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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #20: The Man in Charge (Opening Scene from D.O.A.)

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The idea of confinement by "absurd forces beyond one's control" is the overall theme in the 4 openings of the films from this week. D.O.A presents the viewer with a different type of confinement and probably the most hopeless to gain freedom from. Frank Bigelow is not jailed, or kidnapped. He's not being held for ransom, isn't crazy or being framed as crazy, and hasn't even been framed as a sane person for a crime that he didn't commit. In fact, he's probably one of the biggest straight-shooters that ever inhabited a noir. Either way, he's going to die. 

 

The long dark march through corridors of the police station is a defining one. It is a death march in full stride with a deliberate gait. Now if Bigelow was a true criminal, this wouldn't be a march but a stumble or a somber denial. It is important to note that he isn't marching down the halls of a hospital either. That fact speaks to the futility of any efforts to save himself, which is what the viewer discovers when he finally sits down to explain why he's there.  This opening shot is reminiscent of the long hallways and ever-swithcing corridors that Joseph K. makes in Welles' film The Trial. The main character, Joseph K is a victim of his own absurd construction and creates a feeling of persecution. The connection I am trying to make without talking about the other scenes in D.O.A. is that throughout the film you get the idea that Frank Bigelow is being pursued. The viewer wonders how Bigelow might have been the creator of his own misfortune.  

 

In all 4 films this week, the end of the line offers "No Way Out". This is it. Existentially, the main characters will confront, and resign themselves to their ultimate fate, or they will die trying to elude it. In all of this there is a madness, a neurosis and paranoia that works it's way into their minds and behaviors. Each of the main characters goes through a process of struggling with different psychological stages of it; shock, denial, anger, and either death or resignation.  In D.O.A., the walk he is taking concludes at the "end" of a corridor entitled "homicide". So the ultimate truth reflected in this film about the world around us is one of homicide. Furthermore, as Frank begins his story, we see that the greater ultimate truth is that you can get away with homicide. No one knows who did it, and we don't even know if Frank was the intended victim. 

 

Character wise, Frank is his own detective. There isn't a Marlow, Spade or Hammer that is seasoned in the art of the absurdity to figure this situation out. Bigelow, is a fish out of water. This concept is similar to The Hitch-Hiker. Frank Bigelow is like Gil and Roy. Frank, Gil and Roy are all untainted by-standers waiting for the train of absurdity to nail them in the middle of a Dali desert landscape. Have you ever been through Banning? There's not much to that town even today. Deserted, desolate, and removed from the beat of the world.  While there are interesting contrasts in various female characters that could be discussed, it would be a spoiler.

 

The films viewed this week make it pretty clear that despite the Hollywood film creation "engine" or commercialism, and aside from the concept of creating and copying by various film studios to give the people what they want, there is a more honorable reasons than money-making. Sure it made money when you did it well, but the cultural zeitgeist dictated that the art of the films needed to record the futility, hopelessness, desolation, disillusionment etc. etc. and ultimately the "caged" feeling that people in the American public were experiencing at the time. No longer could it be pushed under the carpet or cleaned it in a box of Oxydol or Tide. You had to stare this stain in the face and deal with it like the European's had done for centuries. 

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D.O.A. has a gorgeous opening scene in one of the most recognizable buildings in Los Angeles. The other films this week were disturbing as we were placed by force with some shady characters in unknown locations....going to prison with them, hitch-hiking with them, etc. In D.O.A., we are with Frank, simply following behind him willfully, we are helping him, marching to his beat and the rhythm of the intense music. We are a witness for him, helping him solve something that we have yet to know anything about. As Borde and Chaumaton say in their writing about film noir; we are involved when we watch.

 

Of course it is night time, and we are about to find out the true meaning of the title of this film and how literal it's meaning is (all in the first three minutes). The beginning is very reminiscent of Sunset Blvd., which is also set in Los Angeles and is in first person narration of the (already) dead character. We know there was a homicide, we know there will be a flashback, it contains first person narration, it has wide angle camera lens shots, it has the low angle shot looking up at Frank as he's talking with the police, and the on-location shots are all elements of later 1950s noir. At least the police are not hostile like they were in Caged, but they seem lazy, move slowly, and all of them just gather around to hear the story. No one is taking a report, or notes, or recording this unbelievable situation; a man reporting his own homicide! You know they won't be of much help here. Even Frank is compelled to ask them,"Well do you want to hear me out or don't you, captain? I don't have very much time." He's going to have to do the crime-solving work himself.

