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About StewartBAM

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  1. The film noir style shows in the aerial shot in the dark with only the lights of the city as the camera closes in on the parking lot from above and down to the car driving into the lot and shifting as its lights illuminate the couple as they kiss between the cars, randomly lit up as they try to hide in the darkness. The substance is the two who are hiding, desperate to get away from their situations and making plans to run away together. The feeling of oppression of her situation is evident, her hope to make the past go away in hopes for a better future and his need to help her escape increase the tension. When the camera opens up to the inside of the club, we see the man ironically dressed in white bullying the maître'd to tell him where his wife is. We can tell he is no knight in white. He is the man she fears. We also see the maitre'd scoop up the "butts" (play on the word ****) as he complains about the job and the class of people he is forced to deal with. The seedier side of life is presented here. People who are unhappy are tossed in the random world that provides no real hope of escape. They are trapped between two cars, hiding in the darkness, randomly found by the headlights of a passing car. Things do not bode well for them. As far as the Daily Doses have helped in this class, I have loved them. They have forced me to look harder at each scene. Often I would watch the first time and not have much to say, but because I had questions to answer, these tended to be the ones I wrote the most about. There is so much hidden, so many clues subliminally offered. The lines in the background, the music, the camera angle and lighting clues. It has made me watch much closer and more attentively. Plus I love any excuse to watch movies!!! I watched a movie last night called The Judge and laughed when I recognized the conventions and camera angles that I learned about in film noir. Really well done, I thought. Even my husband is now seeing it. He noticed it too last night. Thanks, Dr. Edwards and TCM/Ball State!!!
  2. The fact that the music was chosen by the character, not just music-over, is telling along with the picture of the wall and the plants in the window box. These elements are have all very Nazi overtones. As a matter of fact, Wagner is the musician most identified with Nazi Germany, his music often used in the concentration camps as a form of torture for the prisoners and show of strength by the Nazis. Although he died 50 years prior to Hitler's coming to power, Wagner wrote extensively about his hatred of "Jewery" and support of the growing German nationalism. The strings in Wagner's Overture (of the opera Tannhauser?) almost scream in their high pitch as Louis is beaten by Cpt. Munsey. The rise and fall of the music matches perfectly with the intensity of the scene as if Munsey's actions are the natural rise and fall of the music, inspired and driven by it. The wonderful irony of Jules Dassin using Wagner in this highly stylized, artistic presentation of the beating scene is that Wagner wrote that the Jewish people could only "speak in imitation of others, make art in imitation of others; he cannot really speak, write or create art on his own." Dassin, in this scene, is not only equating Munsey and his abuse of his power and authority with the Nazi torturers and officials, but also is at the same time, thumbing his nose at Wagner and his statement that Dassin, as a Jew, could not create art! Love it!!!! The scene is staged with Munsey in his "wife-beater" t-shirt (he wears most likely so not to get sweat and blood on his shirt - he has done this before) and Louis seated in the chair with a policeman in uniform holding his billy club at the ready. This is to show that this is official police brutality. Munsey closing the blinds shows that it is to be hidden, even though all the men in the next room and this policeman are all witnesses to the whole thing. It is a systemic problem. Interestingly, outside the room, a group of police detectives, I assume, are playing cards and one of them stands and shows his disgust of what is happening in the next room as the others, sit resigned to the fate of the man being beaten. (It is "out of their hands.") This is typical of the film noir's projection of the post-war feeing of distrust of police and the "establishment." This reflected the disillusionment of the men coming back from WWII, after seeing the pain and atrocities of war only to come home and feel disconnected and alienated from the structure and orderly society they once believed existed. They found that government was flawed and saw that there were no real good guys and bad guys. Most officials were tainted and driven by their own selfish agendas causing the "everyman" to make his own way, not based on good and evil but on the struggle to survive. After the beating, and Louis passes out, Munsey calls in the policeman, cleans his hands (washes his hands of him) and tells him to take him to solitary and tell the story that he was hurt in an accident coming out of the drainpipe. He also calmly and without any hint of remorse, states that Louis had nothing to do with it. "He would have told me." All in a day's work.
