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About piperhaven

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  1. I have to say that my reaction to slapstick is often similar to that of Muriel Andrin. When Chaplin slipped on the banana peel, rather than laughing, I jumped with concern. Yes, Chaplin does make me laugh but I have always been unnerved by people falling over.
  2. I am having problems finding Day Two of the course. There is no indication of how to access it.
  3. I am unable to access Day 2 Monday 29th of Painfully Funny. Can you help me please?
  4. Professor Edwards With regard to Hitchcock being a special case, you state that "He wasn't a part of the German emigres like Lang or Siodmak". In fact: In 1924 Alfred Hitchcock went with fellow British film director, Graham Cutts, to Germany to film "The Blackguard." While in Germany, Hitchcock observed some of the making of Murnau's "The Last Laugh" and was so impressed with the directing that he adopted some of Murnau's filming techniques. Hitchcock was given the opportunity to assist in directing "The Pleasure Garden" at the UFA studios (Universum Film AG) I think this identifies Hitchcock as a Noir formalist. Philosophically, I believe his movies were informed by his Catholic upbringing rather than existential angst. Some of his main characters feel guilty for past actions (Scotty in Vertigo, Alicia in Notorious) which affects the choices they make. They quite often suffer from arrested development (Dr McKenna in The Man who Knew Too Much, jealously possessive of his wife), Uncle Charley in Shadow of A Doubt, (his hatred of wealthy middle-aged widows), Bruno in Strangers on a Train, (classic Oedipal complex). I believe these themes may be indicative of Hitchcock's personal demons rather than a critique of the social climate in which he was living. And that is what makes Hitchcock a 'special case' and not fully part of the noir school.
  5. I have very little to add to the observations of the others in this thread except to say that I think Hitchcock brings a Catholic sensibility to his movies. Noir is described as being rooted in existential angst. God is dead and life is meaningless. Hitchcock was raised in the Catholic faith. Many of his films, noir and others, include Catholic iconography. I think Hitch wanted to reveal the 'sinfulness' and human vulnerability in all his characters and also compel the audience to face the guilt within themselves.
  6. Billy Wilder was never seen without his fedora. It was his inspiration. Kept his brain warm
  7. Thank you Brian Blake. I found the first video very informative. I am not a technical person but it is always interesting to learn how effects are achieved in film. How often have we been impressed by an actor's performance when it is actually being enhanced by the lighting of the scene.
  8. Low budget noir is the purest form of noir. I believe Ulmer and Alton were thrilled to have little-known bad actors in the film. Their main aim was to focus on its formalist style. When you have the big hitters like Bogart, Mitchum, Edward G, et al in your movie, they take the attention away from the form. The quality of their performance gives an air of reality to the story which noirist directors/cinematographers don't want. The ludicrousness of the story ensures we appreciate the fantastic element.
  9. Much debate has gone into deciding what is noir and what isn't. I found this in a Wikipedia article about Nino Frank. "In 1946, Frank and fellow critic Jean-Pierre Chartier wrote two film articles that described Hollywood crime dramas from the 1940s as “film noir.” Frank’s article, “Un nouveau genre ‘policier:’ L’aventure criminelle,” (“A new police genre: the criminal adventure”) was published in the socialist-leaning film magazine L’écran français in August 1946. Frank’s article listed “…rejection of sentimental humanism, the social fantastic, and the dynamism of violent death” as being obsessive French noir themes and called attention to the American proclivity for criminal psychology and misogyny.” [3] Frank’s article stated that “these "dark" films, these films noirs, no longer have anything in common with the ordinary run of detective movies”, and the article "reflects the difficulty of finding a suitable label for these dark films."[4] Frank’s article states that the noir films "belong to what used to be called the detective film genre, but which would now be better termed the crime, or, even better yet, the "crime psychology film.” Jean-Pierre Chartier's essay, from November 1946, appeared in the conservative-leaning Revue du cinema, titled "Les Américains aussi font des films 'noirs'" ("the Americans also make 'black' films"), and criticized what he deemed the common thread of film noir, the “pessimism and disgust for humanity.”[3] " So to qualify for the term, a film must be: About crime Nihilistic Mysogynist Extremely violent Have elements of fantasy Notice there is no mention of chiaroscuro lighting. This comes from German Expressionist films. So check each movie you watch for the five elements listed and 'you got noir'.
