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Lisa D

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About Lisa D

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  1. Hi everyone. Tonight the film I am most looking forward to seeing is Criss Cross. I have only seen it once before and it really is worth another look. Lang's newsroom trilogy I recorded some time ago and I plan to keep those films on my DVR for a while longer. Oh, and one of the characters in "While the City Sleeps" was played by Drew Barrymore's father.
  2. As I watched the opening scene from "Criss Cross" I thought a great deal could be summed up in the line said by the waiter about "the rotten class of people you have to deal with". In so many instances, such is film noir. Then I got to thinking about my favorite "rotten people". The femme fatales. Phyllis Dietrichson, Kathy Moffet, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Helen Grayle, Annie Laurie Starr, Norma Desmond, Kitty Collins, Gilda and so many more. Briefly, I started to miss them but then I realized they were just moments away. Fortunately, I have their films in one form or another. The Daily Dose will be missed, along with all the people who left comments and helped me so much in my film noir journey. One I plan to continue. You, along with Professor Edwards, Ball State, Canvas, and all those behind the scenes, have been terrific! My morning coffee won't be the same.
  3. As this scene opens a guard is standing behind a seated prisoner who is being interrogated by someone assumed to be the warden. The guard is holding a nightstick (billy club, baton, sap , etc,) which is an implied threat. The warden is wearing an A-shirt, also pejoratively known as a "wife beater". Being unsuccessful, the warden closes the shades, the guard leaves, the music is playing, the warden picks up a club and the scene is set. We hear the beating rather than see it as do a group of people in another room. Although they are obviously disturbed by the sounds they do nothing. At one point the warden increases the sound of the music. Dassin decides to stop the sound of the beating at this point and instead let the music and the shots of the inside of the warden's office indicate the increase in intensity. Realizing he is unsuccessful, the warden calls the guard back in. As he calmly washes his hands the guard raises the shades. They have done this before. The prisoner is still alive.
  4. What was it about Raymond Burr that said this actor would be great playing a sociopath? "Red Light", "Raw Deal", "His Kind of Woman" and now "Desperate". I'm sure there are others. When he walks through the door and you hear his distinctive voice you know that there is a good chance the scene will be violent. We see his face through the use of a swinging light during the beating. It's coldness and the sounds of the beating produce graphic images in our minds, although the action is in the shadows. The threat with the broken bottle is chilling. Burr owns the scene. This from the actor who would become a television icon playing Perry Mason. After seeing his work in film noir, it's understandable why he originally auditioned for the part of Hamilton Burger.
  5. In the opening of "The Asphalt Jungle" we are shown a maze of decayed, urban streets, filmed in a part of 1950's Cincinnati. There is one scene where the buildings are crumbling and it is reminiscent, to me, of Vienna in "The Third Man". A lone man is making his way through the streets and rubble when a police patrol car arrives, looking for someone, but making no attempt to hide it by blaring their radio. When the character of Dix is arrested at the diner it appears to be an expected event. Then there is the lineup. His rap sheet is read, which tells us a lot about the character. Per the witness, the police are looking for a "tall" man. Sterling Hayden standing next to Strother Martin? Really? Dix intimidates the witness just by looking at him. Tough guy.
  6. A couple having a phone conversation in whispers. There is unhappiness in their voices but they are also conspiratorial. When Miles Davis' trumpet enters the scene it not only reinforces what we have already heard but gives the scene a sensuality and an ominous feeling. A musical score should always support, not overwhelm, a scene. Add to, not detract from. This is done beautifully here. The combination of film noir and jazz is the perfect partnership between two art forms. Although, "Elevator to the Gallows" is not considered to be film noir, being a fan of jazz and Moreau, I can't wait to see this film. I have just seen one of Malle's, "Au Revoir Les Enfants", but it was terrific. What a way to end the Summer of Darkness! In this last Daily Dose I would like to thank Professor Richard Edwards and TCM for working in tandem to present such a thorough course in film noir. I found it to be both educational and rewarding. Oh yes, and fun!
