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About sublymonal

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  1. I'm a big fan of Raymond Chandler's style of writing. Even though he's a bit of a dick (apparently he was super homophobic, but likely gay himself), his characters are very compelling and almost Shakespearean in how tragically they overreact to everything and this scene was no different. Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective? What makes Marlowe so different is, as Frank said, that he acts more like a protagonist than a background character. His interactions with Grayle show the kind of person he is: the kind that desires the truth more than anything and that kind that is full of that kind of scepticism that we've seen in other movies. Marlowe's critical eye makes us critical. Why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context? I think it's as I said about the scepticism. The mystery aspect lends itself to common themes like distrust and that makes it fit within the gritty, harsh reality that noir is so famous for. It's kind of a chicken vs. egg conundrum. Is it that detective films fit into noir or that noir is a by-product of so many detective films? In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? I think Grayle's alternate identity is a common trope in the noir world. We almost can't blame Marlowe for being cynical, defensive and abrupt in his dealings with her, despite the fact that she's pretty and just trying to get to the truth. If the scene played out any other way, we might suspect a romantic connection between the two of them already, but the way the scene goes down makes us put more thought into the mystery than anything else.
  2. -- What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" I definitely see what Frank is saying in this opening scene. Lydecker's home is far less gritty than the settings of other Film Noirs we've seen. As for faces, the first half of the scene is spent with us studying McPherson's expressions as he walks around the room. Generally the detective is stoic and unflappable, but from what Lydecker tells us about McPherson, there's more to him than meets the eye. -- What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? I actually chuckled when we first saw Lydecker in the tub with a typewriter and binder set out in front of him and I think that was intentional. He seems a bit off the wall and with the discrepancies in his testimony, as pointed out by McPherson, we get the sense that he isn't all there and might just be the one who did it. I think that scepticism and distrust is very true to the film noir style. -- In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? As I said, the opening scene establishes scepticism and distrust. We have the detective genre cropping up again and we've got the voiceover, which gives us more information than we'd get from just watching the scene on it's own. Again, there's an emphasis on a clock, like in M, which makes me think that time (e.g. the importance of it) might be a prevalant theme in Film Noir.
  3. I find it interesting that others thought the POV wasn't used effectively here. I think that may be a by-product of us (unlike the audience at the time) having seen this technique used before and better. Plus the fact that Bogart's voice and face are both fairly recognizable to us. I found it interesting that the radio announcement only told us that his hair is dark brown and eyes our brown. That doesn't really give us a good visual of him, so Daves' is sure to have the driver notice other aspects about his appearance: his strange pants and shoes. As I've said in other posts, I'm seeing a common trend in these noir clips that often it's what we don't see that's so unsettling. The directors like to leave the most important details (i.e. the people in the street during M) to our imagination, which is often worse than reality. And I think that was also a common trend at the time. The cold war, in essence, was all a by-product of our imagination of what the enemy could have or could be doing, rather than necessarily what they were doing.
  4. What a dramatic opener. And I don't even think the initial gunfire was the most dramatic part about it. Yes, it seemed to shake us, like the workers, from the peaceful atmosphere, but I think what was more disturbing was Davis's expression as she did it - the bags under her eyes, not a hint of emotion, not a word. We can't tell if she's angry or what. Even afterwards, she doesn't give us any hint of sadness or fear. I'm not sure I agree with others who have said that Davis is an "outright liar" when she calls it an accident, because at this point in the film, we don't know what happened. Sure, she shot him point blank six times, but maybe she is referring to the circumstances themselves as an accident. Though, one could also interpret her razor-sharp response as cold and calculating, certainly. But that's what makes it noir: we just don't know.
  5. Several things I noticed while watching this clip: 1. From what we're shown in the opening moments, we only ever see part of the scene (the kids counting without knowing what's above, the landing in the stairwell without seeing the door or the stairs below). I think this is very deliberate and creates a sense of discomfort because we are constantly wondering what we're not seeing. 2. You can feel the fatigue and discomfort of the woman carrying the laundry basket and that is unsettling. The audience is likely going to the movie to escape the boring aspects of domestic life and to see someone lugging laundry up the stairs kind of subverts that desire. Film noir isn't about outright pleasure, glamour and entertainment. 3. The opening scene gives us our first taste that something is wrong. "As if we haven't heard enough of that murderer already" says the one woman. The response given by the other woman is very ominous, "At least we can hear them singin', at least we know they're still there..." It's almost a clue that if you can't hear the children signing, something is wrong. Does that mean the murderer is attacking children? (The answer to that is given in the next scene) 4. Then the cuckoo clock. When it goes off, the woman smiles but only in the most subtle way. It leads the audience to ask, why is she smiling? Is it because school is letting out? Is the child we are seeing her daughter? 5. In the next scene, we see the child getting out of school and almost getting hit by a car, which creates a further sense of uneasiness - that death or injury is just a misstep away and that people, especially children, should pay attention in this world that Lang has created. 6. We then see the woman again, setting a table for two. Again, we don't know exactly who the other person is, but we are lead to believe that it might be the child we are seeing that she is waiting for. 7. Then we see the child playing with her ball. The activity is altogether innocent, but again, our limited viewpoint, and thus, our inability to see anyone else on the street creates a sense of uneasiness. What is the child not noticing while her head is down? After she almost walked in to traffic earlier, we want her to pay attention. 8. We then see the wanted poster - we know two young children are missing which underscores the fears being set up in the previous scenes, but we are made all the more uneasy by the uncertainty of the crimes. What happened to the children? Who is the man in black? Then we see the shadow of a man. Is this the man in black? His monotone voice, the way he leans down, the innocent questions he asks, it all makes us fear for the safety of the child. I definitely think this opening scene is powerful. It drew me in, made me want to watch more but also made me uneasy. I think even just the idea that someone could do such a thing to an innocent child is enough to convey the emotion that Fritz Lang wanted, but knowing that we, as an audience, might witness it happening is even more terrifying.
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