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Everything posted by dripley

  1. I'll just say it...I'm not a boxing fan. Having grown up minutes from Colma, CA where boxers punched each other out alongside the headstones of the dead, you'd think I could appreciate the sport. I can remember uncles, aunts, and even my mother talking about going to "the fights." They were an important form on entertainment in an era when most entertainment was still live. They were a place like Shakespeare's theater where all the classes mixed and mingled. Maybe that's the problem with people today, we don't get out and rub elbows with one another - we lack empathy for one another. Yikes, talk about social commentary. Let's get on with the show, as they say. 99 River Street could be about any former married professional. Former baseball player, basketball player, tennis player, actor, etc. etc. etc. whose spouse vicariously borrows respect and stature from that spouse. Once the dance is over, well it's over all they way around. The wristwatch says it all, Pauline. Don't tell this dame that its a phony. Your husband may want to believe you, but don't count on the rest of us. Pauline's already got a foot out the door in an era when women were becoming more independent and divorce was not unthinkable (however you wouldn't know that from watching serial television). I bet there's another man involved buying her corsages. I feel sorry for that sap, Ernie. He's in for a hard ride down that lonely highway. I hope the headlights come on eventually.
  2. ...and the door closes. Everyone's life just changed; something new (and noir) is about to begin. Let's see ... Douglas obviously dislikes Heflin and is perturbed that he has to help him out. Douglas wants to avoid Heflin seeing "his wife," but acquiesces. Stanwyck doesn't recognize Heflin, but when she does is happy to see him. Heflin can't get used to Douglas calling Stanwyk "his wife." Sam: "Aren't you glad now, you missed that circus train?" Martha: "I don't know." What?! AYK - right in front of your bird? As far as the Midwestern generic city goes, the office reminds me of the office in The Racket only a bit more upscale: Acme Realty vs. the District Attorney. Could be anywhere. It's great when it's been so long since I've seen a film I can't remember what happens.
  3. I'm a big fan of Lizabeth ("The Threat") Scott and this is, dare I say, her best film. She usually plays a meely-mouthed, skinny dame singing in a nightclub while being threatened by some tough guy ala Dead Reckoning. In Too Late for Tears she takes things into her own hands. As the couple drives towards dinner, SHE decides to go home because SHE doesn't like being "patronized" by the wealthy wife of a friend. SHE almost runs them off the road and SHE decides to keep them money thrown in the back seat by speeding off. Right away the femme fatale is calling the shots and it will continue that way throughout the film. I have only seen this film in bits and pieces and really bad copies (missed its release at The Castro). I'm really looking forward to seeing the restored version, and yes, Eddie Muller did a great job resurrecting this phoenix.
  4. Hitchcock learned a lot from his readings of Shakespeare. His use of comic relief is notable in all his films - but he usually takes it a step further. With Hitchcock we are often presented with lighthearted scenes that we know are going to betray us as viewers. We watch them with a sense of dread, wearing smiles on our faces. We know that, excuse my pun, the other shoe is going to drop, as it does in Strangers on a Train. We get the 1951 view of travel, which was exciting and fun and done with style. You didn't show up to the ticket counter in your sweats or yoga pants. The two characters seem interesting and Bruno may be attracted to Guy Haines, which can be deduced by his being a mama's boy (this is 1951 after all). Is Haines a little tired of the adulation? He just wants to settle in and read a good book - what could be better on a long train trip?
  5. "I want to report a murder." "Whose murder?" "Mine." I mean it can't get much more noir than that. Talk about the absurd. Even if you haven't ever seen this movie before you can almost predict O'Brien is going to same something that ridiculous. I love that the Captain shuffles through some papers and then says "Tell them we found Frank Bigelow," like he knows the story already. Everybody just accepts this crazy premise. The maze of corridors sets up a caged in feeling -- there is no escaping the absurdity of Bigelow's claim. He's gonna die and we all know it.
  6. Viewers get a claustrophobic feeling right away as they are being whisked down a road in the back of some kind of vehicle with a siren . . . an ambulance, a police car, prison van? The tiny caged window leads to the feeling of being closed in. I feel sorry for the woman in the close up - she is obviously so afraid and she's wearing two-tone saddle shoes, a bit young for a woman's prison. And what's up with the rest? Going to prison with style..furs, suits, stockings, hats, and purses. "Take a last look" shot through a gate where the world is just passing them by definitely gives the viewer the feeling of being caged.
  7. Interesting that the big, bad city has now become the open, eerie country. Both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker present visions of the lone wolf who lurks through the night waiting for victims. Isolation seems like a good theme for this one. How are these guys going to escape ... and would you just blindly follow orders? We all think we would do something heroic, but don't be too sure.
