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Dr. Rich Edwards

Into the Darkness Video Lecture #1: The Heist (Official Discussion Thread)

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I was thinking about the idea of the perfect storm of factors that produced Noir. If there hadn't been a war in europe, there wouldn't have been Noir. If there hadn't been a studio system there wouldn't have been noir. If there hadn't been the gritty detective novels then there wouldn't have been noir. What Noir was, above all, was a reaction to the times. That isn't to say that it was just some flash in the pan and then it was gone. I really believe it changed the way movies were made...and that change is something that never truly went away. 

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Can someone help me locate the video lecture? Finding the lecture notes 1-4 on Canvas...but not the video.  Thanks!

 

The video is on Page 2 of Module 2/Week 2 of Canvas. Here's a direct link - scroll down the page a bit, it's in the middle of the page: https://learn.canvas.net/courses/748/pages/the-heist-part-2-of-4-the-case-of-film-noir-part-1-video-lecture?module_item_id=130627

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To all the people taking the quiz on the canvas.net site, best of luck! I'm sure it is incredibly gauche to brag about my grade. But I haven't taken a quiz in more than 30 years. I got a perfect score and I am giving myself a gold star.  :D

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Great lecture, Mr. Edwards! You did a fantastic job explaining what Noir is, and providing background information about the genre. Something I really liked about it was your discussion of "The Maltese Falcon". I liked how you credited part of its success with John Huston's sticking the original source material which was itself a great work of fiction, in addition to the great casting and direction. I also really appreciated how you addressed it as often being cited as the "first" Film Noir, even though Noir had hidden in plain sight as you put it several years in films such as Hitchcock's "Rebecca" before critics began to realize that these new types of crime dramas were something different, something special. I also really like the way you address the linkage between Films Noir in the 1940s, and the pulp novels from the 1930s by writers such as Hammett and Chandler, that examined a different kind of criminal psychology, which is I think part of what makes Film Noir such an interesting sub-genre of crime film. Great introduction to Film Noir, and to the course! I look forward to next lecture.

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You got to add WWII resource rationing, and west coast blackouts, into the mix also. Check out "Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir" Paperback – October 19, 2005 by Sheri Chinen Biesen

 

 

Tout est noir

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I very much enjoyed the whole heist analogy that fits the noir discussion quite well, and also the notion that Mr. Edwards raised about focusing on each individual noir and what they brought to the table.

Lots of people seem to be discussing the whole style/genre/film movement thing, and I feel like the answer really depends on what each of us enjoy noir for. If it's for the shadows and visual darkness, it's most certainly a style. If it's for story and characters, then it's a genre. And for those of us who water at the mouth for the tone and underlying meaning, then it's a film movement.

 

Each have their merits and setbacks. I'll say for me personally I fall somewhere between style and genre, it's tough to say for sure - especially in modern noir that indulge in the characteristics if not the visual style of their earlier counterparts. This adherence to the classic archetypes also raise a question (for me at least), should the phrase "neo noir" really exist if the style itself never really went away? Curious as to what other people think on this. Me personally, I think that film noir has just continued and mutated into the modern era, albeit with some minor adjustments for the changing of the times. But in all honesty, it's the same thing that happened when the 40's films noir transitioned into the 50's.

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another dumb question, where is this quiz located?

Go to your Canvas dashboard, and you'll see it on the right hand side. 

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another dumb question, where is this quiz located?

yeah log in to your canvas.net account and click "assignments" on the left hand side

make sure you watch the video and do the reading, won't take more than an hour total

and watching the daily doses helps too

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Just watched the lecture one question that goes begging is why no mention of I Wake Up Screaming (1941) professor? Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone with Noir icons, Victor Mature, Laird Cregar, and Eliza Cook Jr., with Carol Landis, and Betty Grable. Released just 28 days after The Maltese Flacon, it has way way more Noir cinematography than The Maltese Falcon and is about obsession also, though in it, the obsession is sexual, and like Laura it's over the murder of a woman. 

 

I agree with jist of the lecture, regardless.

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I like to think of Film Noir as a cinematic movement full of unique style that became a genre. Although its heyday was the 1940s-1950s,Film Noir lives on in Chinatown, L.A. Confidential,Drive,Thief, Killer Joe and so on.

