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Dr. Rich Edwards

JUNE 26 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS

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Do On Demand or the TCM App.  

 

Do On Demand or the TCM App or the TCM Website.  My cable box has been having issues with TCM so that's how I've been watching all of the movies.  They're all available until the 3rd or 4th.  You just have to login with your cable site showing you have cable.  Do not despair!  

I will try this but we did try to look it up On Demand and it wasn't showing up. I'm not on cable, have Directv

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ACT OF VIOLENCE

 

"He dies, or you die. It's him or you"

 

One of the finest Noirs in the Summer of Darkness so far. I can't add much to the great observations already posted in this thread. 

 

Just a few things....

- The fact the credits are saved until after the film, very unusual for the time. Zinneman did not want to waste time and drag the viewer into the story right away. 

- The phenomenal score by Bronislau Kaper; effective, atmospheric and ,,,

- The sound effects. The use of a personal 'sound' as an identifier and signifier. Like Peter Lorre had the whistle in M, Robert Ryan has the drag of his limp foot. But also the absence of score during the final showdown and the complete reliance on diegetic sound effects, 

- So soon after WW2, addressing the psychological trauma of Americans who went to fight oversees. Not only that, but the nuanced approach to how soldiers act under duress and pressure. 

- Fantastic performances by the entire cast. Van Heflin is without a doubt one of the finest actors of his generation. But everyone in this film is at the top of their game, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan, and the small but poignant performance by Mary Astor.

 

That sequence in the tunnel when Van Heflin has his mental breakdown is just amazing...

 

"Don't do it Joe. Don't do it!....."

 

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So I just listened to the Out of the Past podcast on the Third Man where Shannon Clute and our professor discusses whether the Third Man is noir. Note Clute strongly disagrees that the movie is noir and while Edwards defends it's noir status he seems to defend it more on its visual style.

 

Clute's main argument is that the film via Harry Lime is too B&W and not ambiguous enough. But I completely disagree. For one I don't think noir can't have truly evil villains. It's not Lime's story, it's Martins' story. And for me what Martins learns and experiences in the Third Man is what makes the narrative very much a noir.

 

The podcast brings up that Holly Martins writes dime Westerns that often have a very Black & White morality. I do think this is important to Holly's character but in the fact that where he goes into the situation like a Western Hero: Trying to prove his dead friend's innocence and show the corruption of the bad "sherrif" (in this case the Trevor Howard character) and help the girl in the end the opposite happens.

 

Instead Holly has a rude awakening that this isn't like his Western hero stories. For all his bluster to his friend's innocence he is made to look a fool. His friend wasn't innocent or even murdered. And even though he helps the police catch Lime he has to do so by betraying his best friend and shooting him. To me that is not a B&W situation at all. Yes we can say Lime was truly evil but in a B&W story, it would not be Holly's friend.

 

To add to this Holly asks for one thing to help the girl but not only does she refuse his help at the end of the film she walks away and doesn't even acknowledge him. He did the "right thing" but she would rather be turned over to the Russian part of the Vienna. Hardly the ending of a "Western Hero" and an ending very suitable to a noir.

 

Anyways this was one of my favorite podcasts of the series so I recommend everyone give it a listen.

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They Won't Believe Me

 

Enjoyed this film a lot, a few neat twists and an unexpected ending and with not one, but two great Noir actresses in Susan Hayward and Jane Greer (vamp and nice-girl respectively) and Robert Young as a slightly creepy but charming adulterous husband who wanted several cakes and to eat them all! 

 

It had several of the hallmarks of Noir: flashbacks, narrative voice-overs and of course the obligatory vamp (a gold-digger in her own words!) and a man whose good life goes off the rails and he never quite gets it back on track. I noted it was an RKO picture and I realize that I definitely seem to have a preference for this studio's output based on the movies I've watched recently.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

MGM

 

The chemistry between Lana Turner and John Garfield was enough to have the postman ring loud and often!! Also, like “Act of Violence” (MGM) the cinematography was excellent.

 

I have become very conscience of lighting techniques as I continue seeing these films back-to-back. Before this course, I never thought about lighting other than to say, “Mmm, that was nice.” Now I’m talking my family about Key light, Fill light, Day for Night, Mise-en-scene. I’m driving my family crazy. I guess I’m going to have to tone it down.

 

I thought Hume Cronyn was excellent as the defense attorney as was Cecil Kellaway as Nick Smith.