  8. A super cool car, Nat King Cole, and Cloris Leachman? Pretty great opening. Interesting that so many say they wouldn't pick up Leachman...A woman alone at night running down a highway barefoot? I don't know just seems something anybody would do. I don't think Beeker would have picked her up if he hadn't gone off the road trying to avoid her. How about terror for a theme? Pretty much starts out like some kind of updated Poe story - a (wo)manhunt for an escapee from the local insane asylum who appears terrified, but of what? who? What are they doing up there at that asylum? Does Dr. Frankenstein work there? Oops, wrong movie. Every time I see Cloris Leachman, I only see "Young Frankenstein."
  9. Love the way this is shot. It's like a horror film - the shadowy canted gothic doorway where you can only see feet. Is that a corpse, a killer, a spy? Whoever it is can't be all bad, I mean cats are a discriminating judge of character. And we're right! Look at that quirky little smirk on Orson Welles. More Poe-like shots - running footsteps down a slick cobblestone street, leading to a hidden stairwell circling under the depths of Vienna. Not sure what's going to happen. Joseph Cotten doesn't seem worried, Orson Welles looks like he's having fun, but the scenery, lighting, and music say otherwise. Classic!
  10. Whoa! Cue the orchestra, it's Lana. Hmmm...entrances, well Garfield makes a few entrances. We see him enter the California sunshine as "Man Wanted." He is a cheerful traveler on the road of life without any worries "plenty of time for that." When he enters the diner - ta, DAH - he enters the world of noir complete with venetian blind shadows and subtle chiaroscuro lighting. BAM! a lipstick rolls into a box of light, and the camera pans towards its source and then climbs up Lana Turner's legs while the orchestra, in a minor key, develops into a symphony of lust - you can just see it when Garfield takes a breath. Garfield makes Turner enter the diner to retrieve her lipstick and as she crosses the threshold she is painted by the canted angles of the shadows cast by the venetian blinds. The diner, at this point, is the noir center point. Another interesting choice of female costume - white lipstick, white shoes, white shorts, white top, white turban - the color of purity and innocence, good and truth. But unlike Greer in Out of the Past, Turner isn't trying to appear to be anything other than what she is - the femme fatale, and if you're the noir anti-hero, you don't care. What the entrances reveal about the two characters is that Garfield is going to move from easy going to calculating and dark at the hands (and/or body) of Turner. Turner's entrance says it all. She's up to no good, and knows exactly what she's doing.
  11. Wait, when is The Mask of Dimitrios playing? OMG! thank goodness it's at night, I won't be playing hooky again I've never seen this movie, but since The Maltese Falcon is one of my favorites and the premise of Dimitirios is basically the same as replayed in this scene, I can't wait! When comparing with The Maltese Falcon, you have the whole Levant, historical mystery, other worldly, forbidden knowledge angle. AND you get Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre facing each other once again, well what more could you ask for? Peter Lorre still comes off as a simpering whiner and Greenstreet still acts like a classic villain with class and smarts. Viewers can deduce these two are going to team up to find whatever it is they are looking for and that partnership is going to be tenuous at best - it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
  12. Like any good night creature, the femme fatale can't exist in the direct sunlight. As Robert Mitchum says, she has to come "in out of the sun." She crosses the threshold from the street to the bar to become a dark shadow and then a soft-lit woman in white who sits down under a bare bulb that casts harsh shadows on her skin, first from her hat and then when she lights her cigarette. Interesting choice of the white dress. Virginal, clean, innocent - Jane Greer is anything but, which Mitchum will find out. Mitchum will become the infected by the femme fatale and display some of the typical anti hero traits; ambiguous morals, down on his luck, no control over his fate, but no spoilers here. Out of the Past is one of my favorite film noirs....can't wait to watch it again.
  13. Don't get confused by the plot - there isn't one and it's not supposed to make sense. Bogart's Marlowe and Spade may seem the same as viewed through the opening clip of The Big Sleep, hard boiled detectives with a sharp wit. But Chandler's Marlowe is more ruthless than Hammett's Sam Spade. Perhaps this is because Hammett himself was a Pinkerton - so he makes the character a bit more real (and likable) - and Spade does have an ethical code. He may not like his partner, and messes around with his wife, but he will find his killer. Marlowe doesn't like anybody and often is motivated by what will help him, or his client. In The Big Sleep helping his client, the rich Sternwoods, helps Marlowe. In this opening scene we learn that Marlowe is a keen judge of character. Miss Carmen needs to be "weened." She's old enough. He has a college education and can still use "English when he has to." He's been fired for insubordination and drinks during the day. The Sternwoods are all corrupt, but he's willing to work for them.
