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About maryannlewis

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  • Location
    West Melbourne, FL
  • Interests
    writing and shagging
  1. For the record: I am in awe that you successfully ran a class for more than two thousand students. That is madness and amazing! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I will never look at movies the same way again - and that's a good thing! Thank you again!
  2. Is it wrong of me to want the story to follow the maître d'? He had the best line.
  3. The music as he closes the shades is interesting. Whereas most noir films rely on horns, usually a saxophone or clarinet, the music is a flurry of violins and flutes. It adds an unsettling layer to the scene. Louis has been smacked, so after all these films and clips, I expect some heavy “DUM DUM DUM” sound. Instead, it sounds like frantic fairies looking for another hit of meth. I understand it’s supposed to cover the sound of the beating, but it’s a unique choice. Seeing the impact on the guards playing cards has a greater impact than if I saw the beating itself. One gets made. The other looks very worried. All show some level of fear. It’s devastating to me as a viewer.
  4. As I watch this scene, which is scary, I wonder the impact film noir has on modern cinema photography. It’s wonderful visual story-telling; only a few punches are seen on screen, but leaving the violence off screen relies on the audience imagination (which is always worse). I know I’ve seen plenty of scenes shot like this (though none are floating to the top at the moment). I will say this: this class has changed how I watch movies.
  5. The empty streets, with the police car rolls by and the man (whom I am assuming is Dix) walking around the corner, give an immediate weird vibe. Not only does the music raise the tension, the unsettling emptiness of the visual scene does the same. And how the police car missed Dix is beyond me. He is the only person on the street! Anywhere! “Hey, Frank, dispatch says they're looking for a guy in a dark suit.” “I bet it was the only other human being we saw today! Let’s go!” And sweet Freya Almighty, the cops went from the door to Dix pockets without a fine how-do-you-do! Neither Dix nor Gus thinks anything of it. Could a guy get a greeting first? A little kiss before roughing him up and taking him in? I feel sorry for William Goldie; busted first time ever for narcotics and ends up in a line up between a murder and a known felon. Is Dix staring death at the witness? That’s funny. “Rat on me and I’ll kill you.” “No, that isn’t him. The man that held me up didn’t kill me. This guy wants to kill me. May I go now?”
  6. I don’t know much about jazz. However, I will say this: I find its steady beat and dissonant horn complimentary in the clip. It’s slow and sultry tone continues the conversation between the man and the woman as the camera pans away from him in an office-like building. You know they are talking sweet, sweet love on that phone. What I know of jazz, which is from a Spotify playlist, makes me think of smoky, poorly lit clubs with femme fatale singers and gangsters in corner booths, which are prevalent styles of film noir. It is dark and dangerous, often twisting and turning on Fates’ whim, causing the players to change their tune. It flies in the face of conventional, popular music song structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus (I’m over-simplifying). Jazz isn’t a blocked construct; it is a river, every changing as it flows downstream.
  7. White picket fences: I will never look at them the same way again. Midwest and white picket fences have come to mean a 1950s noir film. How normal everything looks with the band playing and the kids playing. Right there, I know something horrible is about to happen. (Side note: and why I have trust issues.) Focusing on the shade’s ring while Robert cleans the screen, focusing on the mundane while the action happens in the background, and focusing on the mirror to see Robert put on his coat behind the open closet door is a noir style of filming. It sets a mood. Queue the music to indicate something bad; trumpets blare when he opens the door and backs away in horror: another noir style troupe. Thematically, the sudden and unforeseen circumstance of Lauren (at least, I think that’s the name he calls out) dead (was she dead? I thought I saw her blink) in the closet sets a new course for our protagonist: noir style strikes again. What the heck is up with his tie? Also, how dirty was the house, judging by that bucket water he poured out? Holy crud.
  8. The opening credits are very noir: night shoot; bright light piercing the dark; no music, only sound effects. These seem to be traits of later, 1950s, noir films. I would know this was a noir film, or trying to be a noir, in the first twenty-five seconds. The dialogue at the train station seems very noir; the tough guy brisk and clipped words. The porter spoke better English than the detectives. “What about this dame, Mister Crystal Ball?” I can hear hints of Scarlet Street’s Edward G. Robinson in the delivery of that line. “Sixty cent special. Cheap, flashy, strictly poison under the gravy.” I hear Humphrey Bogart in Maltese Falcon. There is something odd in the verbiage, not quite over the top, but it’s brimming there.
