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Dr. Rich Edwards

JULY 24 TCM FILM DISCUSSION FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS

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"The Strip" -

 

Again, I'm sorry to offend but I've always found it difficult to buy Mickey Rooney as a lover.  Yes, I know he was married 1,000 times, perhaps others found it difficult as well.

 

"Miss Fluff" as I'll call her, she was no dummy.  She knew what she wanted and wasn't going to let anyone stop her.  She used poor William Demarest as a shield when she felt like it.  I'm sure he realized this, as he was no dummy either.

 

Did anyone notice that the hatcheck girl and "Miss Fluff" bore a striking resemblance to each other or is it just me thinking this - especially at the end when all of a sudden there was a new cigarette girl. 

 

I had to keep looking at both women during the movie to see which was which.  I guess it was difficult finding women shorter than Mickey. 

 

James Craig vs. Mickey Rooney, really?  I'm sorry but there was no contest. 

 

I think she knew what she was getting into and thought she could handle it.

 

The ego of Mickey's character, he just met her, she made a deal to date him so that he could have the job playing the drums and then all of a sudden, he thinks they're going to marry and he's telling her what she and cannot do?  I don't think so...even for those times.  They hadn't been dating for a time and you could see she didn't really give a rat's you-know-what about him.

 

Some of this is silly.

 

The music was great and I agree, having all those "greats" in one movie was outstanding. 

 

There's no denying that Mickey Rooney was a multi-talented, multi-faceted human being but I just can't accept Andy Hardy as a great lover.

Agree. Don't forget he married Ava Gardner!! Of course, this is his personal life and not relative to the character he portrayed in The Strip.  Apparantly, Rooney was the movies' hot ticket item at the time and Gardner was on the rise. The studio approved and promoted their marriage. Undoubtedly, the studio could possibly have seen a good bottom line here?

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The Locket

 

A great piece of entertainment.  Casting Laraine Day was actually brilliant.  She had to have that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth quality so that all these people would believe her.  Even though there were multiple flashbacks it was very easy to follow if you see it from the beginning.  Of course, years ago we just went to the movies, never finding out about start times, and generally we came in on the middle of one of the two features usually shown and left when it came to the part of the first movie we already saw-"This is where I came in."  So I guess at the time this might've confused people if they didn't see it from the beginning.  I wish it were a better print with a clearer soundtrack--and that green tint...the technical flaw of that removed it a layer for the "engagement" factor, but it was still terrific nevertheless.  A "B" level "Laura."  It had everything.  I particularly liked the "matched" shot of Nancy as a child and Nancy as the bride looking down after the music box hit the floor and opened.  

 

Angel Face

 

It's so tragic that Howard Hughes' egregious treatment of Miss Simmons destroyed any joy she may have had playing such a terrific part as this. I was thinking the same thing about her wig as Mr. Muller.  It was almost iconic in stature, and it's funny that he set up a comparison with Barbara Stanwyck's wig in "Double Indemnity."  I wonder if that character would've had the same incredible impact without it.  That said, this is a great story and an artful film.  Jean Simmons gives a terrific performance, as does everyone.  Misogyny abounds again with Mitchum's character, where he lets Mona Freeman know he's a free agent, even while seeing her, and his line delivered as a professional ambulance driver to a client "I've been slapped by dames before" (something to that effect) after she slaps him, shows how he feels about "dames."  He's not very sympathetic, but he's not stupid, and he still gets it in the end.  I thought the ending was terrific.  You know, some people in these posts say that noir never has a happy ending.  Not true.  If the protagonist has not actually done anything wrong, it usually does end happily for them.  That's why I liked this one.  I thought for sure that through some quirk of fate that she, the murderess, would die, and he, the innocent bystander, would be spared.  But maybe he died on a technicality because he knew beforehand she might kill the stepmother and didn't try to stop it.  Hmmm.  A worthwhile film.  Great print, true black and white and not that horrible green-tinted stuff, and clear soundtrack.  I had fun watching this. They had me at the wig!

