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Everything posted by KirkG

  1. For this week's viewing, I continued my effort to watch films I hadn't seen before. I could talk about "Nobody Lives Forever," which had a great title and a great cast, but an almost anti-Noir message (as opposed to the war opening up the dark side of our natures, here it made the bad guy good). But I'd rather talk about "Hollow Triumph." Despite some plot holes you could drive a truck through and the difficulty of seeing Paul Henreid as hard-boiled (if Dick Powell could pull it off...) this had expected fantastic photography by John Alton, but also some interesting directorial choices (su
  2. In reviewing the opening of "The Big Sleep" today, we are asked to compare Bogart's portrayal of Philip Marlowe with his portrayal of Sam Spade. At least in these two pictures, I find Marlowe much more irreverent than Spade, more willing to crack wise ("Doghouse Reilly") but how much of that is due to Bogart, how much is due to Chandler, and how much is due to Hawks is the question. In all likelihood it's the serendipitous merging of all three talents (and the passage of four or five years in between the films also had its effect). The opening interview with General Sternwood is one o
  3. At first glance, the opening of "Border Incident" has the feel of a documentary or newsreel, but then I noticed something interesting. We first see the long straight lines of the canal and the highway, then these cross, beginning to form right angles, and very large quadrilaterals or rectangles, so large we can't see them all in the shot and may not be aware of them. But then we dissolve to shots of the large fields, and now the geometric shapes, the rectangles and squares, become more distinct. Further dissolves and we can now see the shapes and angles in the crops themselves, tighte
  4. In today's clip from "The Killers" we can see the ever-present darkness we have seen in earlier works but here pushed to an extreme. We start in the realistic world of the brightly-lit diner. A shift to a more formalistic mise en scene begins with the insistent strains of Rosza's music as Nick runs through the town, down streets increasingly shadowed and hazy (like the street Neale walked down after leaving the asylum in "Ministry of Fear"). I love the camera move as we pan from a high angle shot of Nick running to the rooming house, around and through the window passing by the Swede i
  5. As many on the forum noted today, it can be difficult to approach this iconic scene from "Gilda" with fresh eyes. Even if one has never seen the entire film, there's a fair chance one may have seen this number. It's always seemed to me a very sexy scene. Some have noted how Rita doesn't actually do much, but she does just enough to make one think there could be more to come. While there was really no chance of it, it's hard not to image her coming out of that low cut dress in a full strip tease. Imagination can be be more powerful than the thing itself, and of course Gilda's specifically p
  6. With so many films available each Friday (and so little time) I am trying to concentrate on ones I haven't seen before. This week, however, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see "Detour" again, and then followed it up with the new-to-me "Deadline at Dawn." I ended up seeing a lot of unexpected parallels between the two, but the strongest lesson to learn seems to be that your fate in the noir universe is dependent entirely on whether you run into Ann Savage or Susan Hayward. "That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you." --"Detour" "The logic yo
  7. The discussion on the forums today as to whether "Mildred Pierce" is noir or not is a fascinating one, and I'm only sorry that I haven't been able to read all the discussion in detail, and I apologize if my comments cover points already made. Like many who have commented (and unlike at least as many more) this is not one of my favorites and I was struggling to come up with any comment on the clip, but these discussions have made me think more about the film. While that doesn't mean it's become one of my favorites, I do think the noir influence is here. First, this seems to be the first
  8. An excellent point, which I didn't pick up on in my response. Of course you leave the asylum in the dark of night! But this set me back to look at the clip to see what time it was on that clock. It was five minutes to six. Whether a.m. or p.m. it's hardly the dead of night. More evidence perhaps that the darkness represents a mood or psychological attitude more than a specific representation of physical conditions. Regardless, your point is still absolutely valid.
  9. As with "M", "Ministry of Fear" starts out establishing an air of foreboding. I think "M" is the more remarkable as establishing that feeling over an entire community, whereas "Ministry" seems to be concentrating on one individual. The clock ticking under the titles gives the sense that time is of the essence, and perhaps that time is running out. It hard to watch that pendulum swing without thinking of the menace of the swinging blade in "The Pit and the Pendulum." Incidentally, note the visual trick played here - possibly just for expedience - that when seen under the titles, the clo
  10. "Can you picture Sherlock Holmes ever acting like Philip Marlowe (or vice versa)?" - Tom Shawcross Actually I can. Based on this scene alone, I'm not certain there is much difference between Marlowe and Holmes. Oh, we're in mid 20th century America, with the resulting dialect and slang, as opposed to late 19th century England (a bit more wise-cracking, too). But Holmes was also in business, and willing to bend the law for the good of a client. Marlowe's deduction about the typing was very Holmesian (I do like the fact that he seems pleased that he's made this deduction). In poi
  11. What's interesting to me in reviewing just these opening shots of "Laura" is how they don't seem to contain any of the visual elements we would associate with noir (there'll be time for that later in the film). Indeed, Lydecker's apartment is brightly lit. If there is not contrast in the lighting, there is in the characters of these two men. The condescending and superior Lydecker seen against the down-to-earth (apparently) McPherson. This contrast was a feature of the hard-boiled novels from which this movement arose. We have already seen this with Spade and Gutman and will see it again.
  12. Out of this first round of films, I chose to watch "The Letter" first (as I concentrate on films I haven't seen). Seen from a noir perspective, Leslie Crosbie is an interesting character. In some ways she's the classic femme fatale, leading men into moral transgressions. In others, she's a classic noir protagonist (a role almost never taken by women) who makes a bad moral choice herself and then follows the consequences to the end. Ultimately though, this is at best proto-noir, and is much more a melodrama, with all the good and bad that entails. The theme of the moonlight from the
  13. The use of P.O.V. camera in today's clip reflects the first person narration that was often a feature of the hard-boiled novels that were an important precursor of (and inspiration for) film noir. I think it works better in "Dark Passage," where it cuts back to a third-person view when necessary to make the narrative clear, than in the slavishly-devoted to first-person camera "The Lady in the Lake." It's very difficult to make this technique more than a gimmick, except when taken in small enough doses to not call attention to itself.
  14. The remarkable thing to me was the light. When the camera came up on Bette's face after the shooting, it was already heavily shadowed, foretelling a dark background. Then the moon went behind the clouds throwing all the people on the plantation into darkness. Then, the moon came out from the clouds, and we saw from Bette's POV, as if she were just seeing what she had done and realizing the extent of it.
  15. In today's clip, the first thing we see are flames, as the camera pulls back from the engine firebox. Are we emerging from hell? Will we return there? Am I overthinking this? Beyond that, the rest of the opening takes place mostly in daylight (with occasional dives into solid black tunnels) so the lighting isn't necessarily ominous (though the changes indicate we may be taking some dark detours). What is ominous is the overwhelming drive and sound of the train, reducing the "humaine" engineer and assistant into begrimed beings who don't even communicate by language and seem to exist on
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