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About rjvincent

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  1. Dick Powell brings an edge of danger to Philip Marlowe. He smart, savvy and operates in a slightly gray area. While he may deal in some sordid business, he still has a code he follows. When he says that he charged his client $100 to take care of him and failed he wants to find out what happened. He states that he's a "small businessman in a very messy business but I like to follow through on a sale", which indicates he doesn't like leaving any unfinished business. He also shows that he can see through phonies, when he asks her if she does her own typing. He's well dressed but there's a hint of him knowing how to take care of himself and not being above roughing someone up, male or female, to get to the truth. The character is very different from the "drawing room detective" type character such as Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. While he does work with the police, he doesn't operate under their restrictions and without the bureaucracy.
  2. "Laura" is one of my favorite movies, film noir or otherwise. It's well crafted, well acted and the cinematography is stunning. The opening monologue by Waldo Lydecker gives an insight into his character and how he thinks. The way the camera pans around the room, highlighting the expensive and rare clock and the objets d'art in the display case shows that he prizes things over people. I think he saw Laura as part of his collection of pretty things, nothing more, and would do anything necessary to keep her. I worked with a local theater group on a production of the stage version of "Laura", which has a few characters and scenes that aren't in the original film.
  3. Great opening scene. It's another night and the workers are relaxing after a long day. It's a full moon and it's quiet until the first gunshot. It jumps right in. You don't hear an argument or the victim pleading for his life, just the gunshot. The lack of emotion on Betty Davis' face when she empties the gun into the man is a bit creepy. Her reaction when the moon comes back out shows that she feels something, but it's not guilt. Her "matter of fact" way of instructing the foreman to call the police and to get the plantation owner shows a cold, calculating, possibly disturbed person.
  4. Beautifully filmed. The opening shot of the firebox looks like the mouth of some giant creature. The locomotive is both graceful and brutal. It's a beast that needs to be tended to. The crew's ease with working with the machine shows their experience. The simple communication that they use is also effective and indicative of their experience. It also shows the grittiness of their job with the ever present dirt and grime that the engineer is constantly wiping off of his hands along with the smoke and dirt. The train's headlong rush to the station gives a hint of what's going to happen later on.
  5. The blank screen with the children reciting the song about the murderer sets the tone for the movie. The innocence of the children contrasts with the morbid subject of the rhyme. Even after the woman scolds them about singing it, they ignore and continue. The sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs only to have the woman come into frame is something Hitchcock would use time and again. The church bells almost sound like a funeral dirge and the crowd of parents waiting to meet the children at the school hints that's something's not quite right. The lighting definitely plays a part. It's supposed to be high noon but everything is rather dark, as if a pall has been cast over the neighborhood. As Elsie walks down the street, there are shadows and ominous hints, the dark doorway, the man leaning against the post reading a newspaper (is he?) looks a little suspicious and her bouncing the ball against the reward poster all have a foreboding feel. The appearance of the shadow of the man in black and his seemingly non-threatening question also add to the tension.
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