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MelanieKay

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  1. Pauline is unnecessarily nasty to Driscoll as she blames him for her unhappiness. Rather than being sympathetic with his inability to continue his chosen career, she throws it in his face. The scene suggests that a way out may already have occurred to her and she's looking for an excuse to take it. Another lover, perhaps? The relationship is showing as many raveled ends as Driscoll's fighting career and it can't end well.
  2. Nice opening! This film starts off at full tilt, with a woman running, seemingly for dear life from --- what? Her desperate attempt to stop a car by using her whole body illustrates the seriousness of her situation. The woman's desperation is further evinced by the willingness with which she cuddles up to a perfect stranger to protect herself from discovery. It is only at this point that we learn she is an escapee from an asylum, but we still don't know why she's running from the asylum, or if she may be running from a particular person. This clip tosses out more questions than answers. We haven't yet learned, for example, who the man is who picks her up, only that he is apparently indifferent to the woman in distress. But we know better, as, when he realizes she has recently escaped from an asylum, he protects her from the patrol officers by claiming she is his wife. If the woman running and panting were not enough, the backward credits signal to the viewer that something is terribly wrong; they jar us out of the mundane at the same time that they reflect the passing road beneath the vehicle. The speed with which this film throws us into the action and the jarring aspect of the credits make this an important contribution to film noir.
  3. Watched "The Stranger" (1946, Welles) for the first time. What an incredible film, and I noticed so many noir elements that I wouldn't have noticed but for this course: close-ups of Mary's face during moments of emotional upheaval; the film reel shadows obscuring Mr. Wilson's features when he shows Mary the Nazi footage; the recurring, ominous image of the clock figure with the sword that is a harbinger of things to come; and the double image of Mary in her bedroom when her image reflects back at an angle, denoting that something strange is going to happen. There were, of course, many more noir elements, but these are just a handful. I loved that this film is so full of suspense, too!
  4. I was unfamiliar with this story until now, so these are fresh impressions: Frank seems very much like an every-day, nonchalant wanderer when he first appears. The appearance of the policeman made me momentarily apprehensive, but this passes when the two part company. Lana Turner's character is obviously completely selfish from her first appearance. She tries to be alluring and dismissive at the same time, as though she doesn't care what this stranger thinks of her, but she's determined to entice him anyway, and then show her rejection of him by closing the door. The only noir element I noticed is a shift from a generally realistic film style to a formalistic one at the point when Cora's lipstick falls on the floor. The camera focuses on it and then crawls over to make a meal of Cora's legs.
  5. Since the Middle Ages, and probably since oral tradition, narrators have attempted to instill their tales with verisimilitude, as when Wolfram von Eschenbach claimed in in about 1210 that he'd heard the story of the search for the Holy Grail from "Kyot," an individual that scholars have only been able to surmise is fictitious. The claim that a story had a French, Arabic, or some other exotic source, made it more credible. The illusion of reality draws the reader/ listener/ viewer into the story. Border Incident accomplishes the same ends by means of a film style (documentary) that viewers have already been trained to accept as real. The suggestion of reality brings an immediacy to the story, as it suggests the possibility of repetition in our own lives, or in the lives of people we know. Also, the juxtaposition of "reality" and the bizarre emphasizes the surreal nature of film noir by pulling dark incidences into the everyday, making them seem more real.
  6. The camera angles are interesting with regard to formalism vs. realism. The first frames we see are shot up through the door of the diner, suggesting the angles of German Expressionism. But the scene changes to an objective view of the three people conversing, even though the subject is threatening. The scene in which the two men are being untied is also objective with no weird angles to disturb the viewer. The clip changes from realism to formalism during Nick's sprint to warn the Swede. Before he reaches the Swede, we appear to be looking down at the runner through the window of the Swede's bedroom - a very subjective viewpoint. The bedroom is all shadows and darkness, a pictorial representation of the Swede's sense of futility and pessimism. The Swede's attitude of futility and dismal acceptance of his fate are fitting contributions to film noir. In previous films, such as The Letter, the protagonist fights her circumstances until the fatal end, but in this clip, we see the pessimism of film noir in full bloom.
  7. Because Rita Hayworth is lip-syncing, her voice sounds equally distinct no matter what position she takes in the dance, even when her head is upside-down, facing away from the audience. This adds to Gilda's persona/act as an impossibly beautiful woman, whom men cannot resist. Because Gilda cannot satiate her sexual desire with her husband, she symbolically offers her body to the men in the audience, first through the seductive dance and then by throwing articles of clothing to them. Of course, she does all of this merely to make Johnny jealous. In this instance, the music is not only throw-away sequence, taking up time in the film. It offers a window into Gilda's desires. Also, the theme of "Put the Blame on Mame" turns the centuries-old idea of the woman as an evil seductress on its head by flaunting it - a point that is even more poignant because it is sung by a woman.
  8. Veda's attitude in this scene shows noir influences. No innocent teenager here. Veda knows exactly what she wants and even plays her mother for a fool. Another noir element is Mildred's response to her daughter's slap; she threatens to kill her if she doesn't leave. Such a dramatic statement is more fitting in a noir film than anywhere else. There are a lot of close-ups in this scene. This allows us to see intense emotion in the actress's eyes. It also brings a threatening element into the scene. I was waiting for the slap, only I expected the mother to slap her daughter when Veda derides her as a frump with working class parents. The interaction between two women extends noir into new territory. We do not have a detective bandying words with a femme fatale or a villain, but a mother and daughter having it out.
  9. I was immediately hooked by the opening of Laura because the first thing we hear about is a murder, but we have no idea what happened. I was so intrigued that I had to watch the whole film. Like The Letter, I think this opening is the best part of the film.
  10. I was very taken completely by surprise by what happens after the peaceful beginning of this film. I think I actually jumped when I heard the gun shot. What struck me most about this scene was how tense Bette's character was. She spins around when the moon suddenly illuminates the scene. Then, when she stands in the house talking, her hands are completely stiff and unnatural, as if they are shocked at what just occurred. What a fantastic opening! I can see why this film was ground-breaking for film noir because of how the peacefulness of the opening is suddenly shattered by the gun shot, the frightened bird, and the man staggering out of the house, followed by the continuously firing, beautiful woman.
  11. The speed of the train was emphasized in this opening, which was intensified by the fact that there was initially no music mitigating my emotional response. The natural sounds lent a darker quality to the opening than did the subsequent music, which actually lightened the mood. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the sooty train and the men smoking cigarettes. The men's sooty faces gave the opening a realistic quality that soap-clean looks would not, contrasting this noir film from other genres. They lived their workday lives amid the dirt and soot, and were not bothered about adding more heat and smoke with their cigarettes. Their cigarette smoking also underscored their familiarity with their work. The men were at ease and recognized one another's gestures. I'm not sure what this film lends to film noir, except that, like M, it uses everyday sounds to create a darker mood.
  12. The errie opening begins with the perspective of the children, who have typically turned a threatening reality into a gruesome singsong in the vein of "Ring around the rosie." One child is singled out in the song, just as, shortly after, the camera follows a single child. The song has already alerted the audience that fate has chosen this child for a nasty end. The camera angle in the last scene is also from from the perspective of the child, looking up at the sign, which becomes still more ominous when we are suddenly looking up at the sillouhette of a man.
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