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Everything posted by Doc755

  1. We are definitely smack in the middle of noir territory. From the opening shot, we establish our setting, Los Angeles, (or is it the Daily Planet in Metropolis?), as the camera hovers and glides over the city. We get a sense of the sprawling metropolis beneath us, filled with people and stories, and we move forward towards the one that will occupy our time for the next 90 minutes. This opening reminded me of the opening to Psycho, which ends with us passing through a window, one story picked out of many. A great score gives that provides a sense of foreboding, that as we zero in on the people
  2. One of the first things that struck about this scene was when Captain Munsey increases the sound on the record player. Up until that point I had thought the music was non-diegetic, or coming from the soundtrack, and not a record that was playing in the room. I had thought that the music gave the entire scene an operatic quality. We get the sense that this is a routine for Captain Munsey, he has done this with other prisoners and would continue to do so. The drawing of the curtains to shut out the light, to black out the rays of sunshine coming from the outside, to the placement of the rubber h
  3. There are a lot of shots in this scene that give us the point of view of Steve Randall, or rather not quite his point of view, but as someone who is sitting next to him. We're still spectating, but it gives an even greater feel that we are actually in the room, feeling the brutal, visceral beating taking place. We're not the object of the beating, but we're right there feeling every agonizing second of it. We're next to Steve as Walt comes in, bathed in shadow. After Steve takes the hit in the face, the fist swings around to our face, as if we were collateral damage. While Steve is on the floo
  4. The film opens up on a deserted city street, and around the corner comes a police car, with its radio prominent on the soundtrack. You get the sense that the police are on the prowl, and the loud radio with the dispatcher highlights an ever-present force on these streets. The car moves uphill, perhaps signifying the battle the police are fighting to keep these streets safe. Still, like Dix, the police radio puts us on edge and we wonder who this seemingly respectable man (why were criminals so well dressed in suits all the time?) is that is ducking around a column to avoid being seen. We see a
  5. The fact that Miles Davis improvised the score as he was watching scenes from the movie gives the music a more soulful edge. Davis was reacting to what he was seeing on the screen, how the scenes moved him personally, rather than just being given a generic description of the plot and told to craft something that could be played almost over anything. As soon as Julien says he would be lost "in a land of silence", the music begins and slowly starts to take attention away from the conversation. It continues over the opening credits and even though we can no longer hear what is being said, the hau
  6. As Beware, My Lovely begins, even though it is 1918, we get that slice of suburban Americana that most people tend to equate with the 1950s. Film noir at this time was moving out of those prominent cities of the 1940s and striking where a lot of people would call home giving it more a sense of urgency and anxiety. Opening with the Salvation Army contributes to that wholesome image, where every one knows the names of their neighbors, there is a sense of trust where most people probably don't lock their doors and that this is a safe and secure environment away from the urban decay of the big cit
  7. I can see how Foster might claim that the dialogue in The Narrow Margin seems like a parody of something out of an earlier film noir. For all intents and purposes the actors are playing it straight, but given the overly stylistic dialogue in discussing this dame that is about be picked up and Charles McGraw's deep, hard delivery, it feels slightly out of place from a movie in the early 1950s. In this era, in the rise of the consumer culture, I'd imagine people would be more interesting in the new and flashy, like science fiction which hit a high water mark the previous year with The Day the Ea
  8. The sub-genre of the heist film has always been a popular one, particularly with me. From these early films which grew naturally out of film noir, to more recent fare. Reservoir Dogs, a personal favorite, was the heist film, which shows the planning and aftermath, but not the heist itself. In that structure it showed that the heist itself was almost immaterial, it's the lead-up that usually holds the most interest, the careful planning, the rehearsal and then the aftermath where despite all the preparation, something always goes wrong. These films, like some of the best film noir we have discu
