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Takoma1

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Everything posted by Takoma1

  1. Of the ones I've actually seen, I'd rank them thusly (a ranking that is to do with favorites, not how "noir" they are): The Big Sleep M The Killers Stranger on a Train Out of the Past Dark Passage The Third Man Kiss Me Deadly Elevator to the Gallows The Asphalt Jungle The Postman Always Rings Twice Laura DOA Mildred Pierce Of the movies in the doses I haven't seen, I'm most interested in: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Ministry of Fear Beware My Lovely The Hitch-Hiker Too Late for Tears Criss Cross Desperate The Letter
  2. I'll probably also continue to use this message board (the course one) on and off. It's been great learning a lot of new information about different movies and the studio histories.
  3. I always find it interesting to jump into the middle of a story and not be too sure about where my sympathies should lie. Is she playing him, or is she genuinely in love? Is her snapping at her husband just the way she is, or its it the frustration after years of controlling behavior? Likewise, is his irritability symbolic of how he has always acted in this marriage, or has she led him to this place of suspicion? The implication seems to be that they are going to murder the husband, but the movie doesn't spell out who is on the "right" side of this dynamic. More broadly, I've enjoyed the d
  4. While I can't speak as strongly to its presence in film, one of the great hard-boiled detective books, Red Harvest, is all about a town that is rotten to the core with institutional corruption (so much so that there are multiple corrupt factions within the town's police force!). I'd be curious to know if plots like this became less popular during the war. As you say, though, once the war was over there was less need to see police (or generally men in uniform) as being universally good men. And as Willireo points out: Seeing that kind of abuse would have stung especially deep after fi
  5. Agreed with all of the observations about the effectiveness of the lighting and the off-screen violence. I think it's striking how claustrophobic the scene feels, both because of the way that the overhead light creates a smaller space and through the two uses of extreme close-ups with the fist and the broken bottle. It really gives you that sense of someone being and feeling trapped. Often when someone is in a bad situation in a movie, you think "Oh, you can solve this by XYZ". But the way this scene is shot, you totally understand how helpless and hopeless the main character must feel
  6. Being an "unnamed Midwest city," we can't say for sure. But I'd imagine that a lot of cities would have had laws against not having a legal residence, and perhaps also laws requiring proof of employment/source of income. These days, based on what I've read, these laws have been spread out into laws that generally work more against homeless people than vagrants. Loitering, being in a park after dark, etc. I feel like police often have a handful of vague charges that can be used to arrest people they don't like or suspect may be up to more. And, when in doubt, some officers (please note
  7. Well, I think that people who promote movies will try to find as many angles as possible to pull in an audience. Like when a movie is advertised as "featuring" a certain actor/actress and then you watch the thing and they're in it for like two minutes. I think that "noir" is something that a lot of people (especially non-experts) associate with sultry femme fatales, violence, and mystery-thriller plots. It's certainly a word that makes me sit up and pay attention. It implies darkness, and that's a good way to get people interested. You almost have to wonder if the people writing the market
  8. The more I think about it, the more I love how blatantly crooked the whole line-up scene is. Especially when you compare it to lineup scenes these days where all of the suspects share the same characteristics (build, hair color, eye color, height, etc). "So here's this guy who killed his wife in his own house. And this guy is a clerk who does drugs and tried to hang himself. And this guy is a vagrant who has committed a billion robberies. Now, who would you say is the man who robbed you? You said it was a tall guy in a brown suit. I'm just wondering if anyone--say that tall convicted robbe
  9. As with any genre, there are movies that seem absolutely steeped in noir tropes, while others seem to have just a hint of noir elements. There's definitely a grey area, and I don't think that you can draw a firm line and say "This is what makes something a real noir, while that is what makes something just a movie with noir touches." I do, though, think that the label "noir" is sometimes used as a lazy short-hand for any crime or thriller or mystery filmed in black and white. Similarly, I think that the phrase "neo-noir" is sometimes also too broadly applied. I think that some people genui
  10. My reaction to this clip is in random thoughts: 1) There's a great sense of push-pull between order and chaos. There's an element of wildness, contrasted with order that borders almost on the surreal. A man stumbles into a diner and gives a gun to the owner to hide. The police come in, but the owner knows to demand a warrant. The police honor this code, but then use their own code (their right to charge someone with vagrancy) to arrest the guy anyway. In a bizarre, almost cinematic staging, men are brought in for a ridiculously crooked line-up, but the robber's implied threat (a kind of "t
  11. One of my favorite openings. The close up on her face and her passion makes you think that surely she's in bed with the guy or at least locked in an embrace, and then the slow pan back to realize that, nope, she's on the phone. And not only on the phone, but she's in a phone booth or a public phone, while he's stories up in a commercial building. Their surroundings are sterile and not at all fitting to the grand love affair taking place over the wires. And then the camera pulls back from both of them as the jazz score kicks in, and you realize that they are apart and lonely, and that t
  12. (I'm playing catch up, so I only had a chance to skim the replies in this thread--apologies if I repeat something that was already mentioned). I love that not once but twice we see Howard literally being framed: first by the window, then in the small mirror. There's a nice jolt that goes against your expectations when he first opens the closet. We've been set up into a "rule of threes". First we're able to see Howard outside because he's standing in a window. Second, we're able to keep watching him behind the door because he's reflected in the mirror (a much smaller, tighter frame than
