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Isaac Wright-Lichter

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Everything posted by Isaac Wright-Lichter

  1. I really love Fritz Lang, so I'm most looking forward to "The Blue Gardenia", "While the City Sleeps", and "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt", because they're his "newspaper Noir" trilogy. I already own and have seen "The Big Heat", which is also a really great movie but I'm really excited to add three more of his films to my collection. A great way to take the sting out of Summer of Darkness's ending.
  2. The opening to "Strangers on a Train" suggests there is a lot of truth to the idea that what we wear says a lot about our personalities at least as far as movies are concerned. The way the two men's feet are filmed, it gives the impression that they are walking towards each other. Bruno's shoes are very idiosyncratic, while Guy's are more plain. From this early scene in the film, we can tell Bruno is a little strange, and probably a bit of an operator judging by how he begins talking to Guy, moves to sit next to him, and then says he isn't much of talker. Right away at this point in the scene,
  3. This is a great opening for a film about a prison. We the audience feel caged inside what we learn to be a prison vehicle full of convicts. All we see are the small bits of light coming through the window and we hear the motor. I personally wasn't sure where we were till a few moments later. The next nice touch was when the women look at the world through the gate, knowing it would be a long time before they saw it again.
  4. The lighting in this scene is brilliant. When the hitch-hiker gets into the car, his face is completely in the shadows. When he pulls the gun out and points it at the two guys in the car, he leans forward into the light. Aside from these points, the lighting is shadowy with the majority of the two men's faces in the light but also shrouded in shadow. The tension in the scene escalates when the hitch hiker draws the gun, but when he raids the car's trunk and discovers one of them likes shooting he smiles, believing he has found a good pair of "companions". Before having seen the film, this scen
  5. I find "D.O.A." really fascinating for a variety of reasons. I think the premise is very interesting--a man is poisoned and only has a limited time to solve his own murder. I can only imagine how Frank would be feeling, and thinking of myself in that situation filled me with a lot of the dread that Porfirio wrote about in his article. This one and the scene from "The Hitch-Hiker" I could feel the most dread watching. In both scenes these men's lives are in danger, but the men in "The Hitch-Hiker" have a chance of surviving. We know that Frank is going to die no matter what.
  6. I think that the backwards opening crawl was a very nice touch here. It signifies that everything happening here is backwards, and not exactly what it seems. We don't know what or where Christina is running from, but we know that she is desperate to get away from it to the point of jumping in front of Hammer's car to get his attention. When we learn that she has recently escaped from a mental institution, she manages to convince Hammer to keep from turning her over the highway police by holding and caressing his hand. Hammer submits to her charms, with tragic results later in the scene. From t
  7. Have you seen Christopher Nolan's "Following" (1998)? It's his first feature length film, and a good Neo-Noir film. It's told mostly in flashback, and is about a writer who takes to following strangers to see where they go, what they do, and other details about them partially to get inspiration for his characters. One day he follows a man who turns out to be a thief involved with some pretty bad people. Give it a watch! I think you can probably find the whole thing on YouTube...
