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Breaking the Fourth Wall


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I'll make this short and sweet. I like seeing that wall broken in a movie, but I particularly like it when it is done at the very beginning in the credits.

I think it sets the tone for the film, to possibly be outrageous, creative or at least a bit outre. There is a good example of this technique tonight in the film "Mad Love" with Peter Lorre. Not only is it give the viewer a jolt as it occurs, it almost brings a three-dimensional aspect to the sequence. Being that the film was directed by master cinematographer, Karl Freund, it's no surprise that he would be so inventive right from the start of the film, and follow through with other surprise touches as the story progresses.

Name a film in which the fourth wall is broken and get extra points for ones that have opening credits where that wall goes tumbling down more shockingly than Jack's and Jill's fall from grace.

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3 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

I'll make this short and sweet.

I wish you have made it longer. I don't understand. What does it mean exactly when the Fourth Wall is broken.

No ridicule please. I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable.:lol:

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48 minutes ago, laffite said:

I wish you have made it longer. I don't understand. What does it mean exactly when the Fourth Wall is broken.

No ridicule please. I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable.:lol:

It means the actors speaking directly to the audience.

 

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3 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

This is a pre credit sequence but in "Frankenstein" (1931) Edward Van Sloan comes from behind a curtain and says the following picture may thrill, shock or horrify you.

"So, if any of you may wish to...no?  Well, don't say I didn't warn you!"  :)

On a lighter note, there's always the waiter's reaction to Leslie Nielsen drowning his sorrows, in Naked Gun 2-1/2: the Smell of Fear (1991):

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and get extra points for ones that have opening credits where that wall goes tumbling down more shockingly than Jack's and Jill's fall from grace.

Think Marty Feldman's opening credits to The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) might fill that basket for a start.

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Okay, thanks ;)

Was it Annie Hall where Woody's character (Alvie?) turns to the audience and says, "Okay, I was young then ..." after of an enactment of a scene that corny or the like. It was near the beginning.

Ozu does a lot of characters who are photographed looking straight into the camera. I sometime find that annoying. They are not talking to the audience, they are talking to another character but I don't like it. It takes me out of the scene in some small way and I find it distracting.

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How about all those times Oliver Hardy gave a reaction shot directly at the camera?

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And he wasn't the only comedian at the Roach Studios that did that. There was also Charley Chase.

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20 minutes ago, laffite said:

TomJH, do you know what this is from? She either didn't know that this was coming or she is a fine actress.

Not only is she a fine actress but Mel's randy King would also have you know she's a fine piece of ****.

It was a line Brooks repeated in his performance as the King throughout one segment of History of the World Part One.

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Yes, but let's remember here that this "breaking the fourth wall" isn't confined to just comedies.

Nope, you see sometimes this sort of thing is done by characters during tragedies too, and such as in the following case in which we'll see the lead character address the audience directly as this classic story of love found and then lost comes to its tragic close...

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Yes, but let's remember here that this "breaking the fourth wall" isn't confined to just comedies.

Nope, you see sometimes this sort of thing is done by characters during tragedies too, and such as in the following case in which we'll see the lead character address the audience directly as this classic story of love found and then lost comes to its tragic close...

 

 

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Quite a lot of fourth wall breaking in Tom Jones (1963). At one point, when Tom (Albert Finney) thinks that the innkeeper/landlady (played by Avis Bunnage) has stolen his wallet, he asks us "Did you see her take it?"

Many other examples in that film as well, some spoken, some merely glances or winks to us (but all by Tom).

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How about Lady in the Lake (?). Characters talk to Montgomery while looking right at the camera. The viewer seems to get a lot of attention but only because they inhabit Montgomery. The viewer is not being talked to but in another sense the viewer actually occupies the fourth wall, along with Montgomery. Technically this example probably does not pass muster for the purpose here but it another way the movie entails an interesting fourth wall issue.

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15 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

All of the Crosby \ Hope \ Lamour Road films.

(but yea,  that is a 'duh' response).

 

I'd say too that the technique works better as a comedy tool, which too, is one of the many things I like about all those LAUREL AND HARDY shorts.

In more recent times( and as I haven't gone to the movies for a long time now) I've seen it done well and to good effect in the TV comedy MODERN FAMILY.

Sepiatone

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It always bothers me when we don't get to see them breaking the other three walls. LOL

In theater this is called an "aside." Where you let the audience know what the character is thinking, but it's information the other characters are not privy to, just the audience. These tend to be short quips, or else it goes into soliloquizing. 

The 80s TV show Moonlighting was known for its many instances of breaking the fourth wall. And Roseanne did it every so often. But these programs kind of over-did it, in order to seem ultra cool, ultra postmodern.

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13 hours ago, laffite said:

I wish you have made it longer. I don't understand. What does it mean exactly when the Fourth Wall is broken.

No ridicule please. I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable.:lol:

Stop putting us on, Laffite...do we look to be that foolish.

You are about as nescient as Judy Holliday and I wish I had your I.Q.! You are probably working on nuclear fusion possibilities in between posting here at TCM.

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