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owene73

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  1. 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? Their two entrances from different ends of the frame are contrasted in tone, Lorre has a drunken charming playful tone, playing on his exoticism for sure but also by now playing on the audiences recognition of him and enjoyment of his startled slightly bullied persona. He walks obliviously into the scene. Greenstreet comes in with menace, for all that Lorre in his warners movies is often an antagonist he can also seem harmless, while the verbally civilised and charming greenstreet is generally the one who carries the threat. Notice the way later in the scene when he is shot from a low angle and his bulk fills the entire screen. Even so he looks quite comical being as large as he is and holding the pistol and Lorre calls him on his ridiculousness and lack of real danger. He like Lorre was a familiar anti heroic figure by this point. -- Compare this scene in The Mask of Dimitrios with scenes from The Maltese Falcon or Nobody Lives Forever. What are the similarities? What are the differences? The scene plays on the love of the character actors engendered by the maltese falcon, all the talk of istanbul, all the threat masked in an exagerated american view of old world decadent manners is there to give the audience what they came for, even more so in this movie where Lorre and Greenstreet rather than bogart are the draw. It's a subtle shift from the Falcon that allows the actors to be typecast while actually serving a totally different narrative purpose. All threat has been removed from Lorre as he doesn't even need to provide a challenge for a Bogart any more, instead he is neutered and a very unlikely audience surrogate in the scene, supposedly being menaced by Greenstreet but instead just playing out the same circling dance of manners in exotic locations they had by this point become known for. In the Maltese Falcon these actors are bringing some exotic spice to the roles of obstacle to the PI, like the detail about the Falcon's history they are in fact a macguffin designed to provide the opportunity to learn about the hero, there to contrast Bogart's straight talking American heterosexuality with something decadent, old world, riddle talking and in the book at least explicitly gay. They like King Charles of Spain are exotic scene setting background detail. Here that has somehow been stretched to attempt to carry a movie without a central bogart figure. They are playing to the types the maltese falcon created for them but the ornamental detail has somehow become the central story so we get an outlandishly twisty but ultimately empty continental intrigue.
  2. How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight? As the title to the daily dose suggests it makes a real thing of the journey from the light into the shadow. Jeff talks of the sun and the heat of mexico but he brings to mexico his own pool of shadow and talks about how he can't connect with the hot summer things the city is known for. The lighting inside contrives to still have Jeff in shadow and to use the shadows of the local selling them things on the wall of the cantina. Tourneur is known for his use of shadow and suggestion, mainly from his Val Lewton horror work and has a reputation as a director of Noirs despite the fact that most of his career and seemingly the work that mattered most to him was totally different, genre stories of building societies like Stars in My Crown or Canyon Passage, even his noirs like Berlin Express are actually about how you form a good society and keep it safe from threats and I think that rather than being down to him filming a lot of Noirs or even really having a noir attitude it is down to his total mastery of the noir visual, learnt on horror movies, only really shown on noirs a handful of times but SO good it has defined his reputation. Here we are in sunlit mexico, he has one of the most beautiful leading couples of all time in Mitchum and Greer in 1947 and he manages to make them look that beautiful while also making mitchum a thing of shadow. His visuals, hell RKO from 46-48's visuals generally are astounding. -- What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence? I dont know, I've loved the movie so much, have the poster on my stairs, that it's really hard to seperate out that scene from my knowledge of the characters and talk about what I learnt where. It gets to the heart of the couple, gives the viewer something to hang on to and yearn for almost as much as Mitchum does (and much more than Greer does), makes you want them to have that brief reprieve so much that I think it is the romantic heart of the movie and why it touches people so much. It's the promise (soon to be dashed) of a non-noir ending for the couple. Which is futile because Mitchum is clearly doomed, talking of how the pleasures of the world are denied him without Greer, and Greer is tossing him a bone with the invite to the bar that plays american music. Playing him. And you know and he knows it but you and he take the bone anyway just to momentarily have the delusion of something better. -- In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir? It takes things like the narration and the iconic cool male lead of the Bogart/hammet/chandler approach to Noir and adds the doomed fatalism of something like Detour in the hands of the most underappreciated director of the studio system. It's the whole package, it combines all the philosophy of Noir with the audience appeal of real star power being perfectly harnessed so it touches the audience more than any other noir. I dont think it contributes to the development of Noir by pointing the way forward, I think instead it's a pinacle that few other noirs could ever match because they never managed combine the pure noir fatalism, the quality of the hard boiled story, the star power and pure sex of Mitchum and Greer together and a director like Tourneur. It's not a road map for Noir it's a destination.