  3. This is pure art. By using the swinging light and light coming from below, it heightens the feeing of danger and suspense. Everything is off balance as the light swings and we see on camera and eventually hear Steve being beaten savagely off camera. The close-ups of Raymond Burr and his fist and the bottle make our focus on the threat that the fists and glass pose to Steve and his new bride. It is the threat of the bride's safety and possible disfiguration by Burr's character that finally persuades Steve to go to police and do as he is told. The darkness of the room and the strange light that only partially illuminates faces adds to the horror of this scene. The scraping and clicking as the rotary phone dials the police station, as Burr implicates Steve in the crime. The Expressionist camera work is superb in making this in the day where violence was restricted on screen. The sound of the man being beaten the light swinging, illuminated the hard expression of Burr and his flunky standing next to him - light, then dark, light then dark, with Steve's life swinging in the balance! The point of view changes throughout the scene. At first we see Steve from behind as the other characters stand and threaten him. We see Burr's fist after he hits Steve from Steve's point of view - the close up. We feel his pain. Then again with the bottle. The point of view alternates so that we can see what is happening, but also be connected in an intimate way with Steve and what he is going through. How fun is that?!!!
  4. This scene opens with the police car turning onto a deserted street as the music behind is suspenseful and the police radio is heard with dispatch calling different cars in the area to different crime events. There is no life evident except for the man seen walking alone. The streets are quiet and the camera shows him at a distance with a great arch behind him. The unnamed city could be anywhere. He hides behind a pole as the police car passes. He does not want to be seen, however he still seems nonchalant in his walk. We see the police car as it continues down the road and the dispatch tells of an armed suspect, tall man, Caucasian, wearing a dark suit." We hear the policeman's voice into the radio say, "Roger" and we know he was spotted as they make a U-turn and head back. The man continues to walk through, unhurriedly down an alley with all vertical lines and no windows. It makes him seem very tall and very alone. The street looks like a European city after the war with rubble on the edges of the road. The buildings are very old and faded looking. He comes to a nondescript corner of a building that, in faded writing, says, "American Food..Home Cooking...café." The sign outside says, "Pilgrim House." He walks in and the counterman, is smoking and reading the paper. He looks up and calmly takes the gun from the man and walks over to the register and puts the gun in. He turns up the radio as we hear the police car tires screech to a stop outside and two police come in. "Gus," they call him. They know this man well, but he refuses to answer their questions about when the man came in. "I don't watch the clock," he says. They threaten to search the place when they do not find the gun, but the counterman tells them they need a warrant. They take the man and the next scene is in the lineup where three men, including our man are lined up. Our man is almost 6.5 feet tall, The witness is clearly uncomfortable, and with Dix staring him down, refuses in the end to name him as the man he saw at a stick-up earlier. The policeman, who is bullying him for an answer, loses this round as Dix smirks to himself. We can tell by this clip that Dix is a seasoned criminal, unafraid of police, but wanting to avoid capture. The counterman is in on whatever Dix is doing. The police know it. Their world is depressed, dying. The police are tough, but are no match for the stress of the realities of their world. There is no civilization - no connection to people. These are animals living by their senses and survival instincts. The Asphalt Jungle. The people in this movie are dangerous and their world is unforgiving, with places to hide that only the animals know about. The survival game is not about who is right or wrong or who is good and bad or on the right side of the law, but who is the most clever at not getting caught by whoever is hunting them at the time. It is all about survival of the fittest here. The film noir characteristics are the camera angles that show the whole world in a skewed background. The lines of the streets vs the lines of the architecture, the shot of the police car taken from below and barely showing the men inside. It is as if the car is after the man, not men. The sound of the police radio also coming after him. The developing story is of a man who is wanted, an escapee, who has just possibly pulled off a stick-up and we are already aiding and abetting him as we watch him and start to hope he isn't caught because of our selfish desire to know more about him. We have become as complicit as the counterman.
