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About AllisonW

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  1. Our last Daily Dose! No, I don’t want to leave Noir Country! Before this course, I always associated Miklos Rózsa with his scores for biblical epics. His scores for films noir have been amazing, though, setting the dark, foreboding mood and complementing the action. Criss Cross is a perfect film to end the course on. It has all the elements we’ve come to associate with film noir: night, an urban setting, forbidden lovers, secrets, a troubled past, a plot, a controlling boyfriend. Yvonne De Carlo as Anna is fascinating in this clip, tender and soft with Steve and firm and resentful to
  2. The classical music in this scene provides a stark contrast to the harsh violence in this clip. The choice of Wagner is particularly telling. Who was the one who specified that the music should be Wagner? Was it Dassin or Brooks? They could have chosen any number of classical composers like Mozart or Bach, but Wagner has long been associated with the Nazi regime (though ironically, not all Nazi leaders liked Wagner). By choosing Wagner’s music, the filmmakers made a parallel between Munsey’s interrogation methods and Nazi brutality. Munsey runs the prison like a fascist state. This is f
  3. Oh hey, young Raymond Burr. It’s often said how entertaining it is to play bad guys, and Burr is certainly a chilling one in this clip. Looming over Steve, he is an extremely threatening presence. He is smart too. Steve naively thinks that Walt can’t frame him. Without a word, Walt calls the police and gives them the Steve’s truck license number. Even though we see a few punches, the majority of the violence takes place off camera, leaving the full extent of the beating to our imaginations. Sometimes, what our imaginations produces is more horrifying than anything the camera can produce
  4. “Jungle” calls to mind a dangerous place, full of wild, untamable creatures. “Asphalt” is hard, mundane, and gritty. Putting the two together creates a mental picture of a dark place, where concrete has replaced the trees and vines, and humans are the most dangerous predators. It is not a place where the young and innocent can live safely. These few minutes in the clip match the title perfectly. Dix is being hunted by the police, who patrol the area much like one of the big cats would seek out its next meal. He hides, but they eventually find him. I find the alliance between Dix and Gus
  5. Back to France! We’ve talked so much about the influences foreign films and filmmakers had on film noir that I haven’t really thought about the influence film noir had on other countries’ cinema. The fact that Elevator to the Gallows’s score was improvised amazes me. Like the others have said, the score helps create a sense of isolation, as Florence and Julien are separated from each other, and they want to be separated from the world. It compliments the quiet desperation and erotic passion they feel for each other. These two are so wrapped up in each other, so desperately in love that it
  6. Although it’s fairly standard for a film noir to have flashbacks, for them to be set so far back in the past is fairly unusual (discounting, for a moment, the film noir westerns Dr. Edwards discussed a few weeks ago). This is set even before Chandler and Hammett began writing those hard-boiled detective stories that led to the development of film noir. Although they went to a little effort of creating a sense of the time with the costumes (though 1950s B films did not have the emphasis on accuracy we’ve come to expect from Masterpiece Theatre), this scene feels like it could take place in an
  7. There’s nothing in this clip that I see as a parody or even a deconstruction of film noir. Granted, I’ve only seen the first three minutes, but those three minutes seem to be playing the genre straight. The snappy dialogue may seem a little forced, but I feel like it’s more like the screenwriters were trying to emulate the writing style of Chandler and Hammett. The opening has a lot of the film noir elements we’re used to: trains, banter, a dangerous femme fatale (or at least discussion of her), and a hard-boiled detective with his less attractive partner. I will have to see the film to de
  8. Heist films are a perfect subject for film noir for a variety of reasons. Even though they revolve around theft, most of us can identify with a desire to be wealthy and live comfortable, leisurely lives, so we can empathize with the characters’ motives. This is as true today as it was back in 1952 when Kansas City Confidential was made, with the rising consumer culture in the U.S. and the emphasis on comfort and security, as well as the elegance of Madison Avenue. A heist film relies on timing and organization, and so heightens our anticipation as we wait and watch, wanting the protagonists
  9. The words that stick out to me in this clip are “could have”. Ernie could have been the champion. Pauline could have been a star. Whether either of these things actually would have happened is impossible to say, but Pauline and Ernie believe they would. As a result, neither can get go of the past, and their lives are filled with disillusionment and disappointment. In the beginning of the clip, we are in the ring with the boxers, living the moment. The slow motion and the camera pulling back into the television give the sense of a memory, distant but still painful to remember. Watching t
  10. Ah Barbara Stanwyck. She’s a favorite of both my mother and mine. This clip starts out pretty simply, and there is nothing overtly noir about the cinematography or the way the characters are interacting. They seem like two ordinary old friends catching up on old times. When Sam brings up Martha, the first little hints of jealousy and a love triangle creep in. Walter’s face when Sam mentions his professional gambling indicates that he doesn’t approve of Sam’s work, but also that he might envy the freedom and fun in Sam’s life. Walter’s unhappiness in life is further emphasized by his earl
  11. The aspect that fascinates me the most about this clip for Too Late for Tears is the transformation of Lizabeth Scott’s character. In the beginning, Jane and Alex appear to be an ordinary married couple with ordinary problems. Jane has insecurity issues, and the way she struggles with Alan to turn the car around indicates that she is struggling for power in their marriage. When the bag of money drops into the car, it is like she comes to life. When the other car approaches, Jane immediately takes control and drives away. Alan is stuck in the backseat, and Jane completely ignores his comme
  12. Unlike the films we saw last week, there is not an immediate sense of dread when the opening credits roll. Although the cinematography makes good use of shadows and contrast, the music is upbeat, almost peppy. Only the name Hitchcock gives us a clue that we’re in for a twisted tale. As with other films noir, Hitchcock waits to show us our leads’ faces, letting us draw our own conclusions from their clothing (clothes make a man). The intercutting of the two characters getting on the train establishes the idea that their meeting was meant to be. Coincidence and fate are all themes that we’v
  13. The films we’ve seen this week have really emphasized movement and desperation, and D.O.A. is no different. Like the others have said, there is a purposefulness to Edmund O’Brien stride through the police station. Those thick walls surround him on either side, making it look like he’s walking through a mausoleum. Then, we find out that he is a dead man walking. The shot of him during the credits stresses his isolation. There are no other people in the hallway, no one passes him, or makes eye contact with him. Even when he talks to another person, they direct him to where he needs to go w
  14. Warner Brothers’ films noir always seem darker and grittier than films noir from other studios. Even though I talked about the realism in the Hitch-Hiker yesterday, it definitely had formalistic qualities in the deep, dark shadows. Caged uses darkness to its advantage too, but it is more naturalistic. We are inside the transport van like the other prisoners, almost completely surrounded by darkness, and we can barely see the outside world through that screen hidden behind the credits. When the door opens and the light floods in, we know that we’ve come into a brutal, unforgiving world, one
  15. After I watched the clip, I went to look up the dates of the Starkweather/Fugate spree kills because I was wondering if the Hitch-Hiker, like M, was inspired by a real crime. Turns out that the film predates that case by five years, but The Hitch-Hiker was based on the crimes of Billy Cook in 1950-51. I think that is why the film feels so much more realistic than some of the others we’ve seen. Even though crimes were not blasted across every newspaper like they are now, this was a crime people on the West Coast would have been familiar with and recognized in the film. One thing that remind
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