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Mom of 4 Great Ones

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Everything posted by Mom of 4 Great Ones

  1. I don't see a "battle of the sexes" in this clip - just a healthy conversation between two equals. In a battle, Fred and Ginger would try to outdo each other with new, fancy steps. But here, they're just dancing together, as a couple would interact and travel through life together. Women's roles in film could have changed in the 1930s to reflect a change in American culture. Many men, who had been the primary earners prior to the Depression, had lost good jobs that paid enough to provide for their families. These men were forced to take whatever job they could find, no matter how low the pay, in the struggle to survive. Women also had to fill in the gaps by joining the men in the fields, or by sewing, cooking, cleaning ... anything that would bring in a little money. During the Depression, families were dependent on both men and women for their survival.
  2. What is most noticeable to me about these scene is that it is almost entirely in French, yet I know exactly what is happening, the emotions of the characters. I know the relationship between the woman and her husband: I would expect him to grab her by the arm and drag her out screaming. Yet this husband, after thinking she is dead, chooses to forget his anger at her betrayal and takes a moment to zip her dress and help her with her cape. He takes care of her, guiding her to the door. Alfred, after the initial surprise of the husband barging in, doesn't really seem to be to worried. The woman shoots herself, and Alfred is almost blase - he doesn't react. He doesn't flinch when the husband shoots him. Alfred checks the gun, sees it's loaded with blanks, and smiles. He knows this woman, and he's amused by her ploy. He knows she was never really a threat, and he knows the husband isn't, either. He slips the gun into the drawer with its predecessors - Alfred is no stranger to this scenario. He knows how it's all going down, and he plays it almost as a farce. In hindsight, I wonder at myself for not picking up on the clues from Alfred's behavior - How did I not see this coming? All this, and I don't speak a word of French.
  3. Mmm ... on the surface only, maybe. Luise's character in this scene was not so innocent - she seemed very calculating in her decision to meet Ziegfeld, like she was adding up what she might get out of the meeting. (Yet in the latter portions of the film, (SPOILER ALERT) she just lies down as a doormat and lets Ziegfeld get away. Hard to put these two sides of her character together and come up with one person.) The difference between her and the child stars is that she is an adult - a grown woman acting childISH. Very different from Shirley and Judy being childLIKE. And Shirley and Judy may have been children, but their characters, like those of Ginger Rogers, were strong-minded. No question about their ability to take charge and push through difficult circumstances. Just look at little Shirley's face when someone gets in her way - Yikes! LOL
  4. What I find interesting about their interaction in the 2 scenes is how it is affected by eye contact. In the first scene, they talk while she has her back to him - no eye contact. He sings a beautiful love song, and we can see by her facial expression that it piques her interest - but no eye contact throughout most of the song. When she does turn to look at him, it is only with limited, short glances - and her interest in him becomes "what a goof this guy is." In the second scene, they don't speak. She sings, trying to use her talent in the only way she knows. He watches, catching her eye - and in this eye contact we see them interact on a deeper level. She tries not to look at him out of embarrassment, trying to stay within herself to hold it together and complete the song. She even attempts to copy the saloon girl's movements - without looking at him. We see in his eyes how he is so sad for her, for the fact that she has come down to this to earn money, and that she is failing and will have nothing. At the end of the clip, their eyes meet - He smiles in sympathy; she looks mortified, then tosses her head in pride as she leaves. Or maybe it's that the first scene is so perfect - He paddles the canoe on a lovely evening, sings a beautiful song, and she can relax and enjoy his presence - too perfect and superficial. Hence the comic banter. And the second scene is her worst moment - when she has hit bottom. He then rises to the top for one of his better moments.
  5. I love this film. Have watched it so many times ... and as I watched this clip, I found myself just as irritated by the character of Anna Held as always. I have never liked her childishness, her exaggerated lightness of speech and mannerisms. She seems to expect to be treated as though she's made of glass. Irritating. Now, having listened to the lecture and read the notes on this clip before viewing it, and focusing on the questions, I can see how her lightheartedness fits into the stylings of the 1930s musical. I love 1930s films, and I enjoy the light touch given to the cares of the world at that time - especially given the stress in our current world. But I find other actresses from that time to be more my type - give me Ginger Rogers, lighthearted yet savvy, knowing who she is without depending on another person to determine that persona. The character of Anna Held is so dependent on her playful childishness to attract men that, without it, she doesn't have much character left.
