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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #26: I Hear the Train a Comin' (Opening Scene of The Narrow Margin)

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This Dose continues with this week's theme "Final Clues and Last Words."

 

As usual, TCM will deliver this Dose by email on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

 

And you can also access the Daily Doses on Canvas: https://learn.canvas.net/courses/748/pages/daily-dose-of-darkness-number-26-i-hear-the-train-a-comin-july-21-2015

 

Let the discussions begin!

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Characteristics of film noir parodied in this clip would include the clipped style of speech that the detectives adopt, especially the younger man.  They don't talk reflectively or pause to consider.  They just spit the words out in incomplete sentences and do not feel the need for politeness (as if  saying "would you please" takes too much time or would make them seem soft).  They dress in trench coats as if it is the standard issue uniform for detectives; one light, one dark; just so we don't get confused.  These men are not handsome in the leading man sort of way; they look like anyone you would meet on the street.  We don't get to see too many conventionally handsome men in most of these films; having said that, Robert Mitchum would certainly be an exception.  In most film noirs, the men may have masculine appeal but the women have all the looks.  None of the actors benefit from the soft lighting treatment they would receive in a romantic film.  This clip takes place at night, no surprise, and in the city known for its gangster image, Chicago.  Just so we know, the viewer sees the sign identifying the locale and we have seen technique before.   

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-- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?


 


YES, I SEE IT!!!


 


 MY LUGGAGE MISSES ME TOO!:


 


 True story:  A friend of mine married a foreigner so he could get a baby out of her and have a citizen of the U.S. and ruin her life?  Well, she didn't have any luggage and I thought I would hear from her and that she would return my bags later on.....she packed and moved and I never heard from her again.  She had lots of trouble after marrying that man and that's enough reason never to hear from one......film noirish for sure....


-

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Humphrey Bogart was the definitive answer in playing a hard-boiled detective. Whether as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon or as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, Bogart brought a sense of melancholy, with a clear toughness to these characters. This type of "hero" had not yet been seen by moviegoing audiences.

 

During the initial years, film noir was a new style, genre, telling the stories of certain types of characters. The fascination began with Bogart, and (I'm sure) to many people, any other actor in a role of a hard-boiled detective teetered on that of an imitation. Therefore, it's a bit easy to understand and possibly agree with Hirsch's assessment of The Narrow Margin giving off a satirical feel.

 

The opening scene's title sequence (the showing of the film's title in particular) hints on parody. The Narrow Margin comes onto the screen with the train's whistle sounding off in a screaming fashion. It's a direct lack of subtly. Yes, it does command attention, but does so by way of being a little over the top.

 

Some of the best aspects of film noir are the subtle tendencies; the play of light, tilted camera angles, threatening shadows, Jazz music, etc. These are all effective ways to reveal the darkness/danger aspect of a film noir.

 

In the case of dialogue, it did feel less like hard-boiled banter. It doesn't seem to come easy or as snappy as previously viewed films. The rhythmical flow is somewhat lacking to a degree. The dialogue pushes to get to a "Sam Spade" point, but falls short.

 

There are many uses of the major elements at work within this scene. We are introduced to two chain smoking, hard boiled detectives, wearing the appropriate attire of trenchcoat and fedora. They are traveling to a metropolitan area to visit (in their words) "a dame," a.k.a- The Femme Fatale. This "dame" is in direct association with hoodlums who will undoubtedly cause trouble for said detectives. And shadows will be cast, and darkness will rise as the detectives make their way throughout this film noir.

 

*Lastly, in reference to The Femme Fatale in The Narrow Margin, if her dialogue really does "sound like a parody of the hard-boiled school," then she is to Vera (Ann Savage) in Detour as the two hard-boiled detectives are to Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) in The Maltese Falcon.

 

After all, nobody can play it quite like Bogart, or Ann Savage for that matter.