  9. It’s pretty well lit for a noir film. However, the shifting camera angles, with the center of attention, are off center of the screen, falls in the noir style. And if I didn’t know better, the music sounds like it inspires the music for Dragnet (Gasp! Television, I know). I do like when the armor car arrives, the audience watches along with Tim, a nice angle shot over his shoulder; dynamic camera angles make me think noir. Tim has the perfect vantage point to see the comings and goings at the Southwest Bank (though I am guessing The Baker below his window plays some small part later on). At one minute to ten, he stands at the window, watching customers wait for the bank to open. It is the same time that the Western Florist delivery truck arrives outside the shop next to the bank (that driver just threw his hand-rolled cigarette into the street. How rude!). Tim watches as the “armored car” (at least, I think that’s what it is. It doesn’t look armored) arrives thirty seconds later. It parks in front of the Wester Florist Delivery truck outside the bank’s entrance. Two armed guards climb out of the truck and follow the customers into the bank at ten. On his wrist, Tim starts a stopwatch. Sixty seconds pass before the florist delivery truck drives away. Tim turns to his map and plans, where the audience can see how many times he has checked the routine the audience witnessed along with Tim. Whatever is going to happen, it has to happen after the florist delivery truck leaves and the armored car leaves two to four minutes later. Showing such a routine, almost boring, turn of daily events is made much more interesting by the music, the unique camera angles and the map with plans. And by showing such precise and details events had to **** against the Motion Picture Production Code. Theft, robbery, and safe-cracking required that special care be exercised. Most studios avoided it, but since I’m sure Tim will fail and go to jail at the end of the movie, it was allowed in this film.
  10. Noir style: dissecting, angular lines from the ring ropes in the very opening shot; low key lighting on the boxes in the ring for three-quarters or head and shoulders shots; Noir substance: By watching the fight in the middle of dinner, Ernie is breaking from the Pre-WWII and WWII family conventions. He is going against the grain of what society expects, and he isn’t conforming. Eddie is down on his luck, trying to save to make a better life and Pauline is the femme fatale that married him, unhappy with her lot in life as a wife – a working wife (gasp, the horror!). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cinema: dynamic camera angels that match the beat of the boxing, switching of close-ups to full body shots. It feels like you’re in the ring being punched in the face. Teleivion: Same distance from the boxers, average lighting, feels unexciting.
  11. Walter’s stare never waivers from Sam. Sam breaks eye contact as he talks. He moves his head after lighting his cigarette. Sam talks with his hands while Walter doesn’t move. He holds the cigarette lighter still in his hand. Also, Walter’s suit has clean lines, well-pressed, and square shoulders. Sam’s suit and tie are wrinkled. Walter is studying same intently, trying to figure him out now that he’s return. Sam, if he notices, doesn’t seem to mind. He’s cool and relaxed. It makes me think of a chess match between a challenger (Walter) and the champion (Sam). Side note: I love how everyone drinks and smokes in noir films. Walter isn’t keen on Martha seeing Walter. He doesn’t like that Walter wants to see her either. He knows, and for the life of me, I don’t know why Walter and Martha don’t know that he knows. And their hugs didn’t thrill Walter in the least. In fact, by the time he takes his second slug of the day, I’m certain Walter is plotting murder by the way he psychotically stares at Martha and Sam. And when Martha speaks of her husband’s upcoming election, her voice drops an octave. Though she may smile, she isn’t happy. It’s a great scene that sets up the characters nicely. Walter’s wooden stature and directness counterbalances Sam’s slouch and charm. And who can blame skinny tomboy Martha for leaning towards charm. The first movie that comes to mind when thinking of Griel Marcus' observation that "the most emblematic noir location is a small, vaguely Midwestern city" is The Killers. White picket fences and quaint dinners say Midwest to me.
  12. <Start Commentary> “We lost him. Slow down. I’ll take the wheel.” Are you kidding me? That woman raced down a windy road at high speeds and lost what was probably an expert driver. Sit down, Alan. Geez. </End Commentary> The visual difference comes in the lighting. Unlike the clips from last week, I can see the hills and the road. It isn’t complete pitch black – only twilight-ish, which gives the scene a whole different feel. Twilight is magical, where anything can happen (like a big bag of money falling into the back seat of your car; remind me to purchase a convertible soon). Also, the “mystery” is solved rather quickly. Why did that crazy person throw a back of money into the back of our car? Oh, it wasn’t meant for that other convertible driving down this deserted road. Imagine that. Two convertibles. Shuck darn. My parents were born in 1925. By the time my parents were four, the Great Depression started with the market crash of 1929. For the next ten years, from four until fourteen, my parents lived a harder life than their parents. Until they day they died, they saved used aluminum foil, nails, and twist ties. They grew a garden every year. I grew up with vegetables in the root cellar and canned goods in the fruit cellar. In the 1990, when I married, my mother taught me how to cut up a whole chicken and proper wrap hamburger for the freezer, “in case it ever happened again.” My dad served in the Navy in WWII and my mother ran away to Florida to be near where he was stationed. Their twenties happened during the war, at a time of frugal spending and conservation. By the time they had kids, my dad was out of the war, working in a factory and going to college. They lived in a one bedroom flat with four kids. Their formative years were spent with nothing but fateful twists, random acts and unexpected circumstances. They grew up in a world where they had very little control. They were survivors, not heroes of their own story. And they weren’t alone – they were part of a large generation that grew up the same way. Why wouldn’t they want to see the themes of their lives played out in a movie?
