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The Working Dead

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Everything posted by The Working Dead

  1. I don't ever like to tell people their opinions are wrong, but, well, you're wrong. That zither music is amazingly appropriate for the soundtrack. It sounds a bit off-putting at first, but watch it again. It fits perfectly. It's mournful when it needs to be, jaunty when it needs to be, and adds a certain level of irony to every scene. Also, Welles was only an actor for hire, though he wrote some of his own dialogue. Carol Reed/Graham Greene are the true architects of the film. They had a great collaboration, and their three films are all definite must-sees. The Fallen Idol and Our Man In
  2. According to our good Professor, this message board isn't going to be deleted, it'll just stay on the TCM boards. There's nothing that says we can't stick around here. I know I for one am not quite done with this topic. I plan on continuing my own Summer of Darkness right up to the official end of summer in September. I'll probably slow down a bit on how many noir films I watch and how often I watch them, but I plan on writing something at least a couple times a week over at my blog. I'd love to keep as much of this community together as possible.
  3. This was a great film, and a great find this summer, one of the reasons I'm so glad I signed up for this course(and one of the reasons I'm so sad to not have TCM anymore). In my write-up of this for my blog I focused a lot on the lighting, which is hard to avoid, because it's so striking in this film. I love how this room(which the film returns to many times) is lit. Ostensibly there's only one light source actually in the room, but look at the corners and edges of the room. There's just enough light to make out the shape and contours of the space, but everything in between is darkness, sa
  4. Well, the film isn't actually a parody, and it's not actually meant to be funny. The parodic elements aren't very evident in the opening scene, but there are plenty of things that happen later that twist what you expect to happen in a noir film.
  5. I love the Narrow Margin. Definitely one of the best films I've been introduced to this summer. I think the comments about this film being a reaction to the genre are correct, although I'll have to try to avoid spoilers by explaining why. First shot, pre-credits, of that train coming right for us. It's an aggressive, assaultive opening, but then the next(where the post-title credits begin) is of a train moving slowly, things calm down. The train is moving right to left, into the past, as if the film, having shocked us with sound and fury, is rewinding and resetting. The train stops moving
  6. It's interesting to see what they Hays Code was interested in keeping off of screens, and how that attitude lessened over the years. Clearly they are no longer very interested in making sure films don't depict detailed descriptions of crimes being planned and carried out. Just a few years earlier this film would not have been able to get made. At least not in the form we see now. I watched this through a second time with attention to how long specific shots lasted, and while there isn't technically a pattern, it has a very musical quality. That is to say, each edit could be seen as a beat,
  7. One of my favorite noirs is actually British. Time Without Pity, starring Michael Redgrave as an alcoholic recently released from a sanitarium, who learns his son is about to be executed for murder. He has 24 hour to prove his son's innocence before the boy is executed. It's fantastic(and I think I might have recommended it in another thread on here already). I watched a couple movies today in a DVD set of British noirs. Women of Twilight and The Slasher(original title Cosh Boy). I wouldn't recommend seeking them out, though. They weren't bad, but calling them noir was incredibly misleadin
  8. My write up of the film for my blog touched on this same thing. Ernie's wife was incredibly sympathetic to me. Ernie is obviously not the same man she fell in love with(although the film expresses this mainly through her materialistic desires), and as we see through the movie, he's a seething ball of rage who is very eager to use his fists on the people who might not deserve it. I completely understand why she would fall for a man who showed her a little more romance and excitement, even someone as shady as that jewel thief. It also had me viewing the end of the film with a bit of a 'Oh, I'm s
  9. I really enjoyed this movie, and found it fun to write about over on my blog. I'll try to stick to just what we see here, though, and not get too far into plot specifics. This fits into my continuing idea of noir being a sort of body-horror film, wherein the body is the film itself. What I mean by that is that in a lot of postwar films noir, the noir elements are not immediately apparent. A lot of films start off in domestic situations, either as comedies or as dramas. And then as the film continues the noir elements become more pronounced, mutating the look and feel of the picture. Ano
  10. In these terms I meant 'weakness' to imply a moral weakness, not a mental one. She seems confident and competent throughout the clip, but the implication seems to be that her greed or self-centered attitude(almost forcing a car off the road because she doesn't want to go to a party, deciding to run away with money that isn't hers) will prove to be the cause of all the troubles in the film.
  11. Great ideas, and yes, it helps. I've been carrying a notebook with me while I'm out and about(like any good gumshoe), and I had just started to formulate these ideas while on the bus home from work. I literally came in, checked my messages, and then posted on here in my excitement to hear the thoughts of others. I'm compiling a lot of notes. I'll probably be spending some time formulating a more cohesive post in the future.
  12. Ack, I'm quoting myself, how gauche. But, as the song says, "quote yourself if no one else will." I've thought of a few things that I could add to my original comment. I told you I'll be coming back to this idea. First off, there's another example in my theory of pre-war noir concerning foreign threats to the status quo while post-war noir contains threats from within. It's a bit of a sideways example, though, so bear with me. The Dick Powell noir Cornered, at first glance, seems like an outlier in postwar noir, something akin to The Third Man, where we follow a hero as he navigates t
  13. Strangely, I hadn't noticed Alan/Jane's car lights blinking, but sure enough, there it is. Good catch. I'm with you on everything happening because of Jane, whether she intended it or not. I'm just worried the rest of the film will paint her as the weak one in the relationship, when in the beginning at least she seems to have quite a bit of agency.