  14. The opening credits are shot over a landscape that is harsh and foreboding, even lunar-like with its rocky crags and desert wasteland. When the voice over narration starts, it sets up a newsreel feel for a clip that takes place over the Imperial Valley of CA. The narrator uses words like "army" and "empire" to set up the medium shot of bracero workers shot through double chain-link with their anxious looks--all with the approval of the United States Department of Justice. It seems that viewers are in for anything but justice - setting up the noir qualities of this film.
  15. Interesting question - shifting from realism to formalism. It makes me look at the scene in a new and different way. At first, I thought the scene moved from the diner to a cheap back lot scene as Phil Brown jumps over the fences separating the small backyards of the neighborhood. Now, however, I see the scene move from realism in the diner to slowly morph into formalism as Brown travels through a set filled with chiaroscuro lighting and finally ends up a shadow standing over Burt Lancaster's body (formalism). Geez, I love noir.
  16. Rita Hayworth's performance is very burlesque-inspired, which becomes very apparent when she starts removing her clothing at the end. While it may be clumsy, that in itself can lead to the question of her being a woman of questionable morals when it comes to her sexuality. If she were so "loose" wouldn't she be able to dance the "**** coo" a bit better?
  17. Okay, let's pretend we all haven't seen this movie a few times. The most surprising thing about this scene is that Veda slaps Mildred instead of the other way around. Veda is spoiled, vain, amoral, and will do anything for money as she says in this clip. This takes on a noir quality because many American households raise children like this, well, maybe not to this extreme. MP makes everybody squirm because if the viewers are these parents, they don't want like mirrors held up for the audience's viewing pleasure and if the viewers aren't these kind of parents, they can't understand the motivations of a smart gal like Mildred Pierce. Noir isn't comfortable . . .
  18. The minor chord music fades as the pendulum takes over the rhythm and we see Ministry of Fear is "Directed by Fritz Lang." Minor key=bad, clock pendulum=bad. This is going to be a doubly bad movie. One thing that strikes me about this opening is the use of a porter at the gate to Lembridge Asylum. It reminds me of the scene from MacBeth where the porter sees himself as the porter of Hell gate that lets people in "to the everlasting bonfire." Here, on the other hand, there is no comic relief as the porter is letting people out of Hell, and the warden gives Ray Milland "One parting thought. Don't get involved with the police in any way." The clock is something that Milland is obsessed with as he grips the arms of his chair finding it "interesting to watch the last minute crawl by." The ticking let's viewers know it is just a matter of time before Milland gets "involved with the police" and it isn't going to be good.
  19. Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective? I have a tough time with this question having grown up with noir. Don't all private detectives act like Philip Marlowe? What strikes me about this opening scene is the immediate use of humor by the elevator operator that lets the viewers know there is a good-looking woman on the other side of that glass-paneled door. What is strange is the juxtaposition of the dirty hallway and Marlowe's impeccable suit. Does the fake reporter, Ann Grayle, ever feel intimidated or trapped or in any real physical danger? Uh, no. She stands there and argues, pouts, and whines--the classic female moves of the era. Is Marlowe amoral/immoral? Probably, but he's not as yet very convincing. He is willing to work around (or with) the cops to find out who murdered Marriott because he knows they will suspect him. Marriott gave Marlowe "100 bucks to take care of him. I'm a small businessman in a messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale." Even though Marriott is a man he just met, this little snippet of dialogue reminds me of Marlowe's code as expressed in The Maltese Falcon:
  20. What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" The furnishings in this film are wonderful. I was attracted to film noir as a child because of the beautiful faces, spaces, and clothes. The interior of Lydecker's apartment is like a smaller version of Versailles - it's lavish and filled with very expensive frivolities housing a very frivolous-seeming writer. Although Lydecker's flattery seems superficial, like a put-up job - Lydecker is wickedly smart, with an acid wit - especially when he becomes almost giddy over the detective with the "silver shinbone," a hero he has written about. Is Lydecker's flattery a way of deflecting McPherson from discovering the true killer? A way of matching the shallow, albeit expensive, accouterments surrounding Lydecker. Can a "charming" home hold the secret to Laura's murder? (Wow, there is so much wrong with that question, on so many levels, but no spoilers here).
  21. While the first person POV works in this clip--you get the feeling of escape, tension, and anxiety--it gets a little tedious to watch the majority of the film this way. As a viewer, I want to see the interplay between Boogie and Bacall . . .
  22. Total Creepfest. From the children singing about "The Man in Black" to the woman struggling up the stairs where she is met by another woman wearing an apron reminiscent of the morgue or an abattoir. The audience soon learns she is the mother of a child who is loved. Is the child safe? Of course not. The first we see her, she narrowly avoids being run over by a car only to talk to a shadowy stranger. "My name is Elsie Beckmann." First name, last name - just like those written on the poster regarding missing children who have met some kind of criminal fate.
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