 

An extra thought:  I wonder if changing Mona Freeman's hairstyle in her last scene was a conscious choice.  In all the scenes when she was still Mitchum's "girl" her hair was pulled back and up, like her guard is up with him.  She's not relaxed.  Since their relationship is "open," she always has her guard up, she's always "competing."  But in her last scene when she commits to his friend (Kenneth Tobey) because he's the kind of man who wants to be committed and married to her, her hair is loose, soft, like she's finally comfortable.  Her guard is down, She's finally unrestrained.  

 

As far as the slapping story: Unless Mr. Muller was referring to her being slapped multiple times in rehearsal and Robert Mitchum slapping Preminger before the cameras rolled, the evidence on film does not support this intention.  Mitchum's hand hardly touched her face.  As he starts to slap her there's an abrupt cut to a different angle where we see his hand already on her face.  The rest of the work was done by the foley artist.  Her slapping Mitchum was definitely real. There's no cutting away and the sound seems diegetic.  Sorry to contradict but that's what I see in the film.  Perhaps I misunderstood.  I've read about how abusive Preminger was with his leading ladies, so I completely believe that part, and I believe he may have told Mitchum to slap her hard and Mitchum may have said nothin' doin' as he slapped Preminger, but I don't see any evidence on film of a hard slap to Miss Simmons actually happening.

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The Narrow Margin

 

Howard Hughes, or no Howard Hughes, RKO made my favorite Noirs. Haven't seen this one for a good while but it's a terrific ride through Noir territory, just about the only tropes it didn't include were the flash-back and the voice-over! 

 

Seeing it again made me thinks about the Daily Dose discussion earlier in the week about it's hard boiled dialogue almost being a parody of that in earlier films. The fact it was made in 1950 but not released until 1952 actually puts the movie on that boundary between early and late Noirs and I feel the whole tone of the film to be closer to, say, The Maltese Falcon, than the more cynical movies that followed it's release. In fact, Charles MacGraw's character is more overtly sympathetic to the death of his partner, Forbes, than Sam Spade ever was about his, although he does kind of ruin it later when he has the following exchange:

 

Brown: Poor Forbes

Neall: What about poor Forbes

Brown: He owed me five bucks!

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Clash by Night

 

I had written a lot of this before trading posts with ciro_barbaro, which helped me clarify my thoughts even further. Many thanks to ciro_barbaro and others for a great discussion about this film!

 

Clash by Night opens with crashing waves, crashing surf, and a rocky shore behind the opening credits. We know lots of tumult is to come. Then the film switches to shots of seals, pelicans, gulls, and a fishing fleet. Were the animals meant to foreshadow the scene when Jerry calls Mae and Earl animals? He repeats the word several times, and I thought of the animals from the beginning of the movie while this scene played out.

 

The film features lots of talk about violence against women, and even violence from women directed toward men (especially on the part of Peggy):

• When we first see Peggy and Joe together, Peggy talks about spousal abuse. One of her coworkers showed up at work with a black eye, courtesy of her husband. She stands up for herself, both verbally and physically, when Joe defends the husband’s position.

• One of the first things that Earl says to Mae, when they first meet in the projection room of the movie theater: “Gotta cut her up a little bit. She’d look more interesting.” He’s talking about women in general, I believe.

• When Mae, Jerry, and Earl are out a local bar, Earl says about his ex-wife: “Someday I’m going to stick her full of pins just to see if blood runs out.”

• Later in the movie, Joe play-strangles Peggy with a towel, and she starts to be hurt a bit because he goes too far. But he only releases her when she tells him he’s the one who is exciting. And when he does release her, Peggy socks him in the jaw.

 

In the scene at the bar, with Mae, Jerry, and Earl, Earl and Mae seem to do most of the talking. At a couple of points during the conversation, Earl addresses his comments directly to the camera, although he is not addressing the audience, in a first-person point of view (POV). This felt so odd to me, and I couldn’t figure out why Fritz Lang would do this. But then that’s probably the point: Earl is an odd character who made me uncomfortable, and this technique made me feel that viscerally. (Another successful use of the first-person POV that shows how far filmmaking has come since Lady in the Lake. The other successful use in this week’s Summer of Darkness lineup is in The Narrow Margin, during the fight on the train, with Detective Brown’s foot coming right for the camera and the other character’s face.) It didn’t make me relate to the character, but it did make me want to run in the opposite direction from the one that Mae seemed to be taking in the film, in general!

