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spsthompson

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Everything posted by spsthompson

  1. Music makes The Third Man. It is fun and jaunty; when juxtaposed with the drama of the plot, it creates one very unique movie. Also worthy of mention is the incredible lighting this film offers. Realistic in its set-up and but artistic in its storytelling, the lighting here honestly stuns with its precision.
  2. Lana Turner's very specific actions make this scene for me. Every calculated move she makes sets the viewer that much more on edge; nothing about this relationship is going to be MGM-**** dory. This is a fatalistic woman encroaching on a fatalistic love affair.
  3. I suppose it could be said that Out of the Past brought noir out of the dark and into the light. This set of shots beautifully uses actual daylight to tell a noir tale. Daylight here, as the voiceover explains, is just a part of the scenery. Acapulco is a sunny, hot place. Pristinely dressed, Jane Greer is stunningly mysterious in matching white - matching the sun, matching Acapulco. She is a woman on the run hiding out in plain sight. The most noir aspect of this clip that jumped out at me was the clipped, smart dialogue. Greer's character surreptitiously keeps Robert Mitchum's character hot on the trail in suspense and anticipation for things to come with one single line: "I go there sometimes." Very nicely done.
  4. Bogart, as Marlowe, alludes to his fresh-looking hat when our young, brazen female character affronts his lack of height. We are reminded of Chandler's description of a detective pointedly dressing up in order to meet with millionaires appropriately. Bogart's Marlowe is aware of his artifice. "I try," he says, gesturing with his hat. I really do stand in awe at the way film noir drops its viewers into the middle of action, in the fashion which Hemingway called "tip-of-the-iceberg." Speedy exposition instantly increases suspense and dread of things to come. The Big Sleep's opening clearly represents that.
  5. My first thought is that this film's parallels to the struggles we face in today's America are almost taunting: man's ingenuity causing water to run freely through an otherwise hydro-disparate Southern California; 'bandits' stealing the profits from illegal immigrants who return to Mexico from laboring in America as braceros. Very interesting. For the purposes of this course, however, I will say that documentary realism seems a very interesting realm of film noir. The shots here are not so stagnant as, say, a History Channel documentary series' shots. There is purpose. Our curator mentions diagonals; I'm left to wonder if Alton and Mann utilized this type of shot to retain dread and suspense in the reader, a technique which certainly retains film noir qualities within the clip. A stark choice is clearly noticed when the film's narrator begins to speak about illegal immigrants crossing the borders to work as braceros. The sky is suddenly dark, I even think I may have seen some lightning in those daunting clouds. Here is where we see a filmmaker, not a documentarian, at work. Here is dread, something outside of text and camera shots: here is film noir.
  6. How fitting that Hemingway's short story which reshaped the American story form and changed the course of fiction entirely should inspire a gripping film which led the definition of what makes a film noir. The stark transition from realistic setting and lighting in the diner to perfectly placed shadow and light in the Swede's shoebox of a room was quite stunning. The Swede, as described artistically, is hiding, down-and-out, and perhaps even guilty of the crime for which the killers are after him. This is simple and stunning storytelling. The music in this scene certainly drives the bus. On the young man's journey from diner to shoebox, it is the score that tells the viewer what may be in store for either of these characters. Full of dread and cliffhanging suspense, the music is a masterful extension, beyond words of dialogue and shots of a camera, in storytelling. I must see this movie.
  7. I perform in musical theatre for a living. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't picking up too much of what Hayworth was putting down here. I saw a woman, probably pretty tight, doing a bad and cheap striptease. I picked up no layers underneath her performance. Is that the point? Is Hayworth (and perhaps the director of Gilda, not named here) attempting to depict the vapidity of this 'bad girl'?
