and he collapses in a field. The final shot of the horses around him and Doll running toward the farmhouse in the distance was both pastoral and sad. In spite of his menacing demeanor and his crime spree, I could see why Doll fell for Dix. I think that was the filmmakers’ intention.

 

The final of The jungle asphalt with Dix died between horses, is one of my favorite end of the history of the cinema.  The longing of Dix for their homeland in the field, reminiscent of Roy Earle in the High Sierra.  Both films are based on novels of W.R. Burnett

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The Big Heat

 

I have seen this a bunch of times and appreciate this crisp new print.  I like this movie.  Always have.  It's not great, but it's a solid piece of entertainment.  My following comments are just what I saw, and perhaps made me like the movie even more because I liked it in spite of its cheapness!

 

It's amusing how fake everything looks.  The Manhattan backdrop outside of the "penthouse" apartment looked like cardboard with cutouts populated by Christmas Tree lights, the apartment itself looked like it was borrowed from the Perry Mason TV show, the fake wainscoting on the stairwell of the Burton home; the obvious difference between the outside of Ford's house and the makeshift inside.   Columbia spared every expense on this one!  Glenn Ford seemed to like the sound of his breathy voice during his many weary/petulant outbursts, but he was OK and didn't get in the way of the thing.  I loved Gloria Grahame more than usual in this.  There's more I can say, but less is more, but, in the case of this film, less is, well...less!

 

I think there was an inside joke in this.  Although Rita Hayworth was not in this movie, perhaps since Glenn Ford was, and most likely in homage to "Gilda," in "The Retreat" bar scene, just after Lee Marvin burns a blonde Carolyn Jones, and after he exits and Gloria Grahame asks Glenn Ford if she can buy him a drink, the accordion diegetic music in the background switches to "Put the Blame on Mame!"

 

Farewell, Summer of Darkness: "Here's tuning in to you, kid."

 

I too am big fan of The Big Heat (1953) for all its' noir traits, the gritty black & white camera work with sweaty close ups, night for night slick streets, tight editing and an amazing cast.  I liked it so much I would consciously ignore the minor flaws of it being a low budget film and often wondered if Fritz Lang had a bigger budget & another 20-30 minutes screen time to accentuate even more what was already a compelling story...a really good movie could have been an amazingly good movie!  I think most of us agree he was certainly capable.

Has anyone else noticed the similarities in The Big Heat to Rio Bravo (1958)?  Both have the incorruptible lawman, Glenn Ford and John Wayne going up against a sadistic bad guy, Lee Marvin and Claude Atkins, both working for and encouraged by powerful but corrupt rich men, Alexander Scourby (Lagana) and John Russell (Nathan Burdette). John Wayne gets outside help from Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Ward Bond while Glenn Ford gets help from his army buddies. Similarities end there but a theme of honest, honorable men challenging the odds and going up against a corrupt system backed by greed and wealth.     

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Just a comment on The Asphalt Jungle: The scene where Jean Hagen pulls her false eyelash off transforms this movie from the 40's to modern with that one simple gesture. The big fake eyelashes clearly place the character in the 1940s but as soon as she takes the second one off, the look and feel of her role transforms to modern acting. I was really struck by that.

 

You know I felt like Jean Hagen removing her eyelashes was underscoring the fact that she removing any personal facade after entering Sterling Hayden's world, a small dingy apartment, and bearing her soul in desperately asking for help (a place to stay). Breaking down and crying, she had no where else to go, no one else to turn to.  I believe removing her lashes was as naked as she could be. (Take that Hays Commission/censors)!

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The Asphalt Jungle—I have seen this film in the past, but seeing it now.  WOW!  The artistry in this movie in its subtlety and integration is unsurpassed.  And I am not one to hyperbolize, but I will here.  Everywhere I looked in this movie I saw art.  Every shot was intricately framed and lit and blended into the whole; every acting moment landed big time and blended into the whole; every note of music played and blended into the whole.   Not one second of this was off.  Not one thing in this film was “for the sake of” the individual element.  There was not a thing that didn’t belong and every single part fit seamlessly into the fabric of this.  There were flowers growing out of the cracks in this asphalt!  The final shots of the farm and the horses and the clouds took my breath away.  It looked like an Ansel Adams study.  Such texture, such detail from white to black—plus, that too fit into the whole because his memory of it was that it was idyllically beautiful.  And it was.  Louis B. Mayer was an idiot.  “Trash?”  ART!!!  