 

When Jerry says that he never thought of cutting a woman (this is during the same scene in the projection room of the movie theater when Earl and Mae fist meet), Earl calls him a simple man, as though it were an insult. The whole scene is perfect noir. The only one out of place is Jerry because he’s a simple man—but not for long.

 

Uncle Vince is just as creepy as Earl, in his own way. He’s always there to bring bad news. He even prods Jerry to commit murder, and Jerry almost does.

 

Wow, a happy ending—sort of. I didn’t see that coming, not with all the violent physicality and emotional abuse between the male and female characters. Jerry says that he has to trust because it’s the only way to live, but it seems clear to me that this film is implying that such trust is a gamble in general, not just for Jerry, and that it will take him some time to trust Mae again. And I have the sense that Mae will do anything for her daughter; she simply cannot abandon her, even if it means giving up her relationship with Earl.

 

Commentary on the movie was provided by Peter Bogdanovich on my borrowed copy of the DVD. He did not want to call Clash by Night a film noir because it is essentially a love triangle, but why does that disqualify it? The constant fighting and violent physicality between so many of the characters makes the movie a film noir for me. Most of the story may take place in people’s homes and may be about a love triangle, but I had no trouble with that same kind of setting, for example, in Mildred Pierce. Bogdanovich also mentioned the footage that starts the movie, which was filmed in a documentary style. When I watched it a second time, I was amazed at the scenes Fritz Lang and Nicholas Musuraca were able to capture and weave into the story to portray the life of the fishing town.

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Clash by Night

 

I had written a lot of this before trading posts with ciro_barbaro, which helped me clarify my thoughts even further. Many thanks to ciro_barbaro and others for a great discussion about this film!

 

Clash by Night opens with crashing waves, crashing surf, and a rocky shore behind the opening credits. We know lots of tumult is to come. Then the film switches to shots of seals, pelicans, gulls, and a fishing fleet. Were the animals meant to foreshadow the scene when Jerry calls Mae and Earl animals? He repeats the word several times, and I thought of the animals from the beginning of the movie while this scene played out.

 

The film features lots of talk about violence against women, and even violence from women directed toward men (especially on the part of Peggy):

• When we first see Peggy and Joe together, Peggy talks about spousal abuse. One of her coworkers showed up at work with a black eye, courtesy of her husband. She stands up for herself, both verbally and physically, when Joe defends the husband’s position.

• One of the first things that Earl says to Mae, when they first meet in the projection room of the movie theater: “Gotta cut her up a little bit. She’d look more interesting.” He’s talking about women in general, I believe.

• When Mae, Jerry, and Earl are out a local bar, Earl says about his ex-wife: “Someday I’m going to stick her full of pins just to see if blood runs out.”

• Later in the movie, Joe play-strangles Peggy with a towel, and she starts to be hurt a bit because he goes too far. But he only releases her when she tells him he’s the one who is exciting. And when he does release her, Peggy socks him in the jaw.

 

In the scene at the bar, with Mae, Jerry, and Earl, Earl and Mae seem to do most of the talking. At a couple of points during the conversation, Earl addresses his comments directly to the camera, although he is not addressing the audience, in a first-person point of view (POV). This felt so odd to me, and I couldn’t figure out why Fritz Lang would do this. But then that’s probably the point: Earl is an odd character who made me uncomfortable, and this technique made me feel that viscerally. (Another successful use of the first-person POV that shows how far filmmaking has come since Lady in the Lake. The other successful use in this week’s Summer of Darkness lineup is in The Narrow Margin, during the fight on the train, with Detective Brown’s foot coming right for the camera and the other character’s face.) It didn’t make me relate to the character, but it did make me want to run in the opposite direction from the one that Mae seemed to be taking in the film, in general!

 

When Jerry says that he never thought of cutting a woman (this is during the same scene in the projection room of the movie theater when Earl and Mae fist meet), Earl calls him a simple man, as though it were an insult. The whole scene is perfect noir. The only one out of place is Jerry because he’s a simple man—but not for long.

