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About dmojohnson92

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  1. The "live" boxing matching seems much more Raging Bull (1980) than Night and the City (1950), right? I also like how many times we see boxing within this clip. As msbella pointed out, we see the original "live" match, the TV version, the slow-motion version, and the version in which John Payne dukes it out, and loses, to his wife, Peggie Castle. I'm actually kind of surprised how he can keep on taking the same beating over and over and over and over again. Not only is Payne's character stuck in the past, he's reliving it, which seems to happen quite frequently assuming that Castle's character's fury wasn't a singular occurrence. The past, as we've seen in many of the films we've looked at, comes back to haunt our protagonist. It would be interesting to see how the fed-up character Castle plays would react if Payne's character achieves his new goal. He has a vision to work and earn money, but perhaps the burden has been put on Castle for too long. I think this goes to show how noir traveled with people from the city to suburbia. No one is safe nowadays, even if you are a supposedly famous ex-boxer. Noir will find you in this world.
  2. Hmm, I'm not sure what to think of this clip. There's some great acting by all three (I'd certainly stay just for Kirk Douglas and Barbara Stanwyck), the script seems to be well-written, and the staging of the scene seems to almost be like a dance or an entanglement, with this kind of rotation of the characters (except when Stanwyck runs to Van Heflin). But, I'm not necessarily convinced this is noir yet. It seems to be more like a love triangle with some darker undertones (gambling, drinking, and so forth). I'm sure it would be helpful to know a little bit more background on these three characters. In watching the rest of the film, I'm certain the noir elements will surface more clearly. On second thought, though, this is Douglas and Stanwyck's past hurtling back into their lives, so that is certainly something more noirish than I originally thought.
  3. I'm hoping to see the film tonight at 7 o'clock. The last time I saw the film was 2012 in my film noir class in college, so it'll be exciting to see it again on the big screen. I'm not expecting to see too many other people there, though. Occasionally my theatre has a classic cinema series but people really only come out for the bigger titles (like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz). The last film in the most recent series, Tootise, had about four people in the audience, including myself!
  4. This was a cool little opening to a film I hadn't ever heard of. Two of my favorite sections are the car chase--which was surprisingly well done, and it was nice to see the man in the back seat, defenseless, with the woman taking charge--and when Alan opens the bag to find the money, and both he and Jane greedily smirk at the possibilities this has in store for them (though, they're probably thinking of what they could use the money for rather than those who will undoubtedly chase after them to get the money back). I'm glad to see that this forgotten film noir resurfaced. I'm sad that I missed the broadcast, but I'm hoping that some distributor (perhaps Criterion as they've been on a roll recently with their film noir output) will pick it up and release it to show off the new restoration.
  5. For me, Strangers on a Train is top-tier Hitchcock. While we don't get something as exasperating or dramatic in this opening scene, we do get, as Dr. Edwards points out, a criss-crossing pattern that not only let's us know that these two characters will eventually meet, but that we should also eventually compare them. Just from his editing choices, we'll simply have to acknowledge that Farley Granger and Robert Walker's characters will intersect. Going all the way back to The Lady Vanishes, trains serve as an important symbol of an incoming force--characters, situations, etc.--that the protagonists must deal with. We see that in later films, too, such as Laughton's The Night of the Hunter. This cross-cutting in editing, then, sort of confuses us into determining which character, or characters, will be this force. We can kind of guess it's Bruno (Robert Walker), but we'll just have to see where this train takes us. I'd also like to point out how Hitch plays with our expectations. I think we expect that Bruno, with his spiffy shoes, is an important figure with money. But then we learn that he gets lavish and monogrammed pieces of clothing from his mother. He's a talker and interested in others, but we don't really know anything about his occupation or social status. Farley Granger's character, however, is a tennis star but wears ordinary clothes; perhaps he doesn't want to draw attention to himself by doing this, but he's still instantly recognizable. He seems humble, whereas Bruno does not. It's an interesting play of expectation, which Hitch was always masterful at. I wouldn't necessarily say that Hitch was a noir director, but he certainly has noir influences in many of his films, such as Rebecca, Foreign Correspondent, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, Psycho, North by Northwest, Rear Window, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 & 1956), Suspicion, Spellbound, Notorious, and others. As we learned, many of his earlier films would be classified as a thriller or detective story, and a lot of those elements can be found in film noir. I think it's safe to say that many of his films do retain those elements. Whether or not they're films noir, though, is debatable, of course. He'll always be the Master of Suspense.
