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Posts posted by vintagegal711

  1. A mother-daughter spat with a little higher stakes.


    Rather unsettling music plays an important role in this scene where things are “spiraling” down and out of control; a seemingly innocent looking young girl with a sweet voice and pleasant smile suddenly turns savage.  But is it so "sudden?"  I should say not.  It’s pure, pent-up hatred (and, dare I say, unwarranted) released in climax.  


    This severely ungrateful daughter lashes out at the only person who has stood by her.  Her mother, who has worked hard to raise them both out of a life of poverty, is shocked to finally see the truth.  Everything Mildred has done has been with her daughter in mind (and consequently, why she is a spoiled brat).  Mind you, nothing about their clothes, their mannerisms, or their house looks "cheap" to the audience, but this girl's face as she scrunches up her nose, along with her malicious and hate-filled words, reveals how it sickens her.  How she is filled with contempt for even her mother!


    Notice the black dresses (almost as if in mourning)?  Something solemn and serious has just taken place, an occasion not to be treated lightly, but the addition of the flower on Veda lends a contrasting touch of gaiety.  A pregnant young girl (so she says) has connived for money from her fear-stricken young boyfriend and his rich family, yet she smiles and holds her precious trophy (the check) while gloating, victorious.  She couldn’t care less about the hurt and pain she has caused for all those involved.


    As the tension heightens the two move closer together, though Veda is making it clear that she wants as much distance between the two of them as she can get.  Interesting.  A division is occurring, but the camera moves in.  It is here, while the daughter viciously makes her rant, that I have to wonder why Mildred isn’t the one doing the slapping.  The moment was perfect, but Joan is restrained.  Her only excuse must be in not yet having gotten over the shock.


    And then that staircase!!!  Perfect, yet again!  That is the thing that stood out to me most, especially going into the scene with the words “cynical and twisted” in my mind.  That gothic, cold, wrought-iron staircase, the epitome of a “twisted” Veda, and the perfect landing for a slapped Mildred.  People say some pretty hurtful things when they’re mad, but Veda is beyond “the heat of the moment.”  Mildred finally sees this and retaliates, and it’s about time! 


    As Eve Arden’s lovable, comedic self says, “Personally, Veda’s convinced me that alligators have the right idea.  They eat their young.”

  2. Laura - one of my absolute favorites!


    I had never thought of it before as being "a character study of furnishings and faces," but I like thinking of it that way now.  It concentrates very much on people with "lavish" life-styles and good taste.  The most obvious (and important) furnishing is one not shown in the opening scene, but rather the opening credits... worth mentioning because it is the portrait of Laura, herself.  Simply stunning.  And we immediately see the mysterious, haunting quality about this girl who we assume we will never meet, since she is dead from the start of the film.  And of course the clock, which is referred to often throughout the film, because it is the (spoiler alert) object which hides the murder weapon.  This is fitting as the ticking and chiming of clocks are always reminders of time going by, or running out altogether.  


    We hear Lydecker's voice narrating the first moments of this film (narration being a very film noir-ish thing to do).  I think this fitting since, 1) Lydecker is a writer and would therefore have a way with words, and 2) because it would be harder to think of your narrator as a murderer.  He is witty and humorous, and starting the film out with him, being the first voice you hear… you hardly think of him as suspect #1.  (At least I didn’t when I first saw the movie years ago.)  When I think of it, though, his was the only way his character could have gained our trust (along with the humor), since he is, of course, a snob and very unlike-able if you knew someone like him in real life.  He thinks very highly of himself.  It's in his words, his tone (he simply oozes with sarcasm), his decor (notice the monogrammed towels hanging in his "bathroom").  He wants everything, and everything in its place, as long as it is rare and/or beautiful.  Things that have no use but to decorate his walls or remain under glass, untouchable, simply for show, and because he can.  He finds Laura, and of course she is both rare and beautiful.  He has to have her and it is as if she too becomes a part of his collection.  But not just a part, because she is the most prized, and one which he feels the most passionate about (if he could be passionate about anything but himself).  She stands out, and whatever she lacks (in his eyes) he makes over.  Like his other possessions, she, too, he wants out of reach of anyone but himself.  "Under glass," so to speak.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.