  5. The shot begins with an extreme close-up of the woman, seductively speaking into what looks like a payphone to a man telling him, "I'm the one who cannot take it anymore... I love you." She then proceeds to talk him into something we are not sure of. Her body language makes love to the phone, caressing it, rubbing her face on it as if it were the man himself. The camera changes to the man standing, in a room, holding the phone as if he is holding her as he professes his love of her, as well. They repeat I love you, almost like a chorus of a song as the Miles Davis score begins, softly and begins to rise and eventually take over the whole sound. We no longer hear the words of the couple, just hear the music as it speaks for them. It is sexy, seductive and disjointed. The camera pulls back from the close-up of the man and we see he is standing in the window of an office building with hundreds of other windows just like it. Strangely and strikingly, he is the only living thing in any of them and his movements as he talks on the phone are obvious in contrast with the lonely, inactivity portrayed by the camera shot. He is alone in a big city. He is alienated, but very much alive despite the cold, lifelessness around him. The use of jazz is wonderfully effective. It takes over as the dialogue. There is no need to hear what they are saying, we get it. She is seducing him into doing something for her. The music swells and sways, with the horns and dissonance that characterizes jazz music. Jazz is perfect for film noir because it embodies so many of the same elements. It is music that rose out of the streets and from the blues. It represents the common man, not the classically trained musician, although many of them were. The music is offbeat, introspective, with propulsive rhythms. It embraces non-conformity. It is disjointed and not bound by compositional structure. It moves with life rather than objectively representing it. It is gritty, realistic, with blaring horns that are much like the rapid fire dialogue in film noir detective stories. It is all about feeling and groove than it is about form and structure. It is sometimes hard to listen to - atonal or dissonant, much like the lives portrayed on the screen of film noir movies. Jazz is played in minor keys in the blues scale which tends to stir up feelings of sadness, depression - thus the term "the blues," perfect for FN scores!
  6. That's what happens when I write four in one day! Trying to catch up. Sorry! Yes, I meant John Payne rather than Robert Taylor!
  7. Oops, I forgot to mention that I was struck by the reversal of roles. Here was a man cleaning, mopping, etc. and doing work for a woman in her own home! Also, the irony that he is the "handy man" and with the murder of Mrs. Warren is possibly going to be the "handy patsy" that is going to be blamed. That is why her runs. He knows he's been set-up. The hammer that he puts in the drawer will probably be the weapon that killed her and the money, ($5 and the note with his name on it), at the time was probably more than he was due. These is a clue that someone other than Mrs. Warren had a hand in it and that he is going to be blamed.
  8. The film noir style and substance are really obvious in this opening sequence. The Salvation Army band plays so prominently with the cymbal shot reminding us to pay attention to symbols in the film. The social commentary of the Salvation Army and the "Keep the Pot Boiling", possibly a request to keep film noir going or is it just a warning in the film that someone is "in hot water" and isn't aware yet! The fabulous screen shot through the window as Robert Ryan tries to get unsuccessfully, the spot off the glass and the To do list, as well as the Salvation Army focus earlier, introduces us to who he is and what he is doing there. He is the "handy man" who is working for someone (we find out that it is a Mrs. Warren) in the house. He is cleaning, but not necessarily that skilled at it - this is not his chosen profession. He doesn't get the glass clean and he puts on his coat before emptying the bucket and putting away the mop. He is down on his luck, probably a returning soldier who needs work in 1918. He finishes his task and puts things away, including a hammer that lies on the counter next to $5 payment with his name on it. Who left it there? As he puts his coat on, we see his reflection in a mirror. There is another side - another dimension to this man. The apartment is orderly, with almost all horizontal lines showing until he goes into the next room to empty the bucket. The window above his head is all vertical lines as he opens the door to the closet and his life changes. He escapes out the door with diagonal shadows on the wall behind him. Things have changed. He runs out the door and as it shuts behind him, we see the bucket in the sink left with water running over it and the door to the closet opens, revealing a woman, lying upside down and we presume, dead. He runs away, desperate as if he is guilty of something, crossing many vertical train tracks, going to the "other side of the tracks" to hop on a moving one. The train sounds and movement make you feel disoriented, and have the feeling of being out of control, and of being chased. Something has taken over - something big! The camera shots of the wheels of the train and its front show pieces and parts of the train and its shrill whistle - all disconnected parts of a whole, magnified to make you feel the isolation, fear and powerful emotions going on inside of Ryan's character. He is a desperate man, running from trouble because he has already been in it? The Salvation Army was founded to help such people. People in financial trouble, who found themselves many times in desperate circumstances. Even though it is set in 1918, the formalistic coupled with realistic camera work, the social commentary, the societal realism that characters are multi-dimensional - not good or bad - were all themes of the 1950s film noir and made a story from the past more relevant to its audience.