  6. Anna is an attractive package. But open her up and - someone's gonna get it. She and Steve are planning their future, which is based on a crime. This will bring their past to the present and correct all wrongs. When Steve tells her it may take a few weeks, it's a foreshadowing that this is not going to go smoothly - and probably not according to plan. Anna is a femme fatale - and her quick, sharp answers to her husband show who the "fatale" part refers to. Duryea's character tries to dish it out, but Anna is too quick and too smart for him. She attacks as her defense, and she goes for the jugular. The Daily Doses have forced to me to watch films for more than just a good storyline or a glimpse of my favorite actors. I have had to look at techniques and effects and analyze what message or attitude is being conveyed. I've had to think and participate, instead of just sit idly by. I've enjoyed posting my ideas here on the message boards, and I've definitely enjoyed seeing the ideas posted by others, which have agreed with me, or sometimes challenged me to go deeper in my observations.
  7. Just watched The Big Heat this afternoon, and this scene reminded me of the scene in which Lee Marvin beats Gloria Grahame while a group of cardplayers sits in silence and does nothing. In both scenes, one character gets up from his seat in frustration, but does nothing to actually stop the brutality in the next room. Sickening. Wagner's antisemitism was what drew Hitler to his compositions. The choice of Wagner clearly connects to the Nazis, who were beyond brutal. As the music volume rises, and the tone of the music becomes more excited, the beating becomes more brutal. The beating in this film is an analogy of the beating the Germans inflicted on most of Europe before and during WWII. The men in the next room sit in silence, doing nothing to protect or rescue - similar to what the U.S. did before December 1941. Quite a damning statement.
  8. In the closeups of Raymond Burr, the light and shadows switch back and forth even before the ceiling light starts swinging. When he's dialing the phone, he has his hand up so that his face is in shadow. When he's talking into the phone, his face is well-lit. The closeups of Burr make his demeanor even more threatening to us. The first punch of his fist doesn't just hit Steve, it also swings right at our faces. The broken bottle isn't just directed at Steve, it's directed right at us. We want to cheer Steve on for holding out and not taking the fall. But when Burr threatens Steve's wife, directly at the camera, with the zoom in on the bottle's broken edges pointing straight at us - it's suddenly more personal, and we hope that Steve will continue to hold out, to save his wife.
  9. Call me "tardy to the party" - A week's vacation with no internet access - and would you believe there are hotels with no TCM?! Sacrilege! In the opening of Asphalt Jungle, we see the use of diagonals: the police car labors uphill, the power lines criss-crossing in the sky, the lines of the buildings in the long shots as we watch a man walk away from the camera. The police radio sets up the story for us, telling us the crime, the location, and a description of the suspect. But that description could describe anyone. We never really get a good look at the man. He's always shadowed enough that we can just make out his outline - nothing more. He's wearing a suit and hat. When he enters the diner, we see only his back. When he rises from his seat to go with the police, we get a split-second glimpse, but even that is immediately hidden by cigarette smoke from the diner owner. In the police lineup, we get a good look at 3 men, one of them the man we've been following. The third suspect stares mercilessly at a witness. The witness should easily recognize the suspect, especially the three men in the lineup are as physically different as can be. Yet the witness says the man was wearing a hat - would that really make it difficult to pick the robber from the lineup? The police detective repeats the witness's description back to him, and the witness decides he's safer to say the suspect isn't the robber. Don't you just want to yell, "Yes! That's the guy!" - and we haven't really even seen him.
  10. I saw that, too. Had to replay it to make sure. Since it was left in the final film, I assume it means that the woman is not dead yet. So Howard could actually have gone for help - but didn't. Makes his running even worse.
