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Miss Daniels

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Posts posted by Miss Daniels

  1. The song here is about assigning blame (or taking credit depending on how you look at it) for destruction, ruin and chaos.  The use of this song is a clever way for both the director and the character to foreshadow and prepare viewers regarding the character’s actions and what’s to come.  Rather than just coming right out and saying, “Warning, this character will be wreaking havoc,” the song lets us know exactly what to expect. Music is incredibly powerful as an influence to the development of film noir.  Not only can it create a mood and drive the action, it engages the viewer, controlling our emotions by taking us to the heights of happiness, the depths of despair or causing anxious, suffocating dread all as the result of instruments playing and the arrangement of the composition including major or minor chording, rhythm and tempo.  The right music involves the viewer in the action and as a result, our investment in the film, its story and characters.  Additionally music used in film noir has the amazing ability to cause a disconnect between our emotions and what is unfolding on the screen.   For example, as we  watch this scene with Gilda, the music is very gay, cheerful and fun.  We’re drawn by her charisma and her fun playful performance, but the glaring of Johnny Farrell makes us uncomfortable because we start to realize that he is not happy with her behavior and there will be consequences.  We’re further stunned at the end of the number by the doozey of a look that Gilda gives John because we realize in that moment that the entire number was really just an act to get a reaction out of him.  It wasn’t some sort of lighthearted, spontaneous heartfelt performance, but very calculated on her part.  And so, we realize that she was playing not only John, but us as well. 

  2. I think the “cynical and twisted” noir influence that was most glaring to me from this scene was that even the most seemingly lovely, adorable person on the outside as in the case of the daughter could be so ugly and toxic and sociopathic on the inside.  As has been noted about the noir style, “not everything is as it seems” and this is a prime example.  We expect the girl to be sweet and good because of her petite size and how she looks when very shockingly and harshly we (along with her mother) discover that she’s as evil as any of the worst monsters we could imagine in our nightmares.  And what makes this scene even more compelling is we’re witnessing Mildred’s  realization of the kind of person her daughter really is in this exact moment.  There can be no more excuses made about the actions of this girl, no more denial, no more hiding from the truth. (I haven’t seen the movie, so in reading the postings of others, to learn that Veda has been made this way by Mildred makes the scene even more heartbreaking.) When evil is wearing this kind of a human mask it's much more scary, horrifying and disturbing then any made up monster in a horror movie. 

    • Like 2
  3. There’s definitely that feeling of anticipation in both movies, that we’re waiting for something to happen, but no creepy little kids playing a scary game in this one. Though, how much creepier can you get than a mental asylum at midnight? The clock in both movies demonstrates the passing of time; in M the dread that something bad has occurred as the mother waits and waits for her daughter and with each passing minute the realization for all of us that the worst has occurred.  While in this movie, the passing of time brings a good turn of events for the character-freedom after a long incarceration.  The character is eager and hopeful to go (if not entirely stable), but we as viewers realize he’s incredibly vulnerable in a sense like the school children in M in that he has no protection against the evils of the world. He has no real plans, no safe place, no one waiting to take him home, no support, just him and his suitcase.  What’s waiting for him outside the asylum walls? I couldn’t help but have a chuckle regarding the psychiatrist.  Apparently no planning whatsoever occurred to ensure the success of this man in the next phase of his life as he is released after years in an institution.  Instead the doctor merely provides some last minute somewhat useless and superior advice as he basically washes his hands of his patient at the stroke of midnight.  Hey, thanks there, Doc. Then proceeds to mosey off to smoke his pipe some more and wear his tweed jacket as he hangs out in his office at the asylum in the middle of the night.   ;) Anyway, this indifference could be a sign of the times regarding how mental health/illness was addressed back then or it could be a crucial lesson for us to learn, that sometimes those we expect to know best and help us/prepare us (police and parents in M; the doctor in this movie) either don’t or can’t protect us from the darkness of the real world.

  4. It was helpful and fun to read the comments of others to help process the scene, so I don’t have a lot of fresh insight to add.  This “new kind of detective” does things his way, which may or may not be legal, he’s not necessarily a good guy or a friend of the police and sees his work as a business venture/opportunity.  He may not be a hero in the conventional sense because he has flaws, which we may or may not learn the reasons for.  Yet we're drawn to him, he's intriguing. The sharp, fast paced dialogue between Phillip Marlowe and the young woman was also notable as she’s instantly introduced as a worthy opponent in the exchange versus a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by the detective.  

  5. I think Dana Andrew’s McPherson engages the viewer so successfully in those first few minutes because he’s not like the typical smooth, confident detective we may be accustomed to from earlier types of films.   Although there is sharp and witty dialogue, there is no light hearted banter or carefree quips.  He’s not polished and suave.  We really do pick up on the fact this guy is incredibly flawed in just these brief few minutes and the fact  that he’s so  emotionally scarred is what keeps his character from being merely a “thinking machine.”  Instead his character adds an additional  level of complexity to the action because he is going to impact or even drive the story and the other characters rather than just being the one on the outside piecing everything together in order to solve the crime.  We also get some foreshadowing with this scene that maybe he doesn’t have the best professional boundaries considering he’s willing to interview Waldo (even though Waldo has no qualms about it) while he’s in the tub.  And as someone else posted, I agree, the smirking look on McPherson’s face as he glances at naked Waldo before as he tosses him a towel is classic!  This boundary blurring figures ongoing in the movie as McPherson becomes more personally involved and more taken with and mesmerized by Laura as he delves deeper into the crime.  Love the many comments and observations others have posted regarding Waldo Lydecker.  What a fascinating character !  So beautifully (yet disturbingly) entitled, arrogant and narcissistic.

