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asimplylucia

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  1. Describe the noir elements, in terms of style and substance, in this opening sequence.The noir elements are not as visible as they are sometimes. The 'noir' feeling about this opening sequence is more insidious: it comes with details, like the moment when we see Ryan through the window, looking inside the house and cleaning whatever there is on this window. It's also visible with the hammer he puts away very quickly (what's wrong with this hammer?). The fact he keeps calling the woman he works for although she doesn't answer is strange to say the least... and there's the filthy water inside the bucket. Is it something else than water? What do you make of the film opening with the Salvation Army band playing and the prominent Salvation Army sign in that first shot?The social context is important here; the action takes place shortly after WWI. Is Howard a veteran who has a hard time finding his place in post-war America? In any case, we can assume the main protagonist is not in a position to refuse the job Ida Lupino offered to him. The Salvation Army fights poverty. Maybe it's a personal interpretation but when I saw the Salvation Army band playing in the streets, I had the impression this small town was a very quiet place whatever would happen during the movie would disturb. Even though it is set in 1918, how does this scene reveal some of the typical noir themes of the 1950s?1918 and the early 1950s are both post-war periods; people and especially war veterans were trying to get back to 'normal life' after their discharge. Women had gained some independance during both wars (especially during WWII) and here we have a woman who hired a handyman and who asks him to clean and to take care of the rubbish (it's on the list of things Howard has to do at the beginning of the opening sequence): quite a role reversal...
  2. Even the whistling sound of the train seems a bit over the top in this opening scene; there's something very aggressive in the first sequence, especially in the way the title appears after the headlights blinded the audience. As for the rest, it's more difficult for me to answer once the dialogue between Charles McGraw and Don Beddoe begins. Their exchange seems full of irony - and these two are thick as thieves, visibly - but not being a native speaker, I'd need subtitles to understand the dialogue...
  3. Discuss the role of time and timing in this scene.Time is crucial when planning a heist: we see Preston Foster observing the comings and goings of the customers, but in particular the flower delivery truck driver and the two armored car drivers. He keeps looking at his watch and at the second hand, showing us this heist is not a matter of minutes but of seconds. Foster has been observing carefully the armored car drivers and the man who delivers flowers for several days as we understand in the last moments of this sequence and he seems quite happy with himself but this is a film noir, we can guess this heist won't proceed like clockwork (no pun intended). His self-confidence will vanish at some point. What are the film noir elements (style or substance) that you notice in the opening of this film?The theme itself (a heist) is not uncommon in film noir ('Gun Crazy' comes to mind). The intertitle and the documentary style reminded me of the opening of 'Border Incident'. The music creating a tense atmosphere and the absence of dialogue are also something one can find in film noir. The camera shows us alternatively the observer (Preston), his target (the bank), the innocent people who will be involved at some point (the flower delivery truck driver and the two armored car drivers): the cutaways between these elements and the low angle when Preston looks at the bank scream 'film noir'. Why is a heist a good subject for a film noir to tackle? Put another way, how or why might a film that involves a heist affect or change what we think about criminals and/or criminal behavior on screen?By showing the heist from the inside, the film director puts the audience in the shoes of the criminals and that kind of transgression is typical of film noir. Preston doesn't seem very nice in this sequence but as we see lots of things from his POV, our opinion might change. There's of course the theme of fate that keeps coming back in film noir: here, Preston plans this heist very carefully to avoid any unnecessary risk, but the audience knows something bad will happen. We know it from the moment we read the intertitle: this heist will fail at some point (it wouldn't be in the annals of Kansas City police otherwise). The carefully planned heist/murder that fails is something common in film noir ('Gun Crazy', 'Double Indemnity', 'The Postman Always Rings Twice').