 

Finally, I have to mention the interior set of the diner. Not spectacular at all, but it felt complete. Every time the movie returned to the diner I found myself smiling as if it was a cozy home.

 

Observations

Did not matter how busy business was, I never saw a waiter or other help tending to the customers.

 

Also neither Cora nor Frank tell each other “I love you” unsolicited. They asked each other the question and each responded, but there was no passion in it. I thought that was interesting. And then I remember this quote from earlier :

 

Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing, but stealing his car, that's larceny.

 

And then It made better sense.

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i flip back and forth with Joan Crawford. I didnt like this one, she acted like a woman with a mental disorde, slalking van heflin, mad that he doesnt love her. I like a lot of Joan Crawford films, this one i didnt. Of course the movie Goodbye Again is not a noir and Anthony Perkins is acting really creepy stalker like to me, but the movie wasnt billed as him have a mental problem.

The Mask of Dimitrios had some dialogue that you could lift right out and put in a modern comedy and no one would know the difference.  Absolutely wonderful.  

The Stranger is extremely well done.  I liked it far more than some other Welles movies.  

I've seen The Third Man many, many times (including at the TCM Film Festival which was my favorite viewing - I highly recommend going) and any opinions will be regurgitated through various film classes.  I know my parents went on the sewer tour in Vienna and it was fascinating but really gross.  I hope to go on it myself on of these days.  I went on the famous ferris wheel when I was there but I hadn't seen the movie yet so it wasn't as exciting.  Vienna really loves The Third Man.

 

My issue is with Possessed.  It's very compelling with an excellent portrayal of Joan Crawford.  Her makeup and lighting between her scenes in the hospital with her flashback scenes is well-done.  But I can't stop seeing it through a modern lens.  Is it progressive because it was such a complex role?  Or it is really insulting because Joan Crawford can't be expected to help herself from going crazy from love because she's a woman?  Or is it a really sympathetic portrait of a stalker that today would just be Fatal Attraction?  Psychiatric diagnosis and treatment was really in its infancy back then, but I can't help but think that a man would not have been treated the same.  I am just really mixed up in my feelings about this movie.  I am curious to hear how others reacted to this movie.    

 

 

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The Third Man:

Music, Politics, and Literature in Film Noir

 

Music: The Zither. The opening credits over the zither being played was a great visual and establishes the zither right away as something important to The Third Man. After the movie’s opening, the zither music continues behind the opening narrator (who I believe was Carol Reed on my borrowed DVD): “Vienna doesn’t really look any worse than a lot of other European cities. Bombed out a bit.” The zither and the narrator set up a devil-may-care attitude in the face of postwar realities. It’s a pose that’s appealing—until it means that one doesn’t care about anything, about love, about life. The instrument sounds upbeat at the beginning and through most of the movie. By the time Harry Lime is buried for real, the zither sounds sad. And by the time the movie is closing, the zither sounds jarring.

 

Commentary on Politics? Harry Lime’s apartment is well-appointed, as they say: roomy, lots of lamps, big bed, at least two big rooms. He’s obviously successful in the black market. A child’s ball bounces into the room while the porter, Martins, and Anna talk about Harry and mill about his apartment. The ball is followed by the cutest little boy with a beret, mittens, a fur-collar coat—and a misleading cherubic face. This is the little boy who accuses Holly Martins later in the movie, in German, of murdering the porter of Henry’s apartment building. All the bystanders believe him, and the little boy leads them in a child-paced chase. The boy follows Martins and Anna down the street (the boy is alone in the shot), stops at the corner (again alone in the shot), follows them down the bombed steps one by one (followed in turn by all the bystanders), sneaks around the corner of a street (now he’s alone) and he’s lit from behind so that his shadow is large on the facing wall. But it’s a bit odd, maybe even surreal, that the child is filmed this way, and it really started me thinking. I wondered if this was a commentary on turning fellow citizens into the authorities under fascism and Nazism. The bystanders in The Third Man are quick to believe a small child, who cannot possibly produce any evidence about the porter’s murder. No one is innocent in a police state, not even a young child.

 

Commentary on Literature and Art in General? Another scene that stood out for me was the lecture given by Martins about literature and the novel. It seemed he was really in a debate about high art versus pop culture. People in the audience ask about stream-of-consciousness, about James Joyce, about Martins’s influences. His response: he reads Zane Grey, he writes about cowboys and bandits. The audience members are not interested in his writing and they start to leave. The moderator is forced to announce the conclusion of Martins’s lecture to empty seats. Funny, and I bet every writer comes across this type of situation in some form or another. But, of course, the Allies are trying to foist their culture on the rest of postwar Europe. Perhaps, by doing so, they inadvertently sowed the seeds of resentment about American cultural imperialism in particular.

