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jcc

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  1. Much of Wagner's music is dark and foreboding and the piece chosen for this sound track adds to the sinster and evil mood of the film clip. Using classical music, as an art form, to cover up a crime, by a public figure intrusted with authority, has existential overtones. Mixing the beautiful creative efforts of humanity with the base and depraved gives a contrast that reflects the philosophy of an unfathonable world struggling to understand itself. We should see the brutality not as an endorsement of violence by the filmaker but rather as a reflection of ourselves as we are-- or of what we can become. Both realism and formalism are evident in this clip making it fit in nicely with what I've learned in this class. The warden stripped to his under shirt, ready for "work", says a lot without words. The dismissal of the uniformed police officer also tells us that nothing good can be in store for the handcuffed prisioner. The fear on the face of the prisoner in the close up shot adds imesurable tension and angst. The use of light and shadow is always used to powerful effect as it is here-- re: the black bars over the windows highlighted by bright sunlight streaming through, which is immediately cut off as the shades are pulled down suggesting evil and perhaps even death. All humanity is not depraved, however, as one police officer reacts quickly and negatively upon hearing the beating--the eternal struggle between good and evil is alive and well in this noir film. But we know that good will not triumph ( completely ) as several characters will suffer and at least one will die before the film ends.
  2. The first order of business--get and keep the attention of the viewer while providing information that carries the story forward. This is happening all through this brief clip. The background voice of the female police dispatcher on the radio, although not loud enough to be heard distinctly, unless the viewer focuses attention specifically on it, adds realism to the scene. The mood of the film is set by views of vacant buildings and the bleakness of the on-location shooting in a wharehouse district on the edge of marginal residential houses. The skillful movement of Hayden behind the tall concrete support beam makes this man a suspect--- not just a well dressed man walking down a street. A lot is conveyed by this simple act. This man knows the ways of the street and of the cops. The same savy is shown when he immediately hands the gun, which is then hidden in a clever place, the cash register, with no words at all spoken. He still does not speak when arrested and booked on "****" ( vagrancy). We learn that Hayden has a record when he is in the line up. He was sentenced for what I remember was a rather minor offense but escaped jail and was recaptured, which I deduced was what started him down the road of crime. The ever present hat plays a role when the victom cannot, or at least does not, identify him as the hold up man. Hayden's knowing smile says it all.
  3. This scene must rank at the top as an illustration of what Noir filmaking is all about. Every scene that I have viewed so far has something creative in it that sets it apart from all other Noir scenes. Here the swinging light, as pointed out by the curator's note, serves that purpose in a special way. Without the swinging light the scene would still be very good, but not as original and not great. The motion of the light and shadow ALONG WITH the shifting range of camera shots from low angle to high angle to close ups to POV makes this scene especially memorable. The beating itself, along with the threat of the broken beer bottle to the wife's face, makes this scene's brutality remarkable, though it, thankfully, leaves much of the blood and gore to the imagination of the stunned viewer. It all comes together, the acting, the dialogue, and camera work could not be better--- all of which is the result of great directing.