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Just watched the lecture one question that goes begging is why no mention of I Wake Up Screaming (1941) professor? Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone with Noir icons, Victor Mature, Laird Cregar, and Elisa Cook Jr., with Carol Landis, and Betty Grable. Released just 28 days after The Maltese Flacon, it has way way more Noir cinematography than The Maltese Falcon and is about obsession also, though in it, the obsession is sexual, and like Laura it's over the murder of a woman. 

 

I agree with jist of the lecture, regardless.

I just watched it, it was on FXM and it will be on Monday at 4:30 AM again.  Great film.

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I think it has to do with the same attitudes that brought about the Hayes Code, jazz was the "devils music" it was usually used in diegetic sequences where bad things happened. lol

Could this also be because many of the jazz musicians of the time were African American? Not only were many of Hollywood's films of the period largely white washed, but jazz didn't really transgress it's subversive nature until artists like Elvis Presley (rock and roll) and later Led Zeppelin (ska) began appropriating its forms.

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It's 4:32 p.m. on Friday, June 12, and I just heard a piece on All Things Considered (NPR) about TCM's Summer of Darkness and this class! Dr. Richard Edwards gave some insights about watching film noir. Great to know that we're getting some attention from other media.

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Sorry I missed the NPR piece on the class and Dr. Edwards. I would have liked to have heard it (I was lucky to catch the spot on All Things Considered about Christopher Lee on Thursday). Anyway, in relation to the lecture, I found that I had once referred to film noir as a genre. I was wrong. I really do subscribe to the theory of film noir as a cinematic style, adaptable to every film genre including westerns, in which it seems to be a perfect fit. I'm thinking of such doom-laden oaters released by Lippert Pictures such as LITTLE BIG HORN (1951) and THE TALL TEXAN (1953), both starring Lloyd Bridges, already a veteran of such contemporary noir productions as TRAPPED (1949) and TRY AND GET ME! (1950, aka THE SOUND OF FURY). The lecture was quite revealing and clarified things for me.

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Very enlightening and enjoyable lecture in a perfect setting! No better place for it than one of the remaining historic movie palaces where noir can be seen as it was meant to be seen :)

 

As for definition, i'm with the Prof and the Czar in seeing content as the thing that tips the scales. Desire, fate, doomed love ... al lthose elements named in the study materials as being essential elements of the characters and stories. Of course, to qualify as a genuine noir, the style has to be there too, as evidenced by the example of CRISS CROSS and it's plain-vanilla non-noir remake THE UNDERNEATH. And calling a film made outside of the period "noir" (instead of proto- or neo-noir) doesn't feel right either. So I'd say to qualify as a bonafide noir all three criteria have to be met.

 

"Genre", on the other hand, is the loosest category - many cinema enthusiasts would put a Western like BLOOD ON THE MOON and others that have been named here in the noir box, for instance. With studio-era filmmaking being such a collaborative and creative enterprise and most cast and crew members working in multiple genres, there are so many hybrids and mongrels out there - Westerns, horror films, sci-fi, dramas, romances and more, that have the other foot firmly planted in noir territory.

 

Enjoy Dark Friday # 2!

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Just watched the lecture one question that goes begging is why no mention of I Wake Up Screaming (1941) professor? Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone with Noir icons, Victor Mature, Laird Cregar, and Eliza Cook Jr., with Carol Landis, and Betty Grable. Released just 28 days after The Maltese Flacon, it has way way more Noir cinematography than The Maltese Falcon and is about obsession also, though in it, the obsession is sexual, and like Laura it's over the murder of a woman. 

 

I agree with jist of the lecture, regardless.

 

Great point! The lecture was a condensation of a longer lecture I typically give on the topic. Regarding I Wake Up Screaming, it was Episode 38 of the Out of the Past podcast series I did for 8 years with Shannon Clute. At the time we recorded our thoughts on the film, here was our summary of that film--and I agree, I probably should have mentioned it in the Heist lecture - thanks for reminding me!: 

I Wake Up Screaming was produced concurrently with The Maltese Falcon and released shortly after, and thus stands as one of the earliest examples of noir. The Maltese Falcon is the more uniform achievement, successfully coupling a consistent noir visual style with noir themes of disillusionment. But for these very reasons I Wake Up Screaming may be the more important film to scholars of noir. It vacillates between a 1930's-style love story and a war-era tale of existentialist dread, between traditional light-saturated, protagonist-centered staging and elaborate off-kilter compositions bathed in darkness. It is a Janus film, and it is debatable whether it looks primarily backwards or forwards, is principally an ending or a beginning.
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This was such a great and insightful video lecture. I've always considered Film Noir a genre with an immense amount of style. However, after viewing this video, I've come to find and conclude it falls into the genre, style, and movement categories. Categorizing such a specific type of film can hinder it in an unnecessary way. And Film Noir is definitely deserving of reverence, praise, and in depth study.