On a visual level, I particularly love the random objects in the homicide room that were visible from the wide angle shots. The fan lit up casting a shadow on the wall, is meant to draw our attention, yet why, when it is off? A hint that something is not working, or is dead. This after two full minutes of a foot stomping walk into city hall, set directly to heart pumping music. We are amped up, yet when we arrive, we have a group of men who are half asleep and a fan that is dead/off. It's as if the only person in this room that is alive is the dead man. Another object in the room that caught my attention was the water cooler in the corner. It was probably there to make it look and feel like a real police detective office, but it seems to have a life or personality of its own. A mundane object yes, but catching the light in a way that makes it glow. This reminds me of some discussion we had about objects in the Maltese Falcon and in The Mask of Dimitrios that contain character-like qualities and help communicate the substance of film noir.  

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 Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films?


 


 


The other 3 films started in a moving vehicle.  This clip starts with a man walking down, not only hallowed halls but really antiseptic walls, floors and well lit compared to all other clips.


The sign on the door doesn't fit. The sign should be starch and static, systematically lettered to fit all the other surroundings.....I found that sign odd and out of place.


 


This is one film I watch ever so often, when it is aired on  TCM, but I don't go out of my way to watch it.  I look forward to watching it this time 'round due to the new eyes with which I am not viewing all of FILMS NOIR, due to the new knowledge of this FANTASTIC COURSE, TAUGHT SO GRANDLY BY DR. EDWARDS.


-- How does the style and substance of this film's opening reinforce a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness in the character of Frank Bigelow?


 


Bigelow sits there, says he wants to report a murder, then says it is he who was murdered.  What a way to go.  Walking around dead, murdered yet, what a way to go.


 


#NOIRSUMMER


 


 


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This movie seems a bit silly to be...what's with the sliding whistle sound every time a pretty girl passes in front of Frank?

 

 

I love this film & have seen it many times & I too wonder why the director chose to add the whistles and sound effects whenever the San Francisco women are within eye-shot of this character.  I'm wondering if the thought was to underscore and make the "attraction factor" and/or the"arousal" more pronounced or timeless?  Timeless whereas hairstyles, fashion, body language etc. can change quickly but with this verbal cue...we know these women are suppose to be fashionable and attractive or Frank Bigelow is definitely interested in female companionship? 

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Also, I wanted to go on record as saying that I have tried to put a photograph of myself on my profile, etc. but it hasn't happened...can't get it to download, upload, or whatever load.  It just won't load!!!  

DIANE DYAN BIGGS

 

Uploading a picture from your computer to use as your avatar is not working at the moment. Please upload to one of the many image hosting sites (many of which are free), and use the URL to get your chosen picture in here.

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I think I've seen this before but all the same hearing someone say that they were murdered is probably one of the strangest yet most powerful things I've ever seen...there is a punch to the way he says it...not really upset like you would assume...more straightforward but disconcerting. I didn't really see much parallel to the other daily doses of this week though...I know we were supposed to but I didn't. 

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I tried to do the same...no dice...I eventually gave up. 

 
Also, I wanted to go on record as saying that I have tried to put a photograph of myself on my profile, etc. but it hasn't happened...can't get it to download, upload, or whatever load.  It just won't load!!!  
DIANE DYAN BIGGS

Uploading a picture from your computer to use as your avatar is not working at the moment. Please upload to one of the many image hosting sites (many of which are free), and use the URL to get your chosen picture in here.

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So maybe I just need to be hit over the head with my film motifs, but (with the possible exception of The Third Man) this is the first clip we've watched where I feel the music isn't just something added in to establish general ambiance.  The music, for me, just seemed an essential part of the scene.  I watched it again to see why and it is indeed hitting me over the head: every downbeat is on a step!  When his foot hits the ground the music hits a beat.  When he slows, the music slows, and when he returns to his determined pace, the music does also.  

 

For me this creates some kind of sense of relentlessness.  Combined with the visual of his intention, it just seems very clear that this is a man who will not stop until he reaches his goal.  But is he being carried by the music, or is the music pushing him along?  That is, is he directing his own fate, prepared to eliminate all obstacles, or is he being carried on a wave of fate that will deposit him where it wants to, regardless of his desires?