  4. Not being a trained musician I have trouble expressing my thoughts on a musical score and its contribution to the film. However, I love music and recognize the importance of sound and especially music to the success of films. I watched the clip three or four times focusing on the visual effects and dialogue, only letting the jazz/blues provide subconcious background to what I was hearing in dialogue and seeing on the screen. The music added a lot even when I was not focusing on it, and I was acutely aware of the music and the effect it had on me. Then closing my eyes I listened to the clip two more times and focused only on the musical score. I heard three instruments, a piano, trumphet, and base. There may have been a drum but I'm not sure because of the prominance of the trumphet. The trumphet started with middle range notes, slow and mornful, with trailing effects which pulled out somber emotions, even grief. The base added support but was not very loud by design, I feel sure. The piano was also just audible giving up center stage to what amounted to a trumphrt solo. Then we heard high wailing notes, played at a bit faster tempo evoking feelings of tension and drama, only to fall back in pitch to mid range slower notes and feelings of everlasting sadness and despair. The sound "fit" the camera shots and added tremendously to the mood and feel of the film, especially with close ups of the face of a beautiful but sad woman pleading with her lover. With out the music the film would be very different indeed. A perfect fit between sight and the sound of music. IMPORTANT NOTICE BELOW If you are a jazz/blues fan go the web site sidecarsocialclub.com you will get a real treat by my son's jazz group
  5. I loved the Salvation Army Band in the opening scene. It can symbolize many Noir motifs. This religious organization is in the business of saving souls, saving people who have been captured by evil. So we know immediately that crime will be present or moral/ehical failures will be seen. The SA Band suggests the eternal battle between good and evil which is what Noir films are all about. The sign "keep the pot boiling" can be seen as a double entendre. Keep the pot boiling (with donations) to do good works, or it can evoke thoughts of a witches brew-- an evil potion to be used to corrupt innocent people. 1918 was the year that WW I ended, and like WW II it was a period when our inosense was lost. So the stage is set for a kind of existential reality to shock viewers. The fact that the first scene was shot in broad daylight was unsusal, but shows that too much of a good thing can be bad, so producers and directors were moving, as always, into new ways of film making. The style of the film, except for the bright light, is all Noir. Just think if the scene was shot at night it would have a completely diferent look and even more classical Noir feel. It is great as it is, however. That fact that a handy man is a character suggests a person with out roots. Not a nine to five man. Maybe a drifter with a past. Turns out he must have a past, or he thinks he has, when he complusively runs and runs. The high angle camera shots, first from the bridge--high enough to jump from if one wants to act on their paranoia--then an airel shot of the huge railroad yard with crossing tracks--the whole mixed-up world for a fugitive to get lost in--shows Noir innovations used over and over again to good effect. You don't think of a handy man as some one dressed in a tie, so an extra element of mystery is added. Was he a successful business man who cracked under pressure? The close up Robert's face shows complete terror and fear. This guy is completely irrational and takes no time to even think about his options. He just bolts. If he did not already have his coat on, he would have left it in his panic just as he failed to turn the water off. This emphasizes the underlying psychological element that plays so large a part of Noir characters. We also notice that the place is not an urban setting, but rather a rather pleasant town. However, we don't know where Robert will land--five dollars in his pocket-- to face a harsh reality again. I find myself pulling for these loosers, only to see them victomized by fate again and again. Almost makes one believe in the doctrine of predestination. To heck with free will--there ain't none in a Noir film. Great opening scene.
  6. No, I don't see paradoy of the "hard boiled school" in the first scene. It is Noir all the way. My guess is that the paradoy will start in the scene when the woman enters the script. Just a guess as I have not seen the film. I think she may not be the kind of femme fatale we have seen before. The young detective, Charles McGraw, with his trench coat and fedora hat is old school all the way. His talk, from interaction with porter which has a tone of "all business", and is "sharp, directive, in charge"; to dialogue with the other detective which has ironic humor, reparte, and tough talk, is also classic Noir "man talk". He makes assumptions about the woman he has never seen, which stereotypes her( from the high testosterone, super male ego point of view)--- she is, " cheep, a dish, flashy, strickly poisin under the gravy". I'm looking for the paradoy but don't see it yet. One of the Noir elements in this film's opening shot that seems to be a variation from other train films we have reviewed is that all of the camera shots are from outside of the train, in contrast with both La Bette Humaine and Strangers on a Train, where the filming was inside the train. Other elements of Noir seen here are night shots, shadows and high intensity sound track with bells, clicking--clacking train rails, train station announcers droning voice about train arrivals and departures, canted camers angles, honking taxi horns, etc. In an era where most of movie viewers had not traveled much, and before the era of air travel, train stations were symbols of adventure, mystery and an exotic life style not widely available. Thus, this on-location setting gives an added punch to the film that viewers of the time could relate to immediately. Today with more travel by air rather than by train ( except for rail commuters) a train ride is a new adventure that people seek out. That may be why films with trains are so compelling to today's virwers.
  7. A bank heist, relative to other kinds of heists, is more dangerous because of armed guards, alarm systems, and employees trained in how to deal with a potential robbery. Therefore, timimg is much more important from the view point of the robber and this is emphasized by the camera shots of clocks and watches. The robber is shown actually observing the bakk and timing the guard's arrival and departure from the bank with the money. He also records the movements of a flower delivery truck which apparently makes a regularly scheduled run next door to the bank. This will also no doubt play a role in the robbery but at this point viewers don't know this for sure. He has observed for several days and recorded times precisely so he will know exactly how much time he has to make the robbery. Notice that this scene is shot in day light rather than at night, or at least in dark shadows as are most Noir films. This adds a new twist in staging that gives the observant Noir movie goer something new to think about. The robber is dressed as a middle class business man who could be "everyman", making viewers able to relate to and identify with him immediately. He does not look like a thug. The musical score is "documentary like" in tone and timing and is more obvious and has a more important role in setting the mood of the film, as there is no dialogue. This opening shot uses a varieety of close up and long shots as well as mid range shots and especially high angle shots to capture visual attention as we LOOK DOWN, literally and figuretively, on a crime in the making. Great work so far.