  11. The band members are all facing different directions, with their backs to each other. Bands usually face the same way, showing uniformity and cohesion. This may be an attempt to show noir confusion. The bar on the trombone slides in and out, the upper and lower bars framing the face of the man with the cymbals, who seems almost robotic in his playing. The Salvation Army sign has 2 phrases on it. "Keep the pot boiling" - foreshadows that there is trouble brewing, and it will continue throughout the film. "From the kindness of your heart" - After watching the clip a second time, it could refer to the kindness of Mrs. Warren in hiring Howard, the kindness of Howard in his treatment of Mrs. Warren. Or is it something more - the kindness that Howard has never known in his life. Or is it a foreshadowing of the kindness and good intentions of people for Mrs. Warren that may end up chasing down and haunting Howard. From the clip, it's hard to see that the scene is from 1918. There is nothing that differentiates from the 1950s except the dress of the Salvation Army woman. And the length of it could be ascribed to her beliefs. Without the large "1918" on the screen and the calendar we're shown, this could easily be the 1950s. And Ryan's tie - definitely '50s. I was impressed by Howard's thoroughness in doing his work. He notices the spot on the screen and works to get it off. He brings in the mop and bucket, first leaving them by the door, then returning to clean them out. He notices the hammer lying on the cupboard and puts it in a drawer. This is a man who likes order and completion.
  12. Walter is a little much for a noir character. Quick to flash a couple of bucks or light a match. Trenchcoat, fedora. Constantly looking around, as if he's watching for someone to come out of the shadows. He spits his words out quickly, biting off the end of every sentence as a sign of dismissal. He doesn't have time for small talk. He refers to the woman as a "dish" and a "dame", calls her "cheap" ("worth 60 cents") and "flashy", and says she was "married to a hood". And "poison under the gravy" - Walter is more Marlowe than Marlowe!
  13. What strikes me is the meticulous detail of the scene. The map is carefully drawn and lettered. The times listed on the map match with each and every action. The man's watch measures each second. The bank opens exactly at 10:00. This man also has patience. He has watched this scene not for just a day or two, but for many. First, enough days to realize that there is a pattern. Then, enough days for that pattern to be established in a timeline. And on the paper we see that for 5 more days, the man has checkmarked each action at the time it occurs. When he does move away from the window, he moves almost casually, without rushing. The man in the window is carefully checkmarking every action. But notice: The flower truck driver marks off the delivery before he goes into the shop. Switch to the man in the window, who marks off the return of the bank truck drivers before they actually return. He has established a pattern and expects no change. We get the impression that he's controlling the action and the timing. This opening sets the tone for us to see that the action of the crime itself is not what we're to focus on. We're supposed to see how careful, detailed planning, patience, and control contribute to a successful crime. This man has time to pull this off, and he's going to use that time to his advantage.
  14. Turned on TCM first thing this AM and was immediately engrossed in Tension. So glad I remembered that I had set the DVR so I could turn it off and enjoy the whole film this afternoon! This is the best I've ever seen from Audrey Totter. Her first scene in the pharmacy is amazing. The hamburger, which she doesn't eat. The pie, which she doesn't eat. Caressing the soda jerk's hand. The way she purrs her lines. You just know she's so bad that this is gonna be good. She carries her performance throughout the film. Claire is not a character that I would normally consider to be believable. She's just over-the-top enough to be too much. But Totter carries it off. I wanted to smack her the first time she spoke condescendingly to Warren. I wanted to yell at Warren and tell him he was better off without that dame. Femme fatale - Thy name is Claire Quimby.
  15. The boxing scene is shot at close-range. Tight in on the action, limiting our view to only a small area of the ring. The action takes place mostly in one small area of the ring. This limited view is like what we see on television - small frame for a small picture. We can only see part of the scene. If it were shot as cinema, we might see the whole ring, the surrounding crowd - larger view for the large screen. Ernie's driving a taxi, with the intention of saving up enough to move up the ladder to a better-paying job. He sees the opportunity to be his own boss - no more taking orders from others. But Pauline sees it differently; she sees that he would be taking orders from customers to wipe the windows, etc. Her goal is not to work up the ladder, but to already be at the top, not just keep up with the Joneses, but to be the Joneses. She's tired of selling corsages to society ladies. She wants to have corsages pinned on herself and be the society lady. Rhinestones aren't good enough - she wants the real thing, and she wants it now. Pauline says she could have been a star. Ernie stands over her and says, almost defiantly, "You were a showgirl," reminding her of where he found her. She was just another girl in the chorus line, nothing special. Then he sits down for his next line, "And I could've been the champion." His physical position and the dejected tone of voice both show that he knows he's not the top of the heap. He's disappointed her, and he realizes that. He continues speaking from the chair, pleading with her, grabbing her hand out of desperation. She stands over him, back to the camera - We are not to feel any sympathy with her, so we don't see her face. We only hear her rudeness.