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This opening wastes no time. The RKO logo music is pushed aside for a train whistle. The title rushes headlong at us with the locomotive, seeming to  burst out of its headlight. The two detectives who get off the train, Walter (Charles McGraw) and Gus (Don Beddoe), have a mere hour to pick up their charge, Mrs. Neal (Marie Windsor) and get her on the return train. Their lines are short and functional til they're in the cab. There they can relax a bit and engage in some idle speculative banter about this "dame" they're picking up, giving birth to immortal oft-quoted lines like "sixty cent special, cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy." Not to worry, the lines'll keep coming once Mrs Neal gets on board.

 

Like Dubbed pointed out in the previous post, the easy, snappy flow has grown a bit weary here. Walter and Gus seem more hardened and jaded by the realities of their job, compared to the detectives we saw a decade earlier. Walter (McGraw) especially.

 

I guess after several decades of hard-boiled fiction on the screen and page, its patterns and conventions will start to look like self-parody. Now that audiences have become so familiar with the tropes of noir, writers can use them as convenient time-saving shorthand. We see two tough-talking guys in trenchcoats - we know immediately they're cops or gangsters. It saves a lot of exposition but also means the movie's more or less in a rut.

 

Between the tough talk Walter shows his fondness for Gus with little offhand gestures like lighting his cigar and then brushing the ash off his coat, and gentle ribbing: "you're still a boy scout at heart". Human touches like that are needed to counteract the hard-boiled stuff and NARROW MARGIN has them indeed.

 

BTW this is one where we should really avoid spoilers like the plague, at least til Friday. It's so easy to get carried away while writing. :)

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-- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

 

No it's just hard boiled and done well, if you want to call something burlesqued I'd go for the race track metaphors between Bogart & Bacall in The Big Sleep rather than this one.

 

 

-- What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s?

 

The passage of a train, it's headlight piercing the night, telegraph poles like sentinels along the right-of-way, its whistle shrieking a warning. The lights of the passenger cars flashing across our POV. A yard limit sign announces Chicago. The deceleration as the train approaches the platform

 

I think it's a high point of the work of Studio/Stage Art, the great design of the various rail car sets, the lighting effects, plus an all emersing sound design. This is all intercut with second unit material and stock footage that convey the illusion of " the jornada", a road picture on rails. There are not many road pictures as tight as this one just judging it visually and audibly alone.

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-- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

I loved how the film opened up with the sound of the train in the night. I always love different openings of films with creative opening credits it can just sell the mood right away. 

As someone pointed out about his luggage, he might not get it back. 

They talk about this women as if she was on a menu a cheap 60 cents menu.

 

 

-- What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s?

 

The sound of the train whistle in the night, the light of the train flashing by getting to its next location. I liked how the main credits were blown away like it was wind from the train, then saying Chicago Limits, then the train pulling into the train yard.

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The dialogue sounds fine to me.  If I didn't know it was past its prime, I would take it for an earlier work.  I look forward to seeing the rest of it.  Is she a "dame"?

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To me it seems like there is a fine line between formula and parody and this movie has not yet crossed over that line. Hirsch states the hard-boiled dialogue is being burlesqued but I don't see that here when compared to obvious parodies such as "My Favorite Brunette" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" ( both movies done with love for film noir). The dialogue we heard does seem like the noir formula but I think it's more of a case of giving people what they expect. It still has enough fresh fun quips ( my luggage will be lonesome) to keep me intrigued.

 

Hirsch may be right on one account and that is signaling the end of the classic era. Once something becomes a formula it is hard to keep it fresh. However in my opinion film noir has never died. We see evidence of it in many modern movies with their cinema graphic techniques, staging and themes. And of course actual noirs such as "Blade Runner".

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When the verbal becomes shorten, when the references are typical, when you get the feeling you been there before, yes it is parody.

But not in the burlesqued sort of way.  We are not seeing the degrading of the genre, as suggested but the often followed trick of duplication, that many films use.  I haven't seen this one, so looking forward to it.  

 

Trench coats, trains, cigars, rushing somewhere, atypical women often creating interest, chasing, catching etc. etc.  Duplication, but all so much more interesting than the no plot, no characters movies of today.