  8. The contrast between the shots of the fight seen through the TV and through the "camera" are indeed powerful. Truth be told, all the shots were " through the camera", it is just that some of the film of the fight was staged to look like it came over a TV set. First we see long shots showing the TV set itself (where the fight happens to be playing) and the various objects in the room, and Ernie (watching himself on TV), and even Pauline, his wife, eating dinner in the background, in a very modest apartment. Unique and attention getting. The camera then zooms to close ups THROUGH the TV set and we see the scene "full size". This is a creative and compelling way to use staging and camera work to engage the viewers.It also makes a dramatic contrast between the TV and the big screen. There are close ups, POV shots, mid range shots and low camera angles all adding contrast and variety and demonstrating great acting, directing, lighting, and cinematography. This is the best opening sceen we have viewed, although I see opening sceens now, after taking this course, in a completely new light. All of the opening sceens are excellent and I realize that opening sceens are given special attention in film making. When you look at it in this way, plus look for Noir themes and style and substance, movie going is even more satisfying. I am more actively involved with the film. I feel like I am an actor or at least a participant in the experience. Noir elements of tension and conflict is immediately introduced when Pauline criticizes Ernie for even watching the fight. This entroduces a Noir theme of the troubled marriage. Ernie seems to be willing to accept the fact that he has not made it as a boxer, and wants to do the honarable, honest thing, which is to use what skills and abilities which he does have to do honest work ( run a gas station). He is even optimistic that it can be as successful as a boxing career, but it will take much longer. Pauline wants instant gratification and money and status. She is a pessimistic and dark character. Makes one think about what marriage means-- love--til death do us part--I don't think so, at least as far as Pauline is concerned. She sees it as a business contract to insure success. The focus on the watch, which Pauline says is a fake, is only a symbol of what she really wants. This is a typical, every day item, an element in Noir film making, emphasizing in an inverse way, the money, greed, "diamonds are a girls best friend", mentality. However, in a twist of fate, I would not be surprized if the watch turns out to be real, given by some other guy with a different motive. The scene ends with Pauline asking Ernie directly why she married a "pug" ( or was it a "bum" ?, I could not make out which it was). Earnie looks crushed. Anyway, with the closing of the scene, we can plan to see the worst of human nature once again unfold on the silver screen. Pass the pop corn, while I do what a good film should make me do, reflect on WHY things are the way they actually are in the real world, and to question if they have to be this way. Thanks Professor Edwards, for a wonderful course.
  9. The staging of this scene suggests middle class society in the post war era where the American Dream has been revitalized. A young district attorney, Walter is talking with a childhood friend who has just appeared in town after 18 years, and seeks his help in a legal matter--helping him get a girlfriend out of jail for parole violation (a two time --at least two times--looser). Immediately the topic of the "three of us" comes up implying that there was, and will be a complicating love triangle in this film. We expect that the woman will be the femme fatale without, at this point, knowing anything about her. The dialogue between Waler and Sam reveals that Sam has "knocked around, had fun, seen a lot," and made a living gambling. Walt says, "all of life is a gamble", to which Sam replies "some win, some don't", implying Sam is a looser and Walt is a winner. The scene is acted in a way to set up tension between the two from the start, by the use of a telling tone of voice and body language as well as cutting dialogue. When Martha, Walts wife, enters the room, she does not recognize Sam as a childhood friend at first. When she turns to leave the room Sam whistles a tune that she immediately recognizes and she turms around and embraces Sam with more than a " casual old friends" hug. In fact, Sam says,"lets do that again" and she complies. After more repartite between the three on the subjest of their former relationships, with sexual undertones, Martha leaves the room, taking Sam's arm as he walks her to the door. Then Sam says "aren't you glad that you missed that train". She replies "I'm not sure", setting the viewer's mind to work about their former relationship, and about their future relationship. Lots has happened in this brief scene, and one can expect that possible infidelity will be a theme, or perhaps "two timing", as Sam already has a girlfriend. Risk will certainly be a part and possibly political intrigue, as Walt is running for reelection. Martha says Walt's reelection is a sure thing, and Sam ends the scene by saying "what are the odds on that fact". All of this dialogue about risk, odds, probability, etc. suggests these three will be gambling and taking risks with their happiness and perhaps lives. Certainly the fate of each is already in question, showing stark realism and an existentialist viewpoint consistent with the postwar period.