  9. There is definitely a strong contrast between the styles of film and television in this clip from 99 River Street. And while the director may think he is providing a humorous contrast in favor of film, I'm reminded of what I always thought the first rule of advertising was: "Don't give free publicity to your competitors". Case in point: I generally don't watch commercials and usually mute the TV and either read something or surf the web. One time I glanced up and saw David Beckham taking to someone at a T-Mobile counter. I thought to myself "Beckham is promoting T-Mobile, huh." It wasn't until
  10. There is a lot of posturing in this scene, particularly between Sam and Walter who are supposed to be two old childhood friends who have not seen each other for many years. There is a twinge of awkwardness to their conversation which can be expected, however Walter also gives a sense of higher anxiety and tension. He may not be as happy to see this old friend as we are lead to believe. Douglas' glare and the way he speaks sternly provide a subtle sense of menace. Rather than sit next to Sam on an equal footing, he sits on the table so he hovers above Sam, giving a sense of dominance in their r
  11. In many ways this opening is similar to other films noir we have viewed. A seemingly ordinary situation between an everyday couple is immediately thrown into the dark depths of noir territory over a random encounter outside of their control. Here though, Jane, and by default her husband, immediately dive headfirst into those murky depths. Her greed and avarice is leading them on a path which will most likely not end well. In this sense, Jane is the femme fatale in this story, although she starts off as the traditional woman discussed in last week's assigned reading, the dutiful wife who is sup
  12. A lot of the films noir we have seen in the daily doses up to this point have launched right into the darker material, especially considering Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker. Christina is running for her life, half-naked down the highway, so desperate for a way out, she throws herself in front of a car that easily could have killed her. Roy and Gilbert immediately find that it would have been better not to be good Samaritans and pick up a man who's had car trouble in the middle of the night. Hitchcock's films tend to open on the ordinary and slowly ratchet up the tension. What else to expec
  13. Both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker daily doses took place on the open road, usually a symbol for unlimited possibilities or freedom, although taking place at night, giving that sense of film noir slowly creeping in to highlight that darkness that will soon come crashing into our protagonists. Caged also started on the road, but in a city, and enclosed in a darkened prison van. Freedom is at our fingertips but just out of reach. With D.O.A., Frank is inside, walking along a seemingly endless hallway. There is no sense of freedom here, as he heads further and further into the cavernous, bla
  14. Like most of the great film noir openings we have seen thus far, Caged has both an interesting and engaging introduction to its narrative. It doesn't get any more film noir than being bathed in almost complete darkness at the beginning of the film. A small window of light at the end of what seems like a dark, cavernous enclosure, we immediately are anxious to find out where we are and why. Right from the outset we are placed into the shoes of our protagonist by sharing their experience in as realistic a way as possible. Like The Hitch-Hiker, this shared experience heightens the tension as we s
  15. Both Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker begin on the open road with lone figures seeking escape and finding their wish in passing motorists who take pity on them. Unlike Kiss Me Deadly, where Hammer was forced to stop and eventually acquiesced to giving Christina a ride, the motorists in The Hitch-Hiker are being good Samaritans, helping out their fellow man in need. Whereas Christina was a seemingly defenseless, half-naked woman who posed almost no threat, Roy and Gilbert pick up a man in the middle of the night who they know nothing about, and which would ultimately be to their detriment. Th
  16. Much like the opening credits crawling up the screen in reverse, a lot of this opening scene is opposite to a lot of the openings and introductions we viewed thus far. Rather than a slow, subtle build-up with symbolism and hidden meanings, we're thrown head-first into the action, with Christina breathlessly running down the street, away from something, and ultimately towards Hammer. Unlike the other leading ladies, or femme fatales, we have seen introduced, there are no glamorous shot, but one of helplessness. No shoes, no clothes other than a trench coat, and at first unable to flag down any
  17. Right from the start of this clip the location and the way in which it is shot is used to show the emotional state of the character. Even in the middle of a large city, it appears desolate and completely secluded. As Holly wanders the empty the streets, we get a sense of his feelings of emptiness and despair. This beautiful city appears bleak and without hope in the postwar period, much like Holly does at this point in the film. He is a stranger in a strange land and the effective long shots make him appear small and unimportant. The first shot we get of the doorway which is concealing the elu