 

These themes (musical, political, artistic) contribute many layers to The Third Man and thus make it a very complicated movie, one that’s so much fun to analyze. It’s a movie that I think works on many levels, not just as a film noir.

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i flip back and forth with Joan Crawford. I didnt like this one, she acted like a woman with a mental disorde, slalking van heflin, mad that he doesnt love her. I like a lot of Joan Crawford films, this one i didnt. Of course the movie Goodbye Again is not a noir and Anthony Perkins is acting really creepy stalker like to me, but the movie wasnt billed as him have a mental problem.

 

I enjoyed Possessed because of the Van Heflin performance.   The film was made a year after Strange Loves of Martha Ivers and he plays a similar type character (e.g.  casual,  relaxed,  quick with a comeback line).      Joan was indeed a women with a mental disorder but I felt she does a fine in the role even if the character doesn't provoke much sympathy.  

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I am conflicted regarding my thoughts about The Third Man (1949).

 

I watched it three times in order to decide whether or not I liked it. I formed a different opinion each time I saw it.

Taking everything into consideration such as cinematography, story line, actors, music score, etc., I am hopelessly undecided.

 

One day I'd be impressed with the angle shots and even the zither. The next time I saw it, I thought the angle shots were over done and the zither annoyed me. However, I was intrigued with the story line. It never ceases to amaze me the extent people will go through in order to survive or gain a profit; particularly when faced with dire circumstances.

 

This maybe one of many reasons the movie has been hailed as one of the best films ever made...that it needs to be seen a few times because there is always something to it that is discussable.

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The Stranger: More About Politics in Film Noir,

This Time from Orson Welles

 

It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us—the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”
―Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

 

I saw The Third Man (1949) first for this course, but the postwar confusion and destruction evident in that film makes the story in The Stranger (1946) even more significant. The quote from Hannah Arendt above was published in 1963, almost twenty years after the end of World War II. What is more ambiguous than trying to come to terms with the phrase “the banality of evil”? And ambiguity is perfect for film noir.

 

Back to The Stranger, which is another film noir bringing up political questions, as far as I can tell. The beginning is mysterious. Why does Wilson want to leave the cell door open? For whom? Why is he willing to take so much responsibility? The action after that, literally conducted in light and shadow, is very cloak-and-dagger. I almost wondered if the movie would be about espionage on the high seas.

 

Then the film switches abruptly to broad daylight and sun, with the long shot of a bus arriving in Connecticut and rounding the village green of a small town. From that point on, tension escalates with the music and the characters’ interactions. Wilson is following the man from the boat (Konrad Meinike), and it’s obvious that the man doesn’t want to be confronted.

 

Wilson works for the Allied Commission for the Punishment of War Criminals. He tells Mary later in the movie that it’s his job to bring escaped Nazis to justice.

Mary: “I’ve never so much as even seen a Nazi.”

Wilson: “Well, you might without your realizing it. They look like other people and act like other people. When it’s to their benefit.”

I think Mary is representative of the world at large: How would anyone recognize evil when the evildoer is one of us?

 

Mary refuses to believe that her husband is Franz Kindler. Wilson uses her denial and her distress to his advantage, but she is still the one who refuses to acknowledge her husband’s past and culpability. It’s still her choice. The use of horizontal bars of light and shadow across Loretta Young’s face in one scene symbolizes her psychological imprisonment, but it’s one of her own making.

 

In the clock tower, Kindler gives every excuse (“summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us,” according to Arendt):

“It’s not true the things they say I did.”

“It was all their idea.”

“I followed orders.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers (including Orson Welles) took these lines from contemporary news stories. Kindler’s excuses show how difficult it is to assign culpability. Who ordered what? Who is obligated to follow orders in a civilian sense? Who knew what the orders actually meant and what would be the end result? In The Stranger, Wilson tells Kindler, “You gave the orders.” But how much investigation was needed to reach that conclusion?