  10. This opening differs from The Hitch Hikers and Kiss Me Deadly in that in those two films noir danger is directly interjected into the film by bad characters, characters outside the law. In Too Late for Tears an opportunity (a sudden chance for security) suddenly appears. Although the money is surely tied to no good in some way, Alan and Jane have control over their fate, initially at least, because they could have thrown the money out of the car, or given it to the rightful "owners" who follow them. Jane seems to particularly want to challenge the person following her as indicated by her synical smile and smirking look as she challenges death with her wreckless driving.If they surrendered the money or simply threw the bag out, this would of course result in no story at all. The opening is quite unusual and attention getting. We see the usual night shots, with shadows and light contrasts, the usual time piece (this time a watch), close ups of faces, and dialogue that immediately sets up tension between Jane, the femme fatale, and Alan her husband. The camera shooting through the windshield into the faces of the characters is a contract with the shot in Kiss Me Deadly. In Kiss Me the shot is also into the front seat of a similarly moving converable automobile. But in Kiss Me some shots are from behind, which at best allows only partial views of the faces, as the actor's heads turn towards each as they talk. In No Tears the two characters talk without actually looking at each other.
  11. The rhythm in the opening scene is set by the music which changes from sweeping and grand elements to a pulsating, dramatic and suspenseful mood to a stacato-playful tone, all timed to shots of the two characters movements as they move towards an eventual meeting on the train. The purpose at this point is not sinster or evil as are the opening scenes in Kiss Me Deadly or The Hitch Hiker. At this point the film could be a melodrama or a romantic film not a noir flm. The scenes did have noir elements in terms of style re the contrasts in light and dark, low camera angles, shots that do not initially show faces of the actors, and shots of architectural features and of everyday objects (shoes, clothes, luggage) that give meaning to the characters. The clicking of the train wheels along with the shots of the tracks suggest movement into the future where adventure will produce surprises. The opening shot does what it is intended to do--gain the attention of the viewers and make them feel that so far the film has delivered on its promise. Yes, Hitchkock should be a special case of noir film, because his films would be readily obvious even if not identified in the film credits as a Hitchcock film. They have a unique identifable style, or may qualify as a sub-genre of its own. That sub-genre would be described as a crime thriller with strong psychological and philosophical underpennings with a touch of humor. The tight but complicated story line is carried off by exotic and memorable characters supported by knock out musical scores well suited to the film mood and by cinematogphaphy so finely tuned that it capivates the audience without the audience even realizing it.
  12. The similarities with the three other noir clips are night camera shots and shadows. Rapid movement of main characters in three of the clips in the early seconds of the clips, giving a sense of urgency on the part of the characters that is recognized by the viewers. This creates tension and mystery and uncertainity that the viewer wants to see resolved. The long walk by the character Bigelo heightens this tension and raises questions. Who is the character, good guy or bad guy? This is unclear in three of the four films at this early point of the clip. What story line will unfold? What has happened to put the character in the position he/she is in? Has he/she "done something" or had something done to them-- i.e. are they a victum or have they commited a crime.? The long walk in the halls is like a walk into eternity or impending doom. No good will result when the man gets to his destination--impending doom is the theme. The change in the names on the doors--- police department ( just a traffic matter ?) to homicide department ( clearly murder) suggests progressively deeping evil in this film. The dialogue as well as staging and camera work assists in creating a great opening scene keeping the viewer on the edge of his/her seat. The answer to the question, who was murdered?, is chilling and totally unsuspected. The answer, " Me" , pulls into the twisted psychological world of noir at this (later) stage of noir development.