 

PS thanks for bringing so many films that aren't often shown, and why not???  I have a poor copy(public domain) of life at stake, very good noir but never seen before on tv..........that i know of, and why not?????????????  Can we all cry for more noir to be shown even after this course...............

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In the opening of "The Narrow Margin" we see a train approaching and as it nears the light becomes blinding.  This is a film noir.  After the train arrives Walter Brown disembarks from it and surveys his surroundings.  He is there on business. 

 

As far as the dialogue, it is derivative of Raymond Chandler's.  Okay, perhaps they are trying too hard but I don't have a problem with that.   Marie Windors's character is described as "A sixty-cent special.  Cheap, flashy.  Strictly poison under the gravy."  What's not to like?

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As another user, goingtopluto, said: there is a fine line between formula and parody. I didn't really get a parody impression while watching the clip, though a lot of noir trademarks are present: trenchcoats, cigarettes, trains, tough guy with a relatively nicer friend (or so it seems...), and a fascination with a dame who sounds like a femme fatale (or is she?).

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Give me Charles McGraw in a B film noir and I'm in!

 

To begin with the stars in the Paramount logo are blowing away with the sound of the train hurtling along in the night. I see that other posters have noticed this as well.  At first I thought the clip was having technical difficulties. Then, with my second cup of coffee, I realized what was happening. Innovative opening....I can't recall ever seeing that before.

 

The first few minutes of the clip reveal the noir elements and imply that, as the two detectives are on their way to pick up the female witness, there will be trouble ahead. The relationship between McGraw and Bedoe has been forged a long time ago. They are bound together by their work. McGraw dusts the cigar ashes off Bedoe's suit in a big brotherly manner. As cops they care about each other and their conversation is easy and familiar.

Bedoe offers come comic relief, if you will.  After McGraw tells him his cigar is dead and relights it for him, Bedoe says he would like to have a cigar with a self starter.

The banter between the two is typical noir and may be slightly exaggerated, but who cares...it's fun to listen to.

 

I say this with all due respect: our curator's notes are very informative, but while I feel The Narrow Margin, in all probability, reflects the beginning of the demise of noir, I enjoyed this movie tremendously.  What appeals to me about The Narrow Margin is that there is no movie star quality to it; which proves to me that regardless if it's Bogart and Bacall or Lana Turner and John Garfield,  the entertainment value lies within the eye and heart of the person watching the film.

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I love the Narrow Margin. Definitely one of the best films I've been introduced to this summer. I think the comments about this film being a reaction to the genre are correct, although I'll have to try to avoid spoilers by explaining why.

 

First shot, pre-credits, of that train coming right for us. It's an aggressive, assaultive opening, but then the next(where the post-title credits begin) is of a train moving slowly, things calm down. The train is moving right to left, into the past, as if the film, having shocked us with sound and fury, is rewinding and resetting. The train stops moving and out step the detectives(who, when I first watched this, I assumed were gangsters at first), pulling us into the story proper.

 

Charles McGraw is definitely a man who has seen his share of noir films, or appeared in his fair share of them. His dialogue isn't quite a parody here, but everything he says is about how he's got everything figured out already. His world is black and white, and he knows the parts everyone should play. The film is about to prove him wrong, but for now he's the two-fisted hero of his own detective story. It's interesting to consider this a sign of the end of the genre. I can totally see that, as once we get past the mid fifties the only way to do a really compelling noir film was to self-consciously comment on the conventions of noir. It became harder and harder to do a simple, straight forward noir, there had to be a hook, a dissection of the genre tropes.

 

I love this film, and the way it utilizes the train both physically and metaphorically. All the action unfolds in tight spaces, moving back and forth on the same horizontal plane. It's claustrophobic and the film is constantly going over the same ground it's already covered with new shadings of information. Anyone in this thread who hasn't seen the film yet should drop everything and get right on it.

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Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

 

-- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

 

The back and forth banter between the 2 detectives with words like dame and dish describing the female they are going to escort. The overall quick dialog between them is reminiscent of the beginnings of film noir

 

-- What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s?

