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Daily Dose of Darkness #9: Showstopping (Scene from Gilda)


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Rita Hayworth owned that number,the set, the audience - she was what everyone's eyes were on- you couldn't lookk away.  She enticed all genders, the way she used her body and hair invoked the story of the song she sang and the music that accompanied it.  Her outfit hugged her body and as she moved many times did I think the top would come down, but no one looked away - even though Johnny looked angry at the start, we didn't see his face or reaction until she was done and pulled away from completely undressing in front of the crowd - which to a degree she had already done with the song and the performance.

 

Music helps set the tone or mood for any piece of film.  Right now as we are in this class if I asked many of you to think of music for "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Jaws", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or the "Magnificent Seven" instantly your mind will think of the song or the soundtrack that you identify with that film - music is integral to the story that a film is telling us and sometimes each character will even have their own music.  I use the film, "The Cowboys" and Bruce Dern's character, Long Hair, has his own music which resembles a rattlesnake - my students know all that snakes can do in the wild and a person who is identified with a snake obviously can't be trusted - play the scene without any music - doesn't work - thus, music helps move the story on and helps us identify traits or values with characters.  

 

So as we know from our study of film noir, like an onion, the character, the story and the music has so many layers and as we think we understand one, we find out there is another layer we never even thought about.

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- Rita Hayworth’s performance hinted at a striptease.  Some of her arm movements were somehow forced or off target to me.  Her hip movements and hair tossing were quite salacious, making me believe that while she was teasing the audience, she was trying to hurt Glen Ford’s character or at least make him jealous.  The staging and cloe-ups made the song about Gilda, rather than Mame.

- By letting any man undress her on stage, she is saying to Johnny that anyone can have me, even you, but I’m not yours.  She is willing to damage herself to damage Johnny.

- Music not only sets the tone for the movie and/or particular scenes, it is very effective as a foreshadowing tool.

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Rita Hayworth as Gilda, mesmerizes her audience with her powers of seduction as she sings. She appears to be enjoyed the pleasure of her own sensuality and takes on the persona of "Mame." She seduces the men in the audience with her provocative strip-tease-like dance. They are like  puppets and she is pulling the strings.

 

The musical sequence flows with her movements - emphasizing her voluptuous hair-tossing and hip bumps. It's as if she is controlling the instruments and the rhythm.

 

Music, in film noir enhances and imbues a film with the sexy slide of a trombone, drumbeat to body rhythms and the squeal of the sax, as in "Gilda." Steamy Latin beats give a hint of danger and excitement. Eerily romantic and haunting themes, as in "Laura" work together with the cinematography to evoke emotions of foreboding, suspense, doom and surprise all crucial elements to the film noir style.

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Gilda plays, is, the femme fatale with the fatalistic message "don´t put the blame ...". It is a riveting scene where you can´t keep your eyes off her. She casts a web for Johnny spun by two of the strongest emotionmechanisms, shame and sex. She undresses her character, moreso than her body, which is a feat in such a scene.

The music/lyrics accompanies, supports, this fully and strongly. It is very skillfuly done because you do not really hear the music, you feel it. That is if you do not listen for it specifically.

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Yes,  in many ways they are made for each other.   But one hopes they trade off these roles.  Otherwise one party is going to take too much punishment.  

One thing that is amazing about Gilda, among a lot of other things, is that the movie ends with the couple happily leaving and we may think they are going to be together and well at last. Not the usual punishment at the end of the story. No doom, no tears, no drama for the main characters, who have not lived exemplary lives actually. According to the film noir rules, they should be having what they deserved. A twist or maybe a concession to Rita's career.

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One thing that is amazing about Gilda, among a lot of other things, is that the movie ends with the couple happily leaving and we may think they are going to be together and well at last. Not the usual punishment at the end of the story. No doom, no tears, no drama for the main characters, who have not lived exemplary lives actually. According to the film noir rules, they should be having what they deserved. A twist or maybe a concession to Rita's career.