  8. "The Third Man" has always been one of my favorite movies. It's beautifully filmed, extremely well written and acted, and brilliantly directed. Its cinematography captures the devastation and ironic beauty of Post War Europe, in this case Vienna, in a similar way that Fellini would film Italy in his films, or Truffaut would film France in "The 400 Blows". The tilted angles the city is filmed from in certain scenes suggests how off balanced everything was in this turbulent time. This particular scene is one of the most important, as it the first time that it is revealed to Holly (and to th
  9. Like many of the other daily doses of darkness, this one seems to be in flashback. Garfield says over the voice over that he had hitch-hiked a ride. When he gets out, he seems to be a polite, cheerful, idealistic young man, eager to find where he really belongs in the world. He also seems to be rather enjoying the journey. Turner's entrance however, beginning with her feet suggests that she is going to a larger than life, even otherworldly figure. The first shot of her we see is of her feet, implying she will walk all over and overshadow someone, possibly Garfield. Right away we see how Garfie
  10. Peter Lorre's entrance is calm and comparatively normal. He steps out of the elevator, talking to himself, and enters his room. The soundtrack tenses up, so we know something is about to happen. Sure enough, the room has been ransacked, and Sydney Greenstreet walks out and holds Lorre at gunpoint. They begin a conversation regarding what their "games" are regarding this mysterious mask. Lorre also retains his understated and very funny delivery of his lines in the moment when he says that he can concluding that Greenstreet is either a thief or a drunk, before leaning towards Greenstreet and as
  11. This scene from "Out of the Past" exhibits many of the hallmarks of a Film Noir. It's a flashback, with Jeff telling Ann about his history with Whit. When he sees Kathy, who turns out to be a superb example of a treacherous Noir femme fetale, we see fairly quickly that he is attracted to her. She is resistant to him, although we see that she may yet see Jeff. After telling Jeff about the other cantina he can go to, he tells her to wear the earrings he tried to give her, and she says, "I go there sometimes." These characters don't engage in the verbal fencing matches as Bogart and Bacall in "Th
  12. In these early moments of "The Big Sleep", we see that Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlow is perceptive and well informed by how much he already knows about General Sternwood and his family prior to visiting them. We also see that he has a sense of humor from his encounter with Carmen Sternwood. She throws flirtations at him--"you're not very tall, are you?"--and he throws them right back at her--"well, I tried to be." These factors make him feel much more approachable than Sam Spade. Spade ultimately does the right thing and all, but his character is cold, detached, and intimidating. We don't ge
  13. The dark shadows certainly suggest German Expressionism. The scene where he's telling "The Swede" that there are two men looking for him to kill him, the room is dark, and the Swede's face is completely surrounded in shadow. The only sign of life from him is the sound of his voice. Another nice touch to the scene was the shadow of the lamp, and the other guy in the scene on the wall. It reminded me of the opening scene in "Ministry of Fear", where Ray Milland is sitting in the shadows watching the clock ticking away until he can be released from the asylum. This film was also made by a German
  14. The first thing that comes into my head seeing this is that Gilda is either a). drunk, b. attention seeking, or c). both. Either way, by scene's end we see that there is going to be trouble when she is brought to Johnny who slaps her face. The song she sings "Put the Blame on Mame" is about a amorous woman named Mame, who's activities, particularly her koochee-koo (spelling?) dance, caused not only the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, but the shooting of Dan McGrew as well. I haven't watched "Gilda" yet, but I know a little about the plot. I'm wondering if this is intended to be a parallel of Gi
  15. The opening for "Border Incident" doesn't necessarily feel like a Film Noir at first. It feels more like a travelogue. The bright scenery, and the cheery voice over narration does not feel particularly Noir-like at all. However, when we see and hear about the Mexicans trying to get into the United States, and then the ones who get in illegally, we get the sense that this is the primary source of drama in the film. It reminds me of "Casablanca", which opens with a very travelogue-like opening where the narrator talks about the refugee trail from Europe to Casablanca, and then mentions that many
  16. Another great lecture! I think my favorite part of this one was when you talk about the influences of Noir, both European and American. I knew about some of what you were talking about, but there was a lot I didn't know. I knew filmmakers like Lang, Wilder, Ulmer and Preminger had come to the United States to escape the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s, and that they brought their tricks of the trade from working in the German film industry with them. But I'd never heard of European crime films like "Le Jour se Leve", and am really intrigued to see it. Learning about the European precursors to F
  17. Waldo has so many amazing lines. "Would you kindly continue this character analysis elsewhere? You begin to bore me." "Laura, I can't stand these morons any longer. If you don't come with me right now I'll run amok." Shelby: I haven't slept a wink since it happened. Waldo: Is that a sign of guilt or innocence, McPherson? Shelby: I didn't hear a note of the concert. I fell asleep. Waldo: Next he'll produce photographic evidence of his dreams. Basically every word that comes out of his mouth is gold...