    Waldo’s “baring all” as he gets out of the tub, and even calling McPherson into the bathroom while he bathed in the first place, is telling.  He is sure of himself.  He thinks he has everything under control and acts as if he has nothing to hide.  He of course does, but his ego tells him that no one would be intelligent enough to figure him out.  Most everyone is beneath him.  He has such wealth and holds such power, though he is not a large/muscular or youthful man.  His weapon is his wit, which he yields in his column.  He can make or break a person, and has no qualms about the latter.


    Waldo’s narration - “another of those detectives.”  He says it cringingly and with contempt, as if he were holding out a dirty, smelly sock at arm’s length, and with the very tips of his fingers.  Funny how it is the rich, high-class, well-educated, older and distinguished-looking man who turns out to be the lowlife, while “another of those detectives” who considers women dolls or dames, the guy who looks like he might be a gangster, is our hero.  But then, McPherson had never met Laura, and Laura is what makes this detective not just another “thinking machine.”  She makes him human, and real.  A poor, but honest cop who becomes so infatuated with his case victim that he finds himself wishing he had known her, and inevitably, he falls in love with her…  How could she not get inside his head!?  He eats, sleeps, breaths his case, surrounded by those who have nothing but her praises to sing, about how she was like no other in every way.  And there her portrait is, staring him in the face, haunting him… such a tragic romance.  But (spoiler alert) he does get his chance.  When Laura herself walks into the room, very much alive, hope walks into his life.  His tough exterior gentles because she is near, and she has that effect.  Could she love such a man with so little to offer, except himself?  Or is that not exactly what she wants? 


    Such great entertainment!      

  3. POV camera angles are not quite as accurate as actually seeing something with your own eyes, of course, because the camera is limited (no peripheral vision)...  I do not have to turn my head quite so emphatically and face something straight on when looking to the right or left of me...  (this is a noticeable difference for me when watching movies filmed in that way), however, because of this lack of peripheral, we are knowing even less about what is going on around us, which, I think, adds to the suspense.  The feeling I got was almost as though I was boxed in, with only a small claustrophobic view to what was happening, as from inside the barrel, only this "barrel view" continued even when I was out of it.  I got the same hunted feeling as Bogart's character surely had, as though I was straining, whipping about frantically to see who was coming and what my options were for escape.  When we watch in this way, we each get the chance to be him, with the benefit of someone else's commentary (Bogart's "narration" of different thoughts), which is definitely a repeated element in many film noirs.


    And I'm with Bogie.. what a nosy guy!!!  

    Unlike-able.  I'm on the side of an escaped con, not only because he is the first character I am introduced to and happen to be seeing things from his viewpoint, hearing his thoughts, but just from pure dislike of the other guy's analytical rudeness.  And I can't help feeling that that is how we are supposed to feel about this supposedly generous character who picks up a stranger along the road but proceeds to interrogate him.

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  4. First film I've seen so far!  But the opening is still as potent, as if I had never seen it.


    Setting - exotic Singapore.  Background - jungle music.  A romantically bright moon looks down over... sweaty, tired workers settling in for the night while the rubber trees ooze their lethargic drops.  All is lazy.  All is quiet.  But then the mood is cut.  A blast from a gun!  The music stops.  A bird is startled and flies off.  A man stumbles onto a porch.  Enter:  Bette, as only she can. (Gosh, I love her!)  Another shot.  The dogs are alerted, the men are alerted.  Again.  And another.  Another.... Perhaps the man is still by now, but we wouldn't know it, for the camera zooms in on only Bette.  Bette and her eyes, so intent as she moves down the stairs, emptying her gun, each shot like an encouragement in her mind.  Confirmed!  She wants this man dead, and then some!  She appears in a daze, almost emotionless, unaware of her surroundings.  It's only her, the gun, and the man (though, her and the gun may be one-and-the-same in this scene, as the feeling behind the finger (or lack there-of) is almost as penetrating).  Oh, she knows what she's doing... she is aware, certainly, of what she is doing... and I don't think she cares that she is taking a life, but rather only of what must have just happened prior.


    Dark clouds move across the moon, but only for a moment.  Her crime cannot be hidden, though she may try to cover it up, and that is evident to us as the moon makes its appearance once again, only brighter, it seems.  And this is the climax, at least for me.  THOSE EYES!  The truth of what she has done is about to be brought to full light, unless she is fast on her feet in thinking of a story.


