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bluesbaby

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About bluesbaby

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    Advanced Member

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  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Midwest
  • Interests
    Native Californian; movies; books; music; amateur costume historian(sew, knit, crochet); art
  1. Walter Brennan, who was in everything... One of the greatest character actors ever Donald Crisp, who was in most everything and started in the silent movies (he was the "bad father" in Broken Blossoms) Hattie McDaniel, who was the maid in everything John Carradine One of my personal favorites (and I have a cat named after him to prove it) Nigel Bruce One of my favorite ever female character actors is Mae Robson Either a Star of the Month for character actors or a month like major stars. Definitely.
  2. What's that rather awful film from the early Sixties where the guy wants to be a sculptor but has no talent so he discovers he can kill people and make sculptors out of them? And they ALL hang out at a coffee house? That is set in the beat generation culture and it's "in the moment" rather than after the fact. Another film that has a beat generation undertones is Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. She is a beatnik in the beginning. More stylized than realistic, but you'll get the gist. Another person who could channel beat to perfection was Frank Gorshin, a comedian, celebrity impersonator from that time.
  3. Rod Steiger was a very good actor. If you really want to see something, though, watch him in The Loved One....
  4. If you’ve ever seen Now Voyager you’ve seen the use of smoking as a synonym for sex. Every time Paul Henreid lights TWO cigarettes at once and hands one over to Bette, that’s supposed to represent their intimacy. Bette Davis was a heavy smoker also (almost a chain smoker) and puffed away in most of her movies. Just as there is product placement today, there was product placement then. Seeing actors smoke on screen implied it was hip. And, smoking and drinking were two of the things you could finally do as a sign you were grown up. Girls used to smoke to look older and more sophisticated to older boys. A lot of people smoked in those days, unlike now. So what looks unnatural now was quite natural then. It was a great way to talk to strangers, too, “Got a lite?” “Got smoke?”
  5. While the City Sleeps is a particular favorite of mine. It's an ensemble piece where every character, by way of the story line, gets a good amount of screen time and they are all worth watching. Ida Lupino was especially fun, playing a reporter who would do just about anything to get what she wants. John Barrymore, Jr., is also featured in this. Whether or not it is a true noir, or a crime drama, or just a good story probably bears witness to the fading out of the film noir movie. But, don't forget, while the sun was setting on film noir, Anthony Mann was making westerns with James Stewart and re-defining westerns into noir westerns. So, did the sun really set on noir or did it just morph into something else? I like to think it never really died, it just became a ghost haunting newer movies. Gosh, it's hard to say good-bye...
  6. Absolutely -- and, it's one of the few in color that actually works in color. Gene Tierney is downright scary (if you can believe that).
  7. Post #2 - I am very pleased to see all the comments on Raymond Burr. I was going to say something but everyone picked up on him. I literally "grew up" with him - when I was little, "Perry Mason" was my bedtime, so I'd sneak a peek (my mother watched it) and then go to bed where I could still hear it, and listen to the program. I've watched it in syndication ever since, and do today. I mentioned before about seeing all the Forties character actors on the original show and what a hoot that is. I had the reverse reaction, though: he was always a good buy then discovered he was always the BAD guy in the noir movies. The two things I will probably always remember with fondness from my childhood are Raymond Burr/Perry Mason and Bob's Big Boy hamburgers (with fries and a chocolate shake).
