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About stargazing

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  1. Speaking of A and B films, something I've always been curious about--which was shown first? I know from my grandfather that there would be news reels, cartoons, shorts etc. before the 2 movies, but I'm guessing the B film was sort of a warm-up act to the main feature A film, is that right?
  2. now that sounds interesting! thanks for the recommendation, I'll have to check it out! :-)
  3. That's a good question. As davecook mentioned, I think generally the presence of big name stars means "A", and less familiar stars mean "B". (But this can be tricky, because sometimes "big name" stars like Bogart started out in B movies early in the career--before they became the big name stars. :-) Eddie Muller shared a really interesting story in the intro to "The Narrow Margin" last night on TCM--he said that after Howard Hughes watched B-film "The Narrow Margin" with Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor, he loved it so much he offered the director an opportunity to re-shoot the whole thing as an A-film with A-stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell--which, long story short, the director turned down, but ultimately led to an A-film opportunity for him. I think also film length can sometimes indicate A or B film? I'm under the impression that generally shorter films fall in the B category, like 60-70+ minutes are B, maybe even around 80 minutes. But I think 90 minutes or more seem to fall in the A category. That's just my own observation. I'd love to see a list of film noir B movies too, hopefully someone can provide a link or website. :-)
  4. Great list of movies, everyone! I haven't seen "The Killers" or "The Third Man" before, but both of them are waiting on my DVR. :-) "The Racket", "Armored Car Robbery", and "The Narrow Margin" are ones I've seen once before, but watched again recently because of Summer of Darkness, so I'd put those on my list of "new" favorites too. After watching "The Narrow Margin" again, that might go on my list of all-time favorite noirs. It's just so amazing. Aside from "new" favorite movies, I'd also have to add Charles McGraw as a new favorite actor. I didn't really know who he was until I started watching some of these again and started recognizing him as "hey! it's that guy!" in "Side Street", "Armored Car Robbery", "Berlin Express", and "The Narrow Margin." He'll probably show up in a few more movies before my Summer of Darkness DVR viewing is done, lol.
  5. I think it's significant that shortly after he says, "without your voice, I'd be lost in a land of silence", their conversation fades away into silence and we can't hear what they're saying anymore, only the jazz intro. And wow! We start with a SUPER close-up of the woman's face, only to keep pulling back to the exterior of the building, interesting technique. And any time anyone in a film noir says something like "we have to (fill in the blank--murder, embezzle, steal, etc)--because then we'll be free", you just KNOW things aren't going to work out. There's this dark twisted irony that the characters think committing a crime will lead to freedom, only it leads to their own doom and destruction.
  6. Since both the Summer of Darkness TCM special and class are winding down, I was thinking about what "new" noir favorites I've discovered over the past two months. So far, I think "Deadline at Dawn" and "Berlin Express" (the on site filming of post-WWII Europe is unbelievable!) are my two new faves. I also really enjoyed James Garner in "Marlowe" (I'm a Garner/Rockford Files fan, and the cameo Bruce Lee appearance was a huge bonus--his scene in the office is epic!). I have LOTS more noirs stored up on DVR that I will be watching over the next few weeks, so probably more will be found. :-) What are some of your new favorites discovered through Summer of Darkness?
  7. Great topic! I grew up watching the old Perry Mason reruns on TV, that's probably why I'm a fan of classic TV & movies today. :-) As far as other noir-inspired TV shows, one of my favorites is Peter Gunn. It's a pretty good example of the classic private eye, and he's tough but sophisticated (plus the show has a sweet soundtrack too!). Besides Hawaii 5-0, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones, I also like Mannix and The Rockford Files. I once read that Mannix is a more glamorized view of the private eye--he's well-dressed, has a cool car, swanky apartment, and an exciting life. Jim Rockford, on the other hand, portrays a more realistic look at life as a private eye. He sets his own hours, works out of his trailer on the beach, and isn't exactly raking in the big bucks. I just remembered that several TV shows, like Mannix and Magnum P.I., had "Laura" inspired episodes. One more example of detective TV shows taking inspiration from classic film noir. :-)
  8. One of the things I noticed about the intro in today's Daily Dose is that there is no music during the credits/opening scene...only the sounds of the train and the station. Music is so important in setting the stage--especially during the credits/opening scene, when you can usually tell what kind of movie it will be just by the opening music. So it must be rather significant that there is no music here. Is this one of the changes in film noir that happened in the 50s? "The Narrow Margin" is one of my "new" favorites--I hadn't heard of it until Ben Mankiewicz recommended it as his pick of the month in the TCM guide a year or two ago. I checked it out and really enjoyed it and am looking forward to watching it again. Plus it contains one of my all-time favorite lines: "She's the sixty cent special. Cheap. Flashy. Sticky poison under the gravy." lol. So noir.