 

After Kindler’s death, one of the townspeople asks, “What happened?” Wilson replies, “V-Day in Harper.” And the movie ends almost abruptly after that comment. In fact, it’s simplistic, quick, easy. But what is life going to be like for Mary after this? Is she really going to sleep well now, as Wilson suggests to her? Supposedly she will return to a normal life once she admitted that her husband was Franz Kindler. Is that a metaphor for the entire nation? The world? But the United States and the rest of the world still hadn’t quite figured out the postwar landscape in 1946. For example, the UN began operation on October 24, 1945, a mere 8½ months before this movie was released.

 

The ending of the The Stranger suggests that everyone can rest easy now, but it’s an unsatisfying ending for me, living in the twenty-first century and looking back on the 1940s.

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I am conflicted regarding my thoughts about The Third Man (1949).

 

I watched it three times in order to decide whether or not I liked it. I formed a different opinion each time I saw it.

Taking everything into consideration such as cinematography, story line, actors, music score, etc., I am hopelessly undecided.

 

One day I'd be impressed with the angle shots and even the zither. The next time I saw it, I thought the angle shots were over done and the zither annoyed me. However, I was intrigued with the story line. It never ceases to amaze me the extent people will go through in order to survive or gain a profit; particularly when faced with dire circumstances.

 

This maybe one of many reasons the movie has been hailed as one of the best films ever made...that it needs to be seen a few times because there is always something to it that is discussable.

At times I experience the same thing.

Sometimes when watching these films, I get so caught-up with the story that when they end, I notice I did not take notes nor did not pay attention in picking up on noir characteristics. I then make an attempt to watch it again focusing only on noir material. "The Third Man" has a wonderful screenplay and was filmed with a heavy concentration of noir b&w shadows, diagonal shots, numerous camera angles, wet streets, oblique and vertical lines etc... Viewing such a film is challenging.

I would suggest seeing it again next time it airs with this question in mind: Why was this story filmed this way? That's what I do.

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I am conflicted regarding my thoughts about The Third Man (1949).

 

I watched it three times in order to decide whether or not I liked it. I formed a different opinion each time I saw it.

Taking everything into consideration such as cinematography, story line, actors, music score, etc., I am hopelessly undecided.

 

One day I'd be impressed with the angle shots and even the zither. The next time I saw it, I thought the angle shots were over done and the zither annoyed me. However, I was intrigued with the story line. It never ceases to amaze me the extent people will go through in order to survive or gain a profit; particularly when faced with dire circumstances.

 

This maybe one of many reasons the movie has been hailed as one of the best films ever made...that it needs to be seen a few times because there is always something to it that is discussable.

 

 

It might be more common to continue to see and catch different elements and levels of a great film the more times you see it than to have wildly different opinions as to whether you actually liked it or not.   

 

The more I think about it the more I see The Third Man being less about crime than it is unbridled opportunism.   Holly comes to Vienna seeking the opportunity of a job from an old friend.   Maj. Callaway uses Martins and Anna as a way to get Lime.   Lime is about nothing except ways of using people and situations to make a fast black market buck, stage his own death, etc. in callous indifference to the world around him...the little dots from the Ferris Wheel he'd make disappear for self gain.   Crabbin (the wonderful Wilfred Hyde-White) uses Martins for his lecture series, blindly embracing him without even knowing who he is.   Holly uses first his unwavering belief in Lime, and the morality he obviously assumes is universal, first to defend his old friend and then ultimately betray him--- less for the crimes he now accepts Lime committed than again, as leverage to use with the authorities to secure Anna authentic papers.   And the setting of a war-ravaged, post war Vienna is the perfect for such a stilted world, for each of the 'allies' are using the people and the city and each other for their own shallow political purposes, with the all-pervasive carnage of the city and its people a haunting reminder of the criminal savagery of the opportunism of the prior, Nazi, regime.       

 

Everyone is using everyone else in this film --- except Anna.   She alone remains above this sordid landscape although she moves through it.   She is an innocent victim, condemned by her love of Lime despite his many flaws and crimes, and is compromised further by being a refuge, i.e. a victim, of the war.    She alone is blameless.    Despite her lack of authentic papers, she alone, of all the characters, can freely move between the light and dark of this landscape.   She's the only one not for sale, the only character not looking to gain something from her interactions with Harry or Holly or whomever.   Like all the other characters in this story, Anna's struggling to survive in a shattered world, but she's the only one not trying to do it at someone else's expense.  

 

Which is why it's so fitting that she walks alone in the famous 'long shot' at the end of the film, her sense of self, of what is right, and her love for Lime intact; untouched by the darkness and dirt of virtually everyone else in the film.     

