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Breaking the Fourth Wall


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1 hour ago, CaveGirl said:

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.

Thanks ... but LOL.

Miss Holliday leaves me in the dust. Subtract 54 from her recorded 172 and that's me. The only other test I remember you subtract 57. I had to look up nescient (well, I know what nascent means but that doesn't fit, waah) and if you're looking for fusion possibilities you'll have to find someone who made it beyond Algebra 3. I played the astrophysicist Hans Bethe in a theatrical production and that's about the closest to fusion I'll ever get. If I had had to take an IQ test for that production I would be assigned walk-ons emptying waste paper baskets. If I have any claim to smarts it would be language (despite an occasional lapse in vocabulary, heh heh) where I used get A's in upper division French class term papers (much to the chagrin of native speakers, who resented me for it) but that did not stop me from flunking Geology. And on top of all that, I haven't even seen History of the World Part One where sweet Mary-Margaret Humes gets kissed (among other things perhaps) by a rather dubious king. I like history but I think I like Miss Mary-Margaret more. How's that for intelligence.

:lol:

ps. BTW, smarty pants, I notice that nescient is not even in our software dictionary. Obviously I am exonerated for not knowing what it means. So please stop using words not in the dictionary and words I don't know.

:lol:

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10 minutes ago, laffite said:

Thanks ... but LOL.

Miss Holliday leaves me in the dust. Subtract 54 from her recorded 172 and that's me. The only other test I remember you subtract 57. I had to look up nescient (well, I know what nascent means but that doesn't fit, waah) and if you're looking for fusion possibilities you'll have to find someone who made it beyond Algebra 3. I played the astrophysicist Hans Bethe in a theatrical production and that's about the closest to fusion I'll ever get. If I had had to take an IQ test for that production I would be assigned walk-ons emptying waste paper baskets. If I have any claim to smarts it would be language (despite an occasional lapse in vocabulary, heh heh) where I used get A's in upper division French class term papers (much to the chagrin of native speakers, who resented me for it) but that did not stop me from flunking Geology. And on top of all that, I haven't even seen History of the World Part One where sweet Mary-Margaret Humes gets kissed (among other things perhaps) by a rather dubious king. I like history but I think I like Miss Mary-Margaret more. How's that for intelligence.

:lol:

ps. BTW, smarty pants, I notice that nescient is not even in our software dictionary. Obviously I am exonerated for not knowing what it means. So please stop using words not in the dictionary and words I don't know.

:lol:

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Wow, though I'm not into numerology I think your numbers still qualify you to be president or at least be in charge of any movies that were not produced yet by Bob Evans, Laffite! Personally I think you are just being humble but that's okay.

Good golly gosh, we had all the same classes apparently. I took French also but am mostly illiterate except in restaurants, had a Geology class where the teacher told me I could have my requested take home exam, if I took it at his house [sexual harassment or just clever repartee?] and I took Algebra also but was better at Geometry.

As for nescient, I can't remember where I picked that up from but first used it on a guy who was a know-it-all and when I said I thought he was nescient, he said "Hey, thanks!" I had to explain it was not a compliment.

Well, you are still tops in my book as a marvelous cinematic conversationalist, Laffite and I always enjoy reading your witty comments on any thread.

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8 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

I think your numbers still qualify you to be president

I'm too nice for to be a president by current standards:D. I would never use the word dog in vain.

BTW, Dubya was at 118, so I have nothing to brag about. Politics aside, we can still safely affirm that that he was not generally taken for a brainiac.

 

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9 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

This is an obscure example, but Christian Slater speaks directly to the viewer frequently in Kuffs. First one I could think of.

Oddly enough, that one is the first mentioned in the video I posted earlier in the thread.

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19 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Welp, I guess that reveals I hadn't watched your video link! I'll check it out now.

Yeah, sewhite! I hope by now you've checked out Lawrence's video link.

