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About Fmandosa

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  • Birthday 04/17/1974

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  1. What first comes to mind about this short film is how basic the setup is. As Gerald Mast asks, what is the protagonist trying to accomplish? Usually it is a very simple, everyday kind of routine task. And some comically exaggerated obstacle gets in the way. I guess that I've always considered the root of so many - if not most - slapstick to be unrealistical, humor-based sight gags that interfere with the tasks and/or activities of everyday life. Ex. A prankster steps on your garden hose, then you get sprayed Ex. A banana peel on the ground results in an unexpected tumble Ex. Innocent bystanders getting caught up in a public pie fight once they themselves are unintentionally hit with a stray one
  2. After the Film Noir course last summer, I knew that I wanted to do another TCM course as soon as it was created. Saw this Slapstick course advertised and jumped at it! I'm totally on board!
  3. I have not yet seen this film, but I absolutely fell in love with the cinematography. The crisp black and white, the use of shadows as Harry is not at first visible, the oblique angles of the streets of Vienna as Holly traipses through - what I especially love is how the woman is shouting out her window as Harry stands in the doorframe. Which is real, which is in Holly's mind - or maybe a little bit of both but not completely either? The look on Harry's face as he smirks at Holly - is it mocking? Is it coy? Is it enticing? Foreboding? I love the "mystery" aspect of this opening!
  4. We first see Frank getting out of the car and thanking the driver for not laughing at him for his philosophies of life. Frank comes across as friendly and garrulous enough - still a loner, an outcast, but not as hard-edged as other noir protagonists, at least not at this point. He appears to have at least to some degree a work ethic. Sure, he has not liked any job he has ever had, but at least he is still looking for one as opposed to, say, robbing a bank. He seems to be lost but still actively searching, despite his feet that are "itching for [him] to go places." Irresponsible, unreliable, maybe. But he has not thrown in the towel on life, at least not yet. He is not resigned or defeated - he is still taking initiative. Cora? If the first glimpse we have of her is a seductive, though motionless, presence in the doorframe, we know that she is a character who has some sort of an agenda, whether it's flirtation, manipulation, or murder. Dropping the lipstick was surely no "accident." She has her wheels in motion from this very moment. A femme fatale in every sense of the word. And like so many other male noir protagonists, Frank is the "sucker" who will fall prey to her charms.
  5. I have not seen this entire film, so I am not familiar with the plot or story arc. But as far as the entrances of these two actors go: In most of Peter Lorre's performances (I've seen Maltese Falcon, M, Arsenic and Old Lace, among others), he always - to me, at least - gives off the vibe of a vulnerable, insecure, sometimes deranged character. His entrance in this clip, as he swings his hat and enters his room, is understated. Once he realizes that his room has been "vandalized," his dialogue ("That's funny" - "What is the meaning of all this?" - "Are you mad?...I can only humor you and hope for the best") is on the surface is strangely calm and somewhat forced. But as is so often the case with Lorre, there is a sinister and secretive quality to his delivery. As for Sydney Greenstreet, my favorite moment of the clip - even more than his menacingly slow entrance with a pistol aimed at Lorre - is the zoom in to a low angle close up as he asks: "What is your game?" Looking up at this man as he wields the upper hand literally with his gun and vocally with his assured dialogue delivery gives the sense that he is dominant, foreboding, that Lorre is in trouble if he does not think on his feet. For the record, I love the typically "witty" and noir-ish line of Greenstreet as he tells Lorre to shut the door: "I think if you stretch out your left hand, you can do it without moving your feet." Classic!
  6. "And then I saw her - coming out of the sun..." as Jane Greer literally walks out of the bright sunlight, into the cafe, and into the shadows as she takes her seat. Pure noir. A loner protagonist, cynical about everything, sexually attracted to a mysterious woman, engulfed in literal and metaphorical shadows. And when she recommends the other cafe down the street as she stand up - her shadow against the wall as she tells him that he can "sip bourbon - shut [his] eyes"...this clip ought to be used in every film school for instruction on how noir mood and tone is established visually and vocally!
  7. Bogart's entrance was pretty unremarkable - that is, until Carmen entered the room, Then we're treated to a few quips and wisecracks, which show his sardonic side that is so often linked to Bogart's onscreen persona. Carmen, for her own reasons, seems to be flirting with him...or perhaps testing him. Either way, he is practical enough to ward off her advances by giving her a false name and not biting when she throws herself literally into his arms. So we get a sense that he is cautious, at least to a degree. His candid and unreserved admissions of insubordination only strengthen his resolve in the eyes of the viewer.