 

Guess I'll have to watch the film.  

 

 

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     Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films?

 

To me, I believe that there are several similarities and differences between the opening of this film and the other three Daily Doses for this week.

 

First, although Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker are both set on lonely highways and this film and Caged are not, all four of these films express some form of loneliness and hopelessness.

 

For example, although Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker opening scenes only use a few people, they both have the same themes I mentioned above as D.O.A. and Caged even though those to films opening scenes use several people.

 

To me, I believe the characters in D.O.A and Caged express the ideas of the protagonist being alone emotionally while being physically surrounded by other people.

 

Secondly, the camera lighting and staging is different for D.O.A and Caged when comparing them with the opening scenes of Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker.

 

The openings scenes for D.O.A and Caged have long cinematic shots even though cinematographers like Ernest Laszio worked on both D.O.A. and Kiss Me Deadly.

To me, that shows that the camera lighting and staging was meant to express the same themes in world of film noir but differently.

 

In addition to this, I believe that Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker had a more “In Your Face” style that highlighted the suspenseful and disorientating nature of those opening scenes while the opening scenes of D.O.A and Caged had a more “Hang Back” style to express the loneliness and uncertain feelings of the protagonists.

 

I also believe that the focus point of each story’s protagonist and their character types were different as well.

 

For example, Kiss Me Deadly and The Hitch-Hiker both focused on protagonist that were either mysteriously intriguing or unlikely people like the Hitch-Hiker.

 

While the films D.O.A and Caged were all about the journey of the protagonist and their awkward “fish out of water” like experience.

 

     What are some of the noir themes and motifs that are being explored in this film's opening scene? This is also a good film through which to discuss Robert Porfirio's article on Existential motifs, since he references the film D.O.A. several times in his essay.

 

To me, I believe that the opening scene of this film expressed and explored the themes and motifs of film noir that I mentioned above. However, D.O.A has a more pessimistic feeling to it because of the protagonist saying that he wanted to report his own murder.

 

     How does the style and substance of this film's opening reinforce a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness in the character of Frank Bigelow?

 

To me, I believe that this film’s opening reinforces a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness how it uses its lighting and staging by having the character Frank Bigelow walk through the long dimly lit corridors of the Los Angeles police department.

 

His facial expressions and the long camera shots cause the timing of the scene to feel like it is going on for an eternity also adding to its feelings of uncertainty.

 

I also believe that having the character state that he is there to report his own murder helps reinforce the films themes of pessimism as well.

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I love this film & have seen it many times & I too wonder why the director chose to add the whistles and sound effects whenever the San Francisco women are within eye-shot of this character.  I'm wondering if the thought was to underscore and make the "attraction factor" and/or the"arousal" more pronounced or timeless?  Timeless whereas hairstyles, fashion, body language etc. can change quickly but with this verbal cue...we know these women are suppose to be fashionable and attractive or Frank Bigelow is definitely interested in female companionship? 

What a interesting thought about the sound effect, i just found it very campy.  But, i believe the music later in the film was meant to do just that...............

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i found that whistle every time he saw a girl silly too. i laugh everytime i see that part...

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i found that whistle every time he saw a girl silly too. i laugh everytime i see that part...

 

Yeah, whose idea was that? It was an insult to Edmund O'Brien's leering ability.

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In a long sequence a man standing outside Los Angeles City Hall makes his way inside and through long corridors to the Homicide office. It is night and we see him only from the back. He asks to see the “man in charge” and he is pointed in the right direction.

            Two things stand out. 1. This is a very long sequence and so we wonder if it is because the credits scrolling over are so many or if there are so many credits because his trip is so long. 2. As a turnabout of the usual procedure he has not gone to a neighborhood precinct but straight to the head office. Either he is determined to get “to the center of things” in a bureaucratic world or he considers himself very important. Indeed they know who he is and seem to have been expecting him.

            As the opening of a film this is all too literal, contrived and uninteresting.

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Another undercurrent running through D.O.A. that will begin to gain increasing traction as we move through the Fifties is the realization that the police...caretakers of law, order and social cohesion, are as much complete spectators to the plot as we, the audience.  