  18. I know I'm really late, but here are my rankings of the films from June 5th. I didn't watch all of them, but here is what I thought of the ones I saw: 1. The Maltese Falcon--one of my all time favorite films (and books, too) and the film that made me really idolize Humphrey Bogart. Sure, he's not a very nice person, and his morals are out of whack, but he ultimately does the right thing in the end. He's also tough as nails, not afraid of anyone, and tells the police AND gangsters where to get off. And lives. As a 14 year old boy, this man was a god to me. 2. L.A. Confidential--one of m
  19. SPOILERS! IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN "MILDRED PIERCE" DO NOT READ!!!! I watched "Mildred Pierce" today for the first time in a couple of years. The first time I saw it, I was blinded by Veda's treachery, greed and selfishness. Watching it again, I was surprised to not feel very much sympathy for Mildred. She meant well, but she really wasn't a very good parent. She spoiled her children, particularly Veda, to the point where all she did was take from other people because that's all she knew how to do. Mildred never inspired her children to go out into the world and make something of themselves. She
  20. Great lecture, Mr. Edwards! You did a fantastic job explaining what Noir is, and providing background information about the genre. Something I really liked about it was your discussion of "The Maltese Falcon". I liked how you credited part of its success with John Huston's sticking the original source material which was itself a great work of fiction, in addition to the great casting and direction. I also really appreciated how you addressed it as often being cited as the "first" Film Noir, even though Noir had hidden in plain sight as you put it several years in films such as Hitchcock's "Reb
  21. The clock, swinging back and forth, indicates that time is passing for something to happening. The shadows and darkness of the shot succeed in grounding it in a certain seriousness. But, as opposed to "M", this opening evokes more curiosity than dread. With "M", one got the feeling that something was flat out wrong by the creepy song the children were singing and the intense response of the housekeeper, but this is not the case in "Ministry of Fear". When the scene begins, we learn that Ray Milland's character is being released from the mental institution with the doctor's approval. Nothing se
  22. I've seen "Mildred Pierce" once before, at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April, 2013. It was my first time seeing it, and it was with one of the most lively audiences I can recall. There was a lot of clapping and whooping and booing throughout the film, so there were a lot of details I missed. This is the one scene I always remembered though. I remember right after Mildred Pierce says, "Get out before I kill you", the entire theater erupted into thunderous applause that drowned everything else out for several moments. Seeing this scene again it is no less effective, but of all the thing
  23. Not having seen "Murder, My Sweet", I can only respond to what I've seen in this clip. Frank's article discusses a new kind of private detective as being a protagonist, rather than a "thinking machine", and states, "The essential question is no longer 'who-done-it?' but how does this protagonist act?" Dick Powell's Phillip Marlowe seems to be very sly, savvy, and grounded, while still retaining a sense of humor. He sees through Grayle's lies that she is a reporter right away. At first he tries to ignore her, but when she asks a specific question regarding someone he knows, he gets her into
  24. The opening of "Laura" suggests that this film will be told from Lydecker's perspective, just as "Double Indemnity" had been told from Neff's perspective earlier in 1944. While this turned out not to be the case, it is fitting because Lydecker arguably proves to be the most significant player in the film, apart from Laura herself, and not for the better. His opening sentiments about his grief over Laura's death implies that he is a more compassionate figure, when this couldn't be further from the truth. Not to spoil the film for anyone who's not yet seen it, but after we've seen the whole film
  25. For anyone who lives in or around the Boston area, the Brattle Theater is doing a Repertory Series this week called "Sunshine Noir", showing several Neo-Noir films from "Chinatown" to "The Big Lebowski" and last year's "Inherent Vice". It's only running from June 5-11, however. I'm sorry it's such short notice, I only just found out about it. I'd also like to point out that Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" (1973) is playing tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon and evening. It will also be featured in the Summer of Darkness festival sometime next month. If you'd prefer to see it on a big screen, here
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