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kek5772

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Everything posted by kek5772

  1. Louis Malle's visual design for ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS, at least in this opening sequence, stresses isolation for both characters. Maurice Ronet's Julien is seen in the window of the office building on the phone with Jeanne Moreau. But note how the camera backs away from the building's frontage and makes him that much more alone. Hinting at a forbidden relationship between the man and woman, the viewer's perception of two tormented souls is underlined by the improvisational score, starting with a high note (indicating the joy they find in one another) and the lows, stressing the seeming hopel
  2. I never considered BEWARE, MY LOVELY to be noir, but a suspense film and proto-female in danger flick (Ida Lupino had starred in WOMAN IN HIDING, 1949, with future husband Howard Duff, and made something of a specialty of playing endangered characters), but I'm happy to see it included in the Summer of Darkness line-up and our discussion. So, seeing this clip, BEWARE, MY LOVELY opens on a tranquil note (except for the Salvation Army band blaring away) and plunges headlong into noir when Robert Ryan's character Howard finds the body, presumably that of Mrs. Warren, in the closet. The look of s
  3. Heartily agree with Professor Edwards' estimation of THE NARROW MARGIN (originally titled TARGET) and disagree with Foster Hirsch's assessment that the film is a parody of noir themes. It's a tremendous story, played out in confined space that extends beyond the train to the apartment house where Mrs. Neill (the terrific Marie Windsor) is holed up, and even the one sequence in open daylight at the depot still leaves you feeling entrapped. There is a definite air of lurking danger that Brown (Charles McGraw) is trying to flee and hopefully with the less-than-cooperative gangster's widow in tow.
  4. After the intertitle informs us of a major crime, we understand that Tim Foster (Preston Foster) is the man with a plan. His meticulous observation of the activity around the bank when the armored car and florist's van arrive obviously play a huge role in what he intends to accomplish. If you've seen a heist movie before, time is always the critical factor so it can be done when the police aren't around and the least danger is involved. Foster's planning and watching of the vehicles' arrival and departure hint at a certain desperation on his part -- always a key element in a noir, if it's a cr
  5. Saw THE WOMAN ON PIER 13 (1949) many years ago on public television and was amazed at how it played like a gangster flick -- well, that was one view of minions of Moscow at that time. I could see how Howard Hughes pushed this one into production, both topical and a representation of his abhorrence of Communism. While watching a PBS documentary on RKO with my dad, he asked me if Orson Welles was responsible for the studio's collapse in the mid-'50s. I told him Hughes had more to do with it because on the two occasions he owned it, he ran it into the ground. (My father, no slouch at picking movi
  6. My apologies to the course members for the grievous error in my post about STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. How could I have forgotten that PSYCHO (1960), not THE WRONG MAN (1957), was Hitchcock's last movie in black and white? Probably because I was thinking solely noir and not horror, a rare occasion with me. Also, appreciated selection of the reading from Arthur Lyons' DEATH ON THE CHEAP because I have the book. My wife, who's more tech savvy than I (and that's saying a lot), was able to download the reading on post-World War II America to an e-reader, which made for easier reading. I found his i
  7. "You could have been a star. I could have been a champion." Eddie Driscoll's observation to wife Pauline speaks volumes about the status of their current life together, both working subsistence jobs and living in a small apartment. 99 RIVER STREET addresses itself in this clip to the bind that a lot of aspiring middle class couples of the time were struggling to escape. (And, unfortunately, still true today). Fertile ground for a noir situation in a movie as Eddie and Pauline's mutual dissatisfaction means one or the other will step over the line or betray their partner. The clip reminds us of
  8. Walking into THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS with only this clip in mind, you get the impression there is an underlying tension to the relationships between Sam, Martha and Walter. To start, Walter and Sam appear jovial, but even at this stage of his career (actually, his film debut), Kirk Douglas convincingly projects an uneasiness despite his authority status. Revealing himself as a gambler, Sam is pretty breezy about it all, probably because he's had his share of encounters with cops and prosecutors. When Martha enters the room and realizes Walter's visitor is long-lost Sam, the dynamic ch
  9. Just another thought on TOO LATE FOR TEARS. Ostensibly an A production, or close to it in budget range, producer Hunt Stromberg utilized the facilities of Republic Pictures in making the film, according to Michael H. Price and John Wooley in their excellent FORGOTTEN HORRORS surveys. Considered the top in Hollywood's B movies and serials, especially when it came to westerns, Republic was moving toward better-grade product, and like other studios, rented space to independently-made films. TOO LATE FOR TEARS was distributed by United Artists, as it had his earlier efforts such as LADY OF BURLESQ
