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About JamesSpencer

  • Rank
  • Birthday 02/13/1968

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Long Beach, CA
  • Interests
    Cinema: Film Noir, Pre-Code, Hitchcock, MGM musicals
    Music: Jazz, Classical
  1. The voiceover commentary becomes a great tool of film noir to pull us into the story.. Noir pulls from stark realism as I think of other commentary noir voiceovers such as: the voiceover/flashback narration in Double Indemnity, as well in Mildred Pierce and Scarlet Street. Voice over is used in documentary type format in several noirs especially those dealing with the FBI, and one that comes to mind dealing with the formation of AA called "Voice in the Mirror" starring Julie London. Ciro Barbaro wrote some observations I also see: -- What mood or atmosphere—through the visual desig
  2. As a musicologist, and jazz pianist who has several "noir inspired" albums on the market: I can say I'm glad the topic today is about the importance of music in film noir. All forms of jazz from cool to bop, and more "pop" burlesque type tunes like "Put the Blame on Mame" by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher set a new tone. Rita Hayworth's performance one of the most memorable in noir. I'm surprised nobody noted that Rita is not the singer....her voice was dubbed over by Anita Kert Ellis, a Canadian (Montreal) born singer. Though Rita's performance would be considered "tame" by 21st centu
  3. Ministry of Fear indeed has all the stampings of a Fritz Lang film and one can easily see its connection to to "M". First and foremost is the ticking clock and the large pendulum to it on the wall. The close ups of the clock and constant ticking. Similar the cukoo clock in M. There is underlying commentary of the clock. The clock is in an insane assylum, like almost to say it is the clock that drives the man insane. (it would me, I hate constant ticking) The ticking represents the imminent dread.... foreshadowing what's to come time is ticking away.. one must get out or all is lost
  4. There has been some great comments already on Murder My Sweet brought up for discussion. I agree. The quotes in red are from Glyndda's post earlier. Those in black are from assessments. Murder My Sweet-one of the great Marlowes. Although I agree with Effie P below that Dick Powell never really did it for me physically as a Philip Marlowe character, he can certainly act the part. I read the assertion this morning taken from the Frank paper that Marlowe represents a new/different kind of detective and he becomes the major player in the drama. Agreed, however he is the major player in
  5. The Glenster wrote: What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? I believe this to be the most intriguing question about the opening of Laura. How does Preminger indicate that the character of Lydecker is a homosexual in the era of the Hays Code. The Hays Code refers to homosexuality under the umbrella term of, "Impure Love". So Preminger is clever enough to use Clifton Webb an openly gay actor in Hollywood, which most people are aware of. The viewer is given a tour of Lydecker's apartment which indicates through its furnishings a deli
  6. Glyndaa wrote: "LOL, I'm interested in your opinion of whether Lydecker might have been gay. I thought about it for a second and it immediately occurred to me that he was too self absorbed to be gay or straight for that matter......who was Lydecker really in love with? Quite obviously himself.....I believe he "groomed" Laura's character in an attempt to create someone who was actually worthy of his attentions. This person would have to worship him no doubt....but we digress.....an interesting statement. This viewpoint has never occurrred to me.....also, I have to say that it was certainly
  7. I found this interesting article at "The Great Villain Blogathon" that enhances my antidote concerning the underlining "gay" subtext about Waldo Lydecker's characterization played by openly gay actor Clifton Webb: "It’s impossible to discuss the character of Lydecker without speculating about his sexuality. Producer/director Otto Preminger pushed for the casting of Webb. Studio head Daryl Zanuck objected. The fact that Webb was known to be gay within the industry (though not the general public) was likely one reason. (Another may have been that Webb, who was already well into his 50s, had n
  8. Laura is by far one of my favorite noirs of all time. Everything about this movie is pure perfection from the amazingly diverse cast: Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, Judith Anderson and Vincent Price, to the most sweeping musical score by David Raksin-which of course "Laura" the tune with lyrics by Johnny Mercer becoming one of the greatest jazz standards of all time, and one I perform regularly as a pianist. What I find so great about this movie is all the "psychological" subtext that got past the censors and the complete opposite extremes in emotions, sexuality, manners and ou
  9. I have seen The Letter, many times.. and after seeing "M" for the first time, it seems in sharp contrast. "M" creates tension and suspense right from the beginning. In contrast the peaceful and sensual contrast in the opening scene of the Letter pulls the viewing in a more relaxed direction until the the Gun Shots.. What is brilliant and most disturbing and probably for the the very first viewers of the "The Letter" in 41 was Bette Davis' absolutely cool behavior after the murder. Noir often has cool, guiltless cold-blooded murder. Bette Davis's cool behavior is indeed disturbing Th
  10. As a film noir historian who has taught film noir to specifically senior citizen classes in Orange County California I have to admit I was new to seeing La Bete Humaine. The fast pace moving train scene is indeed a style of filming used in film noir movies I have seen. The fast pace urgency of the train moving forward on a desolate and eerie landscape creates the feeling "moving into the abyss, traveling into nothingness." When the train finally arrives at the station there is a feeling of cold isolation. There are no people except the engineers. We know lighting is essential to fi
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