 

I am not sure about a specific film but the closeness and tight shots of scenes, particularly with the cab scene. The low light and shadow use along with several night scenes.

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Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

 

Back on track again. Hey Johnny Cash quote! Cool! I'd say the speed and dialogue very much parodies even film noir styles are misch-mashed in this clip. That said, someone who is not exposed to this course or film noir can only base their response to the movie which looks and feels pretty slick in my opinion. Looked great.

 

 

What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s

 

I will leave the lists to the other forum members and just say that even if the film noir had seemingly played out its life cycle I appreciate them and don't like finality unfortunately. We are starting to wind down but want to make this a lifelong experience. Thanks Mr. Edwards!

 

Sincerely,

David

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-- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

 

I disagree with the "parody" and "burlesqued" assessments. I think the film was trying to provide what audiences seemed to want in a film noir. For me, the snappy patter was an attempt to emulate the dialogue style of great writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett - not an attempt to parody them. If it seems like parody, maybe it is just because the writers were not as good as Chandler and Hammett.

 

Without knowing the film maker's intent, It can be difficult to determine if we are seeing a parody. For example, many people feel that the snappy dialogue used in the race horse metaphor used by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in "The Big Sleep" was intended as a parody, but it was not. It was specifically added to the film prior to its release, because Bacall's agent, Charles K. Feldman, had advised Jack Warner that the film needed to emulate the feistiness shown between Bogart and Bacall in "To Have and to Have Not." Lauren Bacall had been severely panned in the film she made with Charles Boyer (made after "The Big Sleep," but released before it), in which she displayed no spunk or humor. Feldman convinced Warner that he would lose a valuable asset (Bacall) if he allowed her to appear in two movies in a row in which her dialogue was unremarkable, as that would ruin her career. 

 

It seems to me that for every specific genre of Art, there is a period in which the genre is being invented and initially defined, followed by a period in which it blossoms to maturity, followed by a period in which significant innovation stops, and it begins the descent into parody. Examples of this in painting are the works of the Raphaelites, the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the works of the Impressionists. In the case of film noir, it seems to me that when "The Narrow Margin" was made in 1952, the great film noir tropes that we now know and love had already been invented, so the only options were either to carry on in this tradition or to descend into parody and burlesque.  I don't think we had come to parody and burlesque stage yet in 1952. 

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Even the whistling sound of the train seems a bit over the top in this opening scene; there's something very aggressive in the first sequence, especially in the way the title appears after the headlights blinded the audience.

As for the rest, it's more difficult for me to answer once the dialogue between Charles McGraw and Don Beddoe begins. Their exchange seems full of irony - and these two are thick as thieves, visibly - but not being a native speaker, I'd need subtitles to understand the dialogue...

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Veeerrrrryyyy slow opening, the credits, the train, no music...seems like it's going to be a slow and boring movie...perhaps...perhaps, not!

 

Charles McGraw is so sure of himself...she's a cheap, flashy dish, poison!  What else could a woman be who'd marry a hood? 

 

There seems to be a camaraderie between Charles and Don...nothing "off-color" but a working closeness.  There must be for Charles to wipe dead ashes off Don's coat.  You can see they have taken the long police road together.

 

Don is busy daydreaming about the "dish".  He's even so confident that he bets Charles $5!

 

Poor Charles.

 

Good movie.

