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About zasucat

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  1. Quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. The moon seems to be the stand-in for urban noir street lights and neon signs. But the moonlight is much more powerful and elemental, so in this colonial noir, it appears that nature (sky, land, jungle) takes on the corrupting role assigned to machines and buildings in urban noir. At first the film seems to be sending the message that the "civilized" (white European) characters, now removed from urban civilization where nature has been "conquered", are reverting to their "baser" instincts because of their proximity to nature. It's sort of the opposite of The Asphalt Jungle, where the city is the corrupting environment and the characters want to return to the purifying rural environment (the horse farm, the beaches of Mexico). But the real message is that the "natives" in The Letter aren't driven to this same level of depravity as a result of their environment; it's only the colonials, who by their own nature are base and depraved: grabbing entire countries for themselves, enslaving the natives, exploiting and destroying the land. That Leslie kills "one of her own" signals the decline of the colonials as a result of their own moral decadence at this point in European history. The fact that Hammond's death was avenged by the native woman he loved when she stabbed Leslie signals that the colonized people will rise up and destroy their oppressors.
  2. Absolutely! This film is a prototype for the rich-woman-as-murderer in film noir. Complex femme fatales are such a staple for film noir that I have to ask: would film noir even exist without Bette Davis, who created the prototype for these types of characters?
  3. I'm a little behind on this forum--and this has probably been said many times in previous posts--but it does strike me how trains are so essential to film noir. While we can have contemporary noir films with airplanes and cars, the passenger train is a fundamental element of original noir: that sense of a powerful machine that carries people yet allows them some sense of mobility and the physical space for dramatic action and interaction (unlike the confined space in airplanes--which is why the "drama on a plane" genre is so formulaic and ultimately, kitschy). The sense of mobility is an illusion, though, since the train is in control, just like the noir characters' destinies are out of their control. I watched Key Largo the other night on TCM, and while there isn't a train shown in the film, "Dad" Temple refers to the train that was destroyed by a previous hurricane, and this is the story that really frightens Johnny Rocky, giving him his first hint that his own destiny is not necessarily in his own hands.
  4. It strikes me that the parents waiting at the school are all well-dressed and prosperous-looking while the working-class mothers (with no men at home?) are too weary and busy to pick up their children, leaving them vulnerable to M. The neighborhood is so claustrophobic and barren and while there's the illusion of safety (police, nurturing mother, waiting parents), the murderer can approach children without fear of detection or intervention. This reveals that the safeguards are a facade and exposes how inadequate the traditional social systems and institutions are for protecting the most vulnerable. (This foreshadows the true "heroes" of the film, the underworld denizens who know the world that M lives in, a dark world that is intruding into the daylight, in true noir fashion.)
  5. I DVR'ed The Shining Hour, and it cut off the film before the ending. Last thing I saw, they were hauling off Fay Bainter after she confessed to setting fire to the house. How did it end?! This is driving me nuts! Thanks! Judylala
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