  16. Exactly. The curator's note seems to insinuate that these cities were horrible places, full of crime and all that was evil in the '20s. I think the view of the city depends on whom you ask. What memories does that person have? What kind of life did that person live during that time? If you ask most Cantonians what the city "used to be like", they'll tell you of hard workers, strong politics (Pres. McKinley and local politics), a faith base, and families who've been here for generations. Probably not much mention of the Roaring '20s, unless you go to Bender's Restaurant, a favorite of the mob and still in business today. I think when we watch any film, from vintage to modern, we have to consider literary license. What is the intent of the filmmaker? What message is he trying to convey? What techniques is he using to set the stage, theme, and characterization?
  17. I felt the need to post this separately. It's not a response to a question, but it is more in response to the curator's note included before today's film. It contains an interesting list of small Midwestern cities, including Canton, Ohio, my hometown. I can speak a little to that, connecting local history to what we see in vintage films. "Vagabond professional football leagues" brings up the names of Jim Thorpe and the Canton Bulldogs. (Hence the disctinction we now have of being the home of the Pro Football HOF.) Local history says that in the '20s, there was a indeed a lot of influence here from organized crime. Al Capone was no stranger here, and the city used to have the nickname "Little Chicago". Donald Mellett was a Canton newspaper reporter who was murdered by the mob because of his efforts to bring some members to justice - a tale right out of hard-boiled detective fiction. During the Depression, and especially post-WWII, Akron, just to our north, was growing to be a giant in the tire industry ("Rubber City"), and Canton itself was developing into an industrial stronghold, with the Timken Company, (known worldwide for bearings and steel production) Hoover Company (sweepers - actually in North Canton), and many others. My grandparents, along with many other Canton families, came here after WWII from small, rural communities in southern Ohio, looking for work in these factories. They found it, and they stayed, building homes and schools. When I watch many vintage films, not just films noir, I see reflections of what Canton and other Midwest cities may have been. I don't connect Canton to its seedy, film noir-ish '20s days, probably because it's not the memories of those Cantonians I grew up around. I heard more of the memories of the post-WWII people, those who came with the intention of raising families and building lives here. So I tend to see it as Ithaca, the town from The Human Comedy. I can easily imagine Mickey Rooney and Donna Reed delivering telegrams, going to the theater for a movie. So how interesting that Saroyan developed Ithaca based on his hometown of Fresno, CA, but I see it as Canton, OH - Midwest through and through.
  18. The relationship between Sam and Walter seems to be friendly enough - for a few seconds. They chat like old friends. But after that first few seconds, we see a slight difference. Sam is at ease, resting comfortably, lying back in the big armchair. But Walter is sitting a little higher than Sam, looking down on him. Walter starts to show signs of tension, questioning more like a DA than an old friend. He says, "All life is a gamble." A seemingly innocuous statement, but Douglas delivers the line markedly, evenly, with an unbroken eye contact that somehow seems challenging. Walter breaks the tension by slapping Sam's leg and going for a drink. Then Sam seems to challenge Walter when he asks for help for Toni - "For old time's sake." We see the same marked, even delivery, the same eye contact. What's up with this two? Enter "What's up": Martha. From the first moment she realizes who Sam is, she shows more than a reminiscent interest in a childhood friend. After the hugging, she stands very close to Sam, at times looking down in self-consciousness. She lays her hand on his lapel, creating a connection with him. When Walter hears Martha is in the anteroom, his tension returns. And when she runs to hug Sam, Walter's tension skyrockets. This is definitely an old friendship with something more behind it. He stays in the background of the scene at first, then actuallly moves off-camera to the other side of the room. Ensuing shots show Walter alone at the bar, Sam and Martha chatting very comfortably. When Sam says it's funny to hear Walter say "my wife", Walter grips his glass in a fist. At this point, Martha looks as if she's embarrassed by or ashamed of Walter. He returns to his desk in time for Sam to leave. Sam says goodbye, and Martha takes his arm as if she's leaving with him. She stops at the door, for one last long look. I do see the theme of "power paid for by loneliness". Walter is running for office (power). But the interaction between Sam and Martha makes us wonder if Martha and Walter's relationship is very good.