  4. Compare and contrast how director Karlson shoots and stages the boxing scene as a contrast of styles between cinema and television.Bizarre angles, diagonals, close-ups insisting on Ernie's pain and helplessness... That's how Karlson shoots the boxing match. Television offers a very different vision with the use of slow motion: it seems impersonal in comparison, and even cruel, because the juxtaposition of the past (the boxing match) and the present (Ernie watching TV) insists on what could have been. Discuss the scene's social commentary in the interactions between Ernie (John Payne) and Pauline (Peggie Castle).Once more, the social changes after WWII are visible here with a woman who doesn't hesitate to remind her husband of his failures... She might be cheating on him (the watch). What are some of the noir elements in this scene, either in terms of style or substance?The notion of 'what could have been' (if Ernie had won that boxing match, if Pauline had married someone else) is very important here. The notion of helplessness too. Am I the only one who noticed Ernie's gesture when the commentator mentions his right eye being examined during the match? While watching this scene on TV, Ernie touches his right eye and we briefly see him blinking; I found this detail really moving. Ernie bears the scars of his past, of the choices he made and he seems rather helpless.
  5. -- Compare the opening of this film with other Daily Doses that began with a similar set-up on a deserted highway at night. How does this film's fateful twist differ from other film scenes we have investigated? The first pictures of Too Late... (a mysterious car on a deserted road at night) convey a dark atmosphere, like Kiss Me Deadly. The twist comes from the couple arguing in their car about the friends they're about to meet. Their preoccupations and their frustrations contrast with the planned exchange. We first see the details of the exchange, then the couple arguing, is meaningful for me. In The Hitch-Hiker, a mysterious man brings chaos to the life of two ordinary guys, whereas here, it's like the everyday preoccupations of an innocent couple interrupted the carefully planned exchange between two thugs. Alan and Jane are the disruptive element, in a way. -- Why do you think unexpected incidents involving innocent people (such as today's couple) was such a popular postwar theme? What was changing in society and history that made this a popular film story for audiences at the time? Cold War, McCarthyism and the paranoid atmsphere of the late fourties certainly explain a lot. -- Discuss this scene in terms of the style and substance of film noir. What do you see in this opening scene that confirms Eddie Muller's observation that this film is "'the best unknown American film noir of the classic era." What struck me here, aside from the mise en scene and the way tension is built, is the role reversal: Jane is mesmerized by the money inside the bag, she makes the decision to start the engine and tries to leave behind the other car - with success. She seems very excited about all this. Her husband doesn't take any initiative in the final moments of this scene. Somehow, this opening looks like a metaphor of the societal changes in America at this time: women are becoming more independent, they're making the decisions, and men, like Alan here, stay in the backseat and seem to wonder what's happening.
  6. How is Hitchcock's rhythm and purposes different in this opening sequence, from other films noir such as Kiss Me Deadly or The Hitch-Hiker?The opening scene takes place during the day, in a crowded train station (then inside a train). We're not in the middle of the night on a deserted road. The opening in Kiss Me Deadly or The Hitch-Hiker is made to create immediate tension whereas it's not as obvious in Strangers... Tension builds up more insidiously, through details like... clothes. Sorry, it might be only me but the costume designer created here a huge contrast with Guy Haines whose style is elegant yet low-key and Bruno. Bruno's clothes are flamboyant: pinstripe suit, (awful) tie with big patterns, cuff links... and especially his spectator shoes. Spectator shoes were associated with lounge lizards during the 1920s and 1930s. They were probably outmoded at the time the movie was shot but they're instantly recognizable: you identify Bruno as a wealthy, lazy man even before you see his face thanks to these shoes. What are the noir elements that you notice in the opening of this film? Either in terms of style or substance?The diagonals (when Guy and Bruno enter the train station) are clearly the biggest noir element in this scene. Thanks to this almost choreographed sequence, you can tell these two are going to meet (there's a sense of inevitability in this scene) but the diagonals also convey the idea of a potential clash between them. Do you agree or disagree that Alfred Hitchcock should be considered a "special case" in discussion of film noir? Why or why not?Alfred Hitchcock having a different culture (he's neither from Central Europe nor an American film maker), he is in my opinion a special case. The way he tells us the story is different. There are noir elements in Strangers but this movie doesn't come down to its noir elements, there's Hitchcock personal style.