 

Bigelow marches into Homicide, proclaims he's been murdered, and then proceeds to tell them how HE, not the police, solved the case.   Bigelow is not a professional sleuth.   He's a small-time accountant, and yet he takes matters into his own hands and tracks down his murderers.   His marching into HQ is a formality so the police can write reports and file them just as he used to add up columns of numbers for his clients.  

 

It's not uncommon in the noir of the Forties to have the hardboiled detective harbor as much disdain for the police as the police do him, but they're both professionals and, despite approaching their craft with sometimes very different methods and morals, solving crimes and exacting justice or revenge is what they do for a living. 

 

In D.O.A the usual authorities ... police, DA, etc... are extraneous to the plot and the solving of the crime.   Frank Bigelow is a one-man whirlwind as he desperately tries to piece the puzzle of his own death...and by extension, the meaning of his life...together before he dies.  

 

Frank is an individual, an Everyman, the non-hero, facing the Existential abyss as it stares at and closes in around him.   There are no laws, no rules, no guidelines for where he's going or what he's trying to do...which is nothing more or less than staring down the abyss and imposing some of his personal will and design on it even as it inevitably consumes him.     

 

There have been harbingers of this sea-change in our attitude towards 'the establishment' or 'system', but until now they've come in the guise of a corrupt cop, sadistic warden, or in general one bad apple.   This begins to change in the Fifties.  

 

The morass that was WWII and its aftermath, the Cold War, the Red Scare, the McCarthy hearings, the emerging Civil Rights movement, disillusionment over traditional roles and the stereotypical nuclear family and other upheavals in society have begun to shift our perception of entrenched power, its application and its real objectives.   Previously seen as our protectors and custodians of order and prosperity, the Fifties begin to see the establishment becoming more part of the problem than the solution.  

 

D.O.A. depicts the police as benign spectators to both murder, solving the crime and achieving some semblance of justice/revenge.   By the Sixties we become even more jaded, and suspect that the government and authorities are not simply corrupt, but possibly evil...implicated in all sorts of conspiracies and nefarious doings.   Today we have become absolutely convinced that the establishment is not simply evil and absolutely corrupt and dysfunctional, but also beyond our ability to curb, correct or control.  

 

All the films in this week's DDD seem to move us further down the dark road to dystopia --- personal and collective --- one skittish step in a threatening dark at a time.   

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The first parallel I see is the use of movement in the Daily Does.  All of them leading to a certain doom for the character.  There is also the theme of loss of freedom or self.

 

The strongest motif is the insignificance of man.  By having someone report there own murder, it is illustrating this to the highest degree.  It also point to a society that has become so jaded that someone saying this, is basically being humored.

 

The high lighting and endless halls show how hopeless everything is.  Heck, it seems to takes days to get through the police station and they are supposed to be on our side.

 

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-- Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films?

Kiss Me Deadly, The Hitch-Hiker, Caged and D.O.A. – “We are dropped right into fatal film noir locales reeking of death, violence, and the loss of freedom,” as Richard Edwards summarized in the D.O.A. Note.  Each of these victims have suffered through no fault of their own: in Kiss Me Deadly, Christina is tortured in an insane asylum and then killed apparently for knowing something accidently; in Caged, Maria is jailed without real criminal guilt; in The Hitch-Hiker, the would-be fishermen (O’Brien and Lovejoy) are kidnapped at gunpoint and facing certain death; and in D.O.A., an innocent CPA is poisoned for notarizing a receipt.

 

-- What are some of the noir themes and motifs that are being explored in this film's opening scene?

All these scenes this week evoke very high tension but little action.  Each victim is not getting revenge against their torturers, nor seeing justice done (except perhaps Bigelow, who gets to give the police Exhibit A – himself as the dead body, for what that’s worth).   Themes:  helplessness, despair, disorientation, and finding oneself in a world devoid of moral and ethical meaning. Motifs:  Non-heroic hero, alienation and loneliness, meaninglessness, and the absurd.

 

--This is also a good film through which to discuss Robert Porfirio's article on Existential motifs, since he references the film D.O.A. several times in his essay.

