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TCM Toni

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Everything posted by TCM Toni

  1. There is much to see in this multilayered opening to "Strangers on a Train." Hitchcock uses the "criss cross" metaphor both visually and through the music. As the two men walk toward each other, the editing cuts back and forth between them. We see the train tracks cross, then it takes one track as if to signify the men taking a fateful path. On the train, they sit across from each other then each crosses his legs until they touch which sets up their fateful meeting. Even the music has a criss-crossing sound as it echoes a motif between the two men. Hitchcock sets up the contrasting
  2. The use of the mirror in this scene from "The Ring" was particularly effective and was a masterful move by such a young director. The short scene shows a few things we will see from Hitch throughout his career including cross-cutting and montages. We're watching people in two very different rooms. In one, we see serious looking men in black tuxedos talking to a boxer they appear to be grooming for a big fight. In the other room is a party with a much lighter tone. The boxer sees the reflection in a mirror of a woman, who it turns out is his wife. She's sitting on the lap of a man watching
  3. I find the music has two roles in this scene. First it builds the dramatic tension. At the start of the scene it is simply background music, although it is light and playful, not what you would expect to hear. As the tension in the room escalates - the blinds are drawn, the room is enveloped in darkness and Hume Cronyn's character, the captain, becomes more sinister - the music escalates as well. It begins to swell, the strings repeat and amplify the nervous tension in the room. As the captain lifts the stick to again beat the reporter, the music hits its high, dramatic notes. When the bea
  4. Though set in 1918, film noir elements are found throughout this early scene. Multiple doorways are used as claustrophobic framing devices, a mirror in the background shows his reflection, a large number of train tracks take over full frames. There are elements of formalism as the terrified man goes on the run and a nightmarish sequence begins with a spinning train "wheel," dissolving into his sweaty, disoriented face, dissolving back again and then, in the middle of the frame, a train starts to come right to us. That sequence in particular highlights the noir themes of desperation, disorienta
  5. If I had not read the words of Foster Hirsch, I don't think I would have thought this scene was part of a film that "signaled the end of a movie cycle." However, I definitely would have though something was off. First that opening minute: the RKO logo accompanied by train sounds cuts away to an approaching train with a suddenly blinding light. Abruptly it cuts to the film's title in huge letters and the loud, jarring ringing of the alarms at a train crossing. The movie title slides to the right and we see a sign: Chicago Yard Limit. It's tilted at a peculiar angle; that image slides away a
  6. It is all about the timing in this opening scene from "Kansas City Confidential." A man is watching a bank from a window high above across the street. Silently he watches with a steel gaze, checking the clock on the bank as well as his watch. He is timing the arrival and departures of the police, a delivery man and an armored car. He hits the timer button on his watch twice and checks off the times on a large sheet of paper. It is a painstaking process but everything is precise and timed to the second. It appears to all be going according to plan. This short segment is intriguing because i
  7. This short segment from "99 River Street" was as brutal outside of the ring as it was in the ring. The opening shots take the viewer right into the ring using a realistic shooting style with close-ups of a bloody face jaggedly intercut with POV shots of the champ who is doing the pummeling. From these close shots to the crowd noise and the voice of the announcer sounding like he is sitting right next to us, we feel like we are ringside. Finally, Ernie goes down with his bloody face caught on a lower rope staring at the viewer. He could almost be dead. The camera then pulls back and just by
  8. This scene seems very straightforward, easier to read than some of the other noir scenes we have witnessed. It starts with a reunion of two (of three) old friends after nearly 20 years. They are sitting in an office and are using some elements of noir in a subtle way. They are smoking and have an early morning drink as the window blinds filter out some of the bright sun, leaving light shadows on the wall. It's nothing ominous - but we get inklings of that later in their interactions. When Walter's secretary buzzes to say his wife has arrived, he oddly tells her to wait, but Sam wants to se
  9. This scene from "Too Late for Tears" has some of the elements from previous "road noir" we have seen of late: the dark highway, the isolation, a feeling of the viewer being put into the middle of the story. It doesn't have the feeling of foreboding of the opening of films like "Kiss Me Deadly" or "The Hitchhiker," however, but I think that is what helps it work so well. We may not know exactly where we are in the story, but that's not upsetting as it was in the previous films where there was clearly something bad happening. In "Tears," it seems like an ordinary night on the road. We meet
  10. I agree that Alfred Hitchcock should be a special case when it comes to considering film noir directors. And if we are to believe, as Foster Hirsch said, that Hitchcock is a noir stylist, then we may also believe that film noir is a style, not a genre or movement. "Strangers on a Train" is a great film to make my case; it's a thriller, but the look and feel is also noir. This short opening sequence holds many motifs of film noir including heavy shadows, framing devices (the large arches at train station), the use of music and bold/interesting compositions (railroad tracks crisscrossing eac
  11. The opening scene of "D.O.A." isn't flashy or loud, but it is an attention grabber that makes you want to stick around for the rest of the film. A man walks into a police station with a purposeful stride. We only see him from the back, but we - and the camera - follow him as he walks through the station and then down a very, very long hallwall lined with doors. The camera doesn't cut away and it almost feels like he'll never get to his destination. He finally turns and opens a door labeled Homicide Division. He wants the man in charge. "I want to report a murder," he says. "Who was murdered?"
