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The Dogs of Shane and Those Little Throwaway Details That Add To A Film


TomJH
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When you see a film often enough you sometimes start paying attention to the little things that you hadn't really noticed before. I was paying attention to the dog in last night's broadcast of Shane.

 

No, I don't mean little Joey's terrier mix that appears throughout the film. I mean the other dog, the one that no one ever thinks about.

 

I'm talking about the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog that lies in Ryker's saloon. He looks like some kind of black and white herding animal. And I first noticed him when Black Hat Wilson (Jack Palance) first appears in the film and walks into the bar looking around.

 

You know that Wilson is bad news, not just because of his appearance and the musical cues, but because the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog stands up and slinks out of view as Wilson enters the bar.

 

The "I Don't Want NoTrouble" dog also appears just prior to the film's gun shooting climax when Shane, now decked out in buckskins and with his gun in its holster, appears in the bar looking for action. If you watch the scene you'll notice that the dog lies quietly on the floor during the initial dialogue exchange between Shane (Alan Ladd) and Ryker (Emile Meyer).

 

It's only when Palance stands up that the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog does his thing and, once again, slinks out of the room.

 

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This is the best shot that I could find of the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog lying on the floor to the right of the swinging door as Wilson is about to enter the room. Believe me, in a moment that dog will be on his paws and outta there.

 

It's kind of a fun little aspect to the film to appreciate, even if just a small throwaway detail.

 

Can anyone think of favourite little aspects or moments in a film that might slip the eye of another viewer, but has added to your pleasure of a film?

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I love the way the wind blows Trina's feather boa in this early scene from I Remember Mama, when Mama (Irene Dunne) and Trina (Ellen Corby) go out on the porch to have a private talk.

 

Mama: "We go out on front porch, I like a breath of air."

 

mqdefault.jpg

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Obviously the "I  don't want no trouble dog" didn't like the smell of Jack Palance's after shave so when Palance enters a room, the dog leaves.  ;)  I wonder how many biscuits the dog got for his brief work?

Well, I certainly hope the pooch got more than a few for his brief, albeit to me, noteworthy contribution to Shane. Then, again, maybe his chief reward was Jack Palance's promise to stay away from him.

 

In any event, I know one thing for sure. The "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog didn't get any billing!

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Can anyone think of favourite little aspects or moments in a film that might slip the eye of another viewer, but has added to your pleasure of a film?

 

I was delighted when I finally discovered that the Snow Globe in CITIZEN KANE first appears on the dresser of Susan Alexander's apartment, the first night Mr. Kane meets her. And after I discovered that, then I realized that she asked him where he was going and he said he was on the way to a warehouse to locate some items from his early childhood that are stored there. That means the sled and other things from when he was a boy, and if you study the snow globe, the little house inside the globe is similar to the little house he grew up in, in the snows of Colorado.

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I was delighted when I finally discovered that the Snow Globe in CITIZEN KANE first appears on the dresser of Susan Alexander's apartment, the first night Mr. Kane meets her. And after I discovered that, then I realized that she asked him where he was going and he said he was on the way to a warehouse to locate some items from his early childhood that are stored there. That means the sled and other things from when he was a boy, and if you study the snow globe, the little house inside the globe is similar to the little house he grew up in, in the snows of Colorado.

I never noticed that, Fred. I'll have to pay closer attention to that snow globe the next time I see Kane.

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Here's the dog.......

 

Thanks very much, Fred, for that clip which captures the full impact of the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog's contribution to Shane. And he's just as good in his later scene in the film, too!

 

No pooch in the movies ever slinked out of a room with his tail between his legs quite as meekly as did this one. One of the true unsung contributors to a western film classic!

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Here it is, folks, a You Tube link to the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog's second big scene in Shane:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE3mHhpGV2A

 

Watch and appreciate the subtle professionalism of this cunning animal. Forget the dialogue between the actors and just watch this animal as he lies on the floor. Then watch him spring into action (well, meekly rise and walk, actually) when Jack Palance finally stands up.

 

The "I Don't Want No Trouble" Dog in Shane - like all great movie pros, he makes his work look so effortless and easy!

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Incidental details and action are what lend depth to a movie.  Shane is one of the best examples of how this is achieved.  Aside from the slinking dog (much like the slinking bar patrons), Stevens fleshes the film out with them, and in a unique way.  Pay attention to how he directs the camera away from the action in many scenes.  A good example is the funeral scene, where it seems the last thing he wants to focus on is the ceremony.  The camera shows the action of the children, notably following Joey walking away from the graveside.  Another time, it literally drifts away to the mountains and the town.