The first reference to D.O.A. in Porfirio's essay concerns “Existential Choice” – Bigelow’s decision to investigate his own death and find the man that poisoned him.  While this will not directly affect his life expectancy (and he reminds the police of this as they prepare to take his statement), it will give him the satisfaction of knowing that he “killed” his killers.  The next reference concerns “Man Under Sentence of Death” – this “hero of existential fiction” – Bigelow - is faced with certain death and his every “act and attitude” must be a choice from that point forward to embrace the inevitable futility of his situation and try to make the most of it.  The next reference concerns “Meaninglessness, Purposelessness, the Absurd” – which Porfirio says is “an attitude which is worked out through mise en scene and plotting” in film noir.  The randomness of Bigelow’s being poisoned rests solely on his notarizing a bill of sale.  Had some other CPA notarized it that’s who would have died.   One can’t help thinking of the fickle finger of fate moving, and having writ, moving on. (Though it is not a film noir, “The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957) reflects this motif in spades.) The last reference to D.O.A. in the essay refers to “Sanctuary, Ritual and Order”, where the “hero” tries to “create some order out of chaos” – which is precisely what Bigelow does.   While Bigelow has not been able to put his own personal life in order (and had he chosen to his killers would have gone free), he did at least put his murder in order.  Bigelow’s arrival at police headquarters in the opening scene could be Bigelow’s sanctuary.  He is ritualistically putting things in order by telling the police his story. 

 

-- How does the style and substance of this film's opening reinforce a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness in the character of Frank Bigelow?

One doesn’t really know of the pessimism and hopelessness until Bigelow reveals he is the murder victim near the end of this scene.  However, there are hints in the way the homicide detectives are not surprised to see him, the way other detectives quietly walk into the room to listen to his statement, the way the detective in charge connects up who he is and has the San Francisco homicide detective notified.  It’s as if they have been expecting him.  The music during the credits is almost at a march tempo (I wish I could think of the song this reminds me of), a dramatic melody with a staccato beat.     

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Man that's a long hallway! The imagery suggests to me that O'Brien is entering the labyrinth. Normally, you would expect the police to come to his aid and fix everything by the film's end, but this is the noir universe and things aren't resolved easily. In this age of paranoia he can't expect the police to solve the mystery of his own murder. This film reveals the general distrust of authority figures that evolved in the US following WWII. This submerged contempt for the authority figures in society is one way that I think noir is very prescient. While the American public is embracing the conformity of the Eisenhower era, noir heroes are already developing a sense that things are not what they seem, and those who are supposed to be working for good are often corrupt, inept, or otherwise compromised. 

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What a interesting thought about the sound effect, i just found it very campy.  But, i believe the music later in the film was meant to do just that...............

I think it is supposed to underline that Frank Bigelow is out for a bachelor weekend (remember, he has his fiancé's permission) and this is his libido "talking".  Or put another way, his wandering eye.  It also precedes the poisoning. After that, no silly sounds.  Also, I always think the scene where he just learns he's been poisoned and runs around San Francisco, stops at the newsstand, and "sees his life flash before him" so to speak was amateurish.  But his realization of what he was going to miss had to be shown.

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Our victim seems very purposeful as he negotiates the maze of offices and corridors in the police department, intent on making his way to the homicide bureau office. He has made a decision to tell his own story, in his own words – the story of his life, or at least the end of that story. When he announces that he is the victim of a homicide, the immanence of his death would seem to lend a certain air of authenticity to the story he is about to tell. But something about this scene ironically undercuts that air of authenticity, and that something erupts when the man in charge of homicides unexpectedly supplies our victim’s name and takes an APB regarding him out of his desk drawer.

 

The arrival of Frank Bigelow has already been anticipated by the bureaucratic machinery of the police force. A certain space has already been prepared for his testimony and an agent of the law is prepared to transcribe that testimony into an official file that has already been opened in the case. The unexpected degree of bureaucratic involvement in this case before Bigelow even shows up to tell his story effectively compromises some of  that story’s spontaneity and its air of authenticity. The decision to tell his story, in his own way, seems less like his own decision when someone else is telling him to tell his own story, in his own way. And so we might be a little suspicious of the flashback we’re about to watch. Is this flashback a cinematic rendering of Bigelow’s own memory? Or is it a cinematic transcription of the written transcript anticipated and ultimately penned by the bureaucratic engines of the police force?

 

I haven’t seen this entire film yet, and I haven’t read the noir-existentialism piece by Porfirio yet, either. But  I’m  really enjoying the opportunity  to speculate a little bit  about these daily  dose film clips before I have all information laid out  for  me.