 

Uncle Vince is just as creepy as Earl, in his own way. He’s always there to bring bad news. He even prods Jerry to commit murder, and Jerry almost does.

 

Wow, a happy ending—sort of. I didn’t see that coming, not with all the violent physicality and emotional abuse between the male and female characters. Jerry says that he has to trust because it’s the only way to live, but it seems clear to me that this film is implying that such trust is a gamble in general, not just for Jerry, and that it will take him some time to trust Mae again. And I have the sense that Mae will do anything for her daughter; she simply cannot abandon her, even if it means giving up her relationship with Earl.

 

Commentary on the movie was provided by Peter Bogdanovich on my borrowed copy of the DVD. He did not want to call Clash by Night a film noir because it is essentially a love triangle, but why does that disqualify it? The constant fighting and violent physicality between so many of the characters makes the movie a film noir for me. Most of the story may take place in people’s homes and may be about a love triangle, but I had no trouble with that same kind of setting, for example, in Mildred Pierce. Bogdanovich also mentioned the footage that starts the movie, which was filmed in a documentary style. When I watched it a second time, I was amazed at the scenes Fritz Lang and Nicholas Musuraca were able to capture and weave into the story to portray the life of the fishing town.

 

Great comments.  Your second to last paragraph:  Now that Jerry is no longer a "simple" man, was he really acting so magnanimously "allowing" Mae to go get Gloria as a selfless, forgiving gesture, or has he now spawned his own agenda.  From his point of view, trust or no trust, Mae can take care of little Gloria, and so that burden has been lifted from Jerry.  He's getting something whether he forgives Mae or not.  So the question is, will he from this day forward use the child as emotional blackmail to "keep the wife in line?" In essence, will he now become one of those "other" guys who abuse their wives? It's really interesting that you bring up the nature shots of the surroundings:  these scenes are repeated a few times throughout the movie.  I'd like to take a look at exactly where they recur in the plot-line.  If the people in this story are indeed animals, then is the implication that they, too, cannot change their patterns?  This is way too deep for a Sunday morning!

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Great comments.  Your second to last paragraph:  Now that Jerry is no longer a "simple" man, was he really acting so magnanimously "allowing" Mae to go get Gloria as a selfless, forgiving gesture, or has he now spawned his own agenda.  From his point of view, trust or no trust, Mae can take care of little Gloria, and so that burden has been lifted from Jerry.  He's getting something whether he forgives Mae or not.  So the question is, will he from this day forward use the child as emotional blackmail to "keep the wife in line?" In essence, will he now become one of those "other" guys who abuse their wives? It's really interesting that you bring up the nature shots of the surroundings:  these scenes are repeated a few times throughout the movie.  I'd like to take a look at exactly where they recur in the plot-line.  If the people in this story are indeed animals, then is the implication that they, too, cannot change their patterns?  This is way too deep for a Sunday morning!

Interesting speculation about Jerry's motives, but I do believe that future events after Jerry and Mae reunite would constitute a separate movie, a sequel to Clash by Night. As viewers, we can only go by what happens on the film before our eyes. It was obvious to me that Jerry loves his daughter; he kisses her and shows her the beauty of the moon on a hot sweltering night (not all of nature is beastly!). He is willing to take the baby with him on the boat while he works, so he is willing to spend time with her and take care of her. From our modern perspective, it may seem like Jerry is dumping Gloria, their daughter, on Mae, but I can only go by what Mae says she wants in the movie. She tells Earl she is leaving him because he doesn't have a place for the baby in his view of their relationship. She begs Jerry to take her back because she wants her family, including the baby, back. I don't think Mae is thinking that she will be burdened from now on.

 

But who knows what a sequel could bring for Mae and Jerry!

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Agree.   Macao is the far better film.   His Kind of Woman plays more like a comedy than a noir.   The Jim Backus and Vincent Price characters were there for comic relief.    The plot didn't make a whole lot of sense.   I'm still trying to figure out why Dan swam back to the yacht after having escaped being brought there by McGraw & Co. in the first place?    

 

Obviously, so he could be threatened by Burr and the plastic surgeon (another 'doctor' who's a whiz-bang with a hypo, like in Murder My Sweet, Kiss Me Deadly,  etc.) for what seemed an eternity, but I'm not sure he had a valid reason for him to go back except to place himself in more danger.  