  8. At first, this opening plays like an old newsreel or propaganda films, something you might see in a museum or bonus feature of a DVD. The mood shifted once the voiceover narration - sounding at first candid, informative, and objective - speaks more dramatically as we have our first glimpse of three running figures in the distance and engulfed in darkness. The visual of them stealthily traipsing towards the border is a red flag, as it contrasts greatly from the faces of the determined, law-abiding workers to whom we are introduced through a pan shot as the narration speaks highly of them and their sense of ethics.
  9. I have not seen this film, but I do want to comment on this opening. It's certainly engaging in both tone and visuals. What made an impression on me is that Burt Lancast's face is never seen. He lies there on his back in bed, but all you can see is his body from the neck down (roughly). Where a lot of "classic" Hollywood films would showcase their leading stars as soon as possible in order to hook the audiences, this one relies on substance and style instead in terms of how we are introduced to him. We are not meant to know, I assume, what he did wrong "once," and his completely invisible face symbolically conveys that air of mystery and uncertainty. It reminded me of a shot from Citizen Kane in which Orson Welles is saying that he wants to give his readers "the truth" - and his face is engulfed in blackness.
  10. I'll try to react to this musical number from the perspective of someone who has not seen the film. (I have seen it, for the record.) From the lighting/shadowing, the physical setting, and her body language, I suppose that I would infer that she is a femme fatale in every sense of the word - using her sexuality to ensnare a man, perhaps, or teasing men for her own unknown reasons. She seems to be reveling in her physicality and her ability to take the spotlight and looks cunning enough through her facial expressions to use that skill to her advantage. Dissatisfied with society's expectations at the time for women to become wives and eventually mothers, perhaps she is defying that and struggling to break free from the constraints of what she is "supposed to do" with her life.
  11. This is sort of a combination response to #s 1 and 2... From the very opening shot, the viewer is treated to a pan shot of Lydecker's living room/study that is full of collectibles, antiques, and above all, masks. I do not think that the visual motif of a mask was any accident. We are led to conclude immediately that this Lydecker, whose voiceover narration is calm, self-assured, and somewhat snarky, is hiding something. Pan over to our first glimpse of him as he soaks in a tub and welcomes a stranger into the bathroom, and he proceeds to offer a seemingly prepared alibi. What is this "mask" he is apparently putting on for McPherson's benefit? At the risk of sounding strange, I do think it is ironic that the screenplay has Lydecker in a bathtub of all places - he is obviously revealed to McPherson as he rises from the water and physically vulnerable in the sense that nothing is "hidden." But because Lydecker is also rather brazen in his attitude and demeanor, the question is: who really has the upper hand here - Lydecker or McPherson?
  12. I think that the P.O.V. perspective was a great conceit for its time. It was definitely stylistic - maybe to the point of overkill every time he looked down at his shoes? For the late 1940s, I can only imagine how this must have made audiences used to more traditional cinematography feel psychologically unsettled, as they were experiencing the physical attack on an innocent man begging for mercy from the point of view of a murderous criminal. Having never seen the full movie, I can't speak to Bogart's character fully, but it is an engaging "hook" for audiences for sure!
  13. I knew that some act of violence was bound to occur in the opening scene of the letter and was pleasantly startled by the sudden randomness of the gunshots. But I have to admit that I was taken aback, even in 2015, by the number of times that Bette Davis shot at point blank range. It was over the top and gruesome, just as noir so often is. The use of lighting and shadows contributes greatly to the mise-en-scene of the scene and really laid the groundwork for what we'd see in films like a Double Indemnity and Sunset Blvd. her shadow cast over the corpse was a great visual effect. Her panicked reaction made it all the more visually arresting.
  14. That's a great take-away from this opening. Maybe visually showing the characters as "confined" increases the tension that they feel knowing that there is a madman out there who would make their worst nightmares - harm coming to the children - come true? I always thought that a permeating sense of dread was at the heart of most noir stories.
  15. For me, what gave this opening sequence a darker tone was the constant motion. Lots of tracking shots gave the viewer the chance to feel as if he or she were riding on the train or at least alongside it. By making the forward motion so subjective, the viewer is forced to experience the rapid, erratic motions of the bends, the turns...and the disquieting effect of the screen going completely black as the train entered a tunnel. It is unsettling psychologically for these shaky camera movements to dominate, especially when the viewer cannot be aware of the surroundings. And unsettled or uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing psychological effects on viewers is part of the very nature of film noir. I have not seen the particular film and cannot comment on whether or not it is as noir-ish as others. But the tone of jumpiness and ragged visual perspectives that go in and out of total darkness are certainly noir-ish.
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