 

William Wyler's Mrs. Miniver is another great example of how small details contribute to a film's dimension.  It does a wonderful job of communicating a sense of the casual familiarity and spontaneity of the Miniver family.  A good scene from that movie to see this is the bomb shelter scene when the Miniver's house is hit.  The combination of the amusing cramped domestic grouping with the terror from the violence of the bombing is masterful.

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So, we have the dog now, but how about a frog, Tom?

 

I'm talkin' about Laughton's iconic shot of the amphibian on the rock as we see those two children floating down the river in the rowboat while trying to escape Mitchum's evil clutches in another noteworthy film here...

 

hmwybsnh9.jpg

 

I'd say this might qualify as another one of those "throwaway little details that add to a film" too.

 

(...at least this was what your thread topic first conjured up in my mind anyway)

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Dargo, the stunning composition of that shot of the frog from The Night of the Hunter (not to mention its pictorial beauty) makes me think, in turn, of one of my favourite adventure films, THE SEA HAWK (1940).

 

This is another black and white film distinguished by the combination of the pictorial artistry of director Michael Curtiz and that of his favoruite cinematographer, Sol Polito. Just take a look at some of these shots from that Errol Flynn pirate yarn, part of the reason why I think this wondrous production is more than just a mere "swashbuckler."

 

seahawk63_zps8fa7e70a.jpg

 

One of the most beautiful settings for any costume picture love scene, as the gallant Captain Thorpe encounters Spanish Dona Maria in an English rose garden. He will, in a moment, call her his "Lady of the Roses." What a breath taking shot this is, thanks to art director Anton Grot, as well as cinematographer Polito, all under the detailed observation of Curtiz.

 

seahawk34_zpsd5259b48.jpg

 

Dona Maria watches as Captain Thorpe's ship, The Albatross, sets sail at night into an English fog.

 

seahawk2_zps3badbd56.png

 

Perhaps my favourite photographic image in The Sea Hawk, as the Albatross sails around a bend as it arrives on a secret mission in Panama.

 

This kind of imagery qualifies as more than just "throwaway details," my original emphasis of the thread, I admit, but they sure do add to an appreciation of a film. And it's the incredible attention to detail by the craftsmen involved that played such a significant role in the make believe "art" of the movies.

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I was delighted when I finally discovered that the Snow Globe in CITIZEN KANE first appears on the dresser of Susan Alexander's apartment, the first night Mr. Kane meets her. And after I discovered that, then I realized that she asked him where he was going and he said he was on the way to a warehouse to locate some items from his early childhood that are stored there. That means the sled and other things from when he was a boy, and if you study the snow globe, the little house inside the globe is similar to the little house he grew up in, in the snows of Colorado.

And the first time we see the globe -- in the opening scene, when Kane is dying -- the snow is falling outside the globe, as well as inside it. How can this be? Well, Kane is delirious, and this is what he is seeing.

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When you see a film often enough you sometimes start paying attention to the little things that you hadn't really noticed before. I was paying attention to the dog in last night's broadcast of Shane.

 

No, I don't mean little Joey's terrier mix that appears throughout the film. I mean the other dog, the one that no one ever thinks about.

 

I'm talking about the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog that lies in Ryker's saloon. He looks like some kind of black and white herding animal. And I first noticed him when Black Hat Wilson (Jack Palance) first appears in the film and walks into the bar looking around.

 

You know that Wilson is bad news, not just because of his appearance and the musical cues, but because the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog stands up and slinks out of view as Wilson enters the bar.

 

The "I Don't Want NoTrouble" dog also appears just prior to the film's gun shooting climax when Shane, now decked out in buckskins and with his gun in its holster, appears in the bar looking for action. If you watch the scene you'll notice that the dog lies quietly on the floor during the initial dialogue exchange between Shane (Alan Ladd) and Ryker (Emile Meyer).

 

It's only when Palance stands up that the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog does his thing and, once again, slinks out of the room.

 

cafa907e-433a-4557-9321-5ffa1f7da950_zps

 

This is the best shot that I could find of the "I Don't Want No Trouble" dog lying on the floor to the right of the swinging door as Wilson is about to enter the room. Believe me, in a moment that dog will be on his paws and outta there.

 

It's kind of a fun little aspect to the film to appreciate, even if just a small throwaway detail.

 

Can anyone think of favourite little aspects or moments in a film that might slip the eye of another viewer, but has added to your pleasure of a film?

Good catch. It's things like that that add to a film, even if we don't notice them consciously.