  7. Threat might be a common trait in the four daily doses of this week - except in Frank Bigelow's case, it's already too late. Another detail struck me: the main character's face is hidden for a while in these four sequences and in D.O.A. the camera follows Franck Bigelow for a long time, even after he's inside the Homicide Division. The ideas of loneliness and helplessness seem another common trait. If we consider only The Hitch Hiker and D.O.A., absurd is a similarity (the two fishing buddies of The Hitch Hiker did nothing wrong and here F. Bigelow reports his own murder). In this opening, we see a man alone, whose perceptions are altered by poison (I see a parallel with Murder My Sweet and the sequences with Marlowe knocked unconscious, for example). Loss of bearings (here in the huge police station) is something rather common in film noir. One of the major themes here would be indifference: policemen barely answer to him and those who are sitting around a table in the Homicide Division don't seem to care about him.
  8. Why is this opening appropriate for a film about females at a women's state prison? In what ways has the design of this scene made the audience as "caged" as these characters in this opening sequence?From the very first image, we're inside the police van (or whatever it is), almost blind, only getting a glimpse at the outside through the wire screen. The fact this wire screen is at the center of the image (like the outside world might be the main preoccupation of the women in this situation) is certainly not innocent. The urban landscape we see through the wire screen is only made more stressful by the sounds of traffic, the sirens and the creaking noise of a gate opening and closing. When the door opens, we see a young woman, frightened and most likely blinded by light. The prison guard is deliberately humiliating when he orders them to get out. There's a very intense moment with a succession of close-ups on Eleanor Parker's horrified face and glimpses at her surroundings: first the prison buildings (gloomy), then the pediment of the facade, announcing we're at the women's prison. After she's forced to get out of the van, the older woman's comment leaves us no doubt: it's their last sight at freedom (behind the already closed gate). What about this opening reminds you of the Warner Bros. house style? And why is that appropriate for this subject matter?I didn't watch enough movies from this studio to give an appropriate answer... Just based on this opening, how do you think film noir will influence this film's realism about life behind bars? In other words, why is the "substance of noir" appropriate for a story set inside a women's prison?There's something very interesting in this sequence because I see a dichotomy between the group and the individual. The prison guard calls them as a group ('tramps') and we don't really the features of the women with Eleanor Parker inside the van; the audience can't really identify them. We're with Eleanor Parker and only with her (because of the close-ups on her face); we feel her anguish, we share it. She doesn't really fit in this group of convicts. The way this scene was shot forces us to identify with her - and to ask ourselves why she's in this place - but at some point we can have the impression we're the only ones who sympathize with her. The prison guard's comment is downright humiliating ('tramps') and the older woman who addresses Eleanor Parker in the end somewhat infantilizes her ('kid'). It might be affectionate, but in this context, it sounds a bit patronizing. Prison is a universe where convicts are mere ciphers, where individuality is often not respected. This dichotomy between the individual and the group (and the struggle of the individual to survive in this group) is a theme very common in movies set inside prisons and at the same time, individuality (along with social despair) is a popular theme in film noir.
