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  1. Another bit of symbolism that struck me (it should have hit me over the head immediately) is Ernie's job as a taxi driver, and his new dream of running a filling station. Instead of going places as a champion prize fighter, he's now relegated to running around in circles, taking other people places, and his new dream is to help send other people on their way. He's going nowhere. No wonder his wife doesn't share that dream.
  2. Boy, this one is packed with post-War disillusionment and tension! Here we have a not-so-young couple, both of whom have given up on their youthful dreams of success (Ernie, a boxer, *this* close to a championship; Pauline, a showgirl dreaming of stardom). He's still holding onto hope of a better life, but his new dream doesn't interest his wife. The bauble on her wrist hints at her new dream, and it isn't as wholesome as owning a small business. Prof. Edwards makes a keen point about the contrast of movies and television in this scene. At the time of this movie (1953), TV was still in its infancy, with most original programming being broadcast live, and then rebroadcast in earlier time zones as kinescopes. If you watch dramatized content from that time, it's like watching a barely ready stage play shot with an old VHS camcorder. Awkward, poorly paced, and with a terrible picture quality. As Prof. Edwards points out in his notes, the cinematic version of the fight is dynamic, in-your-face, brutal and painful. On TV, it's little, removed, slowed down. No impact. The only thing the process shot used to show the TV picture lacked is the poor resolution and almost ubiquitous "snow" that TV signals had back then. One other thing I'd point out about TV versus movies, which perhaps the director was subtly signaling: when you can bring entertainment into your home, you're going to set up conflict about what gets watched. Though it's not the main point of the conflict here, you can see it in this scene. The wife is disgusted at having to watch what the husband cannot tear himself away from. If you can get the image of Payne's sensitive, nice guy lawyer from "Miracle on 34th Street" out of your head, you see an actor whose face was built for noir. I watched this movie last week (not knowing it was going to be a focus of a Daily Dose; it's one of a handful of noirs available through Netflix streaming), and Payne's performance is stellar. The desperation, the barely contained anger, the disgust with the artifice and deception of the world around him ... it's all there, and it feels real. Many a middle aged man whose dreams have been buried beneath the weight of real life can identify with the roiling turmoil just beneath Ernie's skin.
  3. I watched this one for the first time last week, a poor copy from one of those public domain collections that I've had for years. I didn't realize it would be a focus of our studies this week, but am so glad it is. I'm looking forward to a re-watch of the restored version Friday; it's that good. For those of you who haven't seen it, oh my, see it! You're in for a ride. This opening scene doesn't begin to hint at the tale to come. I would urge you all to analyze the three male "leads" in this movie as you watch. They're almost archetypes. And Lizabeth Scott. Put the Bacall comparisons out of your minds and take another look. She's sensational in this part. Perfectly cast for who and what her character is.
  4. I agree with many of the previous comments, but have a few, hopefully additional, thoughts. Imagine the same opening, but with a different score. Score was always an important element of a Hitchcock film. The music here is very light and jaunty. Imagine this opening with a darker, more foreboding score. If it had, I believe those of us who are having a hard time slotting this film into the noir category would be swayed, because ... ... there are so many noir elements here! The cab going from light into darkness; the mannered camera angles, cutting the two characters off at the knees, making us size up these two men by how they choose to dress; the self-conscious intercutting between them as they walk toward their fate; the multiple symbolism of the train veering from the straight path, and "crossing over," and of paths crossing. Further, going to Professor Edwards' lecture last week, we see how a single, fateful moment (the simple bump of the two men's shoes) sets the course of the story on a darker path; also the Freudian psychology on display here: the flamboyant Bruno is a narcissist (his flashy clothes, his gregariousness, his taking up so much room with his leg that his more conservative counterpart *has* to bump into him in order to cross his legs) and is also probably a homosexual (the way he speaks and gestures when he mentions pleasing his mother would have been code for such at that time). Homosexuality (which Hitchcock frequently employed in his films) was often unfortunately viewed at the time as tantamount to moral degeneracy -- it wouldn't be removed from the American Psychiatric Association's DSM as a mental disorder until decades after this movie was made. All of this in a few minutes of film certainly mark this movie as belonging in the noir vein. However, that music. It's humorous. That's Hitchcock. The man was making Hitchcock movies. We started this course by being asked if Film Noir was a style, a movement or a genre. I think Hitchcock didn't want to be part of a movement or a genre. But he definitely used the noir style in his own brand of filmmaking, which is why I think many of us commenting here have a hard time calling him a noir filmmaker. As someone noted, he was an auteur, and defied conventions, while often utilizing those conventions to elevate, or at least differentiate, his work from everyone else's.
  5. I'm struck by how dreamlike/nightmarish this scene is. Almost everything seems unreal, despite the very real location. Like a dream, things seem so very real while you're in the dream-state, yet in the waking world, you realize just how preposterous they actually are. The first composition of the walls, street and buildings almost look like a Cubist painting -- your eye has trouble making sense of the perspective in that shot. That wonderful, crazy zither music plays, contrasting so fully with the angular, shadowed world. The Dutch angle on the doorway where a cat casually grooms itself while a barely seen figure lurks tells us something is askew. When the light comes on in the window as the woman protests -- there's no way that that window would illuminate the doorway that way -- NO WAY. But, as in a dream, it does anyway. And there's Harry, looking preternaturally unconcerned about discovery. He even smiles as his friend recognizes him with the shock of viewing the impossible. How many of us have dreamed of lost loved ones and in the dream, they feel so alive? And, as in a dream, the light goes off and Harry disappears. Then comes that car -- the ONE car in all Vienna, it seems! -- that happens to cut across Holly's path and allows the formerly nonchalant Harry to escape in a running frenzy. Yet Harry's escape seems unreal. How was it possible? Holly next hears running footsteps -- still very dreamlike -- drawing him in search of Harry. Holly sees the retreating shadow on the wall -- Harry has become a shadow! When Holly appears to approach the same area of the alley where he should be throwing his own shadow against the wall, he doesn't. And then Harry is gone. Was he ever really there? And like we've seen in dozens of movies and TV shows, how does Holly wake up from his nightmare? He splashes cold water on his face, only to "wake" to see the fountain putto mocking him for believing this crazy dream. When Callaway and Paine join Holly later to discuss Harry's return from the dead, the camera is no longer low or angled, but rather at eye height. We're back in reality now. It's a brilliant sequence in a brilliant film.
  6. Besides many of the other things that caught others' attention, I was struck on the second viewing by the hapless husband's throwaway line to Garfield's character, "Don't go away!" sealing his own doom. And that hamburger! At the moment that Garfield/Frank seems to be in control of the situation -- having made Turner/Cora come to him to get her (obviously) dropped lipstick -- the hamburger foreshadows his fate. Like the burnt burger, Garfield/Frank symbolically throws his life away because he was too distracted by Cora.
  7. I noticed the camera position and movement the most in this scene, as the dialog plays out. The camera is at waist height as Lorre/Leyden enters the scene and his room. As Greenstreet/Peters enters the room, he's holding a gun, implying the upper hand, but he's the smaller figure in the scene. Even with the weapon, he's at a disadvantage. He'd been caught in the act of searching the room. He hasn't found what he wanted. He admits he had wanted to tidy up and leave before Leyden returned. The camera moves behind Greenstreet as he insists on "a little frankness." He's larger in the frame now; he's now asserting his dominance as he plays his cards, revealing why he's there. Lorre then asserts his own dominance in the scene. Greenstreet sits --taking the lesser position -- as Lorre accuses him of being a thief, or drunk or perhaps insane, waving his "silly" pistol. For a moment, Lorre is dominant. But not for long. At the mention of "Dimitrios," the advantage is Greenstreet's again. The word knocks Lorre down onto the bed. The gun is no longer needed and falls into Greenstreet's lap. Words are enough. The camera pushes in on Greenstreet as he shows his hand and demands again "frankness" from Lorre. He knows he has Lorre now. The camera moves in and Greenstreet becomes larger, looming ominously. There's no getting away from the frankness he insists upon. But Greenstreet appears to lose the advantage again the moment he asks about Colonel Haki. Lorre relaxes and falls back on the bed; the cigarette, lit nervously, is now smoked casually. There's a little smile on Lorre's face. It's as if Lorre realizes he still has the upper hand. Yes, Greenstreet knows about his connection to Dimitrios, but not the role of Haki. I have never seen this movie before, and know nothing of the plot. So my analysis of the camera movement and what it implies may be a reach -- over-analysis -- but it was fun nonetheless. I look forward to watching this one Friday!
  8. As others have said, Marlowe is a "new" kind of detective in that he not only observes, he acts. You'd never have seen Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot bend someone's wrist, dump her purse out and force answers out of her. Even William Powell's droll Nick Charles wouldn't do this (though the Nick Charles on the pages of Hammett's "The Thin Man" novel might very well have done so.) There is an ends-justifying-means, gray-area behavior on display with the noir detective. He's clever and observant, but he's also no-nonsense and will act expediently to get the (thankfully, noble) results he's looking for. We the audience still see him as a hero because we know he's right, we wish we could be so bold and incisive, and because his snappy patter is so damned seductive. He can act brutally, but he's no brute.
  9. I love how Lydecker shows his contempt of "detectives" by keeping McPherson waiting while he watches him from his bath, but how McPherson goads him into cutting to the chase by opening his cabinet of expensive knick-knacks and handling one of them. Also interesting is how Lydecker complains about being "widely misquoted" (implying a desire for facts), then moments later dismisses having misreported the means of the death of Harrington, since his (factually incorrect) version was "superior," and that he never bothers with "details." Dana Andrews has always been a favorite; he's not well-known today, but he always brought an intelligent, brooding intensity to most everything he did. I'm looking forward to watching this movie again. It's been too long.
  10. Agree with Ninnybit's comment: you ARE him, and so you can't help but empathize with his plight, even though you know he's a convicted felon. As far as being conditioned to shakycam these days, yes, this camera work does look stiff by comparison. However, I'm always impressed when I see unconventional camera work like this in the pre-Steadicam days. There's a good chance you'd smash up a camera rolling one down a hill in a barrel. Speaking of that, I loved the shot from inside the barrel as Bogart's character runs away from it. Like looking down a rifle scope or a gun barrel at him as he races away from danger. Foreshadowing?
  11. Besides the things other have noted -- the slow drip of the rubber, the oppressive heat, the shadow passing over the moon, the juxtaposition of wild jungle and "civilization," Davis's passionless emptying of the revolver into the victim -- I noted the slow push-in of the camera after the murder, giving viewers a moment to think, as they get closer to those big, cold eyes ... what's going on behind them?
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