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Everything posted by johncope

  1. So many films noir open with the road—Detour, In a Lonely Place, Out of the Past, The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly, and of course, The Hitch-Hiker. There are great variety in these openings, but each, it seems, is using the road as a sort of cue to the viewer that they're in a fatalistic world. There is only one way for this story to resolve itself, and we, the viewers (the passengers), are compelled to experience that one road—that thread of fate, if you will—along with the characters. When we are peering out from behind the hitch-hiker's (William Talman) head in this scene, that never feels mo
  2. In the opening scene of Laura, the viewer is aligned with Lydecker's voyeuristic perspective as we watch McPherson wander around his quarters. Also, Lydecker's voice-over gains our confidence, implicates us. The detective, who is often the character we're trained to identify with in crime films, has been replaced by a pompous, eloquent, and somewhat kinky writer (after all, he's interviewing him in a tub!). Even in this opening scene, there's a lot to suggest that Lydecker is a repressed homosexual ... There's definitively tension between the two. Dana Andrew's smirk when Lydecker steps ou
  3. I love the opening to The Letter. Not until this course, though, had I thought of it as a film noir—or pre-film noir. All the elements are there: shadows, low-key lighting, a crime, an apparent femme fatale. However, this scene is carefully crafted to ensure that the audience, from the beginning, is aligned with Leslie Crosby (Davis), not against her. (I think immediately of W. Somerset Maugham, who wrote the play on which the film is based, and who had a penchant for strong female characters.) Anyway, because of the way the moonlight shines on her, the way the workers respond to her, and
  4. "I love how the children warn us (and themselves) against the passing of time, as they sing, in a few minutes, he'll be there. "Just you wait, it won't be long. The man in black will soon be here." But at the same time, their own game reproduces the movement of a clock, thus illustrating visually the passage of time, suggesting how the time when "he will be there" is coming right up, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy... This first shot almost begins a countdown in the viewer's minds, which makes all the following come quite naturally, as it was announced, and the viewer then expects it
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