 

Graham Greene and Carol Reed give us a very craven world of sharp contrast; populated by craven characters on one hand or 'innocent' victims, like Anna and the kids who suffered from Lime's diluted penicillin, on the other.   The distorted camera angles and harsh lighting are meant to bring out those sharp contrasts to warn that the world author and director depicted in this tale was made in the image of those who people it.     

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Sometimes when watching these films, I get so caught-up with the story that when they end, I notice I did not take notes nor did not pay attention in picking up on noir characteristics. I then make an attempt to watch it again focusing only on noir material. "The Third Man" has a wonderful screenplay and was filmed with a heavy concentration of noir b&w shadows, diagonal shots, numerous camera angles, wet streets, oblique and vertical lines etc... Viewing such a film is challenging.

I would suggest seeing it again next time it airs with this question in mind: Why was this story filmed this way? That's what I do.

I've been thinking about what it's been like to watch these films since I read your post earlier today. I enjoy writing about the films, but to do that, I need to keep jotting down reminders and ideas. This means several pauses in watching, which most certainly does not add to the movie-watching experience! Losing myself in the story is the best way to enjoy a film noir (any movie, for that matter), but then I find I don't remember details quite the way they happen. I have resigned myself to watching, at most, half of the movies each week. It would be impossible to keep up at all if I did it any other way. But I plan to get to all of the movies eventually. If nothing else, Dr. Edwards's course has opened a new appreciation for film noir and films in general. In fact, when I visit my sister for the holiday, I'm going to get her and her daughter to watch some of the movies on the TCM schedule with me--but no pausing or turning back!

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The Postman Always Rings Twice:

Most of the characters in Film Noir are desperate people doing desperate acts, like blackmail and double crossing. In Film Noir There are no real happy endings. Crime doesn't pay. After the return of soldiers from world war two films reflected the dark times facing people, such as the loss of innocence for combatants as well the folks at home. The movies of the 1970s reflected similar themes  after the Viet Nam confrontation. Dark life situations and outcomes are found in "Chinatown","Mean Streets"' and " Taxi Driver".
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Nobody Lives Forever

 

Did I miss the memo where they explained why this is considered a film Noir? 

 

I mean: a tiny voice-over at the start, a bit of tough-guy patter, a plot to dupe a dame out of her money, and a few night shots do not a Noir make, do they? The guy even gets the gal, for heaven's sake, 'coz he's a reformed character! That surely is against the Noir Code of Conduct...he should be doomed, just like the Swede who met his doom in The Killers because he did something wrong once

 

I wasn't at all convinced by John Garfield as either action hero or romantic lead, here all he seemed to need to do to have Gladys fall for him was to...show up! And trampy Toni was only sporadically and sadly under-used. When she showed up in LA I expected chaos but got pretty well nothing. 

 

Ah well, still plenty more films to catch up with. Hopefully some more from RKO because I've not been too impressed with the Warner Brothers product so far. 

 

 

 

 

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Nobody Lives Forever

 

Did I miss the memo where they explained why this is considered a film Noir? 

 

I mean: a tiny voice-over at the start, a bit of tough-guy patter, a plot to dupe a dame out of her money, and a few night shots do not a Noir make, do they? The guy even gets the gal, for heaven's sake, 'coz he's a reformed character! That surely is against the Noir Code of Conduct...he should be doomed, just like the Swede who met his doom in The Killers because he did something wrong once

 

I wasn't at all convinced by John Garfield as either action hero or romantic lead, here all he seemed to need to do to have Gladys fall for him was to...show up! And trampy Toni was only sporadically and sadly under-used. When she showed up in LA I expected chaos but got pretty well nothing. 

 

Ah well, still plenty more films to catch up with. Hopefully some more from RKO because I've not been too impressed with the Warner Brothers product so far. 

 

The Book Film Noir (Silver \ Ward),  has this to say:

 

NLF confronts the question of postwar disorientation through the noir conventions.   Nick is not merely an ex-serviceman but also an ex-gambler,  stripped of his status in a manner that must have been familiar to many vets.    Nick's encounter with Pop,  a former big-time operator reduced to selling views through a telescope,   only sharpens Nick's sense of estrangement. 