  10. TOO LATE FOR TEARS ... wow. First saw it 10 years ago in one of those PD copies in a DVD collection. Struck me as quality right from the start. And about that start: we find some of the post-World War II issues come to light in the striking highway sequence. One, the availability of cars and travel opening up social possibilities for the middle-class couple of Alan (Arthur Kennedy) and Jane (Lizabeth Scott). But those opportunities only anger Jane, who yearns for better things. Had she hung in with Alan and the satchel full of money not been mistakenly tossed into their car, they would have ma
  11. Clothing and shoes make a dramatic contrast between Guy and Bruno, telling us a bit about their characters and place in the unfolding noir scenario. The shoes give it away at first. Bruno's two-tone pair indicate a certain flamboyance we soon see when he is seated, suggesting wealth (or a pretense) and a dissolute nature. Guy's Oxfords point to a busy, purposeful yet modest demeanor, a carryover from his own less-than-plush roots. The noir elements come following the credits as cabs enter from bright daylight into the cooler, dimmer light of Union Station. The inexorable movement of Guy and Br
  12. I wanted to say that our readings for this week came in handy on JEOPARDY! On the July 7 show, the question was to complete Camus' statement that the only philosophical question is (blank). We now know from our reading of the material that the answer is suicide.
  13. Similarities between the opening of D.O.A. and other daily doses this week exist as the lead characters all come out of darkness into light, although the illuminated world they enter is hardly reassuring. Rather, the characters are caught up in a world full of peril. But in D.O.A., although we don't immediately know it, Frank's ordeal is over. Trying to make sense of it all is his last task and thus he goes to the police. In a noirish, chaotic world that has brought Frank to this state, he would have left his story untold, and all of what transpired up to then would have been classically meani
  14. Speaking of remakes, Warners did another version of CAGED in 1962 entitled HOUSE OF WOMEN, with Shirley Knight in the Eleanor Parker role. Haven't seen it, but (no offense) the presence of Ms. Knight is worth the price of admission for me.
  15. Prison pictures lend themselves to noir due to the confinement of men (and women), their clashing emotions, longing for freedom and the collision with fate that has brought them to this stage of their lives. CAGED ups the ante of previous Warners jail epics like 20,000 YEARS IN SIGN SING and LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (both 1933, remade by the studio, respectively, as CASTLE ON THE HUDSON, 1940, and LADY GANGSTER, 1942) with a post-World War II sensibility. Instead of prisoners being escorted to the big house by train and joking about it (as Spencer Tracy does in 20,000 YEARS... and John Garfield
  16. Goingtopluto's thoughts about THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL reminded me of a review of THE HITCH-HIKER I read some years ago (it might have been in Filmfax magazine) that found the musical score, so typical of Roy Webb and RKO's cues of impending doom (and that's not a bad thing) could have served a science fiction movie of the period so well. Indeed, scenes involving the Mexican police traveling through the bleak countryside in search of Myers struck me as a proto-THEM! and TARANTULA kind of imagery surrounding mutated monsters hiding in the desert, the music providing a perfectly creepy acco
  17. Although THE HITCH-HIKER was made by Ida Lupino's company The Filmakers, it was released by RKO and aside from sharing cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, it plays very much like an RKO noir of this classic period. The darkness in this "Keep Driving" clip is absolute, making the lighting so important in emphasizing the danger faced by Roy and Gil and the randomness of evil entering their lives while enroute on a simple hunting trip. Like Mike Hammer's pickup of Christina Bailey in KISS ME DEADLY, our typical middle-class American males in THE HITCH-HIKER have had the finger put on them by fate
  18. One of my absolute favorite movie openings, KISS ME DEADLY begins by plunging the viewer into an immediate and gripping mystery: why is this woman running down a benighted highway, barefoot and clad only in a raincoat? The noir elements are there in ready evidence as director Robert Aldrich uses the harsh illumination of the car headlights to highlight the woman's terror as she desperately tries to flag down a ride. Never have been able to get away from the thought that Christina (Cloris Leachman) was so frightened and exhausted from her flight from whatever had her on the run that I never con
  19. One other item I wanted to mention is the use of tilted camera angles to create disorientation or heighten the mystery. Roy William Neill was fond of them in the Sherlock Holmes series at Universal from 1942 to 1946. His directorial preference for the angle is more pronounced in THE HOUSE OF FEAR (1945).
