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kevroy7

Daily Dose of Darkness #4: Over a Barrel (The Opening Scene of Dark Passage)

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I think the first-person POV works, even though it can't be used from the very beginning. As someone else mentioned, we have to empathize with VIncent, since we ARE Vincent. I love this movie, and it's fun to see it again and will be fun to read others' reactions and analysis.

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I like the way the camera and Bogie focuses on the driver. We are feeling with Bogie the tension rising as each question raises the certainty that the driver suspects his rider is a felon of some sort and we wonder what Bogie is going to do about it.

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The first person POV adds some uncertainty to what we view. Usually the audience can see what's hiding around in the bushes, in this you cannot. Once the radio report happens you know Bogie has to do something but what? He knocks the guy out but does he take the car, get out and run or something else?

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The first-person POV only contributes to the audience's intimacy towards the film's anti-hero, Vincent Perry, portrayed by a brilliant Bogart. Like several others had already emphasized, we, as an audience are Perry. With this visual coherence, the audience is more inclined to feel sympathetic towards a character who may not have initial high merits, which is commonplace within the realm of film noir.

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Liked the POV experience filmatically even if not all movements fully convincable.

It does not put me in the first person experience because I am opposing the rude handling of the driver.

The voice over, what is said and maybe the general tone gives a fatalistic sense of doom even if freedom is temporarily achievement. That is kind of noir for me.

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I'm such a fan of Bogart anyway.  The barrel trip down the hill was good filmed from inside.  The POV was like a crime novel narration.  What happened to the hapless driver?  Too bad neither one of them turned off the radio, but there ya go.   How many Film Noir or other movies begin with voice overs like this, or the camera as the eyes of the narrator, I don't know, so not sure when the device was first used and how many followed.  If this was the first, then hooray.

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This is one of my favorite film noirs in part because of the POV at the beginning. It builds immediate empathy for the character because we are literally "with him" on his escape. I know many dismiss it as gimmicky but I think it was a daring experiment that works for me.

 

As the news comes over the radio about the escape the driver that pickd up Bogart stops by a road sign pointing to San Francisco or San Quentin. Bogart chose to fight for freedom and head to the city. I think that this highlights the concept of choices in both film noir and life. I own this one but I'm looking forward to seeing this one again on TCM.

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I'm such a fan of Bogart anyway.  The barrel trip down the hill was good filmed from inside.  The POV was like a crime novel narration.  What happened to the hapless driver?  Too bad neither one of them turned off the radio, but there ya go.   How many Film Noir or other movies begin with voice overs like this, or the camera as the eyes of the narrator, I don't know, so not sure when the device was first used and how many followed.  If this was the first, then hooray.

Intriguied that the first person POV started with Noir and Daves' DARK PASSAGE. Can see where Scorcesse picked up some pointers for Raging Bull, well done!

Q1: POV very successful; Q2: Tension was definitely ramped up by the first person POV; Q3: We are in Bogey's head, as Prof mentioned in his introduction to DARK PASSAGE. As in Human Beast yesterday, Noir concentrates on an explosive opening to draw us into the action and pull us onto the edge of ours seats!

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Intriguied that the first person POV started with Noir and Daves' DARK PASSAGE. Can see where Scorcesse picked up some pointers for Raging Bull, well done!

 

Q1: POV very successful;

Q2: Tension was definitely ramped up by the first person POV;

Q3: We are in Bogey's head, as Prof mentioned in his introduction to DARK PASSAGE. As in Human Beast yesterday, Noir concentrates on an explosive opening to draw us into the action and pull us onto the edge of ours seats!

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Daily Dose 4 – Dark Passage (1947)

Convicted of murdering his wife, an escapee must prove his innocence.

 

 

dir:  Delmer Daves;  screenplay:  Delmer Daves

novel:  David Goodis

cast:  Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Morehead

 

   The rolling barrel invokes concern for whom ever is in it as it tumbles, down a ravine, down to the level of the tumbler, and into their point of view.  This successful opening creates an interest and concern for the barrel escapee and helps care that his escape is successful, too.

 

   The visual point of view of the hero immediately culled my sympathy: I don't want him to get caught.  I also want to know how he's going to evade capture, and, what's in San Francisco other than to get lost in the crowd?  I mean, if he gets lost, the movie is over!  So what's his next step?

 

   This opening scene's film noir contribution was the unique way in which the first person point of view is introduced, that is, through the eye of a camera, through the eye of a barrel, and then through the eye of the barrel escapee.  The sequence is quick, yet seems gradual and is imperceptible in terms of the time it takes to get off the vehicle, get down the ravine, get up the ravine, and get on a vehicle.

 

   The opening quickly engages empathy.   This style of story telling attributes are a remarkable example of creative conception and execution.

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The thing I like the most about film noir is the dialogue. Bogart is one of the best. When asked why he is in his undershirt, " I like to be comfortable", I'm along for the ride.

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Liked the POV experience filmatically even if not all movements fully convincable.

It does not put me in the first person experience because I am opposing the rude handling of the driver.

 

It actually sounds like it did put you in the first person experience, if the drivers rudeness is upsetting you.

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Well, that was a nice combination of first person and follow shots, mostly used effectively.

 

I think the POV from inside the barrel escaping the truck would have been less effective, but perhaps the shot of Bogie running through the tunnel and shedding his shirt would have been better as first-person. But after getting close to the road, the full time FP-POV was the right choice:

 

It's important to remember that this came out decades before found footage films and youtube conditioned us to recognize and immediately understand a first person perspective. It was a much more daring idea for its time(though it came out the same year as Lady in the Lake, which is a noir entirely in the first person). The filmmakers were trying to ease the audience into it, with normal third person shots, then a couple of first person shots as he falls down the hill, finally going straight into his head.