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In this opening scene from The Narrow Margin we just might be witnessing a parody of noir conventions with the two detectives and their individual attitudes about their assignment.  First up Detective Sergeant Gus Forbes (Don Beddoe) seems to be more laid back (laughs, jokes) and following routine with in an easy going manner whereas Detective Sergeant Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) is more serious, under pressure/time restraint (telling the cabie to take short-cuts), bitter concerning the witness they're to protect (she's cheap, flashy, strictly poison under the gravy), a hard-boiled man and not a happy cop. In contrast, Gus (aka "boyscout") is telling Walter to "relax, we'll make it ok!", making comments about changing brands of cigars, wondering what the dame will look like and maybe feeling that old age is changing his attitude.  It's possible Charles McGraw represents the classic style of noir with his hard-nosed, strictly business, play-it-by-the-book detective, referring to the "dish" as the 60¢ special.  Don Beddoe's character emphasizing or hinting of a new attitude towards the old style film making,  "I'm thinking of changing brands, something with a self-starter on it." Noir has run it's course, it's time to rethink the formula.  When asked "What kind of a dame marries a hood?" His response is, "All kinds." as his smile and demeanor changes to a somber, dismal mood.  Meaning these days there is no specific type of woman in these films.  A "femme fatale" of classic noir with very distinct characteristics, could be any kind of woman now.  There are no boundaries, old stereotypes no longer fit.  Could be The Narrow Margin was "the writing on the wall" for the way classic noir films were put together (dated slang dialogue, voice over & other tools for noir).

Unbeknownst to Orson Welles (the master) who would make one last stand in the world of noir with Touch of Evil adding his own commentary within the film about the film, film style and the changing studio system.  We are now leaving Iverstown...you know the drill and the line.

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I've always considered The Narrow Margin one of those little diamonds made in the B-film industry; brief, dark and with no stars or glamour. I have once suggested to TCM to air this movie, and I'm particurarly happy it's going to this Friday.

 

Noir veteran Charles McGraw and rather unglamorous Marie Windsor make an odd couple throughout the film, full with tension, hard-boiled dialogue and unrevealed secrets, despite their co-operation in bringing a mob to justice. We have to wait just two minutes in the film for McGraw's character to express his opinion of Windsor's. "What kind of a dame would marry a hood?", he wonders, after giving a rather unflattering description of her without actually knowing her.

 

Mrs. Neall, as portrayed by Windsor, is one of the most hard-boiled and tough female characters appearing in a noir. She is a strange type of a femme fatale, or perhaps a parody of them. As it's pointed in the Daily Dose presentation, the entire film, with its strange characters and many twists, seems to parody the world of noir, despite being itself a fine example of it.

 

Trains are a very common setting for a film noir, but this film is a special case, as most of it and its action takes place in a train from Chicago to L.A. As seen as early as in La Bete Humaine, a train's constant moving and its disturbing sound are important factors for them to have a substantial part in many films noir such as Berlin Express or Strangers on a Train. Ι don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but most of these films are great both for their plots and artistic quality. The Narrow Margin is not an exception.

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 It's interesting to consider this a sign of the end of the genre. I can totally see that, as once we get past the mid fifties the only way to do a really compelling noir film was to self-consciously comment on the conventions of noir. It became harder and harder to do a simple, straight forward noir, there had to be a hook, a dissection of the genre tropes.

 

I love this film, and the way it utilizes the train both physically and metaphorically. All the action unfolds in tight spaces, moving back and forth on the same horizontal plane. It's claustrophobic and the film is constantly going over the same ground it's already covered with new shadings of information. Anyone in this thread who hasn't seen the film yet should drop everything and get right on it.

I too love this film & it was great to see Charles McGraw in a leading role.  I agree with you on the conventions of noir after the 50s and as much as I love the work of Gene Hackman, his remake Narrow Margin (1990) just lacked the punch and intensity of the original! 

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The Narrow Margin easily qualifies for one of the best B films ever made, regardless of genre, but certainly ranks with the very best 'B' noirs and better.  

 

The rushing sounds of a train overlapping the RKO logo puts us on board before the titles even start. We get a loud blast from the train's whistle and a harsh glare of the locomotive's headlight as the title of the film leaps off the screen in our face.  (It's as jilting as the opening titles for Kiss Me Deadly running backwards towards us.)  It's quickly established this train is coming into Chicago from the West Coast, and that both Brown (McGraw) and Forbes (Beddoe) are heading back to L.A. in an hour. 