Completely agree.  It didn't know what it wanted to be, and went on forever!

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His Kind of Woman - a Comedy...of errors!

 

The print of this film is by far the best I've seen of this series.  It looks to have been struck from the original camera negative or at the very least a pristine fine-grain positive.  It's lit scrumptiously, blacks that are like velvet, consider the night for night sky in the yacht scene, and whites that had amazing resolution: bright without burnout in the highlights--in the scene where Mitchum comes out of his hotel room and has the envelope with his additional money in hand--he's in peripheral light, semi-darkness even, and that piece of white paper positively glows.  Not to mention the sparkle of Jane Russell's jewelry and one scene where there was a fireplace fire behind them and it absolutely glowed and visually crackled in the background.  There was an emulsion scratch for a few minutes in the last reel, and that was the only time I was jarred into remembering that it was a film.  Otherwise, it was like looking at a "coffee table book" of gorgeous black and white photographs.    I wish the print of "The Locket" was this good!  The sound quality was without aural blemish.  

 

I will say that the naturalistic styles of Mitchum and Russell melded so well together, even in the dramatic scenes there wasn't that sense of overdramatic "angst" we so often see in these.  She looked spectacular, and the aforementioned gorgeous print of this film allowed us to see all the detail of the pearl-white in her outfits. 

 

The movie itself, however, was a hodgepodge of insanely disparate styles thrown together in a blender, under-mixed and poured out.  Vincent Price almost saved the day, and for much of it towed that line between outrageously good and just too much.  Some of the final scenes were reminiscent of "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd."  Did someone put peyote in my popcorn?  I thought I was watching a film noir, or maybe a gangster flick!

 

I started to watch this and fell asleep within the first few minutes and woke up again halfway through it.  So I scrolled to "The Locket."  Got through it without a hitch.  One sitting.  I tried "His Kind Of Woman" again.  Fell asleep again.  Woke up it was over.  Jumped to "Angel Face."  Engaged from the beginning.  Watched until the end.  Got a good night's sleep.  Made a pot of morning coffee.  Was determined to get through "His Kind of Woman"...awake.  Succeeded.  Too bad the film didn't! 

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The Locket: Flashbacks, Lighting, and Psychiatry

 

The Flashbacks

• The first flashback is told by Dr. Harry Blair. His cigarette smoke obscures the camera shot and the present, and then his story proceeds with his voice-over. Very effective and very noir!

• The next flashback is from Norman Clyde, who is part of Blair’s flashback. A shadow crosses Norman’s face and then covers it completely before the transition to the flashback.

• The third flashback is told by Nancy while we’re still in Norman’s flashback. Lines of shadow and light across Nancy’s and Norman’s faces, and then we’re back even farther in time.

 

Nancy’s flashback is lit realistically. It’s all about the locket she receives from Karen and the humiliation she feels from having to return it and then being accused of stealing it. Karen’s mother says to the children, but mostly to her own daughter: “Now see what you’ve done.” She blames the children, especially her own daughter Karen. The scene where Karen’s mother “interrogates” Nancy seems to scar Nancy. It becomes imprinted on her memory via the tune from the music box.

 

Lighting

• The lighting throughout was wonderful, with the shadows obscuring faces partially, sometimes completely.

• The firelight effects during Nancy’s and Norman’s argument after the Bonner murder was soft but also moody and concealing. This is the point when Nancy’s flashback occurs.

• Norman comes back to Dr. Blair’s office, and there is a shot of him in the window of Blair’s reception area, looking up into bright light—he looks saintly, like a religious icon or a figure in a painting. He chats with the doctor in the doctor’s office and leaves the painting of an “eyeless” Nancy, and we hear a bloodcurdling scream. When Dr. Blair runs out to the reception area, he discovers that Norman has leapt to his death from the window where we saw him in bright light, the window of the reception area. How noir is that?! A window with bright light, Norman looking so saintly while framed by that window, and then he kills himself by jumping out of that same window.