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I'll admit that it's hard to disconnect current experiences of POV with this film from almost 70 years ago. With GoPros, iPhones, it's easy to see POV and craft our own POV experiences. The movements aren't totally believable (because we know how to do them better now) and I kinda felt like the driving scene went too...quickly. The rapid fire questions is too quick. Though maybe that's a setup for the rest of the film (I haven't seen it so this is all I have to go on!) I'm not sure if POV added to the film - but when I've only seen 4 minutes of it, I really don't have much to go on. 

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While I liked the use of POV shots, some of them were less successful than others. At times, the views and angles taken by the camera seemed like they would be unnatural for a person to actually be executing. 

 

Consider the time, as well. Audiences would not have accepted shaky-cam first person mayhem the way we do today. This was decades before found footage and youtube.

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In our modern day and age of social media we as viewers are inundated with first person cell phone videos. This fact makes the opening to "Dark Passage" seem like a gimmick to my modern eye. However in 1947 this was probably a shock to the movie goers senses and was a useful tool in motivating the action. We are placed literally inside the head of our character's moral dilemma.

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In our modern day and age of social media we as viewers are inundated with first person cell phone videos. This fact makes the opening to "Dark Passage" seem like a gimmick to my modern eye. However in 1947 this was probably a shock to the movie goers senses and was a useful tool in motivating the action. We are placed literally inside the head of our character's moral dilemma.

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I'm not sure what to think about the POV.  I understand they were trying to break new ground and I didn't expect it to be perfect.  It kind of bothered me that the editing would switch back and forth between observer and POV.  If it was all POV, I think there would be more mystery.  One wouldn't know what was going on until the report came on the radio.  One thing that tainted the experience of watching the clip was reading the Curator's Note before watching.  I prefer to experience a movie, book or television going in not knowing anything and letting it unfold before me.  Next time, I'll watch the clip then read the note and questions.

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-- Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful?


-- How do you think the use of a first person POV added to the tension of this scene?


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


 


I feel the opening first person view was very successful.  I enjoyed the set up especially in the shots with the guy who picked him up, it created more suspense.  When he he found out he had escaped from prison, we got to see the look on his face.  It made us more concentrated.


I would say it is important in a different way as you kind of are along with the "villain" or bad guy seeing things from his point of view.  It might make you understand his feelings more, or make you more involved in his story.


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Delmer Daves' use of the first-person POV shot here works to depict this character as just a name and a number of the prison system.  Because we cannot see him, he has no past, no future, and no intrigue - that is once the question of what his crime was is announced on the radio.  He lacks humanity and substance and therefore elicits quite a feeling of dread and impending doom from the viewer, thrusting the film into that particular film noir style.  

 

On another note, the precision of the sign coming into frame just enough to see how far San Francisco is from Vincent's current position is impeccable.  Upon seeing that '11,' the viewer gets a knot in their stomach with questions of how long it will take this man to walk or travel 11 miles and what bad things might happen along the way.

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I'm not sure what to think about the POV.  I understand they were trying to break new ground and I didn't expect it to be perfect.  It kind of bothered me that the editing would switch back and forth between observer and POV.  If it was all POV, I think there would be more mystery.  One wouldn't know what was going on until the report came on the radio. One thing that tainted the experience of watching the clip was reading the Curator's Note before watching.  I prefer to experience a movie, book or television going in not knowing anything and letting it unfold before me.  Next time, I'll watch the clip then read the note and questions.

 

I think they were trying to ease the audience into the POV, which was not a standard style at the time. Think of how this would look to someone who had never seen a found footage movie. 

Also, I agree the curators notes are best read after watching the clip, which is why I just click the link, watch, then return to the email.

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The POV was ok. I liked the shot from the barrel more. It felt like he was running away (litterally). Also liked when the car stopped, a sign saying San Quentin and San Francisco.. like that was the halfway point.

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This is my Favorite Humphery Bogart movie, everytime I  go to a carnival/circus it reminds me of the scene in the car. POV for me is spot on in this movie.

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Oh man, do I love this movie. Can't wait to watch it again. And this opening is fantastic. I think people complaining that it doesn't work are focusing too much on the technical limitations of the day, and not enough on the style and substance of what they actually accomplished here.

First, this was 1947, half a century before Blair Witch popularized first person shaky cam movies. Can you imagine an audience in the 40s sitting down in a dark theatre and immediately being assaulted by wildy shaky cameras and an immediate first person perspective that was constantly rushing past things without allowing us to focus on them? It sounds pretty standard to us today, but for the time it would have forced most of the audience out of the building.

 

So it eases the audience in. It starts with an establishing shot of hands poking out of a barrel on the back of a truck, sirens in the distance, we immediately know what's going on. As the barrel tumbles down the hill we get one or two POV shots, so the audience knows where the camera is and that we're seeing what the escapee is seeing.Then it stays in the barrel and Bogie stumbles out. The camera watches without moving as he stops and pulls of his shirt, then the camera basically whisks into the back of his head so we see him balling up the shirt and hiding it. Those establishing shot tell us everything we need to know about the scene, and quickly accustom us to the idea that we'll be inside the protagonists head for the foreseeable future.

 

I love the use of the camera while in the car, even if the edits are glaringly obvious and the camera doesn't move with the natural feel of a human being. I love what Bogie focuses on while the two men talk. Staring straight at the driver, almost confrontational, until the driver asks him a question and he whips his head away, a clear cue that he's lying.

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I've never found point-of-view to be particularly effective, and Dark Passage seems to me to be a weak film, despite fine performances from the leads. I'm reminded of Lady in the Lake, another film where point-of-view was disasterous.

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