  9. -- What are some of the major themes and/or ideas introduced in the opening sequence of The Hitch-Hiker? In my opinion, the main theme here is the irruption of danger in the life of two ordinary citizens (the detail of the groceries, for instance, is here to remind us Gilbert is an average Joe). -- Discuss the role of lighting and staging in this scene, and how lighting and staging both work to reveal the underlying substance of film noir? The use of close-ups emphasizes emotions and sometimes misleads us (the first image, with the hitch-hiker's legs, makes us think he's alone and needs help). The headlights at the beginning blind the spectator and at the same time, they're a sort of beacon for the hitch-hiker. Close-ups become eloquent once the hitch-hiker gets into the car (the gun, for example). It's not a coincidence if, at first, he's always in the shadows, unlike the two good Samaritans who picked him up. Myers' face is lit once he has revealed his true nature by threatening Gilbert with a gun and has started giving orders. -- Compare and contrast the opening scenes of Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker? What is similar between the two? What is different? Why do these openings both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir? Picking up a stranger is dangerous (Mike Hammer will get into trouble at some point; Roy and Gilbert quickly regret their good deed. No one seems safe in The Hitch Hiker, though: the two main characters did nothing wrong, they tried to help and they had no good reason to suspect Myers at first sight. I think The Hitch Hiker conveys a much darker message, because it's not about a private investigator wondering what some pretty girl did before he picked her up, it's about two ordinary persons on a fishing trip who end up threatened by a thug. Nobody is safe in the world described by The Hitch Hiker.
  10. What are some of the major themes and/or ideas introduced in the opening sequence of Kiss Me Deadly?Threat and danger are among the main themes. There's probably a sense of doom too. As for the deceptive woman (something some people here suggested), I'd need to watch this movie... I also find here an opposition between the police and the private eye (Mike Hammer being the one who protects the supposed victim - Christina - when the police treats her like a fugitive). Speed and sexual subtext could be the (minor) themes I detect here. What do we learn or discern about the characters of Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman) and private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) in this brief introductory sequence?As many people said, Christina's disheveled appearance (barefoot and barely dressed) emphasizes her desperation. She's determined to take her chances, even if it means getting into a stranger's car and giving him a false impression (when she takes his hand). Mike Hammer is the hard-boiled detective - although he drives a fancy car, in my opinion. He's not very compassionate with her but he saves her nonetheless. How is this opening scene an important contribution to the development of film noir?Music is important here, like it is in The Big Combo (released in 1955 too). It gives the sequence its atmosphere (very urban and intriguing).
  11. -- What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) "entrance" in this film so effective? Like someone else said, the first moments of this scene immerse us in Holly Martins' POV, so we're more or less looking for Harry Lime before we see it. We first see his shoes, next to the cat, and somewhat we identify him with this cat which seems so indifferent to Martins' words. He's hiding in the dark, like some alley cat, and when the woman turns on the light, thus revealing Harry's face, the camera focuses on his smile and on the mocking gleam in his eyes. -- Discuss how this scene is both deeply realistic (in its depiction of a war-torn Vienna) and highly formalistic (in its use of a variety of non-realistic camera, lighting and musical techniques). It's realistic because it was shot at night, in Vienna - I bet some places shown here are recognizable if you live there or if you visited the city. When trying to describe this scene's elements of formalism, the word that comes to mind is 'baroque', not only because of the buildings and sculptures. Since the beginning of this scene, something is askew: the ground looks uneven, the bizarre angles are disturbing and we're soon as disoriented as Holly Martins (when he turns around and tries to follow Harry). -- In what ways can this scene from The Third Man be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? The bizarre angles, the low-key lighting, the music (a bit... out of step) and the humorous lines in the dialogue are some of the characteristics of film noir I find here.