  14. I'll argue against that sentiment, actually. I think films always reflect the social/cultural/political landscape of their times. Even if, ESPECIALLY if, they don't show the world as it actually was. Films often show an idealized version of the world, they show us how we want to view ourselves. The preponderance of lighthearted fare involving wealthy characters makes sense precisely because most of the people in the audience did not fit that description. It's like in Sullivan's Travels; no one wants to go to the movies to be reminded of how miserable they are, they want an escape. I think
  15. Cool scene, I got a real No Country For Old Men vibe from it. Without TCM I guess I'll be watching this one via one of those less-than-perfect public domain copies. Another dark road, another car driving down it. The crookedness of the road implies the general crookedness of the characters, which I believe extends to the 'innocent' husband and wife. It's telling that they're introduced bickering, that the wife is the instigator in everything; she tries to run the car off the road, she decides to take the money, she drives the getaway car. I'm interested to see where her character goes, be
  16. I actually really enjoy it. It puts a really nice ironic cap on the story. Plus it feels a little dreamlike, the way the cops just 'know' that he's the man they're looking for. No one says anything, no one asks him any questions, they just pull up, calmly put him in the backseat, and then drive off. There's something sudden and yet unrushed about their behavior that it feels odd and unreal. Which is how a lot of the film prior to this felt, so it fits 100% if you ask me.
  17. That's actually a really great idea. My theory(expanded below) is that since Al is narrating the story, we can't trust any of it. Certainly someone as vile as Vera couldn't possibly exist as such a caricature. All of his flashbacks feel a little invented, if you ask me.
  18. This is an interesting topic, and one I'll have to return to throughout the week. I'll be keeping it in mind throughout my viewings and readings. I always try to put myself into the mindset of a film's target audience, whether I'm watching a classic film noir, a trashy 70s horror film, or a modern day superhero spectacle. It makes almost all movie viewing more enjoyable. And yet, I have been a bit blind to some of the changes I've been seeing in the movies I've watched this summer. Putting the list of noir film I've seen in chronological order does present a pretty momentous shift at almos
  19. If anyone ever wonders why Hitchcock is still revered as a filmmaker, a close inspection of any scene in any of his films should clear things up. He was a master at making sure no shot was wasted; every frame in the film comments on the story in some way, every prop and camera angle inform the viewer and add depth and dimension to every scene. He may have faltered in some films, and his care for plot did not always equal his care for presentation, but he seemed to have been born with an instinctual understanding of visual composition. We get an opening that focuses on what the characters s
  20. That' a pretty harsh, nihilistic viewpoint. What are you overly excited about these days? I feel my own philosophical outlook on the world is a mixture of nihilism and optimism. I see how things work in the world without us, and see those same forces at work within the human population. Things like the global birth rates dropping as our population expands, some experts project that we'll cap out and remain fairly steady at about 10 billion, barring any global catastrophes. There are microbes now that eat alkali and other pollutants(not at a rate to save us, I don't mean to imply we shouldn't w
  21. I should clarify that I don't like Last House on the Left, for much of the same reasons you cite. However, I can see why it struck a nerve at the time. I think there's something more defensible about a young Wes Craven- a humanities professor and philosophy major- looking around and seeing the world becoming a nightmarish, tortuous place, and making Last House. Certainly more defensible than a group of executives in suits deciding that the best way to get money out of teens pockets is brutal rape and torture. I don't like the movie, it's not good, and it' not the type of horror film I watch. I
  22. I would like to point out that those are not the type of horror films I normally watch. I do watch some of them(seen The Strangers, not Eden Lake), and I do enjoy some of them, but I don't go to horror to watch people suffer. Horror to me is about empathy, and works best when you can place yourself in the character's shoes and hope for them to survive. I do think The Strangers is a bit more successful than most in its genre, but again, it's not the type of movie I gravitate towards. You can make an argument for any horror movie being a commentary on American society, or global society. For
  23. Another great lecture. As in previous weeks I'll be going over the reading material at a later time. This is tough, juggling message boards, readings, daily doses, film watching, and work schedules. I've mentioned this once or twice in passing on other threads, but I'll get into it a bit more here, because it seems the right place and time, but I've been reading a lot of the films I've watched over the last couple weeks as coded body horror films. For those a bit unfamiliar, body horror tends to be based around our fears of disease or decay, and concern medical mutations of our body that w
  24. I haven't seen Caged, but that opening is probably the best way I can imagine to put the audience into the headspace of a prisoner. It's so entirely claustrophobic, made worse by the fact that we can see just a little bit, and that little bit keeps getting obscured by passengers in the front seat, or the bars on the window. If it had been an entirely black screen, the audience would have felt nothing, but with a small slice of the outside world we feel the walls of the theatre(or, say, our living rooms) closing in on us. The opening of the door at the end of the scene is almost a relief, even
  25. I've been blogging my reactions to the movies I watch(I won't go so far as to call them all 'reviews'), and there are a couple of metaphors and angles I keep coming back to. I keep thinking of noir as a physical place, not just a concept. A purgatory of sorts where our heroes and villains are forced to repeat the same damning actions over and over, in a universe there is no exit from. It seems, in a lot of noir, like if you tried to leave the city you'd just re-enter from the other side. It's also enforced by the fact that in many film noir there only seems to be a half dozen or so characters
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