  6. I watched Kiss Me Deadly for the first time in a few years, and it absolutely blew me away (I was lukewarm to it on my first watch). The opening, of course, is spectacular and then we enter into a sadistic, brutal, and ambitious film that only accelerates into a bombastic finale. I honestly can't think of a more merciless film from this period. Everything is so sharp and dynamic, including Ernest Laszlo's cinematography. I mean, c'mon, how great is this shot? The whole film can practically be summed up in this singular shot. A Dutch angle, chiaroscuro, the blinds casting that wickedly divisive shadow, Mike Hammer on the outs, and a friend turned vicious backstabber; it's truly fabulous. I love the film, and the Criterion Collection put out a wonderful Blu-ray disc (I need to listen to the commentary by Alain Silver and James Ursini again, though, as I'm sure it's quite enlightening). I don't know why I put rewatching it off for so long, but I'm glad this course came along so that I could finally fall in love with it.
  7. What I like about the opening of D.O.A., as I did with Caged, is that the camera forces us to become the protagonist by shooting from that particular point of view. By forcing us to become participants, we--the audience members--are automatically placed into the scene. I think that's why we don't see too many, if any, establishing shots in films noir. These films are for the common, everyday people. This isn't Gone with the Wind, or An American in Paris, or Ben-Hur. These films, no matter how bleak they are, are easy to relate to. Not so much as we all encounter such danger and intrigue in our everyday lives, but because we can in some way identify with these characters. Sure, we might be able to relate to Scarlett O'Hara, but she lives in a world that is separate from us (not only in time, but in high society with many men fawning over her). Films noir get to the nitty gritty, the people who may be swept up into certain circumstances without necessarily meaning to. It's kind of difficult to articulate--even in writing--but those films I've mentioned seem much more of an escape from our daily lives, unlike films noir. It's kind of like how people would go to see Sondheim's Company expecting to be solidly entertained, but end up encountering and facing themselves as characters upon the stage. Like the previous films this week, we see themes of isolation and danger in D.O.A. We, as the central character, head into the unknown; we know that we must, but we don't know the outcome of our actions. Here, Frank Bigelow is reporting his own murder, so we know we'll have to untangle the mess of how this all happened (in a flashback, no less!), and how we can rise up, if there's any hope at all, out of all of this. At this point in the film, there isn't much hope at all, though there appears to be some sort of glimmer as Frank walks into the bright room after briskly walking through the shadowy corridors. We don't see much of Dutch angles here--a staple of films noir--but we instantly know that this world is on his head once Frank reports his own murder. This film was released five years prior to Kiss Me Deadly, and I think Ernest Laszlo does a much better job in Kiss Me Deadly in illustrating how chaotic that world is. Nevertheless, we do get a focused, film noir style here, and D.O.A. surely fits into the realm of film noir.