  8. Of course, the tolling of bells plays prominently in both the opening scene of Ministry of Fear and M. It is symbolism at its best; something wicked this way comes. What I appreciate most about both of Lang's openings is the tip-of-the-iceberg style used to drop the viewer directly into the middle of the action of the world of the film. Expositional scenes seem to not fit so well into Lang's style - or the style of film noir. The fear of the unknown is instantly unlocked when the viewer has no idea who the characters are or what world they are in. The lack of exposition elicits dread. Ministry of Fear seems to contribute to the noir style in the way that the viewer is asked to follow someone who may be amoral or downright dangerous as their protagonist through this film. This opening scene does not suggest a tale of some hero thwarting evil against all odds. Rather, it seems to depict evil surviving among other people against all odds; it is the tolling of that ominous clock which warns of what may be to come. Quite masterful.
  9. Marlowe's joke alluding to the fact that he could be a plausible suspect in the murder sparks a humanity within him and creates a protagonist out of an otherwise archetypal character. It is an example of the style of noir, the detective as main character and not just a catalyst role.
  10. That characteristic of film noir I see mentioned so many times throughout these posts stands prominently here within Preminger's opening of Laura. That characteristic is DREAD. It is the sense of unease which wells up within the viewer as he realizes that this detective, most naturally and usually heralded in films as the hero in charge of seeking out the good and bringing the bad to justice, is being watched, analyzed, and usurped of his power by what is clearly the villain of the tale. This villain, Lydecker, fully displays himself through his "furnishings and faces" and, in doing so, reveals eccentricity and danger within his character. The characterization offered Lydecker in this opening scene reminded me of a much more modern film I have just rewatched for fun, Basic Instinct. In that film, Sharon Stone's murderous character is rich beyond all expectation and is depicted as a colossally confident eccentric who thinks her status will keep her from any consequence for her actions. In Laura, it is McPherson's questioning gaze that provides us with the hope that justice may be served, no matter the antagonist's status.
  11. Delmer Daves' use of the first-person POV shot here works to depict this character as just a name and a number of the prison system. Because we cannot see him, he has no past, no future, and no intrigue - that is once the question of what his crime was is announced on the radio. He lacks humanity and substance and therefore elicits quite a feeling of dread and impending doom from the viewer, thrusting the film into that particular film noir style. On another note, the precision of the sign coming into frame just enough to see how far San Francisco is from Vincent's current position is impeccable. Upon seeing that '11,' the viewer gets a knot in their stomach with questions of how long it will take this man to walk or travel 11 miles and what bad things might happen along the way.
  12. Perhaps it is the noir style to not care for the kind femme fatale character to which Bette Davis is so clearly a precursor here. However, the precision of Wyler's shots (along with the starkness of his artistic choices) and Bette Davis' inimitable vulnerability as an actress ignited a feeling of sympathy for what I assumed to be "The Letter's" heroine. If I were to assume the remainder of the story, I'd say that it comes out that the man of the plantation was due for revenge from his wife. I worried that the plantation's workers would overrun the scene and turn on their employer after witnessing this murder. I felt for Davis' character as she was stunned back into feeling by the stark, spotlight-like moon. In short, my instant sympathy for this character in tandem with William Wyler's skilled precision only makes me more than eager to watch "The Letter" in its entirety. If this is a precursor to film noir openings, I can't wait to see into what these openings eventually evolved.
  13. Something highlighted for me in this opening scene from "La Bete Humaine" was the juxtaposition of the train's speeding uncertainty and anxiety with the conductors' everyday, even laissez-faire attitude. The co-conductor's chain smoking was even amusing when pinned against the striking mood of uneasiness set with no subtlety by Jean Renoir. In turn, the chain smoking seems to deliver a feeling of grittiness and darkness to the scene; these conductors seem to not care too much about what could be their and this train's sealed fate. Of course, these two men are probably very much used to the clacking and crying of the train as it tumbles towards its destination, but as the viewer is anxiously taken along the ride to Le Havre, it is the conductors' seeming lack of care that is unnerving. Therein, I would say, lies some of the dread that is considered convention of noir.
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