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


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I liked the shot from the barrel more than the POV.  I didn't really have a problem with the POV shot, the shot from the barrel as he was escaping was more of a "wow" feeling for me, though. It is kind of brave to have a star like Bogart and not show his face in the opening, though.

 

I think it's contribution to noir is an interesting variation of the man looking for escape.  In movies like Double Indemnity, a man looks to escape from a dull, stifling life to one of riches and excitement.  Here, the man literally needs to escape from jail.  Thought that was an interesting twist.

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Well compared to the first three openers, this one was not as exciting. But I am going to isolate myself from the first three Daily Doses and go back to the time when I first viewed Dark Passage, since I've seen this movie countless times.  When I first saw the opening I thought it was one of the prison break movies. (Prison movies are down on my list of movies I watch).  However, I heard I used the the technique of the Lady in the Lake effectively.  Sooooo. on first viewing I thought it was cheesy, ineffective and has to be due to me a modern viewer of film. When the guy with the chin dimple showed up that's when I knew I had to stick through it. As much as I like the film i still don't care for the opening but it's still an A+ film. I high dislike the breathing and talking in the beginning.

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For me, knowing that this movie was 'point of view' proved distracting, because at first I thought that the main character was actually in the vehicle carrying the barrel, who was watching the barrel roll off! It's more than a bit unsettling, though, switching from watching the character escape the barrell, to suddenly BEING the character, watching the police, then being picked up, then hitting the driver (lots of hitting too - that was rough!) 

 

Great job of setting the location, not only with the 'San Quentin' on the barrel and knowing that he's trying to get to San Francisco (the Civic Center, of course!), but also the way that the car stops right at the sign pointing to the 2 locations, in opposite directions. 

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—Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful, and did it add to the tension?
I'm not sure that the use of the first-person POV was successful. It felt a bit contrived to me because I want to see the star (who happens to be Humphrey Bogart) and not just hear what he's thinking. But I wonder if any other perspective would have allowed the director the advantage of letting the audience hear the character's thoughts. The technique seems to work best when Bogart’s character meets the driver who picks him up on the road because we see firsthand the driver’s sudden realization that he had an escaped convict in his car.

 

—In what ways can the opening of Dark Passage be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?
The opening clip to Dark Passage switches back and forth from third-person to first-person POV at the beginning. The entire sequence might have been more effective if more of the third-person POV was used throughout. But apparently the first-person POV style of shooting was brand new, and Daves was the first to use it. For that reason alone, I’d say Daves made an important contribution to cinema in general, not just film noir.

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The first person POV was mainly successful--even with having to shoot one section as if seen by a third person through a barrel that had no bottom (talk about suspending your disbelief!)--in that it gave it both a sense of urgency and empathy with Vincent Parry you might not have gotten any other way. 

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—Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful, and did it add to the tension?

I'm not sure that the use of the first-person POV was successful. It felt a bit contrived to me because I want to see the star (who happens to be Humphrey Bogart) and not just hear what he's thinking. But I wonder if any other perspective would have allowed the director the advantage of letting the audience hear the character's thoughts. The technique seems to work best when Bogart’s character meets the driver who picks him up on the road because we see firsthand the driver’s sudden realization that he had an escaped convict in his car.

 

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

The opening clip to Dark Passage switches back and forth from third-person to first-person POV at the beginning. The entire sequence might have been more effective if more of the third-person POV was used throughout. But apparently the first-person POV style of shooting was brand new, and Daves was the first to use it. For that reason alone, I’d say Daves made an important contribution to cinema in general, not just film noir.

 

You haven't seen the full movie yet, have you? trust me, it will make sense why we don't see Bogie this early in the film.

 

Also, this movie came out in September 1947, there's another movie, Lady in the Lake, that came out in January of that year. That one is entirely first person, though I don't think it's anywhere near as successful as Dark Passage.

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First of all the driver was really asking for it with the 20 questions bit. Who asks a hitchhiker a perfect stranger all that personal stuff? Hope he gets it good.      