  8. Two things really stuck out at me when watching this opening scene: restriction and, oddly enough, fashion. It's very easy to see how restricting the opening scene is for the characters, as well as the audience. We know just about as much as Eleanor Parker. We barely even get a window to peer out of, and that window is obscured by bars, too, so we're all kinds of out of the loop. We only realize what's happening once the door opens and we see Parker in chains and her fellow inmates filing out. Now, when I say fashion, I do mean it. The women heading into prison seem very well dressed (is one of the women wearing furs?), and definitely much more so than they need to be. I mean, they're going to prison where they'll surely get uniforms to wear. It just seems odd to me that they've dressed up so nicely to go to prison; though, maybe they're all thinking ahead and plan on wearing these clothes to look glamorous once they get out. This film continues the trend of gritty realism. Perhaps it's less gritty than some of the other pictures we've seen, but it certainly seems realistic in its portrayal of a ride to the slammer. Maybe it would be "grittier" if the film focused on men? I'm not sure. (I did just pick up Criterion's release of Riot in Cell Block 11, so it would be interesting to compare the two films). In comparing this Warner Bros. film to The Maltese Falcon, I can definitely see a house style forming. Glamorous isn't a concept in either--though fashion is still present--and realism, again, surfaces. There isn't anything fancy here, just grim reality.
  9. I hadn't ever heard of The Hitch-Hiker before, but I'm certainly interested in seeing the rest of the film after this intense opening. We can tell that it has been meticulously choreographed so that each action happens at a precise, and thus effective, moment. Each exact moment leads to another exact moment, but it never feels staged; there is a natural feeling to it, and that plays extremely well into how the scene is lit. When Emmett pulls out his gun and then leans in to the light, after sitting back in the shadows, I literally said, "Wow, that's cool." We know nothing about this character, but we're instantly afraid of him and it's only been, like, a minute. It almost reminded me of the Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia when Chernabog, the devil incarnate, breaks from his rigidly mountainous position and the flames of hell throw his face into view; funny enough, I recall something similar happening in Pinocchio with the Coachman. When shadowy figures enter the light, it's usually bad for business. While I don't think this opening is as intense and effective as the opening scene in Kiss Me Deadly (which I rewatched today; it is surely the most ruthlessly brutal of all films noir), it still sets us up for a wild and dangerous ride (literally in this case, and I guess for Kiss Me Deadly, too). Even though I'm afraid of Emmett and concerned for Roy and Gilbert, I was more concerned for Christina in Kiss Me Deadly. Even though there isn't a single gun or an immediate presence of violence in the opening of Kiss Me Deadly--and there are two guns in the opening of The Hitch-Hiker--the character of of Christina, as a damsel in distress, is more concerning for me. Maybe it's because Christina, the first person we see in the film, is a victim running away from something, and Emmett, the first person we see in the film, is an obvious victimizer. Or it could be because I just watched Kiss Me Deadly and so I can sympathize with Christina a bit more. Just like Kiss Me Deadly, we get themes of isolation and desperation. We get a gritty, dangerous world where even being with another person can be a deadly thing.
  10. Kiss Me Deadly is one of the coolest films noir in the catalogue, and this sequence is one of the coolest openings in all of cinema (at least the bit of cinema I've seen). I mean, the whole glowing briefcase in films like Pulp Fiction is directly descended from Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, which I find pretty cool. Like all good films noir, we get a sharp chiaroscuro: the black of night vs. the headlights of various cars. We do get some interesting camera angles, though nothing that we haven't seen before. Perhaps the most differentiated part of this film is, as others have noted, the credit sequence. Scrolling backwards gives a really disorienting effect to the audience; we realize that something is definitely not right here. If something as mundane and regular as the credits gives us pause, then something must be up (mundane may be a bit harsh, though, as there are many interesting credit sequences during the 50s and 60s). I think it's interesting, too, that the credits have a sort of glowing presence, which not only mimics the cars going by but also foreshadows that briefcase we'll see later on. Mike Hammer "stopping" to pick up Christina is sort of odd, though. Hammer is obviously annoyed with Christina, but I think she gives off enough intrigue and mystery that he decides to let her tag along. I mean, if a barefoot, trench-coated-only woman stops you in the middle of the road, I would be interested, or at least give pause. We don't learn that much about Hammer, but I think we can gather that he is of some importance, he can easily adapt and laser in on intriguing or important actions or people, and that he isn't necessarily just out for himself (unlike Sam Spade, which is certainly a different shift in our "hero," though we may have to see if that's precisely the case; it's been quite a while since I last saw the film). Christina is a wild card. She has just run away from an asylum, she is barely wearing anything, she doesn't mind stopping in front of oncoming traffic for help, she's desperate, she needs help, she's anxious, she's could be paranoid, and she's a heavy breather. Now, we don't know at this point what she's really running from or to, but that's the whole mystery here; she's the catalyst, and I think Hammer wants to see where this explosion leads. Perhaps it's because I was younger when I first saw this film, but I never connected Christina's breathing to be anything more than just that. I can see now, however, that there is some ambiguity and that her breathing can be seen as erotic. Blurring the lines occurs all the time in films noir, so this suggestion makes a lot of sense. I can't wait to rewatch Kiss Me Deadly this week. Criterion put out a wonderful Blu-ray, and I'm excited to see how the rest of the film plays out.
