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Posts posted by She_Believed

  1. Look at Ann Grayle's pose -- a very femme fatale stance. I agree with the comment - Powell probably couldn't resist (after all, the squares look like hop scotch).


    I found this portion of the podcast (in The Set-Up - Part 4 of 4: Podcast on Murder, My Sweet) to be really fascinating! I think you'll find it very interesting if you have the time to give it a listen. The hosts disagreed slightly which made for a lively discussion on Powell's lithe dance reference here.  

  2. When I watched the whole movie the other day I didn't really notice this, but when it was pointed out in this short clip I certainly did -- 


    Marlowe was representing a new type of detective in films by portraying a man who didn't treat women with "kid gloves", so to say. Hey didn't hold back any punches and he expected a straight answer. He treated her how she had treated him. I think we see this also in The Maltese Falcon. In that film the detective followed the money because it spoke more of the woman than her words did. In this case Marlowe knew the woman in front of him was lying and knew more than she was letting on, and he wasn't afraid to manhandle her a bit or manipulate her in order to get what it was he needed. 


    Before this period in film I doubt we would have seen a man grab a woman's wrist and dump out her purse... it wasn't respectful, it simply wouldn't have been acceptable. But in this angst-filled WWII-era time period there was the beginning of a shift of not only acceptable standards for gender roles, but for their quick-paced change due to wartime needs. It left an opening in film for a new type of detective to join the party and fill up the screen. 

  3. Laura is the movie that started it all for me -- It was the first classic movie I ever saw, and I fell hopelessly in love with classic hollywood, Dana Andrews, film noir, and black and white movies all in one fell swoop. It was love at first sight and I never looked back! 


    But, in all seriousness... This has to be one of the most unusual opening scenes. The voiceover pulls us in with a sense of magic and poetry, all fluff and a writer's vocabulary. Then the camera pans over the most exquisite and lavish hall that you first think you're looking at a museum, until you're invited into the gentleman's equally lavish bathroom along with the surprised detective and you proceed to watch them circle each other with well-written dialogue until a mutual respect fills the air. And all the while your eyes are treated with more furnishings to look at than one knows what to do with, especially since all one truly needs is their attention on the magnificent acting going on center screen. I think this is what Nino Frank meant when he said Laura was a "charming character study of furnishings and faces". There's beauty in every frame, be it the art on the walls or the actors themselves. This movie is eye candy, if you ask me. But like I said, I fell for Dana Andrews years ago -- I may not be the most objective party here to make that observation! 


    Laura is one of those movies that no matter how many times I've seen it, if it's playing on TCM I'll watch it. It never gets old, and it never loses its appeal. It is a brilliant example of noir, and of classic hollywood at a turning point in film history. Andrews plays a brooding, misunderstood but vulnerable and eventually lovable character, while the rest of the cast is perfectly matched in their roles as the quintessential and necessary noir lot of characters. Each actor is like a puzzle piece and when they play their roles on screen in this movie they fit right into their place in the puzzle. Barely a misstep the whole movie through... but now I'm just gushing, and no longer analyzing.


    I think I need to watch it again and report back... it's been a few months since I saw it last. I must be a bit rusty, eh?   

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  4. The use of the first-person POV in this opening from "Dark Passage" is somewhat successful in creating the tension an anxiety of the escaped convict, but the director occasionally shifts the perspective to third person. The voice-over narration is helpful, though, telling us what the character is thinking. The feeling of riding on the back of the truck in the barrel and then tumbling and rolling down the embankment felt physically realistic, like perhaps the IMAX of its day! But I think that Delmer Daves needed to use this POV in order to get the audience to buy into the whole I-completely-changed-the-look-of-my-entire-face-with-plastic-surgery angle of the story. I found the use of the first person to have more of a point to it in this film than in the "Lady In The Lake", which was just an exercise in utilizing this technique.




    I completely agree! This narration definitely helps move the story along and give you a closer connection to the character. You begin to build an emotional tie to him, seeing out of his "eyes" and hearing his thoughts. It's very personal. And this film definitely had more purpose to the first person POV that Lady in the Lake. I do enjoy that movie as well (probably because it's usual) but it does seem rather pointless. Here there is cause and effect... the technique holds a unique position in the film because of how the storyline was written. Love your phrasing of it -- "an exercise in utilizing this technique." So true. 

  5. I'm a big Bogie & Bacall fan, so Dark Passage is an old favorite of mine. It's always surprising to me how little known it is, to be honest. And I'm continually surprised that those who do know it don't seem to enjoy the first person POV as much as I do. I find it a novelty, and a really unique plot device in the story that let the cast and crew stretch their creative muscles more than was normal to make the picture work -- and I love watching the results of that creative thinking!


    It's not the best noir example out there, and it's not even the best Bogie/Bacall example, but it is a movie that allowed artists to test the waters and experiment with new ideas, new concepts and new ways of approaching a moving picture, which essentially, is what film noir was all about. I think it holds an important place in the grand scheme of film noir, and in hollywood filmmaking itself, but is never quite given the credit for that that it deserves. 


    Sure, it can be awkward and bungling at times -- but it also does a fantastic job of building the tension and making the audience feel as though they're in for a wild ride, with a wild character. Most detective stories were written in first person POV, so giving the audience that same experience and relationship with the character in the theater, letting them not only have access to their thoughts and actions, but also their eyes and perspective, now that was trendsetting; that was cutting edge. In short, I'm a fan! 