  13. The main thing I noticed in this opening scene was the way that a lot of the action and dialogue seemed to happen with a "bursting" quality. The train coming toward the camera, the swing over to the Chicago city sign, the way he speaks to the red cap, the strong walk to the cab, the way that the cab swings over into the left lane, etc. Most of these moves are shown as being strong and from the left to the right. I can see how this combination of action and delivery--both energetic and clipped--could read as a parody. The line about the woman being a "60 cent special" in particular seems to
  14. Yes--I think that noir does a lot to explore the sympathetic criminal--often via someone who is new to crime, but sometimes like in this movie. There is something about seeing someone plot something like a heist that makes you want to root for them. I think it taps into a very universal anxiety about "I have this plan, and I just want it to work." Heists (especially those in which no one is meant to be harmed) even kind of echo the American dream: you work hard, you're smart, and you get rewarded. As you say, these people are operating outside of the law. But even in the 40s I think that p
  15. I just have to ask: all of the people remarking on the fact that Ernie is "emasculated"--what is the equivalent of that for his wife? If Pauline is robbing Ernie of his masculinity, are there ways in which he is robbing her of her femininity? In other words, if Ernie is being denied the American male dream of a respectable job and a dutiful wife, what is the female American dream? What is Pauline's ideal? What should she be aspiring to? Where does she draw her self-worth (aside from having a husband with high status)? Is her desire for money at odds with the American dream, or is it a grot
  16. I should probably add my original post that I'm not without sympathy for Ernie. Just like women are caught up in status, being a man whose wife doesn't have to work is a sign of status for a man. So, just as you point out, this is a recipe for disaster. His ambitions (to be a working man capable of supporting himself and his wife) meet his definition of success. But hers involves more money and prestige. And having a husband who is the sole breadwinner is a double-edged sword. I'm sure some women would enjoy it, but for others it could easily become a gilded cage--no sense of mission or purpos
  17. I love that as Ernie watches himself being punched on the television, his head snaps over to the right, as if he's being hit again, as if he can still feel the blow. Pauline is obviously not happy, but it's hard to blame her too much. Her husband literally sits with his back to her, watching himself on the TV. He dismisses her dreams (of stardom) as being foolish, and then reminisces about his own aspirations (fighting champion). The dinner she has made is unappreciated. The way that he says "You were a showgirl" has a casual contempt to it that makes Pauline's anger much more understandab
  18. She's hysterical . . . someone slap her! If you watch the rest of the movie, you'll find out what she's running from. And once you understand that, you'll also understand why stopping to catch her breath was probably the last thing on her mind. She's in pure survival mode--willing even to put her body in front of a speeding car and to climb into a car with a strange man. She is beyond mere fright or agitation--and the fact that her breathing persists once she's no longer running and is seated in a car shows that her worked up state is not just about physical exertion.
  19. I wonder if it might have simply been adherence to the true story. Based on what I read, a police officer in Mexico recognized the killer, and just walked up to him and snatched his gun away and arrested him. Now, this is a movie, and the old adage of "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" certainly applies. I know what you mean about the satisfaction and tension that you get from a more self-contained story and set of characters. But maybe having a third party involved in defeating the Hitchhiker just goes along with the sense that the two men in the car are not ultimately i
  20. I've never seen this movie before and, surprisingly, hadn't really heard the title before taking this course. But it's been name-dropped in a few other threads and has a great cast, so I'm excited to check it out. The main thing that I noticed in this scene was something pointed out in an earlier post--as soon as Martha enters the scene, Douglas spends almost all of his time behind his desk, placing a physical barrier between himself and the other two characters (who seemed destined for a love affair). He emerges to down a shot or two, but then returns back behind the desk. It has the effe
  21. Exactly--this is a shift that moves us from outside antagonists to the communists hiding under the beds. There's a part in Pickup on South Street where the main woman finds out that there might be communist spies involved in the plot and all of a sudden she gets really defensive about her role in things. As if it isn't so bad to be connected to a thief/murderer, but it is a big deal to be involved with communists. I also have to wonder if an increasing interest in true crime stories played a role. In the absence of a wartime threat, there's suddenly more to hear about home-grown killer
  22. To begin with, my favorite moment of (unintentional?) humor: She says: "I just can't take another night being patronized." He says: "Patronized? Oh, sweetheart." Anyway: I haven't seen this movie, but I think that it's kind of a shame that she seems to be setting up as your typical greedy wife. Maybe I'm wrong. But all her comments about the wife being "diamond crusted" and the house overlooking everyone else, and the way that her eyes light up when she sees the cash make it feel like this is basically a fisherman's wife kind of story. She wants more and more and it will cost them eve
  23. Oh, Strangers on a Train! One of my most rewatched movies when I was little. These days, though, knowing what I do about Hitchcock, I find it harder to enjoy his movies. But on to the discussion at hand: 1) I love the way that the two sets of feet are moving so forcefully directly at each other. You expect them to bump into each other . . . and then they totally don't. Their meeting comes from an innocent little foot tap. 2) I think it's significant that it's Guy who initiates (accidentally) their encounter. It plays into that fear that you never know how a small action might invit
  24. But the thing about The Hitch-Hiker is that the two guys in the car aren't really the stars of the show, the Hitch-Hiker is. Very much like He Walked By Night, we skip over having an anti-hero and go straight to just a sociopathic killer as the center of the story. He has already (we are told repeatedly) killed other people. In the real life story the movie is based on, the man who posed as a hitch-hiker killed six people, including three children. I don't think that there is a restoration of order and balance. Do you think that either of those two men will ever pick up a hitch-hiker again?
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