 

The visuals associated with Nick's uneasy condition are not so unrelentingly dark as they are for Galt in The Dark Corner.   In contrast, Nick's beach house and the sunlit nearby sand where he takes solitary walks become the locus for his moments of most acute malaise.    At the unused pier,  in a typical noir transference, the used-up Pop dies under Ganson's gun in Nick's stead.  His dying comment - at once existential and grimly reminiscent of the larger holocaust from which Nick has returned - gives voice sardonically to the words of the title; Nobody lives forever.

 

PS:  Bogie was set to be cast in this film but was replaced by Garfield.  

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The Book Film Noir (Silver \ Ward),  has this to say:

 

NLF confronts the question of postwar disorientation through the noir conventions.   Nick is not merely an ex-serviceman but also an ex-gambler,  stripped of his status in a manner that must have been familiar to many vets.    Nick's encounter with Pop,  a former big-time operator reduced to selling views through a telescope,   only sharpens Nick's sense of estrangement. 

 

The visuals associated with Nick's uneasy condition are not so unrelentingly dark as they are for Galt in The Dark Corner.   In contrast, Nick's beach house and the sunlit nearby sand where he takes solitary walks become the locus for his moments of most acute malaise.    At the unused pier,  in a typical noir transference, the used-up Pop dies under Ganson's gun in Nick's stead.  His dying comment - at once existential and grimly reminiscent of the larger holocaust from which Nick has returned - gives voice sardonically to the words of the title; Nobody lives forever.

 

PS:  Bogie was set to be cast in this film but was replaced by Garfield.  

I like your take, but not sure I can agree on a couple of points: Nick is an ex this and an ex that, sure, but when he gets back to New York it was to find that his girl was just trying to dupe him out of his dough, in fact he sees through the ruse and strong-arms his stake and interest out of the guy who's taken his place, hardly the actions of someone on a downward spiral.

 

He heads to the beach because he's spent years in the war and wants a break from that and his past life, and I see that as he wants to start a new chapter in his life. The mistake he makes is to take Al with him (he even admits at the start that Al is only around because he wants a piece of whatever Nick is into at the time) and to be led back into that life. 

 

I agree about Pop and would add the sad character of Doc to that: both are too far along their downward spiral to get off and do anything else, unlike Nick, who has a bit of money and is still fairly young. In fact, I almost expected Doc to say "I coulda been a contender" at some stage! 

 

Would Bogart have made it a better film? Probably, but not for the film, simply because it was Bogie! 

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It might be more common to continue to see and catch different elements and levels of a great film the more times you see it than to have wildly different opinions as to whether you actually liked it or not.   

 

The more I think about it the more I see The Third Man being less about crime than it is unbridled opportunism.   Holly comes to Vienna seeking the opportunity of a job from an old friend.   Maj. Callaway uses Martins and Anna as a way to get Lime.   Lime is about nothing except ways of using people and situations to make a fast black market buck, stage his own death, etc. in callous indifference to the world around him...the little dots from the Ferris Wheel he'd make disappear for self gain.   Crabbin (the wonderful Wilfred Hyde-White) uses Martins for his lecture series, blindly embracing him without even knowing who he is.   Holly uses first his unwavering belief in Lime, and the morality he obviously assumes is universal, first to defend his old friend and then ultimately betray him--- less for the crimes he now accepts Lime committed than again, as leverage to use with the authorities to secure Anna authentic papers.   And the setting of a war-ravaged, post war Vienna is the perfect for such a stilted world, for each of the 'allies' are using the people and the city and each other for their own shallow political purposes, with the all-pervasive carnage of the city and its people a haunting reminder of the criminal savagery of the opportunism of the prior, Nazi, regime.       

 

Everyone is using everyone else in this film --- except Anna.   She alone remains above this sordid landscape although she moves through it.   She is an innocent victim, condemned by her love of Lime despite his many flaws and crimes, and is compromised further by being a refuge, i.e. a victim, of the war.    She alone is blameless.    Despite her lack of authentic papers, she alone, of all the characters, can freely move between the light and dark of this landscape.   She's the only one not for sale, the only character not looking to gain something from her interactions with Harry or Holly or whomever.   Like all the other characters in this story, Anna's struggling to survive in a shattered world, but she's the only one not trying to do it at someone else's expense.  

 

Which is why it's so fitting that she walks alone in the famous 'long shot' at the end of the film, her sense of self, of what is right, and her love for Lime intact; untouched by the darkness and dirt of virtually everyone else in the film.     