 

You are so right on with The Asphalt Jungle.  I've seen this film so many times & agreed, it's flawless.  The script is tight, meaningful and justified (no unnecessary rambling). The acting is first rate.  Jean Hegen's emotional breakdown in Dix's room broke my heart.  Likewise Dix's stumbling into "the clean life" of Hickory Farms is also heartbreaking if not fateful.  And it did look like an Ansel Adams landscape.  And on top of that, I too think Louis B. Mayer was an idiot!  

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Suddenly

 

I can’t really say that I enjoyed Suddenly. All of the actors, except maybe Nancy Gates as Ellen Benson and Frank Sinatra as John Baron, seemed a bit stiff to me. The plot was slow, and the film was only 78 minutes long! But I was struck by the talk of World War II, the experience of war, and what it was like to kill and be rewarded for it. This theme seems to start with Pidge’s desire to have a cap gun and his mother’s reluctance to let him begin to learn that violence exists in the world.

 

Tod and Pop Benson give the same speech to Ellen about overprotecting Pidge. They think he should be allowed to have a cap gun and that he should know about injustice and evil in the world so that he will be better prepared to deal with it.

 

Ellen Benson thinks her husband’s death in the war was a waste and says so to her father-in-law. Pop Benson thinks his son would be ashamed that she held this opinion of his willingness to do his duty for his country.

 

John Baron is a veteran and won a Silver Star for killing 27 Japanese. Tod Shaw and John Barron talk about the difference between killing in wartime and in peacetime, about winning a medal and being given the chair. John Baron says that having a gun gives him power. The first time he killed a man, he felt some self-respect. Tod Shaw taunts John when he realizes that John was probably court-martialed.

 

In spite of their differences, John Baron and Tod Shaw can relate to one another because of their war service. They came away with different opinions and views of life as a result of those experiences, but they still share a lot of similarities simply by virtue of what they have seen during war. Their opposing views seem to represent the postwar malaise in the United States and the difficulty in coming to terms with the war.

 

Many of the movies that we have seen for this course involve characters who serve in the armed forces or who have finished their terms of service. Many of these characters make direct reference to their war experiences, and it’s easier now for me to see why this would make fertile ground for film noir. So much of the U.S. population was familiar with war and had direct wartime experience; many were trained to fight and to kill, and then were expected to return to life at home with skills that were not applicable to peacetime.

 

These points were made in the lectures and the readings for Summer of Darkness. Now I’m seeing them played out in many of the films, too. It’s easier and easier to see how deeply the war affected everyone.

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July 31st Discussion for all 13 films.

 

I watched the four primetime entries consecutively. 

 

Criss Cross was a film noir primer of sorts.  It crystallized every element of film noir up to that point in history: lighting, angles, music, story content, type of actors, even music.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see the passion in their relationship (except maybe in the parking lot.)  The scene in the malt shop he was completely adversarial with her and vice versa, and there was nothing to indicate that they each got off on it, a la George and Martha in “….Virginia Woolf.”   And since that should’ve been the heart of the matter, and it wasn’t going on, no soap for me.  I appreciated all the art in it, the photography and all that went with it, but no.  And the one thing that finally cooked its goose for me:  Dan Duryea shot them both multiple times.  It should have been a bloodbath.  When the shot switched.  Nothing.  I know none of the movies of this period used much blood in the shootemup, but come on!  You set something up like that and then show…nothing?  A little blood, a few artful drops even….disbelief willingly unsuspended.  The daily dose promised so much.  This movie spun its wheels very well, but didn’t go anywhere for me.

 

I noticed that Anna and Steve were remarkably bloodless after having just been shot multiple times, but I felt that their final position was meant to be stylized and sculptural rather than a realistic representation of two bodies shot multiple times. I was willing to let it go because, heck, they were staged so well!