  10. I would like to make a few points on this comment. The British had been at war since 1939 but the British Film Industry was positively encouraged to make war propaganda movies. They were considered to be an important part of sustaining morale. Strangely, many of these movies turned out to be classics, in particular, the movies of Powell and Pressburger (One of our Aircraft is Missing, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Canterbury Tale). There are others like Went The Day Well, The Way to the Stars and Henry V. These were not noir movies, of course but they were excellent ones. With regard to not being censored, before the war, the American film industry was strictly censored by the Hays Code. After the war, a more serious censorship came into being with the formation of House of Un-American Activities. This organization ruined the careers and lives of several actors, directors and writers. It is against this kind of background that many great noir movies were made. I would suggest the general mood of repression (or angst, another word pilfered from the German) produced the most highly regarded noir movies.
  11. Difference in entrances: Lorre is coming out of the elevator talking to himself. He seems quite amused at the rather dubious person he has just met. The set is well lit and the atmosphere light. Then he opens the door to find his apartment in chaos. The camera pans across the debris and Greenstreet steps out of the dark carrying a gun. Lorre is startled at first then the conversation becomes almost playful. "Am I mad" says Lorre. Despite the underlying threat of the gun and Greenstreet's tone, he does not appear to be unduly worried. Camera angles: When Greenstreet is seated, we get a low angle shot of him. Given Greenstreet's considerable size, this gives him the presence of a giant. Lorre is seated lower then him and we get a camera angle which places Greenstreet in the forefront of the screen, even more dominating. But Lorre seems so relaxed. He slides even lower, into a relaxed positions and his tone is quite conversational. Comparison: We have no sense of the tension that this kind of screen composition creates in The Big Sleep between Colonel Sternwood and Philip Marlowe. Sternwood is seated higher than Marlowe. Marlowe is made ill at ease by excessive heat. Marlowe is a hot-blooded man, Sternwood, cold-blooded. There is little communality between them. So what is happening in The Mask of Demetrios. I believe that Negulesco has been made aware that Greenstreet and Lorre share the same kind of movie magic as their illustrious predecessors, Stan and Olly. By the end of the clip, Greenstreet has laid aside the gun and realized he has a partner here not an adversary. Together, they can conquer the world!
  12. The clip begins in sunshine, then moves into a cafe out of the sun. Jane Greer moves from the sunlit exterior and briefly into shadow before becoming visible again. I think it is this dark moment that signals her femme fatality. She is literally and figuratively coming 'out of the past' not fully known to Robert Mitchum. This movie is considered by most scholars to be one of the quintessentially noir movies. The contrast I believe is the rural life that Mitchum is living when the movie starts and his morally dark past. Nature good, cities bad.
  13. I think noir films do send messages but not necessarily the ostensible .'message' of the movie i.e. . if you allow an obviously bad woman to get under your skin and make you do bad things, you will be punished. I believe that noir movies are about hidden fears and desires that we are afraid to admit even to ourselves. In truth, they encourage immorality in us. We want Edward G to get away with murder in Scarlet Street because he is innocent. We think Dan Duryea should have been murdered because of the way he treats Joan Bennet. Blind justice has no place in noir land. It appeals to the vestigial animal in us all, the desire for complete freedom and revenge. I agree with you about Crossfire. This is a film about prejudice and says so very compellingly. Using shadows and light alone does not make a noir movie.
  14. Thank you so much for the opportunity to watch Edward G displaying his considerable powers. As you say, the German Expressionist key lighting, bare set and anti-realism is very evident in this sequence and it was released in 1931. I think this proves that what the French meant by noir was not just style but many other factors. So I have come to the conclusion that noir is Genre/Style/Movement and any movie has to satisfy all these elements to be called a film noir.
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