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About ReneeV

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  1. After reading the responses and re-thinking the opening scene, I think Ernie is the emasculated anti-hero of noir. The loss of the fight emotionally emasculated him, and his wife, who will not support him emotionally and criticizes him and has lost patience with him, is an emasculating influence. (Ooh, is he also a cuckold? Some man gave her that "diamond" bracelet.) There are no children present in this four-year marriage. His demeanor is one of loss of his own self respect. She reminds him that he's "only a cab driver". Does her point of view also reflect that of society's? I feel there can be respect for the work they both do, but who is looking at this point of view? Are they through society's eyes?
  2. All Ernie is left with is a ghost of his former self caught on film and viewed on television. His wife is almost a ghost of her former self, putting together floral bouquets in a floral shop when she could have been an actress. They both could have been something else, he the world boxing champion; she the glamorous movie star. Instead they are two has been's, washed up "could have been's". (Note how quick he is to remind her that she was only a show girl when he met her.) They live in a crummy apartment. Both are so unhappy, a good mixture for a film noir story. He can only go but up. Notice I don't include her, for she is a femme fatal in the strictest sense; she will lead him into danger because she is so unhappy with her life with him. She already is accepting jewelry from a rich admirer. Just an aside, what is it with these noir men either owning or working in a service station? Ernie wants to save up enough money to buy and run one. Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past works in a service station; Ole Olson works in one in The Killers. I think that would be an interesting study.
  3. 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 opening scene differs because there is a husband and wife together instead of a man or men in a car, etc. The fateful twist differs because the wife sends the action into a fateful event. By her trying to grab the steering wheel, she brings attention to their car, so the driver of the other car marks their car to take the bag of money. She's an hysterical woman in her own right; she fits in well as a noir character. -- 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? The postwar theme was that the innocence and naiveté of the American culture and society was changed because of the Depression and the world war. The American society could never go back to the way it was, white picket fence, safe city, safe country roads. The times were changing, and the urban setting was moving into small-town America. The horrors of the war were too much to ignore, but our hapless protagonists just keep going on as if nothing had changed. I think this theme comes up because it might have been time to wake these hapless folks from their dream and show them the real world. There were going to have to survive by their wits. -- 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." The scene has all the elements of the classic film noir: the highway at night; someone driving toward a destination; a stranger lurking in the dark; a mystery bag full of money; someone following our anti-heroes; a chase; a feeling of entrapment; a false sense of "getting away". Plus this is not a happy couple, even though they appear to be middle class Americans. The wife is being forced to a house party she does not want to attend. She has an argument with her husband, who doesn't understand why the wife is so upset. She has an inferiority complex; didn't he ever notice that? These all add up to a delicious film noir story!
  4. The rhythm is different from the onset with Strangers on a Train as opposed to Kiss Me Deadly, for instance. The rhythm here is methodical as opposed to the chaotic energy of the beginning of Kiss Me Deadly. Both men have a destination, a schedule to meet, and they both arrive at the train station with plenty of time to catch their train, not rushed. The have time to relax on the train; it's very leisurely. Kiss Me Deadly begins with one character not knowing where she is going -- she just knows she has to get away, and she is shoeless, clothes-less, totally vulnerable. The noir elements of Strangers on a Train are the train station itself with dark corners, although shown in broad daylight. The shot of the feet and shoes, no faces, so film noir-ish. The movement of the train itself, as it leaves the station; the music builds with anticipation, almost ominous as the train switches tracks on its way out of the city. I agree that Alfred Hitchcock should be considered a "special case" because he has elements of noir, but he has his own style.
  5. I'm confused. If I want to reply to just one person's quote, all I can do is "Like It." I haven't figured out yet how to reply to that person I "like"!
  6. The four constants that I see in the four Daily Doses of Darkness this week are the feelings of being trapped. All four protagonists are trapped in some fashion. Ralph Meeker is literally trapped in his supped up sports car (with bad shifting!); Edmond O'Brien (could we call him the king of noir?!!) and his traveling companion (should have stopped at the "****" show in that Mexican town!) are trapped in their car, a death trap; Eleanor Parker is trapped in the prison van, a literal cage, as we watch out that screened window on the approach to the prison; and last but not least, Edmond O'Brien (Bigelow) is trapped by the long, dark corridors of the Los Angeles police station. Not only does he walk down one very long, dark hallway but then has to walk down another to get to the homicide office. Of course darkness, either of the real dark night, or the dark confines of the prison van or the dark hallways, give the audience the sense that these anti-heroes are truly trapped, like animals, and their cages await.