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The Big Heat:

Violence and the Postwar Existential Crisis

 

Postwar suburbia and domesticity seem to be nonexistent or threatened in The Big Heat. The Bannion family seems like a loyal, loving trio. They live in their own house in a seemingly nice neighborhood. But nothing and no one is safe in a city or town run by corruption. The movie still shows some lasting effects of the idealism of World War II. For example, Army veteran friends of Dave Bannion’s brother-in-law are protecting Bannion’s daughter. The war is over but they are ready to defend Bannion and to protect what they fought for overseas. One of them even says that the thugs in town wouldn’t dare to go where he has gone while he served in the army.

 

I'm so glad you pointed out this line from Dave's army buddy of how these city thugs wouldn't be able to face the horrors these veterans had dealt with!  Fits with the post war noir film criteria but on top of that helps galvanize the idealist from the corrupt.  When the hoods backed by political power, wealth and muscle cross the line torturing and killing women, threatening children without consequence, it's time for some definite, unrelenting action.    

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I noticed that Anna and Steve were remarkably bloodless after having just been shot multiple times, but I felt that their final position was meant to be stylized and sculptural rather than a realistic representation of two bodies shot multiple times. I was willing to let it go because, heck, they were staged so well!

I agree.  I reacted so strongly because it's a pet peeve of mine with most older movies, not just film noir, but anytime anybody gets shot!   I was harder on this one than I should've been. 

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You are so right on with The Asphalt Jungle.  I've seen this film so many times & agreed, it's flawless.  The script is tight, meaningful and justified (no unnecessary rambling). The acting is first rate.  Jean Hegen's emotional breakdown in Dix's room broke my heart.  Likewise Dix's stumbling into "the clean life" of Hickory Farms is also heartbreaking if not fateful.  And it did look like an Ansel Adams landscape.  And on top of that, I too think Louis B. Mayer was an idiot!  

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and check √

Thanks so much for your comment, and thanks for mentioning Jean Hagen.  She was so versatile.  From Doll to Lina Lamont!  What a dame!

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I'm so glad you pointed out this line from Dave's army buddy of how these city thugs wouldn't be able to face the horrors these veterans had dealt with!  Fits with the post war noir film criteria but on top of that helps galvanize the idealist from the corrupt.  When the hoods backed by political power, wealth and muscle cross the line torturing and killing women, threatening children without consequence, it's time for some definite, unrelenting action.    

It's nice that in this one they present a glimmer of hope.

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The Blue Gardenia

 

If it weren’t for the cheesy ending, The Blue Gardenia would have been a good film noir. It and the short story that inspired it were very loosely based on the case of the Black Dahlia, I believe. The film had the newspaper reporter looking for a lurid story and people confessing to a crime that they didn’t commit and didn’t know anything about, which is true of the Black Dahlia’s case, too. Nothing should have gone wrong with this beginning.

 

Then we have the nefarious Harry Prebble, who probably put something in the coffee that he served to Norah after they go to his apartment. Norah drinks it all down, and then starts to confuse Harry with her ex-boyfriend. She starts to kiss Harry, then changes her mind when she realizes who he is. Of course, he doesn’t care what she thinks or who she thinks he is: He’s interested in only one thing.

 

The implication is that he is a serial rapist. The record store clerk is the one who calls him at the beginning of the movie. It can be assumed from her desperate plea that she is pregnant. She tracks him down during his date with Norah to beg him to marry her and set things right. He’s cold and indifferent toward her, and she is the one who kills him.

 

But Norah loses consciousness. The film fades to swirling water, out-of-focus camerawork, and I think another lens that passes over the camera lens a few times. Norah thinks she broke the mirror with the poker. She’s upset the next morning when she sees her reflection in her bathroom mirror and when someone in her workplace drops and breaks a makeup mirror.

 

The sequence when Norah goes to the newspaper office to meet Casey Mayo is just fantastic. First, there is the long shot of Norah stepping out of the elevator and coming into the newspaper office. Then there is the medium shot of her walking through the desks in the dark and the camera panning to follow (stalk?) her. The flashing “CHRONICLE” sign alternately lights the way and leaves her in darkness. Casey Mayo calls out to her and scares her.