    • Like 3
  6. I think that the usage of POV was indeed very successful in this opening scene. One could feel the palpable panic, once the camera, switches and you start to see things through the eyes of Bogie's character. You are no longer seeing/feeling things vicariously. And in a span of those four minutes, you are Vincent Parry. His thoughts, fears, become yours. And in that scene where he finally gets a ride from a stranger, and the news breaks over the radio, one could also feel the surge of desperation and anger as he begins to beat the driver repeatedly.


    I think the fact that we saw things through the character himself, made everything else tangible and visceral. From, rolling over in that barrel, to frantically discarding his clothes in the bushes, to hoping that he wouldn't get caught. In this sequence, the audiences was no longer an observer, but a participant in what this character was going through. And I think that was the most important contribution the opening of that film made, and how we as the viewers were able to see things from a different prespective, or as the old adage goes, 'Walk a mile in my shoes.'

    I couldn't agree more or have said it better, Tess. D!  This approach really engages us as viewers and draws us into the action so we become invested in the character and his outcome.  We can’t help but be conflicted by the fact that he’s probably a bad guy considering he just broke out of prison but since we’re seeing things from his point of view, we feel his desperation and panic and we’re really anxious for him (and ourselves) to succeed. We want this character to get away, where if we’d actually observed him in a more traditional, movie making manner, we might have been more judgmental about the character and therefore indifferent about the success of his escape.   

  7. The opening grabs the viewer immediately and doesn’t let go.  It sets up a feeling of anticipation right away.  I loved how the camera was mounted outside the train, so it really draws the viewer in as if we too are riding on the train with the engineers, really engaging us right away. I think this film’s contribution to the film noir is that of bringing the viewer immediately into the scene, so that we are immediately invested. When the darkness of the tunnel occurred, I found myself holding my breath, even dreading what was going to happen next and wondering what we would see on the other side (would one or both of the engineers be gone, would some altercation have occurred between the two, would something or somebody have joined them in the cab while in the tunnel, etc.)  Yet when they emerged from the tunnel nothing had happened, so strangely I felt this immense relief. One additional observation, near the end of the segment/opening, the music startled me when it began.  I found it strangely at odds with the action we’d just seen on the train.  Where the rushing train and the interactions of the engineers had set such a serious and intense tone, the music seemed kind of bouncy and cheerful which did not seem to fit at all. Unsettling.  

    • Like 1
  8. The opening is a surprise because you don’t expect to see Bette Davis, the female star of the movie, follow a man from the house shooting him repeatedly and excessively in the back in the opening seconds. That’s not usually the way we expect our heroines in movies to behave. For this reason, it seems this approach really had to have shocked audiences when the movie first premiered and they didn’t know what was about to happen.   Because based on this small piece of the movie, the audience realizes this may be a beautiful woman, but she’s not necessarily going to be a good, likeable character, she’s flawed. She’s not a one dimensional character, who lounges around looking elegant, but instead is going to be an integral part of the action of the story.  Maybe her actions will end up being justified or maybe they won’t be.  Maybe we’ll get to liking her or maybe we won’t.  The gunshots occur and then darkness as the clouds cover the moon, but with the clearing, as she glances up and her face is revealed, it’s apparent there’s a lot going on right beneath the surface.  This element of surprise contributed to the film noir style, to expect the unexpected, that not all is what it seems based on assumptions you may not have even been aware you’ve made as the film starts.  In a way, too,  it seems to me this type of technique is similar to a plot twist used in later movies  like Hitchcock’s Psycho with Janet Leigh (and even though it’s a much later and a horror movie, Scream, with Drew Barrymore) because in both of these movies we may come in assuming something about the main female character only to have her  murdered within the first part of the movie, totally shattering our assumptions.    

    • Like 1
  9. Despite having children playing and people working, going about their everyday business, not everything is as it seems, there's something dark and evil just beneath the surface of normalcy. Or maybe there’s really no such thing as normalcy, it’s just something we’ve made up for the sake of self preservation when the real normal is that evil things and evil people exist everywhere. The children’s playing seems sweet until we realize what game they are playing, what words the girl is saying. And of course they're young and innocent and most likely they don't truly understand, but still, as an observer, it's really disturbing and sinister that this is the game they've chosen to play, indicating that even children this young have already been impacted by the cruelties of life, the seeds of cynicism have been planted and as a result, they distance themselves from horror and violence by making a game of it (something we perfect as adults via humor, jokes, etc).  Meanwhile meeting Elsie seems a stark contrast to the first group of children.  Her absolute beauty, joy and sunny personality transcends 80+ years and despite clothing and hairstyle, she’s still the epitome of the perfect child today. Her innocence and uncomplicated happiness of playing with the ball is felt.  She’s such a joy that as we flash to her mother preparing her lunch and eagerly awaiting her return from school, even this woman, obviously beaten down by and burdened by the heaviness, hardship and ugliness of her life is in awe of this one pure, hopeful and beautiful thing she has. And with the foreshadowing of the man lurking nearby, who speaks to Elsie, we realize something this beautiful, perfect and gentle is probably not long for this dark world. It brought to my mind the Robert Frost verse (also referenced in the Outsiders) that “Nothing gold can stay.”  

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