  3. - How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film? We learn a lot about his background, his wit, even his height, the joke about trying to be tall seems as much about Bogart as Marlowe but the film actually gets a lot of info that is often in the cliched noir PI voice over naturally without needing to recourse to narration. -- Do you see a difference in Bogart's portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade inThe Maltese Falcon? Some, he is more detached, wittier, feels he can hold his own in the rich company. I dont know how much is really in the performance or the characters and how much is that by 1946 Bogart was a much bigger star and the writing is more tailored to his star image and Bogart was more comfortable in the personna. Also it's Hawks not Huston, girls are witty and sexy but to be dealt with putdowns before moving on to the mans talk. There is nothing a dapper man of the world can't accomplish and no company that will prove too rich for him (strangely Huston the man was much like that but its not as big a deal in his films) Bogart's Marlowe is definitely a very Hawksian lead. -- In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? At the risk of confusing hard boiled detective style and the wider noir movement even more the intro probably sums up what a lot of people would consider noir. I tend to come to the Big Sleep as a massive Hawks fan rather than from a noir angle, In a Lonely Place is my Noir bogart but there are definitely a lot of the components of what makes up Noir in the public imagination here. The PI, the (literal) corrupting hothouse atmosphere with the daughter running wild, old money with something to hide and above the law.
  4. What mood or atmosphere—through the visual design and the voiceover narration—is being established in this realistic documentary sequence? The realism of the documentary sequence serves at least two purposes, it establishes the world of the movie providing information that might not be well known to every viewer in different parts of the USA (or beyond). By using a style the audience would be familiar with and respect (If not find exciting) from newsreels and propaganda films that accompanied the fictional movies at the cinema it adds to the stakes of the story being told by making it seem 'authentic' and 'important'. It also opens up the possibility of creating psychological impact by going beyond the style and visuals of the documentary, the peaceful fields, the reality of the farm system that brings the audience their food and suggest there is something rotten underneath, by introducing a dissonant element (the illegal immigrants but also the legal poverty striken mexicans crowding against the fence to come in) to the idyllic picture it forces the audience to question the social set up or at least adds the weight of reality to the drama they are about to see. -- What do you think documentary realism adds to the evolution and increased range of the film noir style? While the docu-noir style of Mann's work (T-men or He Walked by night as well as this one) might not be as immediately psychologically strong as more expresionist works it can work in subtler ways, by grounding the movie in the real it makes deeper points about the evils hidden in the real world and doesn't allow you the disconnect of feeling these are just nightmare things happening to people who did something wrong. It also allows powerful transitions such as when Mann's He Walked By Night shifts from a documentary proecedural approach to it's late gasmasked LAPD stormtroopers in tunnels beneath the city in the conclusion. The nightmare grows from the real world rather than being seperate from it. -- In what ways can the opening of Border Incident be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? As a sign that you can use all sorts of visual approaches? I mean it's still a John Alton movie, there will be shadows and noir visuals but there is a maturity of approach here, the early influences of noir are being forged into something aimed at telling wider stories, we aren't on the poverty row of Detour any more and we arent dealing with psychological damage to one person but to a society
  5. -- What are some of the influences you see in this sequence from other cinemas (such as German expressionism) or other art forms? For example, consider this scene in relation to the work of Fritz Lang (who also worked at UFA). The compositions and lighting are somewhat reminiscent of Lang. The sense of an inescapable doom that leaves your actions meaningless is also there in a lot of Lang's work (but also a lot of other places of course) The titling of the sequence as Nighthawking obviously brings to mind Hopper, biographies of Hopper have stated that the picture nighthawks was inspired by the original Hemingway short story The Killers is based on and it seems like Siodmak worked with this in the film adaption. It being an adaption the hard boiled short story is obviously also an influence here, and the dialogue style comes in large part from Hemingway's original. -- How does this sequence shift its visual design from realism to formalism, as it moves from the diner to the Swede's room? The rush to the swede's room, vaulting the series of white fences that stand out in the blackness and then the turn of a corner up to the window and the room serve to seperate the two locations and add a dream like quality to the journey between them. The movie hinges on just why Lancaster's character is so accepting of his end, what is the one bad thing he did that he feels made his death inevitable, in the swedes room we are confronted with choices and actions that seem totally counter to normal human experience so it makes sense that we encounter them in a context that doesn't feel entirely real. The shift from realism allows things like the man and his shadow forming an audience for Lancaster and sets up the idea that we will venture into the past to 'solve' the unreality of lancaster's fatalism. -- In what ways can this sequence from The Killers be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? The idea of one bad thing leading to inevitable death however far you run or try to hide. The idea of an untouchable evil intruding into everyday working life. The chaotic shadowed dream state alongside the rational structured world.