  12. Good point about the women's clothing and how ordinary they are; plus the question about how much control she had over her life before she went to prison.
  13. Yes, I agree too. I think having the opening credits so prominent and obscuring the background was meant to make it difficult to see what was happening, adding to the confusion and feeling of being trapped.
  14. All three of the Daily Doses this week introduced us to films with opening scenes that are disturbing and confusing. Again with "Caged" we don't know where we are. The opening credits fill the screen and slowly we can make out something behind them. Then we hear a police siren. A small square pops up in the middle, but most of the screen is still in darkness. I'm sure audiences that originally saw this on a big screen would have seen much more of what is happening in that small square than we can on a computer, but I think the effect is relatively the same. Watching on the big screen they woul
  15. Thanks for the background info in your post; it helps put the movie in perspective to the time it was made.
  16. Thanks for putting an entertaining spin on this topic .... "Two regular guys out having some wholesome bro time..." You made me laugh, but you made your point as well!
  17. A man steps out of the darkness on a windy night and puts out his thumb. A car with two men pull over and pick him up. "Out of gas?" they ask. "Yeh," he answers. In just a few seconds, they will realize their act of kindness has put them in grave danger. This opening scene of "The Hitch-Hiker," filmed mainly in a car, feels very cramped and nearly claustrophobic. They may be on a highway and outdoors, but they look very confined. The lighting and staging helps with these feelings. The light shines dimly only on their faces or a side of their face; otherwise they are nearly engulfed in dark
  18. This short clip from "Kiss Me Deadly" is as powerful for what isn't said as it is for what is said. The film starts by throwing the audience right into the action without any explanation. A woman is running on a dark highway. She is in a trench coat, with perhaps nothing on under it, and is barefoot. Her feet slap against the highway in a frantic rhythm with her heavy breathing adding to the drama. What is she running from? Who is she? We don't know. She attempts to flag down cars to no avail. So she keeps running ... And grunting ... with those bare feet hitting the pavement. Finally, she com
  19. This scene from "The Third Man" takes many of the traditional elements of film noir - shadows, odd angles, low-key lights and sounds - and turns them into what was so perfectly called a "dazzling display of formalist techniques." It truly is that. Director Carol Reed uses noir elements to extremes and then even plays them off each other for added effect. The city streets have severe angles of walkways and buildings, but that's not enough - the camera is tilted. Dark doorways are skewed at extreme angles, as are the people. At one point Joseph Cotten's character, the unfortunately named Ho
  20. This scene says so much about both characters in only a few minutes. It starts with the typical voiceover narration, but something is a bit off. The voice sounds drained, defeated and the man seems to be discussing something that has already happened. Something bad has happened. A car drives up to a small diner and a guy gets out - a hitchhiker and he is smiling (unusual for a noir). We recognize his voice as that of the narrator, but here his voice has energy. He's a drifter, but likable and at the ready with a quip. When the diner owner asks him if he is here for the jo, he replies he h
  21. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet do a wonderful job of playing off of each other in this scene. Lorre's entrance is relaxed, carefree. He's going about his business and talking to himself. It makes you smile. Then he opens the door to his room and the film shifts into a darker mode as he - and the audience - see the room has been ransacked. Greenstreet's appearance, then, is the opposite of when we first saw Lorre: Greenstreet menacingly walks in from another room brandishing a gun. The two then begin a give-and-take verbally and in their movements. One sits, the other stands and so they
  22. This scene from "Out of the Past" may take place in the sunshine, but it has many hallmarks of the noir style: shadows, voiceover, sense of confinement, high fashion. It opens with overhead shots of a city and a voiceover in the realism style of noir making it feel like a documentary or newsreel. The narrator is matter of fact, like he is reporting. Then the camera moves to city streets. The sun is out, but there are shadows near doorways. Men lean against buildings and doorways; shadows flutter against faces. The action moves inside a bar, a popular noir setting. Our narrator is at a
  23. We learn much about Marlowe in just a few minutes through his words and mannerisms. He tells us he is 38, went to college and was fired from his job at the D.A.'s office. But we know even more by watching him. We see he is businesslike, unimpressed by the wealth around him. He can make a wisecrack casually roll off his tongue. ("How do you like your brandy?" he's asked. "In a glass," he replies.) He is respectful, honest and well prepared for the meeting, rattling off information about the man's family - and not holding back as when he tells the man his two daughters are "pretty and pretty wil
  24. If you sat down to watch this film in 1949 without knowing anything about it, you would probably think you were watching a newsreel. The documentary realism style employed in this opening scene is devoid of emotion. Facts are stated by a narrator in an official way, like he is reading from a script. "Nature never waits," he says. Manpower is needed and it comes from a vast army of neighbors to the south in Mexico. It is all very factual, almost cold. We are looking down at this vast land through a camera that is jittery, adding more to the realism. This realistic style gives the filmmaker
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