    The men approach cautiously (the foreman, perhaps, being the most brave in stepping forward?).  He looks shocked to discover the identity of the man lying on the ground.  This isn’t some stranger, some no-good scoundrel or burglar who broke into the house.  This is someone they know and are familiar with.  Notice the hesitant way in which he follows her into the house when she commands it?  He has, perhaps for the first time, been surprised at her actions, suspicious, a little scared that it appears she may be capable of murder, but he obeys because that is expected.


    An accident, she says, and to go and fetch her husband and the district officer, immediately.  Now he may not buy that, but again, he does it.  And the whole while she stands with her body and face turned away from him (afraid she may give something away if she faced him?).  She’s calm and commanding, however, and the hand that had just been clenched tightly around the gun is now open wide at her side and away from her body.  It is a hand that had just committed murder.  What’s the story?  Watch and see!         

  5. I wrote my observations very extensively and nicely but something went wrong and I lost all of my work... thus, I will try to simplify.  :(


    Shaky, realistic/documentary-style way of shooting the scene.  Some might feel this opening was long and drawn out, but these are men doing a job.  We are shown a small portion of time, but these men took the whole trip.  They live with the dirt, the noise, the constant vigil...


    Here you have the larger-than-life excitement of a train, hurtling across the tracks at break-neck speeds, versus the calm, almost "strictly routine" attitudes of the engineers, with their precisely timed and very deliberate movements.  These guys know their job.  They depend on each other, and seem to be "comfortable," even though a lot depends on their being on their toes at the right moments.  (Notice the lighting of a cigarette midst the lever-pulling, bells and whistles?)  They are comfortable...  Perhaps something will happen to stir things up for these two?  Something to match the fast pace.


    The tunnels - noisy, dark, tightly enclosed spaces - enough to make anyone a little nervous.


    That non-stop clatter, the obnoxious roar of the train (the "noise" I mentioned) with frequent bells and whistles, versus the seemingly dead world around them (the strange "people-less destination," as if some unknown disaster had forced everyone underground... or something).  The "light at the end of the tunnel" doesn't seem to be very cheery.  What a depressing and lonely setting.  What rush to get seemingly nowhere.  But it's the job.


    Again, I have not seen this one either.  Probably doesn't seem like much at first glance (for an opening scene), but I can see where someone could make mountains out of the molehills.

  6. When I think of film noir (and I've seen quite a few) I think symbolism.  I see the cities, known for their bright lights, only reaching just so far as light abruptly turns to shadow.   I think of cigarette smoke, fog, and dark corners, where bad things happen.  Characters have sinister motives, secrets, and hidden agendas.  Even the hero/heroine is often tainted by something in his/her past.  Detectives, reporters and femme fatales flood the screen with their presence.

    In this opening clip we see victims - children - playing and singing in their sweet, child-like manner a morbid song.  This in itself strikes an eerie (strange and frightening) note to the first minute of the film.  They stand in a circle, with the girl in the middle pointing  from one to another, just like the hands on a clock.  The children drop out one by one and the scene sets up the plot.   A kidnapper/killer is on the loose and the community is well aware, though the children do not seem to recognize the seriousness of the situation.  They are naive, and probably fascinated with the excitement of it all.  They continue being children, though everyone else is tense, on edge, fearful of an unknown danger lurking about.  Their time as children may be running out, as (one by one) they are disappearing.  Who is next?  The camera moves from looking down at the children, to looking up at a woman on a balcony.  Transition from the carefree world of the children to the nervous, yet seemingly mundane world of the adults.

    Upstairs in a rundown apartment, a woman is hard at work.  I imagine the drudgery of her life, the poverty she is surrounded in, has made her look the way she does - tired and plain.  The silence is suspenseful as she goes about her work, but cut by the sudden chiming of a cuckoo clock.  Something is about to happen?  Someone's time is up!  

    School lets out and one has to wonder why a little girl is left to walk home alone, especially with "the man in black" still at large.  Is the working woman her mother?  If so, has the murder scare drug on so long that the woman has put it down as a way of life, forgetting caution?  I have not seen this movie, so these are the questions in my mind as I watch this clip.

    We are introduced to a seemingly sinister character right as the clip finishes.  The little girl bounces her ball against a column,where we are informed of a high reward for the "man in black."  (Again, the child is being a child, though the bouncing of the ball against the reward poster seems to symbolize that childish disregard, as I said previously, for the danger.)  Enter:  the shadow of a man.  He approaches the girl and we are left to assume that one more child has fallen prey to the killer.  (Perfect use of the element of darkness to introduce a villain.)

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