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Pierce S

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About Pierce S

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    McLean, Virginia
  1. I see that many fellow students are exchanging ideas about additional films noir to explore after the Summer of Darkness is over. I'd like to recommend this list of "Ten Overlooked Noirs" from the noted film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. He discusses a lot more than ten films here and offers some interesting ideas for future viewing. Rosenbaum wrote the article for the DVD Beaver site in April 2006, so many of the films he described then as "should be available" (SBA) are now available in good editions on DVD or Blu-ray. Hope you all enjoy the suggestions found here. http://www.jonathanro
  2. Diane – You might be interested in the title my new hero John Alton (Raw Deal, Mystery Street, Border Incident, Hollow Triumph, The People Against O'Hara) chose for his 1949 treatise on cinematography: Painting With Light. It's still in print and available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520275845?colid=2Q2KSQYD3QMJ0&coliid=I14HEW77M1QG03&ref_=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl
  3. – Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance. • Criss Cross begins with long aerial take (1 min. 15 sec.) of downtown Los Angeles at night, slowly closing in on the parking lot where the first scene takes place. The grim Miklós Rózsa score seems to tell us that fate is reaching down to touch the life of someone in that parking lot. • At this point, I feel that almost any black and white film that was made between 1941 and 1958 and begins with an image of Los Angeles City Hall can be considered film noir. Think of D.O.A. for example. The building becam
  4. – What role does music (especially the record playing Wagner) play in the intensity of this scene? First, let’s try to identify exactly which music is being used here on the soundtrack to represent the recording Captain Munsey is playing on his phonograph in this scene. The selection begins with an excerpt from the overture to Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser. After approximately 56 seconds, there is a splice into an excerpt from the “Bacchanale” in the first act of the opera. That continues until Munsey turns off the phonograph. The subject matter of this part of the opera could be r
  5. – Describe how this scene uses cinematography to accentuate the brutal beating of Steve Randall (Steve Brodie). Walt’s only direct participation in Steve’s beating is the surprise punch he throws as he walks up to the seated Steve early in the scene. The extreme close-up of Walt’s fist as he follows through on the blow brings the brutality right into the face of the viewer. When Steve tries to leave after Walt’s phone call to the police, Shorty stops Steve with a punch that causes Steve’s arm to start the overhead light to swinging like a pendulum. We see two or three punches from Short
  6. – Discuss how this film depicts and utilizes this “unnamed city.” Additionally, why do you think the film is entitled “The Asphalt Jungle”? According to IMDb, the opening scenes of The Asphalt Jungle were filmed in Cincinnati, Ohio, and that is precisely the sort of Midwestern noir city Greil Marcus had in mind in his comments about Iverstown. Cincinnati actually does have a Camden Square, which is mentioned in the police radio chatter in this opening scene. The clock in Gus’s café indicates that the time is about 5:30 in the morning, but I am still struck by how little activity there i
  7. – In what ways does Miles Davis’s score (improvised while watching scenes from the movie) work with and contribute additional layers of meaning to Louis Malle’s visual design? The opening sequence of Elevator to the Gallows begins with alternating choker close-up shots of lovers Florence and Julien as they carry on a passionate telephone conversation in which they repeatedly declare their love for each other and their yearning to be free of the obstacle to their happiness. As the credits begin, the images of the lovers’ conversation continue but Miles Davis’s jazz score substitutes in the
  8. – Describe the noir elements, in terms of style and substance, in this opening sequence. • low-angle shots of Howard tidying up inside the house • Salvation Army band percussionist clashing cymbals directly over the image of Howard working on a screen in the background; deep focus • window shade pull and its echoing shadow first hanging then swinging like a symbolic noose in front of Howard’s head as he replaces a window screen after cleaning the windows and scrapes off some debris on the screen • use of mirror image to show Howard putting on his coat when direct view is obscured by
  9. – Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"? The discussion in the taxi about what Mrs. Frankie Neal looks like does seem to support Hirsch’s assessment. Walt, the younger detective, is a buttoned-down kind of guy who is concerned about making the departure of the train back to Los Angeles on time and tells the cab driver to take any available short cuts. Walt has his trench coat belt buckled and tucked in neatly, not
  10. – Discuss the role of time and timing in this scene. In the opening scene from Kansas City Confidential we see a man observing street activities surrounding the daily opening of the Southwest Bank. The key to understanding what we are watching comes at 2:22 when the observer records his observations on an annotated and detailed map of the immediate area. From this and from the angle of the shots looking down on the street scene we can tell that the observer has been looking out the window of a hotel across the street from the bank. Three activities are being correlated in the notes belo
  11. – Compare and contrast how director Karlson shoots and stages the boxing scene as a contrast of styles between cinema and television. In his film version of the final minutes of the bout, Karlson uses low-angle and high-angle shots, high contrast of the fighters against a black background, POV shots showing the viewer what the attack from the Champ looks like through Ernie Driscoll’s eyes, and extreme close-up shots. The soundtrack has a lot of crowd noise over the fight announcer’s voice, giving the impression of being present at the fight. At 0:40 into the clip, the crowd noise drops o
  12. – Discuss the scene in terms of its acting and staging. In this brief scene, what do you see as the interpersonal relationships between Sam (Heflin), Walter (Douglas), and Martha (Stanwyck)? If you have seen the entire film, avoid larger points about the plot and focus simply on what you are seeing just in this scene. This scene provides a lot of exposition about the past relationships of Sam, Walter, and Martha. Sam has been away for 17-18 years, but the three grew up together in Iverstown. Walter is now the District Attorney and married to Martha. Walter describes Martha as beautifu
  13. – Compare the opening of this film with other Daily Doses that began with a similar set-up on a deserted highway at night. How does this film's fateful twist differ from other film scenes we have investigated? In both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker the driver of the car made a conscious decision to stop and invite someone in trouble into his car. In Too Late for Tears Alan and Jane Palmer are moving down the road when the fateful satchel of cash is thrown into the back seat of their convertible from a passing car like manna from heaven. Or is it another Pandora’s box? Depending on h
  14. – How does Hitchcock's rhythm and purpose differ in this opening sequence from other films noir such as Kiss Me Deadly or The Hitch-Hiker? All three of these films begin with fateful chance encounters. Both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker begin on dark highways at night and involve a person being picked up by a passing car. This plot device immediately puts the characters in a closed situation where they have to interact with each other. In both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker the situation quickly turns to fear and menace. Christina Bailey is running in fear of the people who tr
  15. -- Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films? In Kiss Me Deadly we are dropped into the middle of Christina Bailey’s flight from an asylum as she wanders barefoot down a highway trying to get someone to stop and help her flee from something that has left her very afraid. Even though we learn of the asylum only indirectly through the policeman’s comments to another driver and see nothing of the asylum itself, it represents something that most normal people would fear and want to avoid. It is a pla
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