 

Agreed that the ending of Gilda doesn't fit the so called film noir rule book.   A noir ending would have had Johnny die saving Gilda from Ballin.  Gilda should be able to live since she wasn't a femme fatale character.   Gilda was just young and adolescent. She was the one that both men used and messed with,  not the other way around (the trait of a femme fatale).

 

Johnny deserved to die because he got involved with Ballin and continued his relationship with Ballin,  a person he knew was up to no good from the start.  Johnny married Gilda out of guilt and loyalty to Ballin to ensure Gilda was faithful to Ballin (a man he believed was dead).  That makes Johnny just as sick in the head as Ballin.    Both should have meet their doom but that would have been too dark of an ending and might have impacted the box office.     

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The ubiquitous “nightclub scenes” in films from the 40’s serve a standard narrative function. In fact, it goes back to the beginning of time in the form of gathering at the “watering hole.”  Herd animals will gather together at the watering hole because it keeps them safer. Ironically, the watering hole is patrolled by predators looking for an opportunity to pounce. There have been many “watering holes” throughout history, Roman baths, open air markets, renaissance taverns, and Wild West saloons. The 40’s nightclub scene is a descendant of the 30’s speakeasy. The nightclub is the place to make discreet deals and create alliances, but it is also patrolled by shadowy figures looking for opportunity. The nightclub singer is there to both attract and distract the patrons, allowing the predators to do their work. In the case of “Gilda,” Rita Hayworth challenges Glen Ford’s authority by being more of an attraction than a distraction.

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I must shamefully admit that Gilda is one of the noir pictures that have eluded me all these years (*gasp*) , but I definitely plan on fixing that this Friday - especially after this dazzling display from the then Mrs. Orson Welles herself: Rita Hayworth. Her performance here sums up the smoldering essence of a femme fatale in a concise two minute song.

Musical scenes like this often appear but are rarely discussed in noir, hell I'm pretty sure someone could string together an hour long collection of seductive lounge tunes sung by the likes of Lizabeth Scott, Ida Lupino, and Lauren Bacall. And each achieves that core goal: to ensnare whomever the antihero may be at the time, in this case it's defenseless Glenn Ford (especially when the sleeves come off, phew). It's an exciting and entertaining way to convey censor-outraging amounts of sexual tension and seduction. Plus it's a nice little breather as we ramp up for the next round of spitfire exchanges.

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i'm glad others found her dancing clumsy. i beleive it was intentional. 

SPOILERS

Gidla knew that Johnny got upset when other men showed her attention. I don't think she was drunk, she was pushing his buttons and knew what would make him come running to her. So she did the most outrageous thing on purpose to irritate him and once he got irritated he would come to her.

The real mystery was what was their connection in America, I wish there was a 5 minute segment in the movie with a more detailed description but there's not

 

That scene kinda reminds me of Laury in Born to kill using the squirt Danny to needle the new one, but Laury ended up getting murdered playing that game

Absolutely pushing his buttons. Lol!

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The ubiquitous “nightclub scenes” in films from the 40’s serve a standard narrative function. In fact, it goes back to the beginning of time in the form of gathering at the “watering hole.”  Herd animals will gather together at the watering hole because it keeps them safer. Ironically, the watering hole is patrolled by predators looking for an opportunity to pounce. There have been many “watering holes” throughout history, Roman baths, open air markets, renaissance taverns, and Wild West saloons. The 40’s nightclub scene is a descendant of the 30’s speakeasy. The nightclub is the place to make discreet deals and create alliances, but it is also patrolled by shadowy figures looking for opportunity. The nightclub singer is there to both attract and distract the patrons, allowing the predators to do their work. In the case of “Gilda,” Rita Hayworth challenges Glen Ford’s authority by being more of an attraction than a distraction.

 

Ford was far from defenseless.   Gilda was his wife.   Gilda loved him.   Gilda was more than willing to have sex with him.   Too show him affection.  But Johnny was too sick in the head to have a relationship.    He is the one that wanted to control and manipulate Gilda.