 

The serial rapist, the spurned pregnant lover, Norah’s loss of consciousness and loss of memory, the camera work showing Norah’s confusion and her fear—all of this made the movie so strong. But then there is that cheesy, cheesy ending—and it ruined it for me.

 

Boy #1 gets girl (he’s so sure of it!). So Boy #1 tosses his black book of women’s names to Boy #2. Boy #2 hasn’t even met any of these girls, but he doesn’t care (and who cares what the girls think?). Boy #1 and Boy #2 go off into two separate sunsets. Puh-leeze.

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I agree.  I reacted so strongly because it's a pet peeve of mine with most older movies, not just film noir, but anytime anybody gets shot!   I was harder on this one than I should've been. 

 

I don't know of many films...even dating back to the Silent Era and well into the Forties ...that showed a lot of blood, period, so I'm not sure one can lay the blame on the Code during the classic noir period.   The same held true for Westerns and Horror films.  

 

It may have been the introduction of color Technicolor and the transition to color film in general, during the Fifties, and the fascination with depicting life...and death and violence...in vibrant color that made a point of showing what was previously implied, suggested or left entirely to the imagination.  Color Westerns of the Fifties begin to show more of it, and Hammer's embrace of color in Horror films of the late Fifties/Early Sixties celebrated bloodletting in myriad forms.  

 

But does color make violence more violent, more shocking?   Would Capt. Munsey's beating of Sam Levine in Brute Force or Raymond Burr's beating of Steve Brodie in Desperate more savage and brutal?   Did color make Gus Van Sant's remake of the shower scene in Psycho more shocking?  

 

I think not.   In ways, I think color makes many of the cornerstone devices and techniques associated with noir more difficult to achieve and sustain.   When we see a black & white film, do we really see it in black & white, or do we 'see' color...impose our own palette...on a world that has none...much as I suspect we interject sound in our minds when watching silent films.  

 

Perhaps the deeper question is: while our 'eye' may impose some elements of color into and onto a B&W film when we watch it, does quite the opposite happen in our mind?    Do we accept the B&W drama we see on screen in almost Zoroastrian terms, a black and white and light and dark world of stark contrasts and sharp delineations, of strictly good-vs-evil, right-vs-wrong, where the decisions characters make are clear and obvious even if the motives and reasons for them are not?  

 

Today, color is everywhere, on every screen in a world inundated by them, but the way color's used is meant more to conceal than to reveal.  Color tricks, lures and hypnotizes us, it shocks and disgusts us, but does it tell us anything, really?    Color seems almost artificial now, there for it's own sake, brighter, bolder, more vibrant than anything found in nature; a tool there to both amuse us and distract us from what's really important.  Today color is used to obscure the absence of meaningful substance.      

 

That seems to be the opposite end of the telescope from what noir in general was showing and telling us way back when, and perhaps that's part of the reason noir still resonates for many of us today.  

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I Died a Thousand Times

 

It's a strange movie this: a scene-by-scene remake of 1941's High Sierra, starring Jack Palance in the Bogart role and Shelley Winters in Ida Lupino's shoes. I don't really understand the need for the film, or the point of making it. I mean, Psycho was remade 38 years after the original, and I could just about understand it: updating it for a modern day audience but changing very little else, but why this film was remade, I have no clue...the Pa character's family (and old jalopy) must have made some sense in 1941 as people heading west after the depression, but in 1955 they must have seen as hick anachronisms to the audience.

 

And where on earth did they get that title from, it had nothing to do with the movie as far as I could tell?

 

But in the end I kinda enjoyed it, just as I kinda enjoyed High Sierra, and it was terrific to see the 1950s brought into glorious Technicolor life: I loved the teale-blue of Jack Palance's car (I never knew that such colors were available in automobiles back in the day!) and the vivid blood-red of Velma's dress as she danced on her newly fixed pins. Actually, that begs a question about both films: just how long were that crew holed up in the hills for Velma to have her operation, recuperate and then get to dancing so well??