  7. "Beware, My Lovely" does not start out as a typical film noir. We are told it is 1918 and the Christmas season. The Salvation Army Band and the sign reading "From the Kindness of your Heart" and "Christmas Cheer" does not generate tension. A man is seen cleaning a screen. He could be the home owner. There is a shot of a calendar on the inside of the screen which reinforces the date, December 1918. Once the character enters the house he start to call for Mrs. Warren. We know he has been hired to do work by the money that is left for him and that his name is Howard. As Howard continues to call for Mrs. Warren tension starts to build when she does not answer. Then he opens the closet door , the music starts and he slowly backs out of the door with a look of horror on his face. He then runs out of the house and we are slowly shown what he has seen. Now we feel the tension. Once again, train tracks are used. This time as he tries to make his escape. There is a maze of them crisscrossing each other. Perhaps representing choices to be made or the inside of his mind. As he speeds away in the boxcar an image of a train speeding onward runs through his head. We are in the land of film noir. It has been several years since I have seen this film. Like "Lady in the Lake", using Christmas as the time the film is set makes it different.. I don't want to do a spoiler alert but there is one scene, or should I say shot, that to me is quite memorable.
  8. In the opening of "The Narrow Margin" we see a train approaching and as it nears the light becomes blinding. This is a film noir. After the train arrives Walter Brown disembarks from it and surveys his surroundings. He is there on business. As far as the dialogue, it is derivative of Raymond Chandler's. Okay, perhaps they are trying too hard but I don't have a problem with that. Marie Windors's character is described as "A sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy." What's not to like?
  9. A heist is a good subject for film noir because it is a situation that has built in tension, which clocks help to create. Timing is everything. Everyone has a job to do and when to do it. It has to be planned to accommodate the actions of others unrelated to the heist. And, if they are smart, unplanned events. Of course things can still go wrong. Then there is the exception in "Gun Crazy". No clock involved in that bank robbery. The actors were lucky to find a parking space. Still, plenty of tension. Clocks are used in other ways in film noir to build tension. For example, at the beginning of "Ministry of Fear" or to commit another type of crime in "Sudden Fear".
  10. The clip opens by showing the boxing match from a film perspective. There are low angles and close ups, especially of Ernie. Then we see Ernie in front of a TV set, as close as he can sit, not just seeing but also hearing the commentary about the moment that changed his life. For Pauline, that moment represents his ultimate failure. The ensuing discourse between the two reveals that not only have they lost the "American Dream" but they no longer share the same dream. This marriage is not just headed for the rocks but on the rocks.
  11. This scene shows three adults meeting for the first time since childhood. It shows a confident Sam, who is there to ask a favor, a very nervous Walter, and an overjoyed Martha. Her joy comes from seeing Sam again. Martha and Walter are married. Happily? Walter certainly isn't happy about seeing Sam and tries to avoid the meeting between Sam and Martha. Walter emits a feeling of dread and tension. He observes their reunion and doesn't like what he sees. There is a hint from Martha that all is not well as Sam leaves. They may be unhappy but they are the biggest fish in that particular pond. Let the games begin.
  12. A car parks on the side of the road. The driver's face is obscured in darkness except for a lit lower half. We cannot identify him but we know he is waiting for someone. Another car approaches with a couple in conflict. Jane expresses feelings of economic inferiority in a social situation they are about to attend, to the point she almost wrecks the car trying to get her husband to turn around. This seems like a hint of instability in her character. A bag is mistakenly thrown into their car and they discover it is full of money. Jane brightens. Another car approaches and Jane jumps into the driver's seat and dangerously escapes the other car, taking over the situation both literally and figuratively. This is a film I am looking forward to seeing.
  13. From the opening of "Strangers on a Train" we are given information about the personalities of the characters by the showing of their shoes. One is certainly more conservative and an athlete. Not only is criss cross shown by using train rails (Hitchcock liked to use trains in his films) but in the accidental meeting of the two characters by the crossing of legs. There will be other examples throughout the movie. What makes a Hitchcock film different is his use of humor. In this film it is primarily through the character of Bruno's mother but there are other touches in the film. I read somewhere that Hitchcock didn't really consider "Rebecca" to be a true Hitchcock film because of it's lack of humor. It was part of his signature.
  14. In this opening scene we see the main character walking into a police station. We only see him from the back as he walks down the corridors like a man with a purpose. Tiomkin's music helps to reinforce this and add to the suspense. We do not see the man's face until he responds "I was". The set up of this scene is very dramatic and effective with lighting, dialogue, and of course the music. In the Daily Dose today it states that "we are beginning to find ourselves, over and over again. at the end of the line in the 1950's". It reminded me of that trolley car ride in "Double Indemnity". Straight down the line where the end is the cemetery. The big difference is Walter and Phyllis got on the trolley voluntarily but Frank Bigelow was not given a choice.
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