 

Note that examples of a man being defenseless to a femme fatale's sexuality would be Swede in The Killers to Kitty or Steve Thompson in Criss Cross to Anna,  his ex-wife.    (both guys played by Burt Lancaster).

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The clip opens with the opening of the blind -bringing things to light. Gilda dances drunkenly. The movements (I wouldn't call it dancing) do not match the rhythm of the song. The camer moves with her as she works the audience -both the one in the club and the one watching the film. The closeups come with the notorius hair flips. She removes the glove slowly. When told for more (which I thought was an encore request) she mistakes it as a strip request. There is quite the slit in the dress. After she is slapped (again a typical behavior in noir), her "tough cookie" facade disintegrates slowly. She doesn't seem to have much self esteem, as she said "Now "they" all know. She is aware thay she just put on quite the show, but sees it more of an embarrassment to him. The men fight over her, but her eyes remain focused on ine spot -she is clearly trying to make a point.

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Professional dancer Rita Hayworth’s wonderfully modulated, awkwardly drunken dance and provocative pseudo-striptease sends the patrons of the dimly lit nightclub into waves of laughter, appreciation and waaaay to much leering helpfulness. The performance also sends her husband, club owner Glenn Ford, into an icy jealous rage. 

 

As the clip begins, the bawdiness of the song and the performance give a lighthearted feeling to the act.  The audience and the viewer are not sure if this number is a song or a come on.  As it progresses, dark close shots of the audience show a crowd, including her husband, becoming more aroused and agitated.  As the show continues Gilda crosses some proprietary barriers, especially for that period.  A close-up of the club’s bouncer first shows the man enjoying the zipper men getting into the act, then, when he glances out and sees his boss in the audience, he moves in quickly to put a lid on the rapidly devolving situation.

 

The bouncer drags/carries Gilda off the stage to the back of the house where her husband waits, seething.  The reaction of the crowd has intoxicated Gilda.  It has given her the courage to stand up for herself.  The semi-public screaming fight between the couple reveals the hatred fomenting beneath a relationship in which the power is out of balance enough to be called unilateral. 

 

The clip is also a good example of the director’s use of formalism and realism.  The scene begins in realism as the husband is seen in conversation in the club’s office.  Formalism is evident in the onstage performance.  Realism returns as Gilda is taken offstage and the fight begins.  The crosscutting of the two forms creates tension, an important noir element.

 

To me, music in films noir often has the feel of a smoky after-hours jazz session.  It gives an air of secrecy, danger and anxiety that certainly feeds the noir sensibility. But just as often, as proven in "Gilda", the music can be a spiky mix of seemingly clashing styles that highlights and deepens the characters and storyline.  Gilda is putting on a show for the audience while putting on the same show with an entirely different meaning for her husband.

 

Not having seen this film, the musical interlude would seem to be a revelatory centerpiece of multi-layered character development. 

 

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The bouncer drags/carries Gilda off the stage to the back of the house where her husband waits, seething.  The reaction of the crowd has intoxicated Gilda.  It has given her the courage to stand up for herself.  The semi-public screaming fight between the couple reveals the hatred fomenting beneath a relationship in which the power is out of balance enough to be called unilateral. 

 

I think this is a good read of how the musical number pushes along the character development. Gilda turns her anger at herself (and her husband) into a public display, one in which she can "out" herself as a bought woman and receive adoration from a large crowd. Your use of the word "intoxicated" to describe her state seems right on--she looks to me like someone in that borderline hysterical state where she is elated and overstimulated and maybe not even sure of the implications of what she has done.

 

There's also something to be said for a musical number that explicitly references a woman's sexuality as being the cause of destruction and death.

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Gilda's sultry performance is a show to irritate Johnny, her method for lashing back at him to play as a loose woman, embarrassing and angering him by dancing a provocative strip tease, grinding and removing clothing while singing the tale of a similar character - Mame, a woman whose beguiling of men caused disasters.  She is playing a femme fatale on stage to manipulate Johnny, by showing her ability to control any man.