  6. A hard one to answer as it's been so long since i saw the movie and half remembered stuff about the situation kept creeping in to my reactions. What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene? That it's drunk and conveys that in both its recklessness and its small misteps. That she is using the audience as a prop in the second layer of performance that is aimed at Ford's character. That, obviously, it is based on sex, which is again down to the power struggle in the relationship with Ford. -- What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence? Gilda lashing out and using her sexuality to hurt Ford as this is the only avenue open to her. The fact the song is about misplaced blame or taking on of blame due to self sacrifice which again fits the ins and outs of distrust and accusation in her relationship with Ford and the other gangster she has the relationship with (but I can't really remember the shifting -- In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir? I think noir films, like almost all succesful films made excellent use of both soundtrack and diegetic music very well and did so with music from a range of genres, with jazz, lush solo piano classical, latin and supper club cabaret all featuring in multiple key scenes in the movement. I dont know if there is anything particularly noir about that, I think it's important to most atmospheric sound movies.
  7. -- How does Curtiz arrange these two actresses to heighten the tension of the scene? Pay attention to how they move and how they are framed in the scene, especially the use of close-ups. The costuming of the two characters in similar black outfits lets them work as negative space in the composition and lets you, if you have been asked about it, to follow the shifting alignments of the two women. The scene starts with Crawford as one of a number of vertical shapes in the room, parallel to the door and the stairposts. Veda is the exception to the composition of the scene her black shape messily and diagonally breaking the harmony of the household. As the argument breaks out Curtiz plays with the height of the actresses faces to constantly show and shift who has the upper hand in the scene before Crawford, beaten down but unbowed sends her daughter fleeing from the battlefield. The close ups are as much about reaction, Crawford's reaction as the words. Allowing Curtiz to use the full depth of Crawford's iconic suffering as she is stung by her daughter. --How do you feel the noir influence operates in this scene from Mildred Pierce? -- In what ways can this scene from Mildred Pierce be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? I'll try to combine these It's beautiful high constrast cinematography that uses blacks very well. It's a look at the toxicity hidden behind closed doors in the every day materialist existence of the American dream. It's the clash between the daughters greed and the mothers sentiment with the sentiment being shown as sappy. It takes noir away from the heightened dramatic settings of the detective's office or the murder scene and puts it in the mundane everyday life of ordinary americans who on the face of it are trying their best and doing well. I realise that the film does revolve around a murder as well but it's a film about a noir view of society that isn't really dressed in the trappings of a crime drama.