  18. From the very beginning there is a strong contrast between Frank and Cora. We learn quite a bit about Frank, from both his narration and his conversation with the district attorney. We learn almost immediately that Frank is aimless, with no clear destination in mind. His opening line gives his destination as "San Diego, I guess". He's not sure what he is looking for, with no end in sight. He has "itchy feet", always moving on, waiting for something to happen to him, rather than making something happen for himself. He's semi-interested in the job, but it's not something he needs. If Cora's husb
  19. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet play so well off one another, it's no surprise that they were continually put together. Greenstreet is impressive in his own right. When I first saw The Maltese Falcon, I thought he was excellent. Later, watching the special features, I was amazed to discover that was his theatrical film debut. What's most impressive is that due to his physical size, he is well aware that his mere presence is imposing enough, and that gives his words and speech great menace, without the need to ever shout or over-project. In this scene, the gun he is holding is almost second
  20. The appeal of film noir for me has always been the seedy underbelly of everyday life. The fact that this scene takes place during the day, and in a bright, sunny locale, is another chance to illustrate that these dark elements can pervade anywhere, even a place baked in the glow of the sun. The narration, another film noir staple, puts us in the mindset of Jeff Martin. We are told his mission and his impressions of the city. It's almost as if he needs to seek refuge in the confines of the dark cantina. He's more at home there than out in the light. He's so comfortable that he even says he coul
  21. The first difference I noted between Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe was that while Spade seemed to be mostly all-business, Marlowe had more of a playful air to him. In comparison to last week's module where it was noted that the films noir of the 40s called for a greater character depth in the detectives from the crime films of the 30s, Spade and Marlowe would seem to lend themselves to this comparison. Much like how The Maltese Falcon shows the blend of the straightforward crimes films of the previous decade, such as its previous version made in 1931, and the beginnings of the film noir style,
  22. Like most of the daily doses we have seen so far, the opening to Border Incident does a great job of juxtaposing the everyday with the seedy qualities found in film noir. The documentary-like opening, with it's panning overhead views and exposition-filled narration, while providing the necessary background for the film, also grounds the reality in the mind of the audience. This is happening now and every single day. This isn't a made-up world. It's one that, while you may not be exposed to, everyone at least has a sense of. I think generally people had a picturesque view of farm-life: a relaxi
  23. I thought the opening of the clip was interesting. It was shot from the outside of the diner while the hungry patron is told to seek food elsewhere. He, and we, are on the "outside" and don't know what is going on inside the diner, ignorant of the dangerous situation that is apparently taking place. Obviously when watched in context of the film, we are aware, but I thought this clip was well picked for starting here. When we do venture inside, with its bright lighting inside we find ourselves a place which many people would find familiar, the safe and comfortable confines of a diner. But we ar
  24. The first thing that comes to mind is sensuality. This is Hayworth as Gilda seducing the crowd in the club, her ex Johnny and us in the audience. The spotlight is on Hayworth in her sleek black dress which actually covers up quite a bit. Today you would expect to see more leg. The bare skin of her shoulders contrasts well with the black of her dress and the crowd behind her in the shadows. Watching this film, I remember sitting up and taking notice when this number started. Normally I don't generally go for musicals as usually the numbers detract from the plot. However this showstopper is most
  25. Veda definitely takes on the traits of a femme fatale common to film noir: ruthless, cunning, menacing, dangerous. However this packaging is somewhat more disturbing as instead of asserting power over a man to bring him to his doom, it is a daughter asserting power over her mother. Veda is quick to belittle, insult and domineer over her mother and seems to have no qualms about doing so. It's a disturbing scene as almost always you see a parent asserting their will on their children, for good or bad. Mildred is practically helpless as she sees the depths to which her daughter is willing to go t
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