  9. The opening has the train whistle sounding over the RKO symbol. Another train movie, but then it opens and it is immediately in your face - the light of the train coming at you, almost blinding you. Yes, another train movie, but this one is going to be all out, it seems to say. The train begins to slow as the credits roll and the sound of the clanging bell and the wheels slowing as they come to a stop at the station. "Your attention please..." is the first dialogue we hear as the two men get off the train and light their cigar and cigarette, a typical noir convention. Everyone smokes - all the time. Realism peppered with formalism, so wonderfully noir! When the two men get into the car, the younger detective says to the other, "Your cigar is dead." The other counters with "I'm thinking of changing brands, one with a self-starter." This is an acknowledgment that the old conventions are stale and overused: the train, the lighting of cigarettes, the young detective in his trench coat and hat and clipped, "hard boiled" responses. The older man states what is happening in the overall scheme of things - within the film and out: "I'm thinking of changing brands," he states, voicing the feeling of the general audience watching, perhaps. The younger detective sends his bags to the next train. He is bored; he's seen it all and expects to be done with his case in an hour. Like the audience, we have seen all the train-filled, lighting-up, detective stories and expect this story to be over in a little over an hour. Our bags are already checked on the next train. The two men are on their way to interview a woman, "a dish," the younger detective calls her, "60 cent special, cheap flashy, strictly poison under the gravy...what kind of a dame would marry a hood?" He hasn't met her, but is already convinced of her type. He has seen them all. The older detective is more optimistic. He offers a $5 bet that the younger man is wrong. In answer to the "Who would marry a hood?" quip, he states that many would. He keeps us interested in the idea that there is more to this story. The younger detective represents the young, tainted viewing audience who are "tired and have seen it all before." The older detective, which is ironic that he is the older man, gives us hope of an interesting story ahead. The in-your-face train camera work at the beginning hints that it might possibly be a wilder ride than we expect.
  10. The role of time and timing is everything in this movie because it is a planned heist that relies on precision and the predictable routines of the people involved. The man in the window times everything, checking both the clock on the building and his watch. He checks off the comings and goings of the armed car, the officers and the florist delivery truck and man. They have obviously done everything the exact same way every day for a week as his checkmarks on his page show. The man thinks because these things are so predictable, his chances to intercept are good, however, as we all know in film noir, the unexpected, random event can change the fate of everyone involved. The man is well-dressed, neat and could be anyone - not a scruffy, dangerous-looking person. He is a thief, but is obviously not the typical criminal. He is detail-oriented, disciplined, neat and clean - all the things that a nice, well-brought up man should be in the 1950s, but he is a thief, nonetheless. He represents the outward acceptability of males in the 1950s who have a much darker side hidden beneath. The town could be anywhere, although it is set in Kansas City. It is a typical Midwestern town, representing anywhere in America. The film noir elements in this opening sequence are the true-crime documentary introduction to be read and the first minutes of the action showing us with the camera what we need to know rather than having any dialogue at all. It is just this man, using his stop watch to time the actions of those he watches, writing down the times on a paper, recording their movements on paper. He has tracked the same events for 5 days and we can glean all we need to know visually without any words spoken. It is all visual - the opening words read, the opening of the movie. The camera angles also tell us what to pay attention to. The first shot of Kansas City taken from the air reminds me of the realistic, documentary style of movies like Border Incident. The clocks, and the man's watch, obviously are shown repeatedly, but I noticed neither John Payne's character, nor the armored truck men look at their watches. They are on a schedule, but maybe they are not as ruled by the clock as the man watching. (Potential for problems later.) The camera shot below the men in the armored truck showing their backs and their legs tell me that the men themselves are not that important. They might even change out. It is the truck and the event that happens every day that is important. However, the closer, and regular camera angle on John Payne and his arrival show that he will be a major player in this story and possibly the innocent person caught up in the action later.