  8. Susprising as I am a big fan of both Lang and Greene but this one has never really touched me much -- How would you compare the opening of M to the opening of Ministry of Fear? They are both trying to create a feeling of all pervading dread but M does so in a wide range of ways that put you right in the setting and make you feel like society as a whole is under attack. Ministry of Fear does so with a handful of quite cliched ways, the ticking clock suggesting a countdown to something, the shadows, the germanic font, and never reaches the same level of involvement. -- Describe in your own words how Fritz Lang uses the clock in this scene as a major element to set mood and atmosphere. Lang holds on the clock during the necessary business of the credits leaving the audience crying out for a release from it's relentless ticking enabling us to identify with Milland's character's desire for release. It's not totally effectively done in my view but it does foster audience identification and create a sense of impatient tension. -- In what ways can this opening scene from Ministry of Fear be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? The shadowy visuals and the idea of the imprisoned protagonist on a quest to make amends or clear something up but terrified of being returned to the institution are quite firmly noir tropes
  9. Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective? His actions of locking the door, grabbing the client by the wrist, not trusting her identity and his clear worry about the involvement of the police and his own being a suspect place him a huge distance from earlier screen detectives like Philo Vance. The classic detective story protagonist was quite clearly on the side of the law, could count on their support and moved through the story presenting the viewer with the clues needed to 'solve' the story themselves. The writer played fair with the audience and apart from the possibility of some quirky idiosyncrasies the personality of the detective didn't come into it. The Marlowe stories, more famously the Big Sleep with Owen Taylor but all of them really, dont particularly hang together when you look at the mystery, there is no real possibility of you the viewer, or Marlowe, ever really piecing things together because they are too messy, the facts aren't presented to Marlowe or you, and Marlowe is just as powerless in the face of the law as you or I would be. The dramatic satisfaction has to come from the character and the journey not some idea of a neat solvable conclusion. -- Why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context? The classic detective story tells you that everything; but especially bad things; happen for a rational reason (motives such as personal gain), and by looking rationally at the world you can figure it all out. It also tells you not to worry, because society and the law will be on your side and will expend energy to sort out right from wrong. The Chandler style detective and Film Noir in general says that crime; and by extension everything else; happens for messier psychological reasons and that you are kidding yourself if you think you can ever get to the bottom of it all. That the law is not interested in you and certainly wont work hard at helping you out, you're on your own, just another messed up person with their own psychological issues capable of almost anything. -- In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? I'd argue that the Bogart movies, the Big Sleep and Maltese Falcon probably were a bigger influence but that this scene still features most of what the lay viewer would identify as a noir style right down to the word marlowe projected on the office wall from the writing on the office window. While people may identify Bogart rather than Powell with the role and the style I'd guess that Hawks' take on it probably owed a lot to this earlier film.
  10. Replying without reading the others, looking forward to catching up with the discussion What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" Well the first scene features faces as furnishings and the opulent, priceless, clearly collected objects around Lydecker's apartment speak to his character as someone who wants to possess beautiful and rare objects. This combines with the voiceover and the title to hint at his relationship with Laura from the very first scene. -- What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? Preminger builds to the visual introduction of Lydecker, throwing in a lot of fairly unsubtle coding about his effeminacy, introducing him naked in the bath in front of the police detective which again makes you wonder about what his relationship with Laura was, that it was unlikely to be a straightforward romantic one. His letting the detective go through his vitrines before stopping him when he was worried that he would break a precious object suggests that he is happy to stand back and take his own pleasures in manipulating the police but that he is possessive of his things and sees others as clumsy and beneath him and people who might accidentally break his treasures. This conveys his relationship with Andrew's character from the first. He is a voyeur but he has things the police might break/uncover. -- In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? The voice over, the cinematography, the clear and obvious dark secrets behind outward urban respectability. The starting of the movie after what would at face value be the climactic event, the murder of laura, to poke holes in peoples psyches and what led to that point.