 

Graham Greene and Carol Reed give us a very craven world of sharp contrast; populated by craven characters on one hand or 'innocent' victims, like Anna and the kids who suffered from Lime's diluted penicillin, on the other.   The distorted camera angles and harsh lighting are meant to bring out those sharp contrasts to warn that the world author and director depicted in this tale was made in the image of those who people it.     

Thanks for your suggestions and insites regarding The Third Man. I am guilty of having watched these films noir, over the years, on a superficial level so delving into the finer details of film making has been a challenge and an education....makes the movie experience so much more enjoyable.

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At times I experience the same thing.

Sometimes when watching these films, I get so caught-up with the story that when they end, I notice I did not take notes nor did not pay attention in picking up on noir characteristics. I then make an attempt to watch it again focusing only on noir material. "The Third Man" has a wonderful screenplay and was filmed with a heavy concentration of noir b&w shadows, diagonal shots, numerous camera angles, wet streets, oblique and vertical lines etc... Viewing such a film is challenging.

I would suggest seeing it again next time it airs with this question in mind: Why was this story filmed this way? That's what I do.

I agree with your observation. Thank you. I have found that the posting community here as been a treasure trove of good advice.

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Out of the Past

 

The movie starts with a camera shot of Joe Stefanos driving into Bridgeport, California, and stopping at Jeff Bailey’s gas station. Was the camera mounted in back seat of car? On the rear trunk? The answer may be unimportant; in any case, we ride along with Joe. Joe stops to talk to the deaf/mute kid (he’s listed as The Kid in the credits) who works at Jeff’s. He blows out a match that he used to light a cigarette and then throws the match at the kid. Joe establishes his menacing intentions with that one simple act.

 

I often felt like the camera was a menacing presence in the film. The long shot of Kathie and Jeff going to her place, her bungalow, in Acapulco made me think they were being followed, watched. Inside her bungalow, the camera shows the front door being blown open by the storm and the camera moves to the door. Then the sequence cuts to the exterior, outside the bungalow in the rain, as if somebody’s outside watching. Later in the movie, another long shot of Kathy and Jeff leaving Whit’s house makes me feel again as though someone is watching them. This time, however, the law is waiting for them at a roadblock because Jeff has called the police on Kathy in an effort to thwart her plans.

 

The deaf/mute kid can’t be underestimated based on his first interaction with Joe and the fact that we never learn his name. He warns Jeff about Joe’s arrival, and he kills Joe Stefanos with his fly fishing rod later in the movie. His sign language, which Jeff understands, adds another level of mystery, another code to decipher for the audience. He starts (almost) and ends the story, and thus acts as a “frame” for the movie. He’s a strong character, but even he is a little bit ambiguous when it comes to moral ground. He lies to Ann Miller, Jeff’s girlfriend in Bridgeport, about whether Jeff wanted to leave with Kathie Moffatt. But Jeff was the one who called the police about Kathie and her plans to leave after killing Whit.

 

I couldn’t figure out how the kid would even have known Jeff’s intentions at that point in the story. I’ll try to find out when I watch the movie a second time.

 

Movie trivia: According to Wikipedia. Dickie Moore, who played The Kid, is one of the few living members of Our Gang from the original Hal Roach series and also one of the few living actors of the silent film era. He’s now 89.

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They Won't Believe Me

 

Enjoyed this film a lot, a few neat twists and an unexpected ending and with not one, but two great Noir actresses in Susan Hayward and Jane Greer (vamp and nice-girl respectively) and Robert Young as a slightly creepy but charming adulterous husband who wanted several cakes and to eat them all! 

 

It had several of the hallmarks of Noir: flashbacks, narrative voice-overs and of course the obligatory vamp (a gold-digger in her own words!) and a man whose good life goes off the rails and he never quite gets it back on track. I noted it was an RKO picture and I realize that I definitely seem to have a preference for this studio's output based on the movies I've watched recently.

Agreed!  RKO is my favorite studio at this time. And I loved seeing Robert Young play such a creepy character. I watched this and (re-watched) Crossfire in the same week and thoroughly enjoyed them both, for very different reasons.

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Out of the Past

 

The movie starts with a camera shot of Joe Stefanos driving into Bridgeport, California, and stopping at Jeff Bailey’s gas station. Was the camera mounted in back seat of car? On the rear trunk? The answer may be unimportant; in any case, we ride along with Joe. Joe stops to talk to the deaf/mute kid (he’s listed as The Kid in the credits) who works at Jeff’s. He blows out a match that he used to light a cigarette and then throws the match at the kid. Joe establishes his menacing intentions with that one simple act.