  19. She was, IMO, about what I'd expect from B pictures - she was "good enough". But "brilliant"? Umm, I'd say yeah - you're over-thinking. (No offense to any Scott fans ...just my humble opinion.)
  20. You took the words right out of my keyboard. I've always felt Scott was a cheap imitation of Bacall.
  21. Interesting to me that Jane's character does a complete 180. In the first part of the scene, she's complaining that she doesn't want to go to a party because the hostess always makes her feel insecure. The hosts apparently live in a huge house overlooking much of Hollywood, and the "diamond-studded wife" is very "patronizing". Jane's demeanor is at first subdued, but then she grows more anxious, trying to grab the keys from the ignition to make her husband hear her. After the bag is opened and money is found, a car approaches from behind the couple. Jane suddenly comes to life and takes charge. She commands Alan to get in the car, starts it up, and tears off. Through the ensuing chase, Jane's face is a picture of smug self-pride. A slight smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, she twists the steering wheel and enjoys being the mistress of her fate. Poor Alan can just hang on for dear life and wonder what happened to her. What has happened to Jane? How has she suddenly turned from whining about how the hostess makes her feel insecure to this take-charge and get-it-done woman? It's the money in the bag. In the few seconds that she had it in sight, Jane felt that she was equal to the patronizing hostess. She too could be a "diamond-studded wife" and no longer feel insignificant. This reflects the struggle of women in post-WWII America to balance what their role had been during the war with what it would be after the men came home. Women wanted to retain the feeling of empowerment. And men were just along for the wild ride.
  22. So I post my comment above, then read comments from others. Most of you are saying that Hitchcock is a "special case", while my answer above says he's not. I read the question as asking if Hitch should be considered film noir at all. In reading your responses, I see that may not be what was asked. So I'd like to clarify my statement. Hitch is everything that film noir is. But he's also an amazing storyteller, which is what captures us and makes us watch his films again and again. Is he a special case? Yes, in the fact that he uses film noir techniques in his own way, with his own innovations, to tell the story his way. But wait - isn't that what film noir is all about? Innovation? So how can we say that he is not a special case, for doing just what the basics of this style suggest? So here I am, arguing with myself that no, he's not a special case; but yes, he is; but then again, no, he isn't. Maybe that's what "special case" means - something we really can't define or answer.
  23. So - What is it with legs and people walking in all our Daily Doses? Maybe we're supposed to be learning that films noir all start with people walking? LOL Hitchcock's opening is different than the other clips we've seen, in that it's not dark, threatening, or eerie. The music isn't necessarily foreboding. The scene sets up 2 men who end up on the same train, in the same car together. And naturally enough, they strike up a conversation. Could happen to anybody. But something about Bruno seems a little off - and I don't mean just that awful tie. (Lobsters and his first name, really?) He's just a little too friendly, a little too forceful in starting up an acquaintance. Bruno realizes that his co-traveler is a tennis player that he saw play recently. But is it really as coincidental and happenstance as he'd like us to think? Foreshadowing when he says, "I certainly admire people who do things." I don't agree that Hitchcock, or anyone else, should be considered a "special case" in film noir. Just because a director isn't German or French doesn't mean he present the same ideas and philosophies. Case in point: Ida Lupino. Hitch uses many techniques common to film noir, including lighting (and shadow), camera angles, and POV. He also uses existential motifs, such as the non-heroic hero (Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window), alienation and loneliness (Anthony Perkins in Psycho), chaos or paranoia (Stewart in Vertigo). One final mention about Bruno's tie: Lobsters have dangerous claws that they use on their prey. When those claws are removed, the lobster is only temporarily "safe". Lobster claws regenerate - much like Bruno in this film. When Guy thinks he's finally rid of Bruno, the man reappears, more dangerous than before. Beware friendly strangers in lobster ties.
  24. The great Bette Davis in All About Eve: "Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night!" Margo Channing, reminding us that she is always in control, and she can make everyone around her miserable. Look out, folks, she's on the warpath ....
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