  13. The very first image reminds me of Out of the Past with the darkened, indoor foreground but the well-lit, outdoor background. All that is missing is Kathie walking through the archway. The attention to the mundane, the name of the taxi cab company and the beat-up suitcase are very noir in helping setting the tone, which then cause the shiny, new shoes to stand out (as the owner steps into a dark gutter). That attention to the mundane is played again, only this time it is dreary shoes stepping into a better lit gutter. At a minute and twenty five seconds, the audience can see the conflict coming just by the lighting and the shoes without ever seeing the actors’ faces. (On a side note: I find it amusing that Mr. Boring Shoes has tennis rackets.) Mr. Shiny shoes walks from a patch of light into dark; cut to Mr. Boring Shoes walking from a patch of shadow into light. One walks right to left. The other walks left to right. The audience can sense a meeting coming, a fortuitous one without a bit of dialogue or facial expression. And yes, the shot moving along the crisscrossing tracks continues the theme. Where as in other noir films, like Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker, the audience has to wait to find out what is going to happen with these characters. The openings are the hooks – an invitation, if you will, to invite the audience along on a journey of discovery. However, with Strangers On A Train, the opening is nothing but foreshadowing. The audience knows these two sets of shoes will cross paths. It’s been told to them through the visual effects that I described above. The hook is now what happens when these two meet. I think, at least with Strangers On A Train, Hitchcock should not be considered a “special case” in the discussion of film noir. As far as I can tell from the clip, he hits too many film noir notes without any misses: low key lighting on the opening sequence, focus on the environment, study of ordinary objects to give meaning, and appropriate musical score. This is a film noir movie.
  14. As Frank walks down the hall, I’m struck with how well lit this opening is as compared to the other clips this week. I can see the walls, columns and archways without issue, but the soft, low key lighting is present. And it’s the bright light of the lamps and the symmetry of the walls, columns and archways that give the same sense of isolation that the darker openings of the other clips. Much like the opening scene of Kiss Me Deadly, the main character is alone and searching for help. Also, unlike the other opening sequences I’ve seen this week, there is music. Building, swelling, pounding music, which helps sent the tone. I would have guessed police station/drama from the music alone. As Frank turns left, the hallway is darker. The lamp light isn’t as bright. Instead of looking straight on, he is looking from side to side. It gives the impression that he is not only isolated, but lost – another theme of expressionism and film noir. It’s neat how the audience doesn’t see Frank’s face before hearing his voice. For two minutes, underneath the credits, the audience has followed Frank down hallway after hallway, until he reached the homicide division. And because of the sense of isolation and lost, the audience relates to Frank without ever seeing his face and fear for his well-being as he wanders into the homicide division (or at least, I did!). And all the makes for a great reveal when we finally see his face. Frank looks as lost and tired as we expected him to look. When he says he was murdered, it is a wonderful twist that hooks the audience to stay in the story for the rest of the story. Now we have to know how he’s not dead but murdered! Two staples of noir come in right at the end of the clip: voice over and flashback. I can’t wait to see this movie!
  15. The opening scene was shot for the big screen. My laptop monitor is only thirteen inches, and it took me until the end of the credits before I could figure out what the patch of hatched light (huge theme in noir film) was. No musical score and sound effects goes against the typical Hollywood moving, unsettling the audience while setting the tone for a bleak, desperate movie. When the door opens to reveal a woman, its tough guy talk that the audience first hears. “Pile out you tramps. It’s the end of the line.” That line sets the movie up to be an existential film noir. The look on her face says she’s cornered with no way out, as well as the guard’s line. The close up on her face shows us all we need to know about her: frightened in unfamiliar territory; so frightened she does nothing. She understands that she has left the rules of society behind to go to a place where she doesn’t know the rules and, perhaps, there are no rules. Side Note: Warner Brothers has a grit and realism to their films, which worked great for Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, but not so much for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Second Side Note: I find it terribly interesting that the movies featured in this week’s Daily Dose precede in date Jack Kerouac’s On The Road (1957). Third Side Note: It was co-written by a woman, Virginia Kellogg!
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