 

In "Cry of the City" we see Richard Conte's father resigning his position as treasurer of the Italian-American social club. It's never stated, but the implication is that this is the result of the disgrace his son has brought on the family.

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The snow globe is on the left, on the dresser, in front of the old photo of the little girl:

 

susansapartment.jpg

This is the globe that Kane picks up when he's tearing Susan's room apart after she leaves him. He looks at it, and suddenly it all comes back to him: the moment he was torn away from his mother's love. And he says "Rosebud" for the first time.

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I've mentioned in other threads in the past about the sheet folding Thelma Ritter does in REAR WINDOW.  Folds it darned near perfect while never losing a beat in the flow of her dialogue.

 

There's a movie , I forget the title, in which Walter Slezak, while conversing with Cary Grant, is busy meticulously cutting and removing the skin from a piece of sausage.  He too, never losing a beat in the rhythm of the delivery.

 

Sepiatone

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I've mentioned in other threads in the past about the sheet folding Thelma Ritter does in REAR WINDOW.  Folds it darned near perfect while never losing a beat in the flow of her dialogue.

 

There's a movie , I forget the title, in which Walter Slezak, while conversing with Cary Grant, is busy meticulously cutting and removing the skin from a piece of sausage.  He too, never losing a beat in the rhythm of the delivery.

 

Sepiatone

 

The Grant \ Slezak movie is People Will Talk also with Jean Crain.

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Of course, one of the most noteworthy of illustrations is that moment at the end of Shane in which the faint cry of "Bye Shane" can be heard from little Joey as the gunman rides away in the film's final seconds. It signals the boy's realization and acceptance that his hero will not be returning.

 

Much has been made of this moment in another thread of mine, I know, but it clearly applies as an illustration of a little detail that enriches a film, as well.

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Max Steiner, aside from being the most prolific of all studio film composers, had a trademark of frequently using leitmotifs in his musical scores, a recurring musical phrase that would help to identify a particular character in the film.

 

Among his many film scores that employed this musical device was Steiner's for John Ford's The Informer. In particular he had a recurring musical phrase for Margot Grahame, who played the role of a Dublin prostitute for whom Gypo (Victor McLaglen) betrays a member of the IRA for the reward money so that he could take the hooker away to the States for a fresh beginning.

 

In the film's big climactic scene McLaglen finally confesses to his betrayal before members of the IRA. After his confession McLaglen sits on a bench, with his head in his hand, repeatedly saying to himself, "I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I did it."

 

As he says these words, Steiner's musical score answers him, gently playing the sounds of Grahame's leitmotif in the background.

 

informer7_zps8caba088.jpg

 

 

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Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch as a "throwaway detail," per se, but sometimes I will gain greater appreciation of a film from "inside" information about the film or a star in it as I watch a particular scene.

 

When Warners produced a lavish costume production entitled Adventures of Don Juan, it was obviously designed to have a central character that paralleled the well known off screen activities of its star, Errol Flynn.

 

That would be reflected in the dialogue, at times.

 

There is a moment in the film in which there is a particular dialogue exchange of note between Don Juan (Flynn) and Spanish Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors).

 

The Queen: "I think you paint yourself blacker than you really are."

 

Juan: "It's the colour that's said to suit me best."

 

Ten years later Flynn would name his autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

 

3238ba56-8cf0-4849-9081-cbbb3b5e57f3_zps

 

 

 

 

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Incidental details and action are what lend depth to a movie.  Shane is one of the best examples of how this is achieved.  Aside from the slinking dog (much like the slinking bar patrons), Stevens fleshes the film out with them, and in a unique way.  Pay attention to how he directs the camera away from the action in many scenes.  A good example is the funeral scene, where it seems the last thing he wants to focus on is the ceremony.  The camera shows the action of the children, notably following Joey walking away from the graveside.  Another time, it literally drifts away to the mountains and the town.

 

 

Slaytonf, I think that a message that Stevens may have been trying to conveying by showing the children in the funeral sequence is that life is a process. Even at the end for one person in the form if his funeral, the innocent children shown represent the future for that same community.

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Another "detail" aspect to SHANE might be something I once remember Warren Beatty mentioning about this film...the depiction of Elisha Cook Jr's demise on that dusty street.

 

I recall Beatty saying how the gun shot from Jack Palance's revolver seems heightened in sound and how Cook's being thrown back and off his feet after being hit seemed quite a departure from anything he had ever seen before, and how that scene would greatly influence how the violent scenes would be portrayed later on the film BONNIE AND CLYDE. 

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