 

I often felt like the camera was a menacing presence in the film. The long shot of Kathie and Jeff going to her place, her bungalow, in Acapulco made me think they were being followed, watched. Inside her bungalow, the camera shows the front door being blown open by the storm and the camera moves to the door. Then the sequence cuts to the exterior, outside the bungalow in the rain, as if somebody’s outside watching. Later in the movie, another long shot of Kathy and Jeff leaving Whit’s house makes me feel again as though someone is watching them. This time, however, the law is waiting for them at a roadblock because Jeff has called the police on Kathy in an effort to thwart her plans.

 

The deaf/mute kid can’t be underestimated based on his first interaction with Joe and the fact that we never learn his name. He warns Jeff about Joe’s arrival, and he kills Joe Stefanos with his fly fishing rod later in the movie. His sign language, which Jeff understands, adds another level of mystery, another code to decipher for the audience. He starts (almost) and ends the story, and thus acts as a “frame” for the movie. He’s a strong character, but even he is a little bit ambiguous when it comes to moral ground. He lies to Ann Miller, Jeff’s girlfriend in Bridgeport, about whether Jeff wanted to leave with Kathie Moffatt. But Jeff was the one who called the police about Kathie and her plans to leave after killing Whit.

 

I couldn’t figure out how the kid would even have known Jeff’s intentions at that point in the story. I’ll try to find out when I watch the movie a second time.

 

Movie trivia: According to Wikipedia. Dickie Moore, who played The Kid, is one of the few living members of Our Gang from the original Hal Roach series and also one of the few living actors of the silent film era. He’s now 89.

 

 

The kid lied to Ann to set Ann free.   This is a fairly standard noir theme for good people that just happen to be involved with those in the noir world,  like Jeff.    So the Kid didn't need to know Jeff's actual intentions.   All the kid needed to know was that Jeff was dead and that Ann had to keep on living and the best way for Ann to let go was to throw Jeff under the bus.

 

As for the place where the Kid kills Joe.  I have been to this place a few times and fished there.   Real nice area (well if one isn't a gangster!). 

 

As for Moore being a silent film actor;   At first I wondered how that was possible since he was born in 1925 but he was in his first movie in 1926.   So even if they did have sound at the time Moore wouldn't have been able to talk.   :D

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The kid lied to Ann to set Ann free.   This is a fairly standard noir theme for good people that just happen to be involved with those in the noir world,  like Jeff.    So the Kid didn't need to know Jeff's actual intentions.   All the kid needed to know was that Jeff was dead and that Ann had to keep on living and the best way for Ann to let go was to throw Jeff under the bus.

Thanks for the explanation. But I have to admit that such an assumption seems almost like a flaw in Out of the Past, in any movie. If one didn't know this kind of convention in film noir, one would be hard-pressed to come up with "good people involved with those in the noir world" as an explanation. I prefer to have a movie be its own self-contained universe, to be honest.

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Lady in the Lake

This was a terrible movie. I couldn't finish it. The first person POV did not work. Robert Montgomery sounded as if he was reading the dialog off the scrip. There was no emotion in his voice. At times this seemed like a high school play as the acting was not good at all. I'm sure Bogart or Dick Powell could have made this story work, but Robert and his directing could not. I wonder what the reviewers said about this movie at the time.

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Thanks for the explanation. But I have to admit that such an assumption seems almost like a flaw in Out of the Past, in any movie. If one didn't know this kind of convention in film noir, one would be hard-pressed to come up with "good people involved with those in the noir world" as an explanation. I prefer to have a movie be its own self-contained universe, to be honest.

Not to be a pedant, but the ending of Out of the Past reminds me of the end of Heart of Darkness.  The narrator (Marlowe) has returned to the "civilized" world of Europe after witnessing the death of Mr. Kurtz, who dies uttering, "The horror!  The horror!"  Kurtz's mourning fiancee then implores Marlowe to share Kurtz's last words, but Marlowe lies and tell her that "The last word he pronounced was—your name."  In the novella's penultimate paragraph, Marlowe explains to his listeners:  "I could not tell her. It would have been too dark—too dark altogether. . . ."

 

Joseph Conrad anticipated many of the themes later explored by the existentialists, who in turn influenced the writers of serie and film noir.  Perhaps Daniel Mainwaring felt that breaking Ann's heart would also be too dark an ending.

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