  9. I've been thinking about the philosophical angle, and I'm not sure existentialism is the only--or maybe even the most prevalent--philosophy found in film noir. Actually, I think stoicism is more in line with film noir philosophy. Stoicism believes you can't control your fate, you can only control your reaction to it. I think the Swede from The Killers would demonstrate the stoic approach of accepting his fate (maybe even to a fatalistic extreme). Also, the Stoics place a lot of emphasis on virtue and discipline, and I think Chandler's Philip Marlowe would be an example of Stoic virtue.
  10. I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but the unusual style of the credits reminds me of opening of "Star Wars"--I wonder if George Lucas could have been inspired by it. Since the "Kiss Me Deadly" credits are read bottom to top, which is opposite of how we normally read, it adds to the disorienting opening and feelings of confusion.
  11. I really enjoyed the article "No Way Out: Existential Motifs in Film Noir." I majored in philosophy, so I was curious to see how existential themes are represented in film noir. I've noticed that in this (and other) articles, they often mention that one of the hallmarks of film noir is the absence of hope, purpose, and justice. I'm not sure I agree with this. To me, most films noir end on something of a hopeful note, where the guy gets the girl (The Big Sleep; Dark Passage; Murder, My Sweet; Laura; Gilda; etc.) and/or justice is served (Double Indemnity; The Postman Always Rings Twice; Out of the Past; Sunset Blvd, etc.). Instead of an absence of logic or justice, I usually find a sense of order in film noir. The guilty might temporarily get away with a crime, but eventually, something will trip them up and justice/karma will be served. To me, that is what has made films noir so enduring, there is hope and justice in a chaotic world. It's a very interesting topic. I haven't had a chance to watch this week's lecture, but I'm looking forward to it.
  12. "They Won't Believe Me" *SPOILER ALERT* I have a question about this one--how did Greta die? was it an accident? did she trip and fall? I couldn't tell what had happened. Interesting how the horse ended up as a witness/leading the police to her body.
  13. Jamesjazzguitar, thanks for the explanation, very interesting! Funny thing is, I'd forgotten all about that scene with Carmen--I watched The Big Sleep recently (on DVD, not TCM) and that scene wasn't there--but it did have one of the other deleted scenes, so now I'm super-confused about the various versions of the movie, lol. But that's really interesting re: Eddie Mars--next time I watch, I'll watch it from that perspective.
  14. What about Erle Stanley Gardner? I'm not sure if he's exactly film noir, but he fits in the detective genre. I remember being surprised when I first read him, because the book versions of Perry Mason, Paul Drake, and Della are pretty different from the TV show. In the book, Perry and Paul are more...what's the word I want? shady? morally ambiguous? where in the TV show, they are careful to skate along that thin line, but always manage to stay within the law.
  15. *SPOILER ALERT DISCUSSION* Hmm, very interesting! You mentioned something about a scene with Carmen in Marlowe's room--I have a vague recollection of him walking into his room, and her sitting in a chair, and him being startled by finding her there--is that the right one, or am I thinking of some other movie? Gosh, I haven't seen that scene in ages (which makes me wonder when I saw it/what version that was??) As if the plot couldn't be confusing enough, there are a couple of different versions with scenes added or missing, lol. But why did Eddie Mars kill Sean Regan? Something to do with Eddie Mars' wife, I assume?
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