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You made some interesting points. The one that really struck me was the one I highlighted below. When I saw The Killers, and the insurance investigator played by Edmond O'Brien meets Ava Gardner at a club called The Green Cat, I could have sworn the statue at the front of the shot was . . . green! But, of course, it could have been any color. Maybe watching black and white film is few steps away from reading: We get to picture what we want when we read, and we get to color a movie the way we want when we see it in black and white.

 


From a post by VanHazard (for some reason the "Quote" function didn't work): I think not.   In ways, I think color makes many of the cornerstone devices and techniques associated with noir more difficult to achieve and sustain.   When we see a black & white film, do we really see it in black & white, or do we 'see' color...impose our own palette...on a world that has none...much as I suspect we interject sound in our minds when watching silent films.  
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It's nice that in this one they present a glimmer of hope.

 

True!  A light at the end of the tunnel (the movie) that wasn't an oncoming freight train!  :  )

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The Big Heat

 

I loved this movie. I've had some doubts about Fritz Lang movies being seemingly inevitably labelled as "Noir", irrespective of what he made, but not this one: you'll not hear any quibbles from me! 

 

The cast was terrific throughout. I'm generally not a fan of Glenn Ford, I find his chipmonk-like everyman face never convinces when it comes to hard man roles, but I liked his character and growling demeanor here. I liked too that they gave him a fairly convincingly normal home and family life, which made his single-minded drive for revenge even more believable. That steak his wife prepared made my stomach growl! 

 

Gloria Grahame was terrific in her scenes and the scene when she takes her revenge on Lee Marvin's character is, for me, the best moment in the entire movie. I find it hard to believe that (as someone on the TCM forum pointed out) she was only a femme fatale in one movie, she is such a terrific Noir actress. 

 

If I had time I could write a lot more but I'll end with something I noted with surprise: Grahame's character says she takes no notice when her man talks business but instead goes and gets her legs waxed. Nothing wrong with that, I was just surprised such things happened in 1953! Well, perhaps in Hollywoodland, but I'm 100% certain that nothing ever as fancy (decadent?) as waxing ever happened in England, my homeland!! 

 

 

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The Big Heat

 

I loved this movie. I've had some doubts about Fritz Lang movies being seemingly inevitably labelled as "Noir", irrespective of what he made, but not this one: you'll not hear any quibbles from me! 

 

The cast was terrific throughout. I'm generally not a fan of Glenn Ford, I find his chipmonk-like everyman face never convinces when it comes to hard man roles, but I liked his character and growling demeanor here. I liked too that they gave him a fairly convincingly normal home and family life, which made his single-minded drive for revenge even more believable. That steak his wife prepared made my stomach growl! 

 

Gloria Grahame was terrific in her scenes and the scene when she takes her revenge on Lee Marvin's character is, for me, the best moment in the entire movie. I find it hard to believe that (as someone on the TCM forum pointed out) she was only a femme fatale in one movie, she is such a terrific Noir actress. 

 

If I had time I could write a lot more but I'll end with something I noted with surprise: Grahame's character says she takes no notice when her man talks business but instead goes and gets her legs waxed. Nothing wrong with that, I was just surprised such things happened in 1953! Well, perhaps in Hollywoodland, but I'm 100% certain that nothing ever as fancy (decadent?) as waxing ever happened in England, my homeland!! 

 

I wonder if you're confusing Gloria Grahame with Audrey Totter based on our prior conversation.   Grahame was the femme fatale in Human Desire,  Odds Against Tomorrow and Sudden Fear.    In Macao and The Big Heat she is more of a gangster moll type. 

 

Anyhow,  The Big Heat is a great noir.   Love that chipmunk comment about Glenn Ford.   

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I wonder if you're confusing Gloria Grahame with Audrey Totter based on our prior conversation.   Grahame was the femme fatale in Human Desire,  Odds Against Tomorrow and Sudden Fear.    In Macao and The Big Heat she is more of a gangster moll type. 

 

Anyhow,  The Big Heat is a great noir.   Love that chipmunk comment about Glenn Ford.   

Ah, yes, that's probably it, for some reason I keep on mixing those two up. Thanks! 

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