The jazz song combined with her dark, slinky, tight dress, and tossing of her hair heighten her display of promiscuity.  The close-ups, framed just above her strapless gown, suggest nudity.  And her flirtations with the male patrons fire Johnny into a rage.

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The syncopation of the music heightens Hayworth's dancing and the flirtiness of her performance. The lyrics support the message she intends to convey and the orchestration encourages the striptease. The closeups make her look naked. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I always worry that her dress is going to expose a little too much. Watching noir movies often reminds me of Ken Burns' documentary on jazz. It reinforces the similarities between the two disciplines. The opening sequence to TCM's Private Screenings" demonstrates this well.

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I have never seen Gilda, though I have heard of it, so that should count for something, right?

I'm certainly not surprised that there have been so many responses to this clip. Hayworth is naturally enticing. And though the googly-eyed men yelling adoration/requests for taking off more clothes was over the top, it certainly adds to how much of an icon Hayworth is here. She certainly seems popular.

 

The combination of film noir and musical (though it may be the only musical performance in the film) never occurred to me before. The jazzy song is cool, though; it instantly reminded me of Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder, which is one of my favorite films and has a few elements of a noir. I think that jazz was born in a very specific cultural climate of the 20s, and that kind of energy and verve makes sense here two decades later. Hayworth's performance is entertaining, and jazz easily lends itself to that.

 

Hayworth's character was probably in some kind of drunken state, and that kind of goes with the jazz, I think. And while her dancing wasn't the greatest, it fits that drunken situation perfectly. Now, whether or not that necessarily leads to a striptease is another question (it certainly does for some people). I'm actually surprised the Hays Code didn't censor this scene, since it's obvious what's happening; the striptease from The Night of the Hunter, which I immediately thought of, wasn't censored in 1955 either, which is even more surprising considering that Rev. Harry Powell gets an erection of sorts. Anyway, I think Hayworth does very well here, and the combination of her luminous skin and her black, slitted dress screams noir, and radiance too.

 

Hayworth's character is probably trying to get back at Johnny, though I'm not sure if that was her intention from the onset. While she does flirt a little with the audience at the beginning, with all of that hair flipping, it doesn't seem like she's doing this out of malice or intended harm. Once the performance is over, however, and she asks for help with her zipper, you can tell that she's trying to get back at somebody for something, whom I'm assuming is Johnny. I'm sure watching the whole film would help in understanding their relationship.

I'm planning on picking this up from the library this week so I can watch the full film, since I don't have TCM. I'll be picking up The Big Sleep this week, too. At least I'll be able to watch a couple of the films that'll be shown on Friday. Plus, I've already seen Detour.

 

And, I guess Madonna was right: Rita Hayworth does in fact gives good face.

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Mame and Gilda are to blame for the seduction, and music is her key weapon.

 

Gilda is definitely the temptress and femme fatale; she is also a flirt supreme.  She knows that she has the goods, and she flaunts those goods to the hilt.  In the close-ups Gilda plays with her hair up and then lets in down. As she begins to take off her gloves and necklace, she is undressing for the crowd.  She lets allows a few men to help her with her zipper.  The music and its title and lyrics add to the seductress' temptation; Gilda is most willing to be blamed for the sexual trysts that will happen.  The music aids in suggesting those deeper layers of Gilda's character as a loose woman.  Sexual tension is a key element in film noir; a woman uses her feminine wiles to get information from a man, and a man such as Philip Marlowe cozies up to a woman to learn more about her motives.  Music is the medium to clues into those passion of the heart.

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The feeling of this scene is she's putting on a show...I don't just mean the song and dance number either...but she's trying to convinced the audience that she's a loose woman. At one point she seems to be playing it drunk...but she's sober as a judge once she's awake from the crowd. It feels like she's trying to hurt Johnny by acting like this...trying to destroy something for him..hurt his pride perhaps. And while "put the blame on mame" sets the scene, it's her actions afterwards that give it significance. 