  11. The scene opens with the boxing match where Ernie goes down for the first and evidently the last time. The camera angles are close with emphasis on the faces and hands/gloves. The angle is from below as if you were a spectator at the event and you see the struggle that Ernie is facing, bloody and beaten. Then the slow motion and voice over begin and the pull back from feeling like you are in the action to being a third party voyeur. We are watching from a TV set with a running commentary. It is a different experience, almost clinical, like watching bugs wriggling in a jar. We watch the fight, but the emotion is cut until we see Ernie watching himself. He winces when he gets the blow to the eye and it is discussed. We see the scar on his eyebrow and we see his wife, sitting alone at the dinner table, frustrated by his absence. This is commentary both on their personal life - his absorption in his past and the fight that knocked him down and in the TV culture that brought the TV in the room while people who had once enjoyed meals together found themselves focused on the TV instead of each other. It caused a break in the family circle. We see her face and then her hand with the watch she wears as she turns the TV off. They begin a conversation that goes back and forth - the faces again, like the fight. Each scene there is something coming between them - first the TV, then the coffee pot as she pours, then the watch. He notices the watch and says that the stones almost look as if they were real. We see the fire in her eyes as she says, "they might be if I hadn't married a pug." But we know they are most likely real and given to her by someone else. She is a "show girl" and beautiful and he is broken and paralyzed with it. The dark room, the depression that is evident on the sparse table and décor in the room, the camera angles and shots of arms and watches that mean so much more are all film noir. The hopelessness of the situation is evident and we know there will be a battle of some kind in the future. The idea that a prize fighter would make it big and the show girl are commentaries on the theme of get rich quick schemes that helped add to the desperation of the times. These gritty, realistic themes of regular people make film noir more poignant that the high-gloss fluff that Hollywood also offered.
  12. Great staging in this scene! First Douglas is towering above Heflin as Heflin sits on the couch. He offers Heflin a cigarette and lights it for him and seems very engaging, but there is an edge. His body language is still dominant as he questions Heflin - like an attorney, cross examining. They are both sitting with Douglass still sitting higher than Heflin with an empty chair between them. Someone has coming between them in the past - someone not in the room. They get up and cross to another part of the room where Heflin, who is taller, is now asking for a favor of Douglas. Once again the posture is imposing as Douglas pours them a drink. Heflin towers above Douglas this time. Douglas is in a crisp, expensive suit. Heflin's is slightly more rumpled and the material less sharp. Douglas holds the decanter and pours the drinks, but Heflin is more dominant at this point in the conversation. He has something on Douglas, saying, "you will do this, for old times' sake." Then Douglas crosses behinds his desk with the imposing horizontal blinds behind him. They were always in the background, but now are really imposing. Something is changing. He buzzes his secretary to "send in Mrs. O'Neil," his wife who is obviously known to Heflin. We have met the empty chair. It is Stanwyck and we know this as soon as Douglas' demeanor changes. He no longer smiles or is playing at being relaxed and in charge. He looks openly hostile now from behind the desk as Stanwyck comes in. Strangely enough, it takes three times for her to recognize Heflin and it is not until he whistles at her that she finally recognizes who he is. Douglas is unmoved behind the desk, smoldering as Stanwyck and Heflin embrace in front of him. He is in the camera shot with them, but separated by the desk. He moves out of the camera shot and the couple are left alone in the shot to reminisce. Douglas is shown in the next shot alone with his bottle and glass as he pours another drink. The conversation is clipped as Heflin seems completely unfettered by Douglas' reaction. Stanwyck shows discomfort and awareness of Douglas. Heflin notices, but is almost enjoying it. The buzzer sounds and Douglas crosses back into the camera shot with the others, still separated by the desk, saying, "I do not want to be disturbed," which is ironic because it is obvious that he is already very much "disturbed!" Douglas shows relief when Heflin indicates that he is leaving. He halfway smiles again as they depart, but there is no warmth. It is challenge. Stanwyck sees Heflin to the door and the camera angle changes to the outer office as Stanwyck closes the door and joins Douglas in the room alone. There is history, danger and violence ahead as you see the anger that pours from Douglas' eyes. You see the fear in Stanwyck's eyes as she notices it. You see the threatening postures as the men try to show dominance of each other. Douglas is running for office - an upstanding citizen, the DA who represents law and order. Heflin's "dropping in" has stirred the pot and is the beginning of something dangerous, and all of the characters we have met are complicit, as are we watching it. These film noir settings in towns represent that "anywhere America" towns are the most dangerous. They represent the randomness of fate - it can happen anywhere. They are also set in the places where Americans thought they would feel safe in post WWII society. "A great place to raise a family." This made it even more cataclysmic when bad things happen. It is not supposed to happen here. Other film noir movies set in these small, "safe" settings are The Killers, Too Late for Tears, and even The Postman Rings Twice (we know it is on the coast, but it is in a nowhere little area, far from the madding crowd.