  7. Harry Lime is like a cat, a very good analogy to his character. The cat sites there nonchalantly licking his/her paw with no care in the world. This seems to be the personality of Harry, even though we know he is a true villain. The light on his face shows him for the beauty he is, and he seems to relish the discovery that Joseph Cotton catches fleetingly. Once he is back in the darkness, he takes off like a cat in the night. (I must admit, though, Shadow of a Doubt was one of his better roles as was Niagra.)
  8. I want to reply to the sizzling hamburger in the opening scene and reply to the writer up above who made the comment about it, Newbie? Anyway, the hamburger burns and sizzles just like Garfield's desire when he sees Cora, but the burger goes into the trash, the only place for something all burned up.
  9. The scene contains two dramatic entrances, one for each actor. How is each entrance different? What changes in the scene as they continue to interact after their entrances? We see Sidney Greenstreet's back in the reflection in the mirror in the room he is coming from. We see Peter Lorre's back as he enters his room. However, one is coming into the room from outside, and one is coming into the room from the inside of the hotel room. The change in the scene is the POV that changes. First we see Greenstreet from the front as he points the gun at Lorre. We are seeing him from the point of view of Lorre. Then the scene changes, and we see the back of Greenstreet, now looking at him through Lorre's' point of view. I can see similarities between the Mask of Dimitrios and the Maltese Falcon by the dialogue, the way the actors are set in place. When I first watched the clip I thought what a strange film noir, but then realized that this must have been the Warner Brothers technique, unlike other studios, say, RKO. Plus I watched another clip when Greenstreet and Lorre get the bundle of francs, and the way Greenstreet unwraps the package reminded me of his unwrapping the package which all believe to be the falcon in The Maltese Falcon.
  10. Yes, I thought that was interesting too, that he untied his cook and got him a glass of water before untying the other man. (Although he did get him a glass of water too, plus the cook was his employee.)
  11. The first time I saw this movie, their love/hate relationship drove me crazy, as I felt it was a bit sadomasochistic. How could they love each other so much and still inflict so much torture on the other? But, then, that's why it's a film noir!!
  12. I also found it interesting that Johnny's "henchman" let the dance and actions almost get out of hand before he rushed in to stop her. He was deliciously watching the show just like the audience. I swear that I saw just a twinge of excitement in Johnny's eyes when he first laid eyes on her routine; it was just a split second; he enjoyed, and then all turned to revulsion. I might be reading too much into his eyes in that scene.
  13. The establishing shot of the Chinese statue in Lydecker's apartment sets the tone immediately of his character; this is an eccentric, educated, wealthy man as his museum quality collection shows. The camera pans through his collection. We also see he has a rooftop patio. Although at times gaudy, we see that Lydecker has gone to a lot of expense to furnish his home, even though his home is a museum which is shown in the collection on glass shelves in glass cases. The French clock to me doesn't seem to match the ancient artifacts he owns and then we find out Laura has the only other one in the world that he gave to her, tying them intricately together. (In hindsight we see why both the camera and McPherson look at the clock, and even Lydecker makes a point that McPherson is attracted to the clock.) On the other hand, there is the offish detective McPherson who seems to smirk at Lydecker's mask collection and doesn't realize that one should only look and never touch the priceless items at the museum, as he reaches for an ancient double-headed bottle. McPherson is not the type to peruse museums on his days off. McPherson is from a different class of people than Lydecker and probably never studied ancient Greek art history in college, if he even went to college, as he probably took night classes at the local community college. The detective first meets Lydecker while Lydecker is seated in his marble tub, the king meets all his subjects this way. (It made me wonder if he met the two other detectives this way too.) Lydecker tells McPherson to sit down, and he does not sit on the leopard skin upholstered chair but takes a regular chair and turns it around, bar chair fashion, and sits down. Ah, these are the two opposing forces in Laura's life.
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