  20. THE THIRD MAN is a perfect illustration of noir's realistic and formalistic approaches. Realistic for the stark depiction of post-World War II Vienna and the outpost of the European situation at the time, especially where the Four Powers are concerned in overseeing the city. Formalistic for the harsh lighting (suggesting a fragile infrastructure and its impact on residents' lives), the exaggerated shadows (e.g., Harry's flight after being discovered by Holly) and the bizarre angles that hint at the danger lying around the corner (the street people who watch Holly as he negins his probe into Ha
  21. The prolonged entrance of Frank (John Garfield) tells us a lot about him, a breezy, no-ties kind of guy who probably appealed to a lot of young men in those immediate postwar days whose feet were probably were a bit itchy to go places, as Frank confesses to Cora's husband Nick. Frank in the original novel is, I suspect, kind of dark in outlook when we first meet him (getting thrown off a vegetable truck, as I recall), but this being an M-G-M product, our hero can't be too far removed from the regular, all-American image the studio liked to project under Louis B. Mayer's reign. Before Frank can
  22. The entrances made by Leyden (Peter Lorre) and Peters (Sydney Greenstreet) say a lot about their characters. Leyden casually exits the elevator and enters his hotel room, at ease with himself and preoccupied with his growing library of information about Dimitrios (if I remember correctly, it's Dimitrios he's muttering about as he reaches his hotel room door). Leyden is honest, open and respectable. Peters enters the hotel room from what is apparently the bath, is obviously the agent of all of Leyden's possessions being strewn about the room, is holding a gun on Leyden and is not only mysteriou
  23. Framing this scene, director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca took the contrast of light and dark afforded by black-and-white to establish a scene and mood. I know I use the term mood a great deal, but that's what noir films and especially those produced by RKO do for me. The sense of being in a hot climate is not only created by Jeff Markham's narration but the brightness of the relentless sun as seen from the interior of the more dimly-seen cantina. Kathy Moffatt, wearing white, enters the place as if a cool breeze suddenly wafted through the city, although ultimately s
  24. CORNERED has always been a favorite of mine, and in recent years more so because it was the vanguard of a trend in films from the U.S. and overseas dealing with the post-World War II situation and related intrigue. Lawrence Gerard's (Dick Powell) manhunt for an escaped French collaborator (Luther Adler) in CORNERED takes him to a shattered rural France still suffering from the effects of the recently-ended conflict and then to glitzy Buenos Aires, a sign the filmmakers were aware of concerns about Nazis and other war criminals finding a new haven in the Americas. This concern is exemplified in
  25. From the clip, Marlowe has the self-assurance and roguishness of Spade, but in a muted form. Bogart makes Marlowe more honest, direct and less greedy than the conception of Spade; you're rooting for him all the way. I like the interplay between Marlowe and General Sternwood, showing two men of the world who seem to understand one another. Marlowe is impressed with the general's candor about his life and relationship with his daughters; the old man digs Marlowe's viewpoint on the world. When Marlowe admits he was fired from his job with the district attorney's office for insubordination, Sternw
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