The POV was successful for me because it gives a sense of mystery about the escaped convict. Before the radio broadcast he is a prisoner but for what degree of crime? The POV had me thinking about it. 


The tension POV added to the scene was like I said before added mystery to the scene. We haven't seen the mans face yet and when he hitches that ride then towards the end of the scene we see the road sign with direction arrows to San Quentin /San Francisco and the added radio broadcast, stuff was bound to happen.


I think the contribution to film noir style is important because I think it generally brought the ambiance of noir. I was aware of the impending doom for the driver and if this opening scene is any indication of the the movie I'm not expecting see a "Riding off into the sunset." ending.


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In the Daily Dose clip for Dark Passage, I was struck by the two POV images framed by circles, the first Bogart emerging from the barrel and the second his first glimpse of San Francisco across the water, roughly encircled by the boughs of the foilage around him. Views from birth canals? I can't remember the entire film but I wonder if there is other similar framing in later scenes.

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I do feel that the first person POV used by Delmer Daves in the opening sequence of Dark Passage effectively engages the viewer in the tense and desperate mindset of the escaped convict in the first few moments of his attempt to evade capture.  This visual tool is enhanced by the effective voice-over that puts the viewer inside the head of the escapee to experience his thoughts.  During the ride in the car, use of the first person POV focused on the motorist causes the viewer to wonder what the owner of the disembodied voice really looks like.  Are there things about the appearance of the hitchhiker – other than wet shoes, unusual pants, and the lack of an outer shirt – that would make me more or less suspicious than the motorist if I were driving the car?

 

 

By reading the plot summary in the TCMDb Archive, I see that the first person POV is also crucial to keeping the face of the protagonist unseen until the bandages come off after plastic surgery to reveal that he looks just like Humphrey Bogart.  I do not think I am in a position to say whether this constitutes an important contribution to the flm noir style, but it appears to typify the sort of innovative approaches overall that put film noir on the cutting edge of Hollywood production during this period.

 

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In the Daily Dose clip for Dark Passage, I was struck by the two POV images framed by circles, the first Bogart emerging from the barrel and the second his first glimpse of San Francisco across the water, roughly encircled by the boughs of the foilage around him. Views from birth canals? I can't remember the entire film but I wonder if there is other similar framing in later scenes.

 

Considering what Bogie is about to do before the film switches away from first person, that seems like an incredibly observant point.

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You haven't seen the full movie yet, have you? trust me, it will make sense why we don't see Bogie this early in the film.

 

Also, this movie came out in September 1947, there's another movie, Lady in the Lake, that came out in January of that year. That one is entirely first person, though I don't think it's anywhere near as successful as Dark Passage.

Cool! I did not know about the "Lady in the Lake" movie, just finished the book a couple of weeks ago.

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Cool! I did not know about the "Lady in the Lake" movie, just finished the book a couple of weeks ago.

 

Sweet! It's part of the summer course, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again with a more critical eye. I didn't like it much when I first saw it, but maybe I'll find something I missed.

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—Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful, and did it add to the tension?

Having seen this movie I know why the first person POV was used by Delmer Daves in the opening sequence of Dark Passage, it works. I think that wanting to see the face of the unknown person leads to the mystery and makes us want to continue to watch, at least to the inevitable point that we do get to see his face.

 

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

Insight into the mind of our primary character. 

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I have watched this movie before and I have it on DVD as part of the Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall collection, but it has been awhile since I watched it and I don't remember much about the movie. 

 

However, I do remember the use of first person POV, so in that regards, I could argue it was successful. In the opening, I think it works by creating a lot of questions in the head of the viewer, in the same vein as the Quiz Show driver. For a moment, we are ALL that driver, wondering who the hell Bogart's character is and what his story is. When he hears that radio broadcast, our reaction is similar, but we are reacting that way because Bogart has been found out. 

 

This opening has a lot of the classic trademarks of Film Noir--voice-over narration, the police chase,and of course, the black-and-white cinematography.   