(...and so by now have seen the very young Christian Slater early in his career already attempting to sound and act just like Jack Nicholson!) 

;)

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Boy, he channeled Jack so hard in Heathers, I wasn't sure he'd ever be anything but a Jack imitator! But he seems to have found his own style. He never became a major star, as I'm sure he was hoping for early in his career, but he's had a long and interesting one. I hear he's great in Mr. Robot, which I haven't seen.

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When Scottie leaves Judy Barton's apartment following that first time they meet, Miss Barton turns to the camera with an expression that fairly threatens a fourth-wall incursion. If it is possible to break the wall wordlessly, she did it.

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1 hour ago, laffite said:

When Scottie leaves Judy Barton's apartment following that first time they meet, Miss Barton turns to the camera with an expression that fairly threatens a fourth-wall incursion. If it is possible to break the wall wordlessly, she did it.

I can't really agree that this scene in Vertigo qualifies, Iafitte, as breaking any wall. Yes, Judy's looking at the camera but it's not for her character to communicate directly with the audience. It merely sets the audience up for a flashback sequence of the murder, a device Hitchcock uses to inform his viewers about her identity.

room+401+flashback.png

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And, of course, most of Wayne's World (1992):

(The first movie anyway, I haven't yet rented #2, that's been floating around with all the other Paramount Orphans joining the MGM/UA Orphans on streaming.)

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Woody Allen was always breaking the wall.  One of my favorites was from "Annie Hall", perhaps because it depicted a moment many may have had when confronted w/a blowhard mouthing off on something they actually know nothing about.

 

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4 hours ago, TomJH said:

I can't really agree that this scene in Vertigo qualifies, Iafitte, as breaking any wall. Yes, Judy's looking at the camera but it's not for her character to communicate directly with the audience. It merely sets the audience up for a flashback sequence of the murder, a device Hitchcock uses to inform his viewers about her identity.

No she didn't, my remark was meant to be fanciful. I might have emoji-ed that. It was the device of having her look so directly into the camera and for so long that was arresting and that incited in me to a forth-wall reflection.

It sets up the flashback to be sure but it's not some half-way subtle auxiliary device,  instead it carries a decided punch in it's own right. It is a dramatic reveal. It's not a "merely" thing, it's more than that. If it hadn't occurred the flashback could have still been easily managed. But I like it there, it does just what you say ... though I wonder if she had just started writing without much ado in the way of foreshadowing, that might have been quite chilling as well.

A few minutes earlier (in the movie) I was musing that Hitch may have missed an opportunity (or rejected it) of foreshadowing when out in the street Judy is chatting. The camera moves in on her profile and I thought even at that moment that we might get the same profile we got earlier with 'Madeleine' when she walks by and Scottie gets that first look at her in the restaurant. This earlier shot lingers for a couple of seconds (a long time) and has become one of the several or more iconic scenes (as you well know). The replication with Judy, had it occurred, would have too much more subtle, not a dramatic thing. I did a lot video pausing to see if it might be there. Her hair is so different and that may ruined any idea of it. There is a pretty good profile okay but her mouth is always open and that ruined any connection.

 

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Is speaking to the camera directly but in-character,  breaking the 4th wall?   

I never viewed it that way.     E.g. In In A Lonely Place,  Actress Martha Stewart as Mildred Atkinson does this in the scene in Bogie's (Steele) apartment.

  

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11 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Is speaking to the camera directly but in-character,  breaking the 4th wall?   

I never viewed it that way.     E.g. In In A Lonely Place,  Actress Martha Stewart as Mildred Atkinson does this in the scene in Bogie's (Steele) apartment.

  

Only if the character is directly addressing the audience. If it's simply a matter of the camera shooting a dialogue scene head-on, then no, it's not breaking the fourth wall.

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7 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

If it's simply a matter of the camera shooting a dialogue scene head-on, then no, it's not breaking the fourth wall. 

