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Everything posted by cstelmac

  1. A typical Dragnet type opening. Long hallway, cold feeling, unidentified man walking into the homicide department for unknown reasons. The scene has a documentary feeling as the movie begins. Of course, when we meet our main character we are surprised by the fact that he is declaring his own murder. Certainly a new twist to the noir film. The flashback will not be anything new but rather a familiar technique for noir films. The opening sequence definitely sets a tone and increases the audience's curiosity about the rest of the film.
  2. Mueller was right in the sense that this film is not very stylistic in the aesthetics. However, the femme fatale, the idea of fate changing the course of human events, revealing the dark side of man, etc. The reason post-WWII films were so enamored with fate was because of the WAR. Men and women saw and watched as loved ones went off to war and died. Some made it and some did not. Lives were changed in an instant. People felt the need to "live now" because there were no assurances of the future. The fact that life could be reduced to such trivial proportions by the atomic bomb also had to resonate in the backs of viewer's minds as they watched the fate of characters unfold before their very eyes. Dark and lonely roads always seem to lead to dark and lonely places in our characters' lives. Great beginning for a film that gets rather dark and ugly. You wonder if the twist of fate can really open up our dark side. Scott is an unbelievable femme fatale. Sexy, smart, the deep voice, and those eyes all combine to give her the allure, the swagger, but also the panic necessary for the roles she plays. She is at her darkest best in this one.
  3. While this is a great scene where the characters are introduced to each other (or re-introduced), there is little stylistic feeling of noir at this point. However, the dialogue is brimming with noir features. The ambiguous references from Sam regarding his past, his present, and his future. "I gamble mostly" sets the viewer up for one of the most interesting noir characters we will ever meet. He is Jeff from Out of the Past without the totally negative view on life. Sam believes he can control his destiny, or at least he believes in chance, or the odds breaking his way occasionally. Sam carries the smile and the happy-go-lucky nature that appeals to audiences and, of course, to Martha. He is fun, he is spontaneous, and he is all male. He is from the street and reflects an innocence and that is exactly where Martha came from and ultimately would like to return. The femme fatale for all times, driven by money and the lust for power, Martha is torn between good ( well, sort of) Sam, and evil, Walter and Iverstown. Walter has grown up to be exactly who we thought he would become. The nerd who went to the best school and now has the degrees to prove it. Even though Douglas is a macho character normally speaking, he reverts to a wimp-like type and it works. This scene reveals his impotence, inadequacy, and his reliance on alcohol to live with Martha. He is totally intimidated by a real male character, Sam. Dominated and intimidated by Martha throughout, he is reduced to puppy status as the movie continues The small town motif we have seen in Out of the Past.. The message is clear- the love of money is still the root of all evil--and people are the pawns of money, even in small towns or on the road. Top three noir films of all time because of the ambiguous nature of the characters, two femme fatales, a happy ending, (sort of) and THE ENDING. How the Production Code allowed a double suicide is amazing. OF course, good triumphed over evil, so perhaps that is how it equals out. But why do I always want Sam and Martha to get together in the end?????
  4. I agree with most of the posts found here. Desperation, fear, hopelessness, and helplessness are the key ingredients encountered by the viewer as this movie opens. Dark night, woman in distress, lonely road, lonely traveler.....an escapee from an asylum? We get the backward credits, Nat King Cole and his blues, a nearly naked and frantic woman...and our hero Mike Hammer. The suspense of the scene is a bit thwarted by Hammer's entrance because we know he will not be harmed by this woman or by the situation. The remoteness of the lonely highway is strikingly similar to the many lonely and dark shadow filled scenes in remote parts of city life we have felt in many other films. The randomness of it all is the fear factor for the viewer. Many have mentioned Cloris Leachman and I believe she fits well into this scene and character. The Last Picture Show is what I remember as I sense this character's desperation and loneliness. Hammer is his usual calm, cool and collected self as he deflects the inquiries of the authority figures. Where will all of this lead is the question of the moment?