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We cover all your bases here at Into the Darkness! Love it! Bring on Double Jeopardy!!

And also, on a lighter note, the re-run Carol Burnett Show did their spoof on Laura!!! 

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Wow! I enjoyed DOA, and I think it's a near perfect filmfor this week's lecture topics and themes. So many existential themes in this movie!

 

Alienation, doom, desperation, chance/bad luck le, searching for meaning in a cruel meaningless world, authentic values/self vs. inauthenic (this is where I think the whole ladykilling and love part of the movie comes in, and parse how the movie almost seems like two movies), making an existential choice about which to value and recognizing one's role in creating those values, a decidely un-heroic hero, a man under the sentence of death, etc.

 

One major caveat, however, Edmund O'Brien! I still enjoyed this movie, but wow...he was really miscast in my opinion and lacked the range and subtlety needed for many of the emotional parts of this role. There was lots of really pushing/forces emotions to numerous acting scenes. He wasn't very believable at all as a guy that all these ladies would swoon over even though the script really positions him as that. And he's not that great at portraying possessed, the force of nature whirlwind nature to this part--the Death Wish, , tough guy part of the role--where he's a guy driven by vengeance. And that you will believe isn't afraid of death, because he's already doomed, but he wants to make sure he doesn't die too soon/before he is satisfied he's figured out who killed him and gone after that person. I understand why some of you criticized the sequence showing Frank Bigelow's life that he will miss "flash before his eyes" at the newsstand, but I think the director had to make that choice as the lesser of evils. It was a way to "show not tell" the audience that insight which was a better alternative than relying on O'Brien to emotionally convey that to the audience or to have him directly say it with voiceover dialogue.

 

Because this is a B Noir, I doubt they could have gotten any of these actors, but just to throw some names out there I think either Kirk Douglas or Robert Mitchum would've been better fits for this demands of part as well as Bogart and Welles.

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-- Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films? The opening scene begins in the dark, with the protagonist moving alone toward a goal – the extensive hallway brings to mind the highway in the Hitchhiker and Kiss Me Deadly, where other protagonists are alone, moving toward an unknown future, along an endless highway, suggesting hopelessness – we also felt hopelessness in the opening scene of Caged. All of the protagonists move in and out of the light, setting up a situation where they seem to make progress, only to move backward.

 

-- What are some of the noir themes and motifs that are being explored in this film's opening scene? This is also a good film through which to discuss Robert Porfirio's article on Existential motifs, since he references the film D.O.A. several times in his essay. Loneliness, pessimism, darkness, loss of control, crime, death. The cold-blooded response of the detective when Frank says he was murdered – all business – no emotion. The men standing behind Frank as he tells his story feel more like a menace to him than support for him, the victim, emphasizing alienation – we can see that, as Profirio mentions in his article, “the mise-en-scene…reinforced the vulnerability…” As the clip ends, we go into a flashback, a much-used noir motif.

 

-- How does the style and substance of this film's opening reinforce a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness in the character of Frank Bigelow? The darkness of the beginning and the seemingly endless hallways Bigelow has to go through – He moves on and on, but doesn’t seem to make much progress. We only see his back for the first few minutes – seems like an odd camera angle for the protagonist. He stops to ask for directions and doesn’t get much help, just an offhand wave to send him on. The score at the beginning reflected Frank’s determination, emphasizing each step, but also is menacing and aggressive. As he gets closer to the end of his march, the music is more chaotic and seems like it can’t rest until he finally reaches the door of the Homicide Division. There, the feeling that nobody notices or cares about him continues, with the men at the table, hardly even looking up when he comes in.

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D.O.A. made a huge impact on me when I was a teenager, growing up in the 1950s.  I recall clinging to the frail hope that Frank Bigelow would somehow be cured, that he - and I - would enjoy a happy ending after his long walk through noir purgatory.  But of course, I didn’t know anything about the genre then - after all, I was just a kid - and kids aways believe in miracles.


Frank’s purposeful walk and the strong musical opening fooled me into thinking that he was going to find a solution - after all, isn’t that what men do?  The masterful opening leads us down a long passage where the hero doesn't find peace, only behaviors and motives that confuse more than clear up his situation.    So the corridor doubles as a maze, where the journey to the end tests a person’s character and choices along the way, and the final conclusions may not solve anything - at all.  


 

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