  13. The opening scene is consistent with the Warner Brothers house style in that it is urban, tough talking, shot at night, all dark and shadows except the bright shot of the name of the institution-- "Woman's State Prison". The viewers feel caged because they view the scene from inside the police van (a cage with a small window with wire over it). The rough handling of Eleanor Parker by the police officer, the tough guy language "out you tramps, end of the line" all contribute to a noir film that promises a hard boiled, criminal plot and fast action. The close ups of the faces of the women show uncertainty and anxiety. The one-last-look-back before they enter the prison tells it all: a future of danger and fear and hopelessness which eaisly carries over to the viewers.
  14. Welles' entrance is, like all memorable entrances, unique and creative. Here Cotten responds to the mewing of a cat and talks as if the cat is following him. However, he soon realizes the cat is at the feet of a man, and he then shifts his conversation to the man. "Why are you following me, who are you? ", he asks. This scene is shot at out of doors, at night with wet streets and shadows,all with the unforgatable and iconic zither music in the background, one of the most recognized pieces of musical sound track in all of film, I would argue. Cotten's voice shows the slight influence of alcohol, making the voice almost exotic. This fact will play out at the end of the scene (flash forward), when the next day Cotten and two police offercers return to the place from where Welles disappeared, finds his escape route, and one officer says, "but for German gin." ( Had Cotten not been slightly intocitated, he may have been able to follow Welles.) Cotten is intriguingly unusual and striking. Welles, on the other hand is silent in his entry and makes his character known only through the close up facial expressions. His feet are shown first along with the cat, then his face comes into view highlighted by a bright light which contrasts with his jet black overcoat drawn up close to his face, and black fodora hat. He slowly shows a half-smile suggesting entrigue, mystery and adding to the suspense. Viewers are drawn immediately to this strange character who evokes evil or at least a sinster motive, and they want to know more about him. He suddenly runs away and the sound of his feet and his shadow against a wall is all that Cotten has as clues as to who he is and where he is going.
  15. Garfield's entrance is staged out of doors and takes up most of the scene. The natural lighting is a contrast with typical night time shots or darker interior shots of noir films we have seen in the past. He is framed in the window of the car as he thanks the driver for the lift. This is a close up shot giving us a good look at the caracter's physical features. We also see that he is well dressed and of average build and seems to be a "clean cut" type. He is then framed in the foreground with the car, policeman and ocean behind, in a longer camera shot. The "man wanted" sigh is possibly a point of view shot, and makes the viewer wonder if a double meaning should be implied--mystery all ready. The entrance is laced with dialogue between Garfield and three separate people. The length of the entrance and extensive dialogue allows much to learned about the character. Even information is shared about the driver, who happens to be the DA. We can be sure that "the law" will be involved in the story even at this early point in the film. Garfield " is looking for new people, places and ideas," ( he tells the driver); and his feet " get itchy" if he stays in one place to long, (he tells the owner). This suggests that his character is "foot loose and fancy free," and looking for adventure and excitement. Maybe a new beginning also. A new start from what past.? His style is easy, laid back as revealed in his interaction with the owner as they enter the lodge, where the lighting is more typical of noir films. We are already liking the character portrayed then we enter the noir world. Inside the lodge we see the typical contrast between light and dark, in a bar-like setting.There is interesting horizintal shadows when the sun comes through the venetian blinds. Turner's entrance is much shorter allowing little time to find out much about her. For a short time the visual motif of the hidden face is utilized. Later she reveals nothing about herself in the dialogue. Is she a guest, an employee? I don't think many viewers would guess that she is married to the older owner of the lodge. She is eventually framed in a doorway--typical noir style, dressed in white. She is a typical noir "good looker". Her presence is first made known to Garfield by the sound of her fallen lipstick hitting the floor and rolling towards Garfield. Keeping her face hidden,the camera pans across the floor slowly building tension until her feet are seen, at which time the camera shifts to a low angle shot and moves up her legs, slowly giving birth to the face of the femme fatale who will lead Garfield into a dangerous situation by using her sexual charms. The low angle camera shot emphasizes her long legs and classic slim figure. He holds the lipstick out to her and makes her come to him, which causes her some little frustration-- but she gives in to his determination, but moments later "gives it back to him". The viewer gets the impression that both characters know they will see each other soon, so she shuts the door--almost in his face "so to speak." She acts out a scene perfectly without dialogue, which reminds me of a scene in The long Hot Summer (I think it was) that requires dialogue to adequately pull off; when Newman says to Woodard " you shut the door in a man's fact before he even knocks."
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