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Steve413

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  1. The dolly POV shots join the audience with the two boys as participants in the action. This effect is created purely by the camera movement and we are brought into the experience of moving toward the headmaster, almost as if being pulled along whether or not we want to. This adds to the visual storytelling by creating a more personal interest in the story for the audience, but more importantly, it allows the audience to share in the emotional state of the boys. I felt a sense of inevitable dread or doom in the movement torward the headmaster. The flip side shot, i.e., the woman/camera moving toward them, creates a feeling of entrapment--they are cornered prey. Two little shots with this technique but it adds such emotional richness to the scene.
  2. I don't think the cameos started until Blackmail, but that would have been awesome to see him in his first directing assignment.
  3. Good point on the diagonal shot of the parking lot. Siodmak is really spare and elegant with his camerawork. He doesn't lay on noir tropes too heavily. Also Yvonne DeCarlo coming down the staircase (the good old staircase again) starting in a position of power over Duryea at the head of the stairs descending to his anger and her doom.
  4. - How is Hitchcock's rhythm and purposes different in this opening sequence, from other films noir such as Kiss Me Deadly or The Hitch-Hiker? The rhythm of this sequence suggests that we are being led to a meeting of relative equals in terms of narrative status-as opposed to the imbalanced relationships in Kiss Me and the Hitchhiker. The back and forth of the walking feet, left/right, left/right, also suggests a volleying rhythm, similar to that in a tennis match, a Hitchcockian pun given Guy's profession (he's also holding his racket in the scene) and the tennis match scenes we see later in the film.
  5. Nice observation of noir as a physical place with the same character actors showing up in multiple films. Same sets too.
  6. Compare and contrast the opening scenes of Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker? What is similar between the two? What is different? Why do these openings both work as excellent examples of how to open a film noir? Besides the mood of fear, disruption, and uncertainty, as well as the night shooting and the feet shot, the differences in these scenes are much more pronounced than the similarties, and we know immediately that we will be looking at two fundamentally stories and different approaches to the narrative. The woman's enterning the car is an escape (perhaps temporarily) from danger and has the effect of slowing down the narrative, while the hitchhiker's entrance is the very event creating the threat to the fishermen and instantly gets the ball rolling. We see no further action in Hammer's car after the pickup as the credits roll, and formalistic tropes predominate--i.e., the static back head seat shot under the credits and the woman's pathetic gasping/weeping with no further dialogue until the roadblock. By the end of the scene, we still have no idea where the story will lead. The hitchhiker immediately jumps into the narrative as the dialogue in the car gives us a clear idea of where we are going. Both scenes work as great noir openings as each, in its own way, creates the noir mood of anxiety and dread while suggesting noir themes of social breakdown and chaos.
  7. As I was watching The Killers recently, it occured to me that physical artifacts worn or owned by a character might be subtle (or not so subtle) clues to the character's nature or motivation, or symbolic of the character's relationship to another character. In The Killers, the stolen brooch Kitty wore in the restaurant scene where the Swede punches the police lieutenant is a golden spider. A few other examples came to mind: Balin's phallic walking stick in Gilda and Phylis's ankle bracelet in Double Indemnity that caught Neff's attention and could be read as the initial "chaining" of Neff to Phylis. When the director moves in for a close-up of these objects, it seems that he is tipping us off to their symbolic import. I will make it a point going forward in watching this series to keep an eye out for the use of artifacts in this way. Any other examples out there?
  8. I'm having the same experience, The definition of film noir is a topic that I initially dismissed as a not very interesting one, but I agree with you that the course is panning out to make that question one of real interest and value in analyzing the films. I listened to the full Clute and Edwards podcast on The Third Man in which they have an extended discussion on whether or not the film can be considered a noir at all. Clute basically says its not and Edwards maintains it is, although he did come around a bit to Clute's side as the discussion went on. Their positions turned on style vs. genre. From the genre perspective, most of the traditional noir elements are missing: no femme fatale, no conflicted protagonist, no moral gray areas, etc. Style wise, it is heavily noir with the camera angles, deep focus, and lighting contrast. I think Clute makes a strong case for the genre argument, but I'll be keeping an open mind on this as the course continues. Just adds a really neat angle to consider while watching this extravaganza of great films.
  9. Someone in the course comments posited that Lydecker is gay and i agree with that reading. His "love" for Laura is not romantic at all but more in the nature of obsession with another beautiful object for his collection of artifacts. As to McPherson, Lydecker is initially dismissive of him in the opening scene, but becomes very interested when he recognizes the name of the cop hero that he himself had written about. It's just then that stands up naked and asks for his robe. He's snob enough only to be romantically interested in a guy who is not just physically attractive, but who has media notoriety.
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