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athing305

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  1. Wagner's music has been associated with Hitler and his murderous Third Reich. Using this music under the warden's eager, illegal beating of the prisoner adds an extra dose of depravity to the scene. In addition, the guards can hear the beating inside the warden's office over the sounds of the record player but, though angered by the injustice, like much of the German populace, do not interfere. This scene from "Brute Force" is a good example of early postwar noir; blending formalism and realism to counterpunch, heightening the tension and suspense. In addition, the hopelessness of the p
  2. The lighting is brilliant! It gives us the brutality of the beating without really showing much actual violence. The deep black shadows punctuated by the sound of the blows landing, as well as the swinging light give a tension-filled randomness to the act. The cross cutting and lighting not only show us the characters in their pecking order and different perspectives, but lends tension to the scene by cutting the film to produce speed and driving rhythmn. The appearing and disappearing shots of the beaters and their bosses, reveal a callous acceptance of their lifestyle and complete un
  3. Power lines clump at tilted poles then run and clump again. They striate the sky of the rundown crumbling end of a small Midwestern city serves as the Asphalt Jungle, a place where the characters are both predator and prey. The lead character, Dix, walks in shadow through the horizontals of the town. We don't know what he's walking away from nor what he's walking toward; he must stay in motion. The radio dispatcher and the heavy ominous score tells us he is now prey. The counterman at the diner is casually complicit in whatever crime the man has commited. The music here is brighter. D
  4. The Miles Davis score exacerbates the yearning and isolation the characters feel in the large, impersonal city. It also points up the single mindedness of lovers; these two are literally the only two people in the scene, the only people in anotherwise empty world, all one another thinks about. The music is muted, almost purring at times, like the lovers' phone call. The improvisationalism of jazz, and its night city, not-quite-legal feel, echoes the film noir ambience perfectly, evoking night in broad city daylight.
  5. This opening feels a lot like Alfred Hitchcock. The bright unshadowed daylight and the low angle shots of the 1918 Salvation Army opening magnifies the stereotypical small town narrow mindedness and charity with strings attached; a happy life through conformity. The poor man outside the happy downtown circle cleans the last bit of goo off a window; a menial job for a man of his age. He proceeds inside to finish his job and tidy up. These shots are taken in close up and medium close up in a small crowded kitchen. The discovery of the body is shown first in the man's reaction, then briefly
  6. "The Narrow Margin" uses many noir elements we've seen before, but the film seems not to be committed to its ambience. The scenes are shot and played with all the right ingredients; big city, deep shadowy photography, night trains in enormous stations, workers casual enough with each other to brush ashes off one another's lapel, but there is a feeling of reflexivity to the piece, as if it says, "We know this is what's expected of us, but we don't take it all that seriously." The brash train whistle over the studio logo gives way to opening credits in tough blunt typeface and more realist
  7. Timing is of the essence for the planner of the heist. He goes so far as to make up an actual blueprint of the operation, including a careful note each day to ensure the armored car delivery time does not vary. But, the heist mastermind is not the only one concerned with time. From his shaded window he sees the bank customers, eager to transact their financial business, awaiting the bank clock to signal the bank’s 10:00 opening. The florist deliveryman seems tied to time, too, making a notation on a clipboard as he makes his delivery. This film uses the more documentary style seen in o
  8. The opening shot of the "99 River Street" clip is vivid, imaginative and could be a forerunner to Martin Scorcese's "Raging Bull" fight scenes. As the film widens the focus to show the television set in the small and, noting the slanting upper wall, attic apartment of the once heavyweight contender, Ernie, and his once promising chanteuse wife, Pauline, the same footage seems to diminish in scope and importance. The couple's dialogue is bitter and resentful on her side, pleading and placating on his. The two fairly reek with broken dreams and unfulfilled potential. The director changes the
  9. From this short clip, Sam, Walter and Martha seem to have grown up together. From the interplay, Martha and Sam were first a couple, with Walter the outsider in their three handed clique. Sam left their small town and made his way lightly through the world as a gambler. Walter remained in town, worked diligently, and somehow corralled Martha. As evidenced by their little chat before Martha arrives, Walter is a big man in town and disapproves of Sam's lifestyle. Placing Sam in a low chair with Walter almost looming over him as they speak, Walter seems to be asserting his superiority ov
  10. Like other recent Daily Doses, "No Time for Tears" starts in motion. As the night city sparkles below them, a husband and his wife their wind way along a lonely mountain road to a party at the home of better-off friends. This late noir's themes of inablity to "keep up with the Jones's," and the relative powerlessness of women, culminate in the unhappy wife urging her husband to drive back home. Failing this, she tries to take the wheel, flashing the lights and nearly causing an accident. As they resume their drive a car approaches from the opposite direction and tosses a suitcase in their
  11. While still opening with a travel motif, Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” does not convey the sense of danger and urgency shown in “Kiss Me, Deadly” and “The Hitch-hiker.” The rhythm is more buoyant, the music introduces two different male characters with similar, but noticeably different, light-hearted themes. The comically bumptious third musical theme could be called the “Cabbie’s Theme” as it puts musical distance between the working class taxi drivers and the two more socially upscale main characters. It’s Hitchcock so we know menace and suspense are waiting, but this opening reveal
  12. Like the other three Daily Doses this week, this movie starts with movement. "Kiss Me, Deadly" began with a running woman through the night, "The Hitchhiker" clip began with men driving through the night, "Caged" began with a darkened police van lumbering to a prison, and "D.O.A." begins with a man taking a long, deliberate night walk into and through what could be a literal "last mile" of a police station. The movement in all these clips reinforce the existential notion that we are all dealing with a world that makes no sense, and the best we can do is try to move ourselves in a position whe
  13. Warner Brothers' studio was home to hard-edged urban dramas about societal problems, including gangster and prison films. Thus, "Caged" follows a long line of WB investigative movies revealing life's more sordid side. The opening very effectively evokes an imprisoned feeling through the black screen, where only the small caged window from the back of the police van to the driver's cab, and it's dim reflection on the interior roof of the van, are visible under the credits. The only visuals we have place us in the van with the outcasts headed for the hoosegow. As the women arrive at th
  14. This clip from "The Hitchhiker" shows clearly that In the noir world no good deed goes unpunished. It also hammers home the late 40s - early 50s anxiety-producing sense that the pre-WWII ethos of trusting and helping out our fellow human beings, is no longer in play. It must be one of the first films to show a serial killer in a normalized way, echoing the normal-seeming Germans' monstrous depravity. "Kiss Me, Deadly" opens with a traumatized woman running for rescue toward cars in the night. Her saviour shelters her from the brutality to which she has been subjected. The opening is s
  15. It's been copied many times, but no power has been lost in this opening. So many noir elements fight for attention. Low key, low angle photography, the heavy breathing of love and death, a woman with no context running down a blackened highway, a grumpy white knight to her rescue, insinuations of her insanity, and hints of his, if not chivalry, at least a willingness to harbor someone in trouble with the authorities, the jazz flavored song on the radio, and the backward running credits which fairly scream "film noir flashback," are swirling fascinators, pulling us in. The randomness of the
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