  11. I saw The Third Man for the first time back in January. After hearing such good things about it, I thought that I'd check it out. While I'm not over the moon about it like some people are, I do think it's quite good and I think Carol Reed did a really good job in his direction of the film (and, to explain a bit more, I hadn't liked Welles when I watched Citizen Kane back in high school and so I kind of went into The Third Man with a dislike for Welles and anything he's in; since January, I've rewatched Citizen Kane and quite like it, so maybe I need a rewatching of The Third Man, too). Anyway, The Third Man is a great British film noir and Welles' entrance is classic. What better way to unmask the man in the shadows--and Welles at that--than putting a light right on his face? Throughout the movie, everyone has been looking for Harry Lime (Welles) and it's such a cool and little but impactful entrance. And then he disappears back into the shadow, which foreshadows the famous sewer chase at the end of the film. Welles gives us a suspicious smile and leaves Cotten in the dust; Cotten's character was so close to getting him and then he loses Harry in an instant. At least we learn some of Harry's secrets. We get Dutch angles, rich chiaroscuro, some witty dialogue, and a meaningful entrance. This sounds like a bonafide film noir to me.
  12. I've always heard how great this film is, but I've never gotten around to seeing it. I'm borrowing it from the library this weekend, though, and I'm excited to see what happens to these two characters. This is quite a moment for both Frank and Cora; meetings between major characters usually are. Frank seems unassuming but confident in his beliefs and ideals (I definitely share his itch in travelling; I have a feeling, though, that Cora will scratch that itch for him and he'll stay put for a little while). I don't know where Frank came from or where he's going, and that doesn't seem to matter to him either. He's along for the ride. Of course, per noir fashion, he stops at a diner and then meets Cora. Cora has a much more typical "entrance" than Frank does (I have expected the shot to continue up her body instead of cutting away just at the feet). We get some rolling lipstick, which Frank carefully uses as a flirtation device (and, since lipstick is often used as a sexual symbol, and with the lipstick probably being read, we get much more than just sexual tension). While Cora's grand entrance may mean she's the star of the picture, while Frank's entrance means he may be in a supporting role (though I doubt that), I think both are effective in establishing their characters no matter the billing. Dressed in white, are we to believe Cora's innocent in any way? No, of course not. She's wearing short shorts and putting on lipstick. Is she really trying to come off as innocent here? It's seems to backfire, and, if that's the case, I think that was Garnett's intention. I'm excited to see the film in its entirety this weekend. It looks pretty good, especially since it does look more like an A picture than a B picture.