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Gilda is definitely a femme fatale. She is gorgeous, charming and knows how to use her personality to get what she wants. Her dancing wasn't quite as good, but its her charm that captures the audience. Music and film noir is quite the strange mix, but in reality works well together. The musical sequence gives the femme fatale the chance to shine and show her true colors. In this case, Gilda's character is presented that chance to do just that. Gilda playfully takes her glove off and lets her hair down. Her behavior was if she unleashed herself to the world. She is unhinged and out of control. The femme fatale is not really given that chance to do this. They are usually reserved and stone-faced. With Gilda it's quite the opposite of that. The song choice is like a charm on the audience and us as a spectator. "Blame it on Mame" is definitely a coy way of showing who Gilda really is. There is one line from the beginning "up to all her tricks" which basically lays it all out. I think music definitely contributes a lot to film noir. It can be used as a device to foreshadow a lot of things. 

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Rita Hayworth is a talented actress playing Gilda as an untalented performer.  Gilda is acting as the talent and putting on a show for Johnny.  She wants to hurt him with her "act;" Gilda's ****-coo is designed to slew Johnny.  And putting the "blame on Mame" seems to mirror her relationship with Johnny.

I'm not sure I am clear yet about how music, or at least as it is used in this film, has influence on noir.  Perhaps it contributes to the fact that these people are trying to hurt each other through music.  Gilda certainly wants to use her style of dance and teasing the men in the audience to inflame Johnny.

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I've seen Gilda many times, it's one of my all-time favorite films. 

 

Gilda's song, "Put the Blame on Mame" details the amorous activities of "Mame" whose behavior causes not one, not two, but three natural disasters in the United States: the Great Chicago Fire, the Great Blizzard of New York City and the Great Earthquake in San Francisco.  This song fits femme fatale "Gilda's" character perfectly, because her loose behavior is being blamed for both husband Ballin and on-off again boyfriend (and later husband) Johnny.  Throughout the beginning of the film, Johnny is hired by Ballin to keep tabs on wife Gilda and make sure she stays faithful.  Looking after Gilda turns out to be a full-time job as Gilda openly flirts with and goes out on dates with other men.  She resents her husband trying to control her. 

 

Gilda first performs a much more subdued version of "Put the Blame on Mame" to Uncle Pio, who works at her husband's club.  This song is more innocent as there is nothing nefarious going on.  Gilda was just spending time with her friend--one of the few people in her life who isn't blaming her for something going wrong in their life.  Later in the film, after having returned to Argentina after a stint performing in Uruguay (where she had moved to in order to escape from husband Johnny's controlling ways) she sings "Put the Blame on Mame" in a much more vindictive way.  Tired of everyone thinking she's a s lut and blaming her for all their personal problems, she sings this song in a much more provocative way as a means to show everyone who they think she is.  She even says so after Johnny's thugs pull her away from the stage. 

 

Numerous camera angles and shots were used to film Rita Hayworth's number.  There were many close ups of her face which were used to entice the audience and to seduce them.  She was also wearing a strapless dress, which, when shown from just the shoulders up, gave the illusion of nakedness.  Throughout her routine, she only actually removes one article of clothing--a long, elbow length glove.  However, she removes it in such a seductive manner that it elicits the same response had she taken off her dress.  At the conclusion of the song, just to really anger Johnny, she removes the other glove, her necklace and asks the men in the audience for help with the zipper of her dress.  This sends Johnny over the edge and he slaps her. 

 

Music definitely contributed and influenced the development of film noir as music can be used in so many different ways to create pretty much any type of vibe in the film.  Characters can also use music as a means to further the plot or develop their characters.  In films like The Third Man, the entire score was recorded with a zither.  This stringed instrument provides an eerie sound to the movie, one that almost makes the audience feel uncomfortable--which is perfect for this film, because the movie is uncomfortable.  Jazz is also used a lot in noir, which I really like because jazz music sounds so cool.  With jazz however, it fits into the films so well, as it is a more raw, less refined style of music.  It fits really well in the more gritty settings of film noir, but at the same time, it can also make for very fun dance music in nightclub scenes which also works perfectly in film noir (and really most films in the studio era) as nightclubs were featured often.  Jazz music can also be really slow and steamy which works well for some of the more dramatic and over the top noirs like Sunset Blvd.  If noirs featured a lot of very delicate, polished music, like waltzes or minuets, the music would be very off-putting and out of place.  In many noirs, the music sets the mood of the film at the beginning and through crescendos and diminuendos of the volume, the film can be frantic or relaxed. 