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Great point! The lecture was a condensation of a longer lecture I typically give on the topic. Regarding I Wake Up Screaming, it was Episode 38 of the Out of the Past podcast series I did for 8 years with Shannon Clute. At the time we recorded our thoughts on the film, here was our summary of that film--and I agree, I probably should have mentioned it in the Heist lecture - thanks for reminding me!: 

I Wake Up Screaming was produced concurrently with The Maltese Falcon and released shortly after, and thus stands as one of the earliest examples of noir. The Maltese Falcon is the more uniform achievement, successfully coupling a consistent noir visual style with noir themes of disillusionment. But for these very reasons I Wake Up Screaming may be the more important film to scholars of noir. It vacillates between a 1930's-style love story and a war-era tale of existentialist dread, between traditional light-saturated, protagonist-centered staging and elaborate off-kilter compositions bathed in darkness. It is a Janus film, and it is debatable whether it looks primarily backwards or forwards, is principally an ending or a beginning.

 

And speaking of I Wake Up Screaming

 

TCM should have a Street Scene Noir's theme night.

 

The score is by Alfred Newman (originally used for Street Scene 1931) and was re-used for Cry Of The City, Kiss Of Death, Where The Sidewalk Ends, and The Dark Corner. 

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Maybe Noir is a genre or style or movement..or...

 

Maybe Noir... thought the Grinch...is a little bit more.

 

Well that's a funny kind of name,   Doghouse Reilly.

 

But hey, I can never get enough of Martha Vickers.   Ok,  she didn't make a lot of movies and she was only OK as an actress but I have many still photos of her and she is picture perfect.     How Rooney was able to marry both Ava Garner and Martha (as well as other beauties),   is the stuff dreams are made of.

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Style, genre, or movement? 

 

Before this lecture or even this course, I was convinced that film noir was a genre, even though I could never describe it to friends and family when they asked what such a category could possibly mean.  On most occasions, I would avoid the conversation entirely by bypassing my input and starting up the DVD player.  However, now I feel very strongly that “genre” is far too rigid an account to ascribe to film noir.  The very fact that there are so-called “noir westerns, noir comedies, noir musicals, and noir Christmas films” according to Dr. Edwards already tells me that noir is bigger than any one facet of Hollywood production, bigger than any one type of film.  My gut reaction is to conclude that film noir is a style.  Each and every Friday film that I have seen bears a kind of blueprint or template.  That is not to suggest that these films are cookie-cutter in nature.  On the contrary!  Anyone that sees and hears even one example cannot help but feel disturbed, uneasy, pessimistic, sympathetic, and emotionally and morally violated in some fantastically pleasurable way.  Anyone who watches even a portion cannot help but admire the distinct lighting, carefully crafted shadows, camera angles, prop selections, and shot elevations.  Anyone who lends an eye cannot help but notice threads of “greed, lust, jealousy, and revenge” (as Eddie Muller notes in his overview) as well as darkness, fear, ire, dejection, corruption, chaos, and stealth.  Every watch and re-watch is new and exciting because every director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter, etc., layers their work so subtly and seamlessly that I constantly miss the “obvious”: the nuances, the phrases, the glares and glances, the tension, the twitches, the wit, the hints, the secrets.  In my dissections, not just these past two weeks but for several years now thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I am compelled to give film noir more breathing room and credit than a mere genre ever could.  As for whether or not it is a movement, well…..such conclusions on my part will have to wait for more Hollywood history from Dr. Edwards in his future lectures and notes.  My knowledge of world and American history post-1800s is rather poor!  I will remark that with the changing times, the American melding of international influences, and the depressive state of our country in the late 1930s-1950s, it’s no wonder the term “movement” is up for discussion!

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I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the lecture.  I read the transcript as I listened to the lecture and it really made it stick.  Thanks for making it easy and thanks for the flexibility.

 

Any chance on a class covering pre-code movies?  Please?

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