 

Psychiatry as a Theme

• Nancy gets Karen’s locket on her wedding day. Music from the very same music box intrudes on her senses, intrudes into her thoughts. She has audio flashbacks (music box tune drowns out the wedding march) and visual flashbacks (sees images from her past in the patterns of the rug at her feet).  These flashbacks are done very effectively.

• Psychiatry as a field is portrayed in a rather optimistic light for a film noir. Dr. Blair is both doctor and patient. Blair is committed by Nancy to a psychiatric hospital after their London apartment is destroyed. (By the way, the footage of London burning during the German blitz looked real.) After Nancy’s flashbacks at her wedding, Dr. Blair says that he doesn’t have the answers, but he does say that Nancy needs love.

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Agree. Don't forget he married Ava Gardner!! Of course, this is his personal life and not relative to the character he portrayed in The Strip.  Apparantly, Rooney was the movies' hot ticket item at the time and Gardner was on the rise. The studio approved and promoted their marriage. Undoubtedly, the studio could possibly have seen a good bottom line here?

My Directv went off twice during this film. I figured out the story line where the movie was continuing the first time I lost the picture. The second time was at the end of the film. Mickey goes back to Fluff`s after finding out his gal died. TCM on demand is not repeating THE STRIP which I do not understand. The rest of the film noirs have been available in June and so far in July. Heck I liked this little film, and can somebody fill me in with the finale.

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The Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

 

The Elevator to the Gallows is without a doubt, one of the best.

 

I am glad this was a suggestion for the course. I am inspired to learn about the history and camera work behind foreign films. I have been reticent in the past to watch movies with subtitles, because, for me, they can be distracting. Since, I discovered that if I watch these films at least a couple of times, I can get past the subtitles. As I did with The Bicycle Thief. It is now one of my favorites.

 

The viewing guide was helpful and informative...lots of information about the background of this movie. For example, I did not know Malle was such a Miles Davis fan.

 

There are so many elements in this movie that I don't quite know how or where to begin.

 

The cinematography was superb. The choker shots of Florence Carala in the phone booth, during the opening sequence, allowed the viewer to become one with her in her emotions and apprehensions. She is speaking to her lover, Julien Tavernier and finalizing their plans to murder her husband. The photographic noir element abounds in this film.

 

The night-for-night photography was spectacular. My favorite scene is where Florence wanders aimlessly through the streets after she believes Julien has double crossed her. I felt like I was wandering with her as she weaved through the traffic and pedestrians.

 

The parallel subplot of Louis and Veronique and their petty crime spree is ignited when Louis steals Julien's car. As Julien leaves the office and after he murdered Florence's husband, he looks up at the office building only to see the rope he used in the murder hanging from the balcony of the office. He leaves his car to retrieve the rope but gets stuck in the elevator shaft.  When Julien does not return, Louis seizes the opportunity and makes off with Julien's car along with Veronique, his girlfirend. In the meantime, Florence has been waiting for Julien to arrive at their prearranged spot. She sees Julien's car drive by. The car keeps going. She only sees Veronique but cannot see the driver. She assumes Julien has double crossed her.

 

Thinking he would be coming back, Julien had tucked his revolver in his coat pocket which he left in the car. As she and Louis are driving, Veronique discovers the gun at which time their fate turns from petty crime to murder. Louis registers them in a motel under the name Julien Tavernier. He has, in reality, stolen Julien's identity. He is a thief, after all. At the motel, Louis becomes embroiled in a verbal confrontation with German tourists. He attempts to steal their car and when the owner, Buckner, points a cigar at him, Louis thinks it's a gun and kills him with Julien's revolver. The hunt is on for Buckner's killer and here is where Florence becomes immersed in finding Julien.

 

She has to sort through the mistaken identity and that's what becomes her albatross. She can't find him and was given information based on the wrong Julien (Louis). She and Julian are still so connected that in one scene, Julien pulls his jacket collar tighter around his neck as does Florence at the exact same time.

 

Foretelling of the future for Julien is an element that rings out through the movie:

A black cat creeps along the office balcony railing in front of Julien as he is about to, or, after he commits the murder;

The gates to the building where he works resemble the bars in a jail cell;

He nearly gets hanged when he's in the elevator shaft;

The rope he left behind is hanging from the balcony..looking very much like gallows;

The elevator becomes his temporary captor. He gets away, but not for long.