 

In films like Gilda, Gilda performs two musical numbers (technically three, but two are the same song), "Put the Blame on Mame" and "Amado Mio."  Both songs utilize Hayworth (a professional dancer before coming to Hollywood)'s dancing skills and vivaciousness.  In the first "Put the Blame on Mame" performance and "Amado Mio," both songs are sung innocently, which I believe depicts the real Gilda.  The second, most famous rendition of "Put the Blame on Mame" reflects the Gilda that everyone thinks she is.  She does an over-the-top performance just to annoy husband Johnny.  These musical numbers lend to the character development of Gilda and to an extent, reveal the character flaws of Johnny.  This number and the subsequent scenes between Johnny and Gilda reveals the severity of their love-hate relationship. 

 

Film noirs often feature one of my favorite classic film era staples, the torch singer.  Torch singers are typically women, who perform solo, on a stage in a very passionate, no frills performance.  Usually it's just the singer and the microphone and she'll sing her heart out over an unrequited love, a bad relationship, a lost chance at a relationship, anything.  Typically these songs are about a facet of love.  I love these performances because they really lend to the overall mood of the film.  These aren't typically happy songs.  They're flecked with raw emotion.  These poor women are really baring their souls to everyone in the audience. 

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Wow!! Gilda is beautiful, sexy and a confident woman. You can take a women off the streets but you can not take the street out of the women. You can not control this type of women .Many men in Film Noir try but they often fail, leading to disaster. She's a Femme Fatale.

Since Film Noir combined many art forms it would also incorporate the most popular music from the era which was Jazz. 

Gilda  is filmed in a seductive way and the song is very sensual . She almost does a striptease but goes to far with the  zipper. Even her man's partner is enjoying the show until he catches himself. Her man slaps her after she leaves the stage and she almost call herself a ****. Why is it that the same thing that attracts you to a person can make you hate them for the same reason?

We learn the basis of their relationship from this scene. I don't know how this is going to end but it does not look good for them at this point.

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I am a few days late doing these...life gets in the way sad to say

 

 


-- What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?

From not seeing this film what i can kind of tell is she uses the stage to her advantage meaning she hides in front of the stage. What I mean by that is she is another person on stage then when she is off stage. (Like how stars are today, when they are out in public around people, working compared to behind closed doors) I think when she is off stage she is a very sad, mixed up women, but she knows she has sex appeal and she uses that to her advantage it is her weapon of choice if you will. When she was throwing gloves to the crowed some of the men who went for them, if you look next to them their wives or girlfriends were right next to them! 

 

 

-- What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

 

As I said she uses sex as her weapon and she uses it to get what she wants. The song put the blame on maine could mean don't put the blame on me! Look at me!!! I am hot!!! I would not do anything wrong!!! (but i get what I want in the end!! no matter how many hearts i break!!)

 

-- In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

 

The music can influence the style of the film! Look at the 2 openings of Touch of Evil! The opening the studio came up with with the main title music over the credits - the music is jazz by the way. Then the same opening reedited to Orson's way, one long camera shot and we hear music but coming over everyone's radio at various points and without opening credits. So the music can change the entire mood of a film film noir or any other film!!

 

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This is one of the great film noir scenes and the song and dance really further the story and let you see both Gilda's fatale persona as we'll as well as some of her vulnerability.

 

It is interesting to compare and contrast this song/dance scene and how it helps develop the Gilda character with Bacall's singing of And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine in The Big Sleep. 

While it is my all time favorite film noir, I don't think that Bacall's song does much at all to further the story.

In fact, it is more of a relief valve, allowing the tension in the film to subside.

IMHO, Hawks could have used a different device to bring Marlowe and Mrs. Regan together at the gambling house.

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