  13. This segment opens with the darkened winding highway, like so many others. The dark, lonely highway with dangerous drop-offs and suspenseful music shows a dark sedan pull to the side of the road. You see the lights of the city nearby and with the aid of a flashlight, we see the mile marker showing that the city is only 3.5 miles away on this dark lonely stretch of road. We cannot see the driver's face. It is obscured by the car's doorframe and shadow. The camera angle is from below, so we know there is something off about this man in the car. We see the couple coming in their car - a light colored, open convertible, fully bathed in what is meant to be moonlight. They are fully exposed, innocent. The camera angle shows them clearly from the front and straight on, but she is unhappy and expresses that she doesn't want to go to meet another couple because the wife looks at her the way "a big ugly house looks down on Hollywood." She is feeling alienated and paranoid and when the husband refuses to turn back - the road is dangerous to turn around on - she starts to struggle with him, grabbing the wheel and the controls. The car careens and the lights turn on and off as the camera shows them from afar. She fights and means business. They could be killed over this feeling of hers! The other car starts forward and almost hits them as he drops a bag in the backseat. The couple pull off, look in the bag. At first the man hesitates and it is hard for him to open, increasing the suspense as we wait to see what is in it. It also gives us a clue that whatever is in it will be trouble for them. He finds it is filled with money just as another convertible, a dark colored one, comes blinking its lights. The husband realizes that it was a signal and that the money was intended for this second car, but he is not sure what to do. The wife is suddenly empowered. She yells for him to get in and she drives off madly, smiling as she drives swerving and trying to lose the other car. They are almost hit at an intersection and the other car spins out and they lose it. A change has come over her. She is happy, strong. No longer the subservient wife having to depend on the husband to drive and decide her fate. She was willing to fight earlier, but now she is in control and the satisfaction of that is evident. She is calm and sure. The opening of this and the others show a person, who is at the mercy of someone else, feeling alienated and disconnected and willing to risk everything to fight it. They are in the struggle of their life at that moment and some random act delivers a solution - maybe not a good one, but a solution just the same. It also puts them on the wrong side of something. They have stolen money most likely and they are now in danger. You can tell she wants it and will hide from police - like the others in our past movie clips. They are now being hunted and the police are not their friends. This clip differs a bit from the others we have seen because it is not as obviously formalistic and is more realistic. It has the motifs and camera angles and lighting, but is not so heavy on the visual manipulation. It is more subtle and natural. This was a popular theme because people felt so out of control in the post-war era. They became paranoid that terrible things could happen to you at the drop of a hat. It was random. There was a sense that the world was broken and that bad people were out there to get you and that the police were not there to protect. Most of them were crooked or just ineffective. You had to take care of yourself. Good did not conquer evil. You had to make your own rules to survive. This film is one of the great film noir of the era because it embodies the themes and style of film noir so well. The woman in this movie obviously thinks that this money is the answer to her feelings of inferiority. It will solve all her problems. She thinks it will help her fit in and make her more dominant. She does not care where the money came from or that it might cost her dearly. There is no plan. She becomes wildly out of control, but is empowered by the feeling that she is doing something, anything to get out of the situation she is in. This random accident of fate has set them in motion and now the chase is on, but to what end?
