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Everything posted by rewolfson

  1. I watched this clip this morning and thought, "what bank robber would keep a written record of such incredibly simple observations and provide evidence if found?" All the director had to do was show the guy watch the delivery truck and the armored car, glance at his watch and nod his head or maybe make a check mark then destroy the paper, without the "delivery truck" "armored car" giveaways. Instead, the paper is a blueprint that screamed, "conviction!!" But what do I know? I'm just a criminal defense attorney with years of experience who knows successful and unsuccessful bank robbers. I'm
  2. I was born in '59, late boomer. Some popular arts I always loved that are similar to noir that have received little mention: radio drama (Arch Obler's "Lights Out," for instance; Obler also directed some great short films); and the old pre-comic book code EC comics- very noir-like! I certainly do not connect to today's computer generated graphics. Give me well developed characters, believable dialogue, and a great story. I don't need special effects. Noir special effects were the subtleties of light and shadow, camera angles and implied violence and sexuality. These themes were understood by e
  3. Excellent comments, perspective and points. I'm a baby boomer and I'll add my thoughts in the perspective of our class, films noir, and the opening of "Too Late for Tears." Many men who returned from WWII found it difficult to readjust to peace time and as importantly, find good jobs. My Dad was fortunate to complete school on the GI Bill, but for many I think, even in the single earner households depicted on shows like "Leave It to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best" (incidentally, Hugh Beaumont and Robert Young appeared in several films noir), gender roles were strained. Women enjoyed worki
  4. I enjoy most any Hitchcock film, "Strangers on a Train" included, but don't consider this iconic director's films "noir." From his early British silent work, Hitchcock's personality was the reason for seeing the film, like reading an Agatha Christie mystery or even, dare I say, listening to a Mozart symphony. He was an auteur, an artist whose work is so distinctive as to render it without compare. I've commented before: I think defining "noir" is like Justice Potter Stewart's Supreme Court opinion on obscenity, "I know it when I see it." Hitchcock's film presence, even literally in e
  5. A lot of discussion this week about the philosophical and psychological influences on film noir, as well there must be. I have a different interpretation of existential fatalism as described in the lecture and podcast. It seems to me (having had several years of Freudian analysis and now well over a decade of daily recovery from addictions perhaps nudged by having read Sartre's "Being and Nothingness" while in high school) that an absence of God would be depicted by chaos, rather than the neatness of "fate" catching up in the end with characters like the "Swede." Fate in these films is a d
  6. The sinister introduction of Harry Lime on the darkened streets of divided Europe in the context of film noir on the cobblestone, in the shadow, in the doorway, in the dampness, light reflecting off the watery streets where war the starkest reality of mankind's evil set at the beginning of a tenuous peace and start of cold war. In Harry's smirk we see his (and our own potential for) contempt for humanity disappearing down the sewer, lurking and cleaning itself of stench like the cat licking its paws, called out by the search for truth (hey, sledgefoot!) Cotton trying to reconcile his past wit
  7. Well said and thank you. Clearly (at least to me), the re-pairing of Greenstreet and Lorre was an economic decision based on previous success. Just as obviously, the studio wouldn't repeat a formula that didn't work. I commented earlier that while I enjoy the formula, the novelty is gone and I am woefully aware of being marketed a product. Sans originality, it is merely a period piece; nothing groundbreaking and so, uninteresting. I refer again, the theme of our course being a "heist," to the phenomenon of an underground coup by a group of artists that grab the public's attention (and money)
  8. Mehhhhhhhh......I dunno. I love Lorre and Greenstreet, but the studio contract system that had them paired repeatedly reduces rather than enhances my immersion into the film's world. So familiar are they that they take on a kind of evil Laurel and Hardy persona (big man/little man). These pairings were exploited later in their careers when they would appear in comedic sketches, spoofing themselves. Unfortunately, the spoofing was projected in what I perceive as their comfort in portrayal and in the dialogue written just for them. By this time, films like we're seeing have become too formulaic
  9. Excellent discussion regarding "Gilda," if perhaps a bit off topic (this exchange of posts threads over the last couple hours). If one steps back and views the movie as forest, rather than tree, one can see the male dominated studio system using Ms. Hayworth (real name, Cansino) as an object, marketed for her sex appeal. But she plays the title character; the movie is named for her character. The name "Gilda" is reminiscent of "gilded," as in "only a bird in a gilded cage," a popular song in the early part of the last century. The character is on one level a beautiful woman caged within the ma
  10. Jesus, this misses the point. I'm not gonna cross talk here, but Johnny was bad for Johnny. It may be that the character of Gilda was enlightened (rather than self-conscious) enough to understand what others would think of her objectively, but I'm not betting on it. Her deliberate Jessica Rabbit number was intended to draw attention to her, as the destroyer of men image to which she resigned herself- the fate of a beautiful woman (incidentally, I thought destroyed by the dubbing of voice for song). No, the interpretation you attempt to sell is one only possible if one loses the suspension of d
  11. Was interested in this interpretation of "femme fatale." Seems to me the "femme" is not "fatale" because of the "bad" things she's done, but rather she is fatal to the protagonist because of his ill-fated attraction to her, despite the flashing danger signs. Kind of like a "fatal flaw" in Shakespeare's characters and typical of the nature of film noir, it is internal and specific to the character to whom it is directed. Gilda was certainly bad for Johnny. The relationship is focused on the immediate parties and their qualities in their private interactions. I have an ex like that. Just saying.
  12. My thought regarding "Out of the Past" in relation to previous films noir in our discussion is the contrast between individuals "hiding from" or burying themselves in cities amongst tall buildings and the anonymity of crowds as opposed to here, in the heat and white, bleached burning sun of Mexico. Of course, getting to this different environment required the same running, search for escape, or desire to hide in the identity of a different culture or language. Even there, the protagonists refer to a local cantina that reminds them of home, NYC- the same crowded landscape from which they ran.
  13. May already have been mentioned during this well developed discussion, but occurred to me last night: Lorre's character, begun as a disembodied shadow during the opening, also has no name; only "M." The black and white, shades and shadows of noir reflect what is inside each of us: conflict and struggle with our own conscience. "M" might be "mich" (me).
  14. Good discussion. I cannot help but place this film in historical context: the rise of National Socialism in pre-WWII Germany. Surely the coming to power of Hitler's Nazi party was marked by a quelling of contrary voices and opinion, "As long as we can hear them, they are still alive." Surely Lang knew this. His work would be considered "degenerate," and he was fortunate enough to emigrate to America. "Casablanca," made years later, was notable for the voice of Viktor Laszo, the conscience of the underground the Nazis in Vichy French-Morocco were trying to kill. One can almost see the little gi
  15. An interesting discussion. In pre-WWII Germany when "M" was made, Kurtl Weill and Bertholt Brecht were writing early dystopian musicals (Three Penny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogony) observing a society in which the only crime was to be poor. In America during this same time, gangster films were all the rage and Americans had a fascination with bank robbers. That good old American democratic spirit would soon fight the National Socialist Party (the Nazis), who came to power when the common folk DID sit by and do nothing, letting others watch their children (the Hitler youth), perha
  16. Good discussion. I think this film is a precursor to film noir because the nameless, disembodied shadow in the opening is "us!" It represents the dark side of human nature contained in all of us, the ordinary (as represented in the opening mundane scenes) and the masses (represented by the towering apartment buildings, the maze of staircases like the human heart). The "crime" need not be heinous, as here, but ANY compulsion, as confessed at the end of the film. Children represent innocence, their murder, the death of innocence, thus the introduction into film noir.
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