  13. The Mask of Dimitrios is new to me, but I like how this scene instantly illustrates its noir aspects: the chiaroscuro, the kind of wide and consuming pans of the camera, the sparring of dialogue. This is some good stuff right here. What I love most about this scene is the way in which space is presented. Now, I don't know anything about the story, but gather that Lorre and Greenstreet's characters know each other to a certain degree, with Greenstreet's character having the upper-hand here. There always seems to be a gulf of space between them, especially at the beginning of the scene. Besides master shots, I usually think of closeness of characters in films noir rather than having them spaced apart like this. Even when the characters physically come closer to each other, the way in which the camera is placed (a low angle on Greenstreet is especially odd in this shot-reverse shot-shot sequence; and even then, we linger on Greenstreet more than Lorre) creates this large space between the two characters. Again, a lot of times I think of space between characters as being much smaller in films noir, but I notice here that this isn't the case in this scene. The entrances are polar opposites, aren't they? Lorre comes into the room almost innocently, his small and fragile body walking through the doorway. Then we get the looming Greenstreet coming through the shadows and into the room. I like how Lorre has to go through a door to get into his apartment, but Greenstreet, who's already infiltrated the apartment, comes through an open door frame. Lorre is puzzled and Greenstreet is in command of the situation; after all, he does have the gun. I also really like that low angle dolly shot up into Greenstreet's face; there's nothing more menacing than having a large character in close-up looking down upon the camera. It not only puts Lorre's character in his place, but us as well.
  14. Out of the Past may just be my favorite film noir. While I don't have a particular favorite scene, this one certainly stands out. Since I'm sure some people haven't seen this film, I think it's important to note that this is during an extended flashback section of the film--the past in which Jeff Markham/Bailey is trying to escape from. The flashback, as we've learned, occurs quite a bit in films noir, but attempting to run from your past is an important aspect to the style as well. And, unfortunately, Jeff isn't able to outrun his past (so, yes, Kathie does come back into his life). So, with those two things in play, I think their meeting is a pretty special one since it gets Jeff's past into play and gets the whole shebang rolling. As many have pointed out, the chiaroscuro--the strong contrasts between light and dark--are definitely apparent in the scene. As Naremore states, Kathie (Greer) goes through three physical modes of appearance: the hot Acapulco sun, the shadowy archway, and the cool cantina. And, she is surprisingly easy to see in all three modes (which only lasts seconds, but still). What's different about this scene is that we don't start in the dark, but in the light. Of course, lots of light means shadows; however, with Kathie wearing her white dress and hat, in the blazing sunlight, it's almost as if she's a ghost: she's being sort of washed out in the light and slowly becomes a figure that Jeff instantly understands to be the woman he's looking for. Just like his memory is creeping back into his thoughts as he tells us this flashback, Kathie is coming back physically. Once we're in the cantina, though, we do get the more standard contrast. Even though nothing is washed out in either light or shadows, we do get that chiaroscuro that's present in this style. The clashing, though, remains with the decor and the peddler guy. So, we are getting the standard style, but also something a bit more interesting. I've always kind of thought that Kathie knows she's going to be found; she may not necessarily know by whom, but that doesn't matter--she'll be found. And so, here, we find out that Jeff has located her, or, the money that she's carrying, I guess. Knowing that he's searching for the money, we can tell that he's certainly taken interest in Kathie; he even buys her a present, though she refuses. Kathie's disadvantage (or advantage?) is telling Jeff that she occasionally visits another cantina down the street. We see that they're flirting with each other, and that this might lead somewhere. It all hinges on whether or not she can decipher who Jeff is, which is why she only "sometimes" visits the other cantina. We learn a few things about these characters: their motives, their desires, their interests. There's a lot of information packed into three minutes. Many, myself included, see Out of the Past as one of the prime examples, if not the prime example, of film noir, so I'd say that the film undoubtedly contributes to the style. We have a flashback, voice over, a femme fatale, a central character on the fringe of society, chiaroscuro, a complicated/convoluted plot, witty dialogue, prime locations. I honestly can't think of a better representation of the style. Though, there are still many more films to go in this course, so maybe another film will surprise me.
  15. Hayworth was a trained dancer and starred with dancing legends Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in a few films. I didn't realize this until I watched one of the bonus features on the Gilda DVD. It shows just how much of an actress is when she performs poorly; it's always more difficult to do/act/sing/dance poorly if you're actually good at doing/acting/singing/dancing.
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