Is this an example of what Ozu does all the time? What do you mean "shooting a dialogue scene head-on"?

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12 minutes ago, laffite said:

Is this an example of what Ozu does all the time? What do you mean "shooting a dialogue scene head-on"?

Exactly like Ozu. Where the camera takes the point of view (POV) of the character being spoken to, with the speaker looking directly into the camera as if looking at the other character. 

Go to approx. the 2:03 mark for an example.

Alternately, Olivier's Richard III features a lot of "breaking the fourth wall" with the way he has Richard directly addressing the audience.

 

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3 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Exactly like Ozu. Where the camera takes the point of view (POV) of the character being spoken to, with the speaker looking directly into the camera as if looking at the other character. 

Alternately, Olivier's Richard III features a lot of "breaking the fourth wall" with the way he has Richard directly addressing the audience.

Ok, that helps since I had the same question as Laffite.    So that scene in In A Lonely Place would be breaking the 4th wall.     

Note that since the Bogie character is so bored and disinterested by the women speaking to him she might not be looking directly at him the entire time,  but clearly that is the impression the 'shot' gives off.   I was impressed by this shot the first time I saw it since it made me feel more connected to the women speaking, who ended up being murdered.

 

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I just watched a silly Arabian Nights adventure that was largely tongue-in-cheek, 1947's SLAVE GIRL, one of countless films of this nature featuring Yvonne de Carlo.

But that wall gets broken constantly throughout the film by Humpy the Camel, with a Bronx accent yet, who keeps cutting in on the action with commentary.

At one point, for example, when Yvonne starts to do an exotic dance of the seven veils type number Humpy pipes up, "You just can't have enough of this sort of thing in the picture."

Well, when Humpy's right he's right.

And at the end of the film when leading man George Brent comments that it is a very satisfactory ending, Humpy chimes in, "Sure, he gets the girl. But what do I get? A crummy camel!"

RLtiNEe.png

 

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20 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Olivier's Richard III features a lot of "breaking the fourth wall" with the way he has Richard directly

Being "imported" from theater and especially Shakespeare where soliloquies are common, this is more a stage convention than a cinematic one. Just to note that fourth wall breaking is not a common cinematic convention, which makes those examples a little more interesting. But natheless the Richard III example is still striking despite being built in to the story and not a screenplay decision, per se.

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2 minutes ago, laffite said:

Being "imported" from theater and especially Shakespeare where soliloquies are common, this is more a stage convention than a cinematic one. Just to note that fourth wall breaking is not a common cinematic convention, which makes those examples a little more interesting. But natheless the Richard III example is still striking despite being built in to the story and not a screenplay decision, per se.

Wikipedia makes mention of Olivier's importation of the stage technique to film being noteworthy (keep in mind that even the term "fourth wall" originated with the theater, as the fourth wall was the invisible barrier between the play's action and the audience):

"Olivier made the unusual decision to deliver his soliloquies by directly addressing the film audience, something not often done before in film."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_III_(1955_film)#Filming

Here's an entire article on "the fourth wall":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall

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I fully appreciate the importance of acknowledging Shakespeare's theatrical fourth wall, as well as that of Sir Laurence Olivier in transporting it to the movies.

 

But am I the ONLY one here who wants to celebrate, as well, the fourth wall artistry of Humpy the Camel?

RLtiNEe.png

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One fourth-wall idea, not just talking to the camera, was in low-rent Bela Lugosi B-picture The Ape Man (1943)

There's a weird town-hick character, never named, who keeps showing up wherever our heroes are, sometimes peeping in windows, sometimes watching from the back of the crowd, and at one point as a passerby on the street warning our heroine not to go down that dark alley.  

Finally, just before the end credits, the stranger shows up to interrupt our hero and heroine's climactic kiss, and our hero asks him, "Hey, just who are you, anyway?"
"Me?  I'm the AUTHOR of the story!...(to camera) Screwy idea, wasn't it?"  :)

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