 

But they've got to go somewhere first, apparently to pick up a mystery dame.   "A Dish," McGraw growls in response to his partners's wondering what this woman looks like.   "Sixty-cent special; cheap, flashy, strictly poison under the gravy."   (McGraw must think he's back in Henry's lunchroom in The Killers.)   His partner asks him how he knows that.  "Well, she's married to a hoodlum," McGraw replies, reaching inside his coat pocket to check his gun.  "What kind of dame would marry a hood?"

 

Gus responds, "All kinds,", and Walter calls him a Boy Scout for being so naive.  But Gus has a hunch and wagers five bucks that Gus is wrong about the dame on this case.  

 

The dim lighting, claustrophobic settings and slightly askew camera angles all scream noir.   There's lots of foreshadowing going on, but pointing it out requires spoilers, so the less said about them the better.  Suffice to say the dialogue goes out of its way to be blunt, barked and harshly judgmental; especially Walter's (McGraw), who's tightly wound from the get-go and will only more so as the story unfolds.  

 

Time also lurks in the shadows of this opening, but in a very different way than it does in yesterday's DDD...Kansas City Confidential.   In the latter, time, or the mastery of it, presents an opportunity.  In The Narrow Margin the opposite seems true.  Time is a menace, an obstacle that must be cleared, an adversary who must be defeated.  

 

I'll withhold comments about the possible parody of noir in this film, etc., because i think the plot itself requires it to large degree.   We, like the characters, have to buy into the premise as presented if the larger story line is to succeed as well as it ultimately does.   

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Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"?

-   Yes: When asked “What Kind of a dish?”  McGraw gives a “sampler plate” of hard-boiled monologue.  “Sixty-cent special” (very clever) says it all, but we are also treated to “cheap, flashy” (this too would suffice) and “strictly poison under the gravy” (a bit over dramatic).  The other detective (Don Beddoe) seems to be asking soft-ball questions to offer a chance to say some pithy hard-boiled stuff – When Beddoe calls the woman a “dame”, McGraw corrects him with “dish”.  We are beat over the head with hard-boiled phrases to make sure we know that McGraw’s overly intense (and unreal) character is the hard-boiled type.
                                                                                               OR
Am I overly influenced by the power of Foster Hirsch’s suggestion in the curator’s notes?

 

What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s?

- Train whistle (This Gun For Hire); high contrast lighting of the approaching train and the lighted windows as it speeds by; slanted ‘Chicago Yard Limit’ sign and rapid, repeating shadows flashing over it then an abrupt cut to a slow train; the windows of the slow train are at an angle from a low shot; smoke/steam in the shot as the detectives disembark from the train (Casablanca).

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As other films noir, Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin begins already in movement, as we can see in the opening credits shown over shots of railway wagons. When the train arrives to the station, two men descend from the carriage: both men are detectives, but they have contrasting appearances, for one is a fat good-natured old man ("Nobody loves a fat man!", a pun two times repeated in the film) and the other is a grumpy hard-boiled detective, much more suited for the film noir style. 

However, as Foster Hirsch pointed out, it's in their dialogue itself that can be noticed the first evidences of a parody of the hard-boiled school and a fading out of the noir style: as one man says to the other, "Your cigar is dead.", and maybe noir's flame is also starting to die. This hard-boiled parody is reflected by the apparent lack of seriousness with which the detectives seem to regard their mission: they'd rather talk about brands of cigarettes, make jokes about their luggage or make bets about their work, than hurry to get it done. Nevertheless, the character played by Charles McGraw seems more self-confident and commited to his role - we don't need to recognize the actor to understand, only by his acting style, that it will be him the main character, the true hard-boiled detective in the film; similarly, there's already in this dialogue the shadow of a major female influence over the film's story. For those who have already whatched the film, it is particularly interesting to notice what Charles McGraw says about her - that he doesn't have to wonder how she looks like, because he already knows. Well, we'll see.
Considered the model B movie of the 50's, The Narrow Margin shows other major noir elements, already present in the film's opening, that wew determined by the low budget and, consequently, the economy in the film's directing: the choice of real shooting locations, dimly lit scenes filmed at night, few non-star main actors, and the parsimony in the film spaces (as almost everything is set inside of a train).

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