  8. -- Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance. Night, city dark, lit only by street lamps. Aerial shot high over city moves away from downtown probably westward, camera is moving downward as it travels, with the street lights getting scarce and the neighborhoods in more darkness. Our noir couple is caught in an embrace by car headlights in a parking lot. The femme fatale, Anna (DeCarlo) is doing most of the talking - fast talking - and by now we ought to know the patter –“I’m so worried about you, I’m almost sick inside.” “If only it was this time tomorrow.” And, “All those things that happened to us; everything that went before.” Oh, darling, just wait, it’ll be all right. I’ll make it all right. You’ll see..… Uh-huh. Poor gullible sap Steve (Lancaster). He consoles her, worries about her, urges her to go back inside, while she pours it on, seemingly oblivious to any danger. But he doesn’t notice - he’s in love. There is tension between these two, and it has to do with what will happen tomorrow. And what will happen tomorrow has something to do with the past, and something to do with making those yesterdays “right” for them and their future together justified. Turns out she’s Mrs. Dundee, and Mr. Dundee (Duryea) has been looking for her in the nightclub. Also, the Head Waiter has been covering for her and has done so before, you can tell by his quick, canned responses and soothing manner. The conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Dundee is the opposite of her conversation with Steve but just as tense - Mr. Dundee drills Anna about where she’s been, she has her story ready and down pat, telling him some tripe about putting the top up on the car, and her keys, and her this and her that and the other, while he counters every answer with another question. Finally, she blows up and tells him to leave her alone. Mr. Dundee comes off as possessive, jealous and watchful of her every move. There is lots of tension between these two. -- Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir? I see character and plot as a whole when I watch movies. These Daily Doses forced me to see the segments of these films, how they go together to project themes or set up twists and turns in the plot or develop character. They also helped me focus on the weekly discussions and pay attention to the comments in each Daily Dose, as they are hints about what we are to look for in that scene. One of the hardest things for me was to disregard the rest of the story (Asphalt Jungle, D.O.A., Out of the Past) and only see the scene. It is also hard for me to critique movies on a technical basis only (like many scholars seem to), and discussions on technique were the hardest for me to get through. Nevertheless now when I watch even “normal” classic movies, I’m sitting there looking for “hints and allegations” in the camera work, lighting, and technique. I’m looking for any symbolism in the importance attached to objects or ideals, and motive in characters’ actions. The Daily Doses didn’t just contribute to learning about film noir, I learned about movies on a broader scale, as well. (For example, I think seeing All About Eve or The Little Foxes and even Sunset Boulevard again is going to be quite interesting.) Well done, Richard Edwards, and very much appreciated. The work and effort was obvious in the detail put into them. And thank you for the bibliography and constant references which for a novice are quite valuable resources.
  9. I can’t turn up the volume at work today so I’m commenting based only on what I remember of the film and what I saw rather than heard in the clip. -- What role does music (especially the record playing Wagner) play in the intensity of this scene? Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883), a gifted German composer of operas who was extremely anti-Semitic, became a favorite of Hitler’s and became inextricably identified with and symbolic of the Nazi Party and, in particular, its treatment of the Jews. It was Wagner’s writings that made him a Hitler favorite. Many movies use Wagner’s music to convey the destructive Nazi anti-Semitic stance, and whenever a scene is including Wagner, you know it’s not going to turn out good. [i’m thinking of the concentration camp scenes in Seven Beauties, especially, and Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now.] Here, notably, the two actors playing out this scene are Jewish. Hume Cronyn is playing an unusually physical part for him. He is “evil, wicked, mean and nasty” (to quote the old Steppenwolf song). Sam Levene is the reporter taking the beating, who is conveying a great deal of intelligence and understanding of what is happening to him in this scene – watch his eyes. As for the rest, everyone else knows what’s going on, although their powerlessness to stand up to the Warden is also palpable. Now if I’m going to put this into strictly WWII context, Hume Cronyn is Nazi Germany, Sam Levene is not just the Jews, but German occupation and control of Europe between 1939 and 1941. The powerless on lookers? Americans, who did not intervene from 1939 until 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There is also a shot in the scene, after the music has been turned very loud, where all we see is the photo on the wall of the Warden in uniform – reminiscent of an SS officer. -- Based on what you've learned in this class, how does this scene fit in with your understanding of early postwar film noir (films released in 1946 and 1947) and the development of the noir style and substance? The French existentialism mentioned, where the French Underground fought against Vichy France and German occupation, would be mirrored by the prison, with the inmates (and some of the prison staff) being forced to live in a fascist culture, under the thumb of an unbearably evil man. Nevertheless, the French Resistance fought against the occupation and Vichy – despite the seeming impossibility of winning, let alone escaping. Robert Porfirio was arguing in his article that American culture didn’t have any basis in its own experience or psyche for relating to the French existentialist point of view – i.e., America had not been occupied, rounded up and murdered, with escape nearly impossible and death if captured a certainty.
  10. You have to see Edmond O'Brien in either The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Seven Days in May. Then you will see what a great character actor he became. Then, for chuckles, look at him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (yes, he's there!) with Charles Laughton.