  5. Absolutely my favorite film of this genre. There are so many elements of noir present here: narration, slick private eye with wisecracking lines, overhead shots, dirty, smelly city life, bar scene, femme fatale (of course, we do not know how dark she is until later), out of the shadows into the light action, etc. Yet I believe the most interesting aspect of the first 14 minutes of this film is the fact that we do not see Jane Greer until this scene. The anticipation of seeing her and understanding the stark contrast of her physical beauty with that of Jeff's girlfriend on the opening scenes. Jeff has seen and experienced the dark side and has now emerged into the light, but, as noir would have it, he will descend back into the engulfing depths of fate again. He cannot escape his destiny. Mitchum is the perfect noir private eye--cool, calm, collected, understanding his fate, yet enjoying the descent and sharing it with the viewer. I love Bogart in these films, but nobody has the screen presence of Mitchum. It is as if Noir was created for his acting style. And the reality was, he was not acting most of the time. This was who he was. Out of the Past is a great film which twists and turns until you are never quite sure who is in charge. and even though our hero, Markham, is killed in the end, we rejoice with his heroic effort to make sure right prevails. He sacrifices himself in order to destroy the black widow, Greer. Kirk Douglas cannot be overlooked in this movie. His edgy character is the perfect foil to counter balance Mitchum. Little does the viewer realize that Douglas is NOT in control. Fascinating film on so many levels.
  6. I may be one of the few who appreciate Dick Powell's portrayal of Marlowe. I love the humor and the smirk because that is what true cynics do. It is how they cope with the darkness in life. The first scene reveals humor, detective work, paranoia, and a ruthless side. While he has a penchant for the ladies, he is skeptical first and allured later. His commentary with regard to the police tells the audience that he is a lone wolf, a Lone Ranger of a man who follows his own code of ethics. While he is on the side of "right" he understands the police to be as corrupt, at times, as the criminals he pursues. No superhero hero, just a man who refuses to be ruled by abstractions. Bogart's Marlowe is much darker and more jaded than this.
  7. The first scene is disturbing because Waldo is an unusually creepy character. His narration to begin the film is intentionally misleading since he will be the evil character in the end. The lavish lifestyle portrayed reveals a newer take on twisted noir characters. Typically we find down and out desperate characters with little hope. Here we find a successful professional who borders being a serial type killer with an obsessive compulsive desire to "own" another object, Laura. Ironically, Laura is in no way, shape or form a femme fatale type, yet she has the male leads pining over her.
  8. The opening scenes is awesome. Love the contrast of serenity and homicide, light and dark, rich and poor, American wealth and power vs. international poverty and weakness. I'm not sure one could distinguish this as noir just from this scene but it certainly draws the viewer into the film. We all want to know why the brutal execution on the front steps of a plantation in Singapore. Great opening scene panning the landscape and the sky. Shadows, moonlit night, femme fatale of all time a murder, or execution, or mercy-killing? Betty Davis is ruthless in her brief scene as it clearly portrays her as the perpetrator and not the victim. A great beginning as we all want to know...what the heck was in that letter? This is not a totally unusual opening noir scene if one remembers The Killers where we see "The Swede" get brutally executed early on in the film and the rest of the movie brings us back to that point.
  9. The opening is interesting but grows weary after a few minutes. I like the rolling barrel shot and the brief scene where he is walking through the brush. But shortly thereafter it grows weaker by the minute until Bacall shows up. At least then there is something to view. (very poor plot construction here--she just shows up as he is about to whack the guy--which would be out of character since he is not a murderer). After viewing Lady in the Lake which had been released the previous year, this technique could not have seemed unique. Bogart's voice is very distinctive so the viewer can picture his face despite the POV used. Of course, the narration is distinctly noir as the movie develops. I love the connection between Bogart and Bacall. This surely creates the dynamic which allows the film to resonate among its viewers. Honestly though, I do not sense a huge noir feel to this film. Narration, men with hats, flimsy shallow criminal characters, and the great Agnes Moorehead, but otherwise what? Ok, a wronged man and some creepy characters, but we have two characters who end up together in that Hollywood way that is anti-noir to say the least. Things to love about the film--Bogey/Bacall, San Francisco views, the death scenes where characters fall from heights Don't get me wrong. This is a film worthy of watching, but it seems to lack the same angst and near total depression of so many of the classic noir films. I thought the film that followed, Woman on the Run, had many more noir characteristics than this one.
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