  6. I have yet to watch the entirety of La Bete Humaine, but from just this short opening clip I can already foresee that this movie is a prime example of masterful storytelling. Not a word was uttered in the four and a half minutes but so much was shared, between the two men on screen and with the audience. It was intriguing, and left me curious to see where the storyline would lead. 


    I honestly know nothing more about the movie than what this Daily Dose has informed me, but I was struck by the unusual camera angles and the use of light and dark within the shots... this felt very noir to me, even if the subject matter wasn't your typical run-of-the-mill noir selection. I especially felt that the dark tunnels with the pinhole lens effect was most inspiring of the darker side of noir, and helped set that feel and those emotions as I watched the clip. 



  7. -- Were you surprised by what happens in the opening scene of The Letter?

    -- In what ways can the opening of The Letter be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?


    This is a beautiful opening scene. As we are brought into the film's world we see the workers of the rubber plantation relaxing after a hard days work. Only for this rest to be disturbed and shattered by the crack of a gunshot. The injured and lurching body of the man stumbling out of the door and down the stairs is shocking. However, this shock is intensified by the sight of his pursuer - a woman still holding the pistol, she follows his broken body down the stairs and unflinchingly empties the remaining bullets into him. The moon temporarily disappearing behind a cloud letting us know that darkness has descended (and seems to suggest a higher order of things) onto the events and when it appears again it brings with it a realisation of what has happened though Bette Davis's character remains cold and instructional in her interaction with the workers. The gun has been dropped, but we notice the empty hand still held as if the gun were still there.


    I'm fascinated that so many of us felt drawn to her hand positioning and the extension of the gun, even when the gun was missing. I'm always drawn to her hand in this scene - every single time I watch this movie! I really do think that Bette is only of the only women of the era who could have taken this role and acted it as well as she did, to the very tips of her fingertips - literally.

  8. The music, the scenes, the quiet restfulness of the workers, the bird, the dogs, all jarred out of this vibe by the unexpected sharpness of a sudden crack. At first, almost an unknown sound, yet the sound is heard again and again confirming what exactly belongs to.  The serenity of the resting men is broken by the man now lying on the ground, not asleep, but dead. The coldness of Betty Davis' eyes is exactly counter to the percieved warmth of the night.  I was particularly unnerved by the constant tension in her hand, even after the gun was dropped. She seemed cool verbally and in continance, all except for her hand's refusal to return to a resting, relaxed position.


    I was also struck by her hand! It felt so natural to me... that tension, that reluctance to fall into a more "normal" stance but the need to drop the gun... for some reason I'm always drawn to her hand in the scene. It's oddly graceful, so being such an instrument of violence merely seconds later. 

  9. It's been several years since I last saw The Letter and many more since I saw it for the first time, but I still remember the shock of seeing Bette so perfectly framed by the shadows, walking out of the house, down those stairs and letting those bullets fly one after the other -- then later seeing the enormity of the scene flash across her face in a flurry of emotions that I truly believe only Bette could have portrayed. She was so well cast in this role and I forget it each time I sit down to watch this movie until I watch her in this opening scene. For some reason I'm always sucked in when I see how her hand and her body react physically when she drops the gun. It just seems so natural, so un-acted. It feels fresh and raw, as though she hadn't rehearsed a bit and just walked on to the set that morning, picked up the prop gun and turned out this masterful scene... but somehow, I know that isn't the full story! It takes an amazing cast a crew to make the audience feel that from a movie, let alone an opening scene.  



  10. Frtiz Lang's "M" has been on my list of movies to watch for years but it hasn't ever made it to the top of the list. I do love a good thriller, and who doesn't enjoy Peter Lorre? But, I digress... 


    I DVRed the movie while I was out of town last month but still haven't made the time to sit down to enjoy it. I want to truly watch this one, not half-watch it while I'm multi-tasking. This one deserves all my attention and I know it! I was captivated entirely by just this short opening clip, so I know I'm going to enjoy the whole movie -- it's going to find a home on my DVR until I watch it. I promised myself that much!


    Honestly, in only those four minutes I could tell the master was at work. Lang was a puppeteer when it came to directing his audience's emotions, and he knew it. The very first scenes with those shabbily dressed children so cheerfully enjoying a game that you slowly come to realize is about a murderer gave me the chills so quickly, that I had to smile and hand it to the director - tip my hat, so to say - and accept that I was walking down the garden path with my eyes wide open. 


    There was an ominous edge about the entirety of the opening scenes, almost as though we were the intruders, watching and observing these people's lives when we had no right to be doing so. There was a tightness or a claustrophobia to the way the camera was used that made me question who was doing the watching... was it the audience or was it someone else? It was almost as though the man in shadow was there the entire time but only stepped into view, playing his shadow across the frame when the director felt the suspense had built up into enough of a palpable, living entity to finally give a voice. 


    I was also struck by the innocence and implied weightlessness of the children who lived in this world filled with violence, death, and harsh realities but felt the safe confines of home and the comparison of their mothers who looked harried, and worn living under the strain of the heavy weight of an unknown enemy and constant fear. It was a severe juxtaposition, to be sure. 


    I'm really looking forward to seeing the entire movie now!



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