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Everything posted by markusinnocenti

  1. Cinematically a hugely powerful opening - so many elements thrown into play to instantly engage the audience in the story - and still finding time to address tiny but telling issues to tell us who Mike Hammer is - the sporty English car, the hip music with its 'noir' lyrics, the gruff manner, the easy acceptance of underlying sexuality - and his "rescue of the damsel". I will definitely watch this film again - as I recall it has very interesting "Red Scare" era overtones - but I've always had a problem with author Spillane's ultra-mysogynist character Mike Hammer - well, at least since I p
  2. I've been particularly interested in the use of camera motion in several of the Daily Doses we've seen. Laura and The Letter begin with wonderful slow tracking shots, The Mask of Dimitrios has that fabulous lo-angle dolly move into Sidney Greenstreet's close-up... and here in The Third Man there's the move where Joseph Cotton walks from long shot to medium shot and there's a subtle pull-back as he arrives at the 'Cupid Fountain' - an almost unnoticeable dolly move that ends with a perfect framing of the Cupid on the right. A Cupid that seems to stare at Holy Martin as if to say 'poor sap.'
  3. Disclaimer: I'm not familiar with films noir from MGM enough to comment on a 'house style' - so this is just an uneducated observation... That said -- what we have here is clearly a more 'sanitized' visual texture than in the the majority of 'Daily Doses'. Contrast the diner from 'The Killers' with the one we enter here in 'Postman'. The interior seems so much more "art-directed" - it doesn't seem particularly 'lived in'. The exterior too is manicured - so much so that I wondered if it was actually a sound stage with an expensive set. The soundtrack is curiously empty - which suggests
  4. Like others have noted, it was interesting how much this sequence evokes "Casablanca" - from the costuming (in particular Jane Greer's hat and the way she wears it), to the exotic setting, the cool interior and the sun-blasted exterior. Jane Greer's entrance is truly one of the great femme fatale "entrances", isn't it? She looks like an angel in that white dress, with the sun behind her - but then she steps from the light, into the shadow - giving us a nice subliminal message as to who she really might be. It must have been extremely difficult to balance the 'hot' exterior lighting w
  5. Bogart's 'Spade' is an edgier creation - a more tightly-coiled character, always ready to block a punch or deliver one. Bogart's 'Marlowe', on the other hand, is much more relaxed and laconic. He'll block a punch, of course - only a little more lazily. Bogart portrays 'Marlowe' as even more world-weary than 'Spade' and much more accepting of himself. For that reason, 'Marlowe' seems a friendlier, more easy-going character. 'Marlowe' also seems more comfortable around women - I think 'Spade' would have found Carmen Sternwood's "fall" into his arms to be much less fun!
  6. Like several others, I find the heavy-handed docu-narration to be dated and a mood-buster. However, Alton's cinematography is amazing - and, being a rural view, it becomes an interesting parallel with the aerial shots (again with stentorian narration) of NYC that form the opening of Jules Dassin's "Naked City". Many 'noir' films show man as a tiny, tiny part of something huge and impersonal - struggling against a vast environment that cares nothing for him. Here it's Nature - rather than the City - and I'll be interested to see how this works out in the film. I'm still struggling wi
  7. I particularly like the sense of doom that pervades the sequence that begins with Nick running to warn the Swede. The introduction of Burt Lancaster's character - a "headless" body lying preternaturally still in the shadows - and the dull acceptance of his responses to Nick - "I'm through with all that running around" and "I did something wrong - once" - all of it is laden with a terrible, irrevocable fate. Although the literary source is Hemingway, you could be easily think - given the grim hopelessness of the situation - that Cornell Woolrich was the author. - Perhaps the screenwr
  8. One of the things that I expect this course will help me get over is my long-held feeling that 'noir' is an essentially American art-form. To me, Lang's "M" and "Ministry of Fear" have a distinctly European sensibility that - although influential on American 'noir' - just doesn't have the same flavor. The elements in both the opening of "M" and "Ministry of Fear" remind me of early Hitchcock - prior to his full immersion in American form. Hardly surprising given that, at the start of his career, Hitchcock was hugely influenced by German Expressionism. To compound this European-ism, in "Fear" w
  9. The portrayal of Marlowe, as shown here by Dick Powell, highlights an important element of (hard-boiled) noir. Namely, that the PD has a 'code' that he lives by. It's not the chivalrous "stand-up-and-take-off-your-hat-when-a-lady-enters-the-room" kind of chivalrous code that audiences had previously been used to. That much is well-illustrated in Marlowe's rough handling of Anne Shirley - which I suspect might have been a little shocking to audiences back in the 40s. No, this is the unique world-weary 'code' of a man who needs one central thing to anchor his life. His professional standing. He'
  10. Nino Frank's observation of a "charming study of furnishings and faces" is spot-on - and something I'd never thought about in 'noir' before - well, not the "furnishings" part. But if you think about it, noir isn't all rain-soaked streets, smoky dives and cheap hotels. There's a fascination with wealth too - think of Marlowe going to "visit" General Sternwood in "The Big Sleep". This isn't the kind of 'top hat and tails' wealth we're used to seeing from 1930's Astaire/Rogers depictions of rich New Yorkers. The opening of "Laura" shows us something more real, more carefully-considered and taste
  11. Like some other contributors, I was fascinated by the physicality of Bette Davis' performance. From the moment at 1:28 when she strides out of the house - gun-arm outstretched without wavering, her other hand on the balustrade as if she were about to elegantly step down into a ballroom rather than brutally shoot someone down. What an entrance! Then, the stillness on her face during that long push-in to close up. The thoughts in her mind as she looks down at the dead man. The violence of that turn to glare up at the moon! The calmness on her face before she slowly steps away. And the way she h
  12. I missed the TCM screening - but having seen this opening I have to watch the entire film - and soon! The dynamic between the two men is brilliantly done and promises much for the rest of the movie. The momentum, not just the movement of the train but of the editing, leaves one breathless. This is 1938! Terrific camera angles almost making me duck my head as the train goes into tunnels and under bridges. Fantastic camerawork. I note that some people thought the music didn't work - but, not having seen the rest of the film - it worked for me not just because the tempo slowed as the train's spee
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