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Posts posted by wedge8679

  1. Oh, man--you guys are name-dropping such great movies. I was late to seeing Pickup on South Street, but when I saw it it was one of those movies that I immediately fell in love with. For starters, it is just beautifully shot. I love the different kinds of criminals you see and their different grifts. Thelma Ritter's Moe is one of the most memorable supporting characters I can think of (especially in her emotionally charged final scene). My sister and I rewatched it together recently and I was totally enthralled. Plus, on the totally shallow side, I adore its Criterion cover:




    Pickup on South Street also made a Fuller fan out of me (which, I think, his rarely-seen Dead Pigeons on Beethoven Street also has some noirish elements to it). 


    Fuller tiptoed on the conventions during that time (the staircase pugilism scene asserts to that) as well as casting Richard Widmark (Dassin broke the ground to this sort of character with Night and the City a few years back) as a kind-of antihero whose demeanor you would have had qualms about putting sympathies to.

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  2. I have often wondered the relationship of jazz on Film Noir. Whether it has a specific quality that contributes to (and perhaps, establish) a certain atmosphere on the film, or is it simply a musical choice?


    I think the best example would be Miles Davis' wonderful accompaniment on Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud. The scene wherein Jeanne Moreau's character walks barefoot along the Champs Elysees while the rhythmic syncopation (albeit melancholy) of Miles' trumpet bellowing in the background--the desperation of the character is apparent, yielding to futlity.

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  3. For me it was Fuller's Pickup on South Street that got me really interested on Film Noir.


    I've seen quite a few but never got to being entirely that hooked into it until after watching the aforementioned film. My wife and I loved Sunset Boulevard (and seen it several times already), however I never considered it a noir (maybe a dark melodrama and Wilder's scathing indictment of the system). 

  4. The opening scene of La Bete Humaine is emblematic of the French Cinema Verite style that crops up so frequently in classic French films. It is a gritty, grimy, realistic depiction of the jobs of the conductors. Even in such a flatly realistic setting, in broad daylight, Renoir still manages to inject some darkness into the scene.


    The limited communication due to the noise. The constant emphasis on the tracks, along which the train speeds to its inexorable fate. The feeling of being on the train, coupled with the inability to control it.


    It all boils down to one central idea: you are speeding towards your destiny, and there's nothing you can do about it.


    It is not just the French who uses the arrival of trains as a prelude to their films, especially on noirs. Allen Baron utilizes a similar technique in his low-budgeted botched-hit noir film Blast of Silence, though the "arrival" somewhat brings a kind of foreboding to the main character.

  5. The arrival of the train in La Bete Humaine is reminiscent of the Lumiere Brothers' Arrival of the Train at La Ciotat made 40 years earlier. Somehow, Renoir made a sort of homage, notwithstanding Jean Gabin's wilingness to make a film about locomotives, and the impeccable vehicle came from Zola's novel, of course, but truncating all its political overtones and focusing more on the social struggles of the workingman.


    The opening scene is a perfect example of the film's poetic realism, as Peter Bogdanovich would assert, realism--due to grittiness of the task, and poetic--of Renoir's filmmaking. Renoir's reputation on socially conscious films was carried onto La Bete Humaine, yet, I think the film is not so much as an absolute example of a film noir in a sense (Carne's Le Quai de Brume is), but there are several elements (expressionistic lighting, morally-challenged characters, a sort-of femme fatale in Simone Simon) in the film that can be considered it as one.

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