  14. Although Hitchcock's opening begins with the darkened entrance to the train station and has that sense of foreboding that opening sequences of film noir typically do, Hitchcock infuses it with a sense of humor that is lacking in the serious, gritty movies we usually consider film noir. The light, almost comical music as he obviously contrasts the two men as they exit their vehicles. It is almost like Hitch is acknowledging the device and saying to us, "I know it is becoming trite, but I am manipulating you this way anyway." He is using devices that so many others had used, but gives this nod to the audience. Hitchcock appears in all of his movies, and in this way seems to put his stamp on things like this throughout his films. His subjects are still terrifying, still alienated, still chaotic and paranoid, but Hitchcock's settings seem more ordinary and less threatening at first. He contrasts the seemingly bright and innocent world with the terrifying underbelly where most film noir plunge us into the darkness from the beginning. Even the darkened entrance of Strangers on the Train, shows light coming from the outside, illuminating the beauty of the great archway, and the music behind seems more inviting than foreboding. It is like getting on the roller coaster ride with happy, music playing and brightly colored cars, but you know it is a roller coaster with thrills coming just by having the Alfred Hitchcock name in the opening credits! The archway and shadows and light signals a dark and different story ahead. The shoes and luggage contrast sets the stage that these are two different types of men - one well dressed and dapper with his spats, large heavy luggage and pinstriped suit, the other with his practical, more casual shoes, tennis racquets, athletic dress and efficient leather bag. The music is light, comical as it introduces the two men. Walker (Bruno) wears pinstripes with a lobster tie with his name emblazoned across it. His tie and his personality are disarmingly open, but the lobsters have claws and serve as a warning as does his pinstripes. The train tracks crossing showing the train as it shifts direction, is a foreshadowing as is the feet as they enter the train, cross and bump into each other. It is random, but fate has brought them together and the story takes off just as the train leaves the station. Bruno, immediately imposes himself on Granger's character, ingratiating himself and crossing over next to Granger leaving him no personal space, folding his hands in front of him, criss-crossing his fingers three times. Granger is open, friendly, but more reserved and a bit taken aback as he is obviously unaccustomed to having to fend off people. He does not know how to repel this other man's advances and opens his book in an attempt to create some emotional space. His tie has diamond shapes on it, like the Diamond cab that brought Walker. He is as innocent as the cab and is going to be "used" by this man as a "vehicle" for Walker's will. Masterfully done, Hitch! As far as Hitchcock being considered a "special case," I wouldn't go that far, although his style is different and more A-list. His films are dark without being too dark. They have humor and are more palatable sometimes than the starkness of some of the others, but Orson Welles films also employed these things, as well. Hitchcock's irony and use of formalism and realism, his brilliant use of motifs and camera angles, his dark characters who blend in with regular, seemingly nice people (which increases that sense of randomness of evil and paranoia that is so dark) are all film noir. As a matter of fact, I see Hitchcock as more typical film noir with his own personal twists, like Welles.
  15. The three openings all show a person on the move. Three are on foot at the opening, three end up in vehicles driven by others, the man in D.O.A. is on foot and is in charge of his destiny, seemingly at first, but once we keep following, it occurs that he is being propelled into an unknown world the same as the other three. The woman in Kiss Me Deadly is escaping the police and killers. The man in the Hitch-Hiker is escaping recapture by police. The woman in Caged has been captured by police and is riding to her uncertain future in jail. The man in D.O.A. is hurrying to police, but the indications from his interminable walk down the long dark, forbidding hallways symbolizes the lack of help they are likely to offer. Getting to the police station to get help would usually signify a feeling of relief - of getting help. Instead, you feel he has just entered a world full of bureaucratic red tape, order but in the order a sort of controlled chaos that offers no solutions. The themes of alienation, fear, paranoia, lack of control are brought out by the motifs of the dark city with only the lights of the buildings showing - deep darkness, sounds of traffic, honking and the point of view of the man walking, and walking, and walking. The long hallways shots show him walking deeper and deeper into the belly of the beast, if you will. He is making progress, but the visual feeling is that the hallway is getting longer and longer with the point of view of his destination getting smaller (like the hall in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). It is claustrophobic and anxiety producing. The character of Frank Bigelow is feeling trapped and even though he is reaching out for help and in walking, is propelling himself forward, there is the sense that, as Porfirio pointed out, "he is the disoriented individual facing a confused world with stubborn perseverance despite the absurdity of existence."
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