 

Postwar antagonism was still evident as in Buckner's and Louis' conversation at the motel. Julien and Florence's arms dealing husband discussed some old WW2 subjects such Indonesia and "now Algiers". Presumably, Florence's husband was a war time profiteer skimming off the Nazi's. I don't know. I didn't get whether or not Julian had been complicit in those dealings.

 

At the end Florence would never see Julien again and was to, possibly, receive the stiffest penalty for her part in her husband's death, according to  the detective who, by the way, reminded me of Bruno Cremer who portrayed Jules Maigret in one of the many Maigret TV series.

 

Miles Davis......well, enough said. Perfect.

 

For those of you who have not seen this movie, I would highly recommend it. It just might be worth your while.

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Elevator to the Gallows

 

 

Murphy’s law is simple: If anything can go wrong, it will. The plan seemed simple- kill the boss without getting caught then meet the girlfriend afterwards. For a moment all seems okay, until Julien realizes he has left behind a piece of incriminating evidence. He must return to the scene of the crime and all goes downhill for everyone thereafter.

 

The film’s clever plot embraces nihilism to showcase the plight of Julien, his femme fatale girlfriend, Florence and two Parisian teenagers.

 

The back and white cinematography, the music by Miles Davis, the directing by Louis Malle all adds up to an excellent and suspenseful French noir. This was a pleasant surprise.

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Angel Face

 

I loved Eddie Muller's recounting of the tale behind this movie, probably a lot more than the film itself, which for me was a fairly slight tale ultimately. It seemed to take Noir to an extreme in punishing the protagonist's transgressions too. I mean, all Frank did was to go out for an evening with a lady who wasn't his girlfriend! And for this he is doomed. It seems cruel more than anything else, after all, he's a good guy: a Vet and an ambulance driver...sheesh...the rest of us have no chance!!

 

 

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Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

Diane insinuates herself into Frank’s life:

• Offers him a chance to race at Pebble Beach.

• Offers him a job as chauffer.

• Willing to have an affair with an employee of the house. Not exactly employer/employee relationship because she’s not the head of the house, but still creepy because she wants to keep him around as hired help.

 

I learned a lot from Eddie Muller’s commentary on my borrowed copy of the DVD for Angel Face. Here are some of the points I remember especially:

• One of the greatest “meeting noir” moments is when Frank sees Diane for the first time and she’s playing the piano (that includes the slap exchange).

• The movie is mostly about class and class differences. References to class and money are interspersed throughout the movie and woven into the plot effortlessly.

• Female characters have all the power. Only Diane and Frank’s lawyer is not in the thrall of one of the female characters.

• The postwar angst about women working is class-based, not gender-based: Femme fatales don’t work for a living (Diane Tremayne); good women in films noir do work for a living (Mary Wilton). Muller gave many examples from other films in both categories.

 

These are all great points that made sense to me. The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.

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My Directv went off twice during this film. I figured out the story line where the movie was continuing the first time I lost the picture. The second time was at the end of the film. Mickey goes back to Fluff`s after finding out his gal died. TCM on demand is not repeating THE STRIP which I do not understand. The rest of the film noirs have been available in June and so far in July. Heck I liked this little film, and can somebody fill me in with the finale.

I am sorry you have had so much trouble. It's annoying at best. Unfortunately, I deleted this movie to make room for more recordings. Toward the end of the film I, too, had some interruptions so I was watching the final part in segments. I believe I got the jist: Stan tells everyone that he killed Sonny. This was to cover up for Jane whom he still cared for. He already knew Jane killed Sonny. No one believed him. He finally admits that Jane had, in fact, killed Sonny and was subsequently not charged with Sonny's murder. Stan then returns to his music career.  Some else might want to weigh in on this, as well. Always open for suggestions and corrections. Keep posting!