  11. A few extra thoughts having reflected on it all a little bit. I think it's right to look at American society in the 40s and ask what contributed to the tone of the films but I think it's also important to look at French society and the naming of Films Noir. 1946, French society is in shock, close to terminal shock, defeat, occupation, collaboration, the idea of resistance being clung to as a panacea for the image and psyche of the country. The idea of good or at least normal men and women HAVING to do bad things to survive which leads to the question of whether there are good men at all or just people who have the luck to find themselves in good circumstances as opposed to bad ones. A hell of a lot of guilt Then the flood gates open and they receive all the films they missed between 1939 (or 40 not sure) and 1946, all at once, no careful release strategy, not much of a french industry left to fill the cinemas. Just all this american culture, alien culture, victorious culture, all at once. Most of it would be Bambi, Casablanca, Westerns, musicals. But in amongst it certain films strike a chord, possibly not with the whole audience, maybe just with some perceptive critics or a few cinema managers. They find a name for those movies that do that enable them to group together Bette Davis melodramas and John Huston detective stories in the same category. I dont think Noir infected a huge proportion of american films during the war years, probably not enough for anyone american watching week by week to notice. And I do think American society and their own experience of the war was vital too but i think there are good reasons why it was picked up on in france and became a critical darling (I'd imagine more people were still watching bambi etc even there) That said I do really like the heist idea, it made me think of John Huston, or more specifically of the tough films Walter Huston was able to make in the early 30s, stuff like Kongo or Gabriel over the White house go places Noir was never able to. Huston is on record for wanting to give his father the chance to get back into the limelight, give him a chance to hit those heights. Thats what 'Treasure of the sierra Madre' is John Huston giving his dad the chance to shine in a tough psychologically draining movie. He works his dad into The Maltese Falcon. I like the idea of John Huston figuring out how to tell these stories that his dad used to tell under the production code system. Figuring out if you planned it right you could still tell a gritty story with balls. Plus it makes it all a bit like the Asphalt Jungle and thats what movie fans want life to be like isn't it
  12. Why did they come out when they did not 10 years earlier or later? I'd argue something combining the production code and the war/depression. People elsewhere on here have mentioned the 30s as the period of screwball comedies, the 40s of Noirs. To me as a big fan of pre-code films both comic and gritty I'd argue that the screwball comedies of the second half of the 30s, particularly the so-called comedies of remarriage, as being directors and writers attempt to continue romantic comedies under the restrictions of the code, especially the restrictions to any depictions of sex outside marriage, so you get lots of beautiful actors playing separated spouses to allow the acknowledgement of a sexual bond and experiences between them that could not be shown for any unmarried protagonists. When protagonists were unmarried and new to each other zaniness replaced sexual attraction almost as the writers absurd protest of the new rules. Along the way, quite by accident you get movies that actually have something to say decades on about female desire and sexuality in the period like 'Unfinished Business' or Theodora Goes Wild' because the constraints of the code and it's desire to punish anyone who exhibited sexual feeling mirrored the constraints of society for women at the time. To me some of the dramatic weight of the Noirs, the fatalism, the unhappy ends, the unreliable narrators. Are the studios or at least specific writers and directors figuring out how to tell a crime story or a gritty melodrama under the draconian restrictions of the code. The code specified crime and lust must be punished to clamp down on early 30s movies that had seemingly glamourised both. They presumably hoped that the studios would be pushed towards movies that either avoided the topics all together or would take a hard line on it. And of course the studios did make the films that lived in that crime and lust free fairyland, any look at the top grossing films and stars of the peak noir years shows that actually the antithesis of noir was well served during that time. What they didn't do all that succesfully were movies that featured crime and lust but spoke out against it sincerely because despite the efforts of the code that wasn't actually what people wanted, the ammoral films that had sparked the code in 34 had been popular with urban audiences who wanted to see their real lives reflected. Crime doesn't pay movies didnt cut it. By the Noir cycle directors had figured out a way to obey the word of the code but not the spirit, to actually make the inevitable punishment of wrongdoing ADD to the weight of the message. Not in a tacked on 'tell the kids not to be like me' Cagney ending way after a lot of fun crime but in an all pervasive 'the world will catch up with you, there's no escape' philosophical way. Throw in an audience that had survived the depression and the war and knew just how fake the fake stuff was and just how hard it was to catch a break and you have a climate for Noir. The experiences and bitterness of emigre directors not buying into the happy ever after consumer paradise view of America plays a part too. You didn't need one ten years earlier, you had stuff like 'Employees Entrance' or 'Heroes for Sale' that were darker and realer than Noir and no need for the philosophising. And ten years later would have been too late, people needed stories that had some relation to the world around them if cinema was to retain it's currency.
  13. if you buy his voice over he is anyway. it's been a while since I saw it but it felt like a very unreliable narration to me
  14. sounds close to my approach but I find myself watching stranger on the third floor on a summers morning while watching my daughter. which seems against the spirit of things. I'd planned on focusing on the ones I hadn't seen but that inevitably means leaving the real landmarks which are probably the most important ones for the course. I've a feeling all study plans might go out of the window and I'll end up rewatching a lot of bogart this week
  15. The jazz scene in Phantom Lady would be a really good example for the music being used in the way you mention but yes generally even the diegetic music in Noir is generally classical or latin
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