  11. -- Describe how this scene uses cinematography to accentuate the brutal beating of Steve Randall (Steve Brodie). A single hanging lamp is the only light source for the room. It has a conical shade that casts an inverted “V” of light – limiting what is seen in the room. As this lamp swings crazily around the room, it acts as a spotlight shining only on what we are meant to see, leaving the rest in pitch dark. We see Walt and Shorty’s faces, as they watch Steve get beaten. We only hear the sounds of the beating, and don’t see Steve at all, until he is thrown back on the cot. There are two visual effects the first being when Walt punches Steve and we see the fist, fuzz out of focus as it punches, then come back into focus as it recedes in extreme close up. The second is when Walt holds the broken glass bottle threateningly towards Steve. The glass bottle goes out of focus as the POV becomes ours, and we see it moving towards the camera (us) and then back into focus as it stops, when Walt changes his mind about cutting Steve. -- How do Mann and Diskant utilize different points of view to heighten the tension in this scene? The two visuals mentioned above, the punch and the broken glass bottle, both utilize different points of view to heighten the tension. Both switched to our POV as we saw the fist and the bottle move towards us, the audience. We are the ones feeling threatened, which heightens our identification with and sympathy for Steve. The main utilization, however, is when Steve is beaten, which we the audience don’t see at all, but instead we see the faces of Walt and Shorty as the lamp swings across their faces. Each time we see slightly different reactions, as first Walt and Shorty are watching the beating, then Shorty is watching Walt watch the beating. Also, when the scene is more conversational, the group shot is used, and when more confrontational, single close ups are used.
  12. -- Discuss how this film depicts and utilizes this "unnamed city." Additionally, why do you think the film is entitled "The Asphalt Jungle?" How many times have you heard or read, “It’s a jungle out there.” You’re going to year it a lot more today. Jungles are notorious fodder for story telling – full of dangerous animals, even more dangerous native tribes (especially if cannibalistic or worshiping strange large animals or Pagan Gods who horde treasure), and also usually host to adventurous white men (the big white hunter) along with even more deadly white men seeking not adventure, but fortunes through exploitation of the jungle. The caption under the YouTube clip indicated this was shot in Cincinnati, but it could be anywhere -- looked a lot like the Skid Row District in downtown Los Angeles, or Chicago, or New York. Anywhere there are abandoned, run down, forgotten districts that look twenty years past their prime. The electric streetcar (or electric bus) wires overhead are reminiscent of jungle vines clinging to the dense, overgrown bush. The jungle is a cut throat world, ruthlessly playing out its game of survival. “Normal” citizens do not enter. -- Describe the film noir characteristics, in both style and substance, of these opening scenes. This scene reeks of film noir characteristics, starting with the police car patrolling the empty streets while the radio loudly broadcasts the police calls to the deserted streets. Stylistically, the use of abandoned, desolate streets gives the feeling of lonely emptiness and the run-down buildings with their rubble still piled up against their walls a sense of abandonment and hopelessness. There is no music, only the police radio (the call of the jungle). The light looks to be early morning, adding to the eerie, stillness of the scene. In substance, the police car and Dix are playing a game of cat and mouse (or hide and seek) throughout the grim emptiness. Dix hides behind a pillar when he hears the police car, then walks at an angle from the left across the screen, disappearing on the right. Right after that the police radio broadcasts a hotel hold-up and gives Dix’s description, “Tall, dark suit, wearing a wide brim hat”. Dix walks to a beaten down café that looks like it’s been there since the Twenties, enters, and wordlessly hands his gun off to the man behind the counter (James Whitmore), who hides it in his cash register. The café owner turns up the volume on the radio (as a warning sign?) as two uniformed policemen enter and begin asking questions. Dix says nothing, the café owner does all the talking to the police (clearly protecting Dix) but the police decide to take Dix in on vagrancy. Next is the line-up, where the camera slowly pans across the faces (did you catch young Struther Martin?) to Dix, stoic, self-possessed, calm, and exuding a sense of danger. He is staring directly at the witness, who looks like a frightened rabbit staring at a predator. Dix’s silent message to the witness is, “Don’t do it.” As soon as the witness balks and says he can’t identify anyone in the line-up, Dix slowly and subtly relaxes, and barely smiles, but it is a wicked, nasty smile, showing very little relief. -- Why are these opening scenes an interesting choice for a "heist film?" What are we learning about one of its major characters (Dix) that might be important for later in the film (and I'm not asking for any spoilers, just character insight)? As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that this opening could easily be the next episode from a prior heist, which it is, in a way, because Dix just committed a robbery. The events that unfold during this scene reveal a native inhabitant of this particular jungle, one who knows his territory and his way around it. He doesn’t just not show fear - he has no fear. You know right away this is going to be one of the players in whatever it is that’s going to happen. But you also realize he walks the razor’s edge, taking risks every day of his life and accepting the consequences. This scene has a documentary (without commentary), realistic feel as the events play out in their inevitable matter-of-fact orderliness.
  13. I have to say "Too Late For Tears" - since I'd seen it so long ago. What a wonderful movie. I've seen just about all of them and this was one I didn't remember.
  14. I, too, watched "Darkness After Dawn" faithfully every Sunday. Best title and logo TCM every did for a program and I wanted a tee shirt!!! There isn't any. I posted a request for that several years ago.
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