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I am sorry you have had so much trouble. It's annoying at best. Unfortunately, I deleted this movie to make room for more recordings. Toward the end of the film I, too, had some interruptions so I was watching the final part in segments. I believe I got the jist: Stan tells everyone that he killed Sonny. This was to cover up for Jane whom he still cared for. He already knew Jane killed Sonny. No one believed him. He finally admits that Jane had, in fact, killed Sonny and was subsequently not charged with Sonny's murder. Stan then returns to his music career.  Some else might want to weigh in on this, as well. Always open for suggestions and corrections. Keep posting!

Thanks sherrif34  for helping me out with the ending. I wanted to keep this movie. Maybe the storyline wasn`t the greatest, but the music was wonderful. I had never heard of Jack Teagarden the trombonist until TCM broadcast the Clint Eastword produced JOHNNY MERCER 100th anniversary special in November 2009. THIS TIME THE DREAM`S ON ME. The song was written by Johnny and Harold Arlen for the 1941 movie BLUES IN THE NIGHT. Johnny and Jack Teagarden met on The Paul Whitman radio show. I assume that TCM could only show THE STRIP once.My dvr player contains many film noirs. Too bad the player doesn`t have a larger capacity for storage.

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Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

Diane insinuates herself into Frank’s life:

• Offers him a chance to race at Pebble Beach.

• Offers him a job as chauffer.

• Willing to have an affair with an employee of the house. Not exactly employer/employee relationship because she’s not the head of the house, but still creepy because she wants to keep him around as hired help.

 

I learned a lot from Eddie Muller’s commentary on my borrowed copy of the DVD for Angel Face. Here are some of the points I remember especially:

• One of the greatest “meeting noir” moments is when Frank sees Diane for the first time and she’s playing the piano (that includes the slap exchange).

• The movie is mostly about class and class differences. References to class and money are interspersed throughout the movie and woven into the plot effortlessly.

• Female characters have all the power. Only Diane and Frank’s lawyer is not in the thrall of one of the female characters.

• The postwar angst about women working is class-based, not gender-based: Femme fatales don’t work for a living (Diane Tremayne); good women in films noir do work for a living (Mary Wilton). Muller gave many examples from other films in both categories.

 

These are all great points that made sense to me. The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.

iiRobert Mitchum didn't work for m either as a doctor/surgeon in NOT AS A STRANGER  1955. I like the film for other reasons, and Charles Bickford is believable portraying the elder doctor.

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iiRobert Mitchum didn't work for m either as a doctor/surgeon in NOT AS A STRANGER  1955. I like the film for other reasons, and Charles Bickford is believable portraying the elder doctor.

Well, I'm adding Not as a Stranger to my list of movies to see after this course ends because Robert Mitchum will be worth seeing, whether he's an ambulance driver or a surgeon! Thanks for the suggestion.

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The Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

 

The Elevator to the Gallows is without a doubt, one of the best.

 

...

 

Postwar antagonism was still evident as in Buckner's and Louis' conversation at the motel. Julien and Florence's arms dealing husband discussed some old WW2 subjects such Indonesia and "now Algiers". Presumably, Florence's husband was a war time profiteer skimming off the Nazi's. I don't know. I didn't get whether or not Julian had been complicit in those dealings.

 

At the end Florence would never see Julien again and was to, possibly, receive the stiffest penalty for her part in her husband's death, according to  the detective who, by the way, reminded me of Bruno Cremer who portrayed Jules Maigret in one of the many Maigret TV series.

 

Miles Davis......well, enough said. Perfect.

 

For those of you who have not seen this movie, I would highly recommend it. It just might be worth your while.

 

The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.

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The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.

I wonder if Carala collaborated with the Nazis; was this made clear in Elevator to the Gallows? He's held in high esteem by everyone in the police station except Florence. Once the officers hear that she is Mrs. Carala, she is given preferential treatment. They will let her go, her husband doesn't even have to know about it, she won't have a record. And the worst crime committed in the film seems to be Florence's adultery. Is this because she's a woman cheating on a man? Because Carala is so well-respected and she should be punished even more severely? If Carala were revealed to be a war criminal, would he have been tried by the international community before the International Military Tribunal, in something similar to the Nuremberg trials?

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Angel Face

 

What a title for this movie! Nothing angelic going on here.

 

I definitely noticed the femme fatale (Diane) at work and prowling around Frank from the start. (Did anyone else notice that Diane and the ambulance were driving on the wrong side