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The use of the POV in the beginning scene was very successful. POV shots puts the spectator right at the scene of the action. The tension was definitely there because you feel as if you are the character and you're only motive at that moment is to escape as quickly and not to get caught by the police. I feel the dialogue also helped create more tension to the scene because you hear his thoughts and what he is feeling at the moment. I loved the dialogue between him and the driver. The tension builds up because you don't know what can happen. His is asking so many questions and you can see Bogart's nervousness as he looks back to see if any police are his tail. It defintiely does play an important contribution to the film noir style with its cinematography and how it hides his face.

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I've seen this movie several times and  (no spoilers ahead) I've come to the point where I don't just see through his eyes, I AM the convict in the barrel, I'm dizzy from the roll down the hill, I'm terrified of being caught. This technique is an invitation to me to be IN the film, not just an observer. It helps me to experience everything more deeply than if I'm just sitting in my seat in the theater.  Also, the circus tent seat cover might as well be a load of venetian blinds. I love that as an early tag as well. Danger Ahead!

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AMAZING opening scene. I tend not to watch "oldies" with the contemporary eyes; so as far as I am concerned, the use of first person POV in this scene was successful. (Oddly enough, it reminded me of video game Call of Juarez). This point of view adds extra tension to the opening scene, since we are put automatically into the "shoes" of the main character. We become that character, and this "forced empathy" is somewhat an oddity, because we usually have time to get introduced to the characters in films, and our sympathies grow gradually.

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I have a DVD of this movie and have watched it several times. I did not particularly like the POV opening the first time I watched it - it continues for a long way beyond the opening clip we see here - and I thought it was gimmicky. However, it made sense we we finally get to see Bogie's face, so I changed my mind about it then.

 

As for the opening clip, the scene in the jalopy raises more questions than it answers, such as why the emphasis on the unusual seat covers, why does the driver ask about Bogie's pants, why does he not seem frightened when he learns from the radio that his passenger is an escaped murderer? These questions will all be answered as the movie progresses.

 

This is one of my favorite movies. It has a great supporting cast, and several "inside" jokes. One of them (this will not spoil the movie for you) is that a photo of the film's Director, Delmer Daves, was used for the newspaper clipping photo of a convicted wife murderer, ha ha.  

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I'm not always a fan of first person POV, but I thought it worked perfectly here. It keeps the escaped convict's identity a mystery, and when his description is given on the radio and the driver begins to realize who he is, there is great tension. I thought the POV was especially effective when the camera is in the barrel rolling down that hill and when Bogie pops out of it. The sirens build up right before the voiceover begins. It's an interesting mix of film techniques that I think I have never seen altogether before. I'm anxious to see just how far into the movie they wait to go until they show the man's face. 

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I totally agree with Mr.Daves. He succeeded in using the first person POV in this opening. We are there in the middle of the action, we spin, we breath, we jump along with Mr.Bogart, WE ARE HIM. I understand some concernings explained in the previous comments of this blog. BUT, do you realize this is a 1947 movie? Have you ever seen the size of a camera like the one used in this film?? Not to mention the base that supports it, the cables, the connections… Both technically and dramatically, this achievement is outstanding! I look forward to see the film complete.

 

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Today's notes on films set in San Francisco reminded me of one of the reasons I like this film; The City plays itself marvelously in Dark Passage. The opening scene, in which the POV switches (at least initially) between first and third person places the viewer not only behind the eyes of Bogart's character, but invites one to consider his choices-should I or should I not leave the shirt here? The thrill of a death row escape, the sense of being hunted, and the ever-present danger of recapture lend themselves to the cautionary tale that is this particular #noir classic.

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I loved the barrel marked San Quentin.  The shots of the barrel rolling downhill from different perspectives while the sirens were going made me believe the person in there would be caught.  The barrel landing with a thump and a splash had me wondering if the one inside was alright.  The scene in the auto and the too good looking guy was perfect too.  Passing the time with questions that led up to the radio broadcast of the escape, and then the driver looking as the characteristics of the escapee were announced on the radio .  Yes. it was a good scene.  I never saw the film but I have a copy and will watch it a few times now. 

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