  12. -- How are the "entrances" of John Garfield and Lana Turner staged in this sequence? What do their "entrances" reveal about their character? The first part of this opening scene is optimistic: John Garfield is grateful for the ride, he says he might have found a job. Even the driver doesn't get a fine... The scene takes place outside, in the sun, and the landscape (over the policeman's shoulder) is enchanting. Then things start to go south when Cecil Kellaway's character becomes more and more insistent on hiring him. Why being so insistent? Garfield's character seems optimistic and easy-going in this sequence, but he quickly tells the other characters he's always on the move. Lana Turner... there's the sound of something rolling on the floor that makes the hero turn around (her lipstick), an intriguing tune (saxophone?) and then the camera follows Garfield's eyes. What we first see of Lana Turner are her high-heeled shoes, then her long legs. It's a cliche, but I find it very sensual, even suggestive (and as a woman, I find it very inspiring). She exudes confidence and she wants people to look at her. She expects men to pander to her every whim. She doesn't take no for an answer. -- What are some of the noir elements in this sequence? - voice over - a feeling of imprisonment (maybe the word imprisonment is too strong, but I can't find a better word) because Garfield's character has ants in his pants yet Kellaway insists on hiring him and keeping him in his restaurant. - doom. The D.A. and the police's presence foreshadow something bad. The charred hamburger too. - white clothes. I have a crack-pot theory about femme fatales and white color. Lana Turner is not the only femme fatale wearing white clothes (Jane Greer wears a white dress in Out of the Past). It makes her look more innocent and she definitely plays with it. -- What did you notice in this sequence that you identify with the MGM "house style?" (Answer this question only if you are already familiar with other MGM films noir from this time period). I'm afraid I don't watch enough MGM movies to answer...
  13. Probably one of my favorites... because of this long flashback in Mexico. How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight? Shadows are very important here, especially when Jane Greer comes in (besides, she's wearing white clothes, like Lana Turner the first time we see her in The Postman Always Rings Twice, a year before - there's definitely something about femme fatales wearing white clothes). Stares create tension - when Jane Greer ignores 'Jose Rodriguez', it also creates tension, because the guide clearly intrudes on their conversation. Jane Greer smokes and smoke is one of the distinctive features of film noir. It almost replaces darkness here. What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence? Kathie is guarded. She doesn't talk much but when she does, her answers can be very curt ('I don't want a guide'). She exudes self-confidence: later in the movie, Jeff says she knew he would go to the place she mentions at the end of this scene and wait for her. She's already playing with him. This scene is a turning point for Jeff: he followed Kathie because he was hired by someone who wanted her back, but he soon forgets why he came to Acapulco when he sees her. In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir? The voice over, the flashback, the femme fatale are film noir characteristics. But what I prefer here - and in the rest of the movie - is the hero who slowly realizes he's not as strong or not as indifferent as he thought he was.
  14. I never watched the movie but I reread The Big Sleep a few weeks ago: it's very faithful to the book. In my opinion, it proves - if need be - how film noir is inspired by hard-boiled detectives like those Chandler and Dashiel Hammet created. Humphrey Bogart exudes casualness in this opening scene and for me that's what makes establishes him as Philip Marlowe. He doesn't really match the lavish setting of General Sternwood's house, he allows himself some acerbic remarks about the Sternwoods that show he's not fooled by their varnish of respectability. I love the moment when he glances at the coat of arms before looking away and turning to Carmen who quickly falls in his arms (literally): he's no hero, he's not a knight in shining armor and he knows it. Im my opinion, this opening main contribution to film noir can be found in Philip Marlowe's disillusioned look on the mansion and on the family who's about to hire him.
  15. I never watched Gilda (it's on my list of movies to watch, though). It's significative the scene begins and ends with Johnny Farrell, since Gilda is dancing to get his attention. At the beginning of Rita Hayworth's performance, the camera is in the middle of the audience, which means we're among Gilda's audience, we're almost in the situation of voyeurs. The camera follows Gilda as she dances, just like the spectators keep their eyes on her. Apart the provocative dance and the glances to the audience, what I found very daring in this scene is what happens after the music stops. The audience is conditioned to expect things to get back to normal when the song ends, but it's the moment Gilda chooses to start her strip tease. During that part of the sequence, one can tell she's trying to embarrass Johnny Farrell; when men start 'helping' her remove her dress, she's not looking at them, she's looking at Johnny and she deliberately puts him in the position of a helpless observer. Music is often important in film noir: it sets the mood, it precipitates things (in Shadow of a Doubt, it forces one of the main characters to face the consequences of his crime). In The Big Combo, brass are part of the atmosphere but they also play a significant part in the torture scene. Here, a cheerful song is used to build up tension between the two main characters and it helps revealing what they're ready to do to hurt each other.
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