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Stephen Bort

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  1. The Miles Davis score in the opening is pensive or even melancholic. It evokes, for me, two lovers sitting and sharing secrets in a small dive of a cafe or bar with the score as background music. The lovers, perhaps, are talking about their future, or their past--or murder. The first visuals are of the two lovers talking over a phone line. The shots are closeup for the most part, invasive to their secrecy. Then the shot pans farther away, to the man standing behind the window of a cold, corporate, concrete-looking construction containing a multitude of various kinds of workers. Finally,
  2. I would describe the noir elements and substance as mostly realism--daylight and minimal shadows, although there are formalist touches--such as the odd camera angle through the clapping symbols and the final shot of Robert Ryan's face layered with the rushing train wheels and hydraulics along with a frontal shot of the train rushing forward, all as if culminating in Ryan's brain. There is also the horror-closeup of Mrs. Warren's dead face. There are the elements of closeups of Ryan's face when he discovers Warren's body and of Mrs. Warren's face. There are the aforementioned odd camera angl
  3. The film opens with a train moving towards us and the camera moving away, in the opposite direction. The background is industrial with the railyards, the steaming train and the cab on the street. Industry is almost oppressive in noir. We're at it's mercy, for example, at the mercy of the trains' schedules and the ability of the cabbie to get to a destination fast--trains, cars and traffic. The same feel is evident in "La Bete Humaine." These elements could be a burlesquing of previous noir elements. The dialogue between the two men in the cab is brisk and to the point. Sentences are sho
  4. People, for the most part, are oriented toward the clock. They arrive on time and depart on time. In the opening of "Kansas City Confidential," the unidentified man watches from his window as people queue up in line before the bank opens at 10am. He watches the florist arrive and depart, using a stopwatch to time the event. He notes in his book the arrivals and departures, including that of the armored car with fresh money. We assume from these elements of time and timing that the man is casing the bank and planning to rob it. The film opens with a more realist tone and less of a form
  5. In "Strangers On A Train," the characters are walking purposefully toward their train connections. Shoes are emphasized as shoes are made for walking. The characters mostly walk together, but the paths of the two men criss-cross so that there is a point of their actually meeting. Fate or coincidence? In "Kiss Me Deadly," the one character is running down the highway as opposed to walking. The other character is stationary in a car, but the car is speeding down the road. Their paths cross at the point when the woman steps in front of the car. In "The Hitch-hiker," The one character is sta
  6. One parallel between the three films is that a character in each of the films is suddenly presented with another character with a questionable past. In "Kiss Me, Deadly," the driver of the car picks up a hitchhiker who escaped from a mental institution. Her past and future is mysterious and immediately catches the audience. In "The Hitch-hiker," the two men in the car pick up a hitch-hiker who turns out to have a gun and a plan that may spell death for the two men. Again, the audience is hooked on wanting to know the hitch-hiker's past and future, as well as the future of the two men in the
  7. The film appropriately introduces us to the main character by beginning when the police van is still in the outside world. The van passes through the gate. We hear the gate open. The van moves into the prison world and the gate closes. A sign on the wall informs us that it is a women's prison. The main character is caged first in the van and secondly within the walls of the prison. We as the audience are transported along with her, into the series of cages. The lighting emphasizes first the small, barred hole of a window in the van--the main character's limited view, and then the view o
  8. The themes of helplessness and fear of impending death are introduced. The two men are at the mercy of Emmet Myers. Since he gives his name, expecting recognition, we are to believe the man is an escapee with a reputation. The idea of fate is hinted at. What are the fates of the three men, now that the hitch-hiker has entered the car. The lighting exposes only the two men's faces in the beginning, but soon identifies the face of the third man. The lighting continues to focus on the three men's faces as if they're faces alone in the world. The lighting emphasizes the film noir theme o
  9. The film opens with a rather obvious hint at a theme or idea of "the erotic and the neurotic." The soundtrack is filled with what could easily pass as the sounds of a female in the throes of sex, but as we learn later, she is an escapee from a mental institution. We learn that she is naked under her trenchcoat (the coat a symbol, perhaps, of a spy, a detective or a killer). On their surface, the sounds are from a woman running frantically and breathlessly down a highway at night. The credits run backwards, throwing the audience off from their familiar moviegoing experience and predicting t
  10. Welles entrance into the scene is beautifully accidental. The cat squeals, alerting Cotton. The lady in the window shines light on Welles' face. He smiles wryly. The light goes out, and he escapes, becoming a running shadow against the buildings, lighted by streetlamps. He is gone as quickly as he appeared. The scene builds tension from Welles' smile and Cotton's recognition of the face. "Harry!" Cotton says. The audience naturally wonders who are these men? Why is Welles being pursued? Why is Cotton the pursuer? What is their past that allows Cotton to recognize Welles as "Harry."
  11. Garfield enters by vehicle after hitchhiking a ride to a roadhouse. He saunters from the car to the building, and learns on the way, from a highway patrolman, that the man who gave him a ride was the local DA. As Garfield continues to walk calmly to the building, the owner comes running excitedly out of the door. He seems intent about talking Garfield into the position of mechanic for the roadhouse. After they both enter the building, the owner runs out to attend to a customer. A lipstick container falls and rolls toward Garfield. He looks over at two gorgeous legs and then follows the v
  12. Lorre enters by normal means, through a series of two doorways, ultimately unlocking a door and entering uncautiously. Greenstreet enters surreptitiously from hiding, pointing a gun at a surprised Lorre. At first, Lorre is bewildered and taken aback but gradually relaxes as if he knows that Greenstreet has no intention of pulling the trigger. Greenstreet continues to hold the gun as if there's still a glimmer of intent to use the gun if needed. This raises tension in the scene. The scenes are lighted in the background which creates shadows in the foreground. The camera angles are low,
  13. The beginning is shot in the hot sun, in somewhat of a documentary style except with the internal monologue of the main character as opposed to a separate narrator. The scene moves in and out of the coolness of the shadows with Jane Greer ultimately moving out of the sun and into the shadowy cantina. Somewhat mysteriously, Greer is handed a drink, but she leaves before drinking it. We learn that Mitchum has been offered $40,000 to find Greer. He has frequented the cantina each day until she finally walked in. Greer informs Mitchum of another cantina where she sometimes frequents, and appa
  14. The beginning is shot in the hot sun, in somewhat of a documentary style except with the internal monologue of the main character as opposed to a separate narrator. The scene moves in and out of the coolness of the shadows with Jane Greer ultimately moving out of the sun and into the shadowy cantina. Somewhat mysteriously, Greer is handed a drink, but she leaves before drinking it. We learn that Mitchum has been offered $40,000 to find Greer. He has frequented the cantina each day until she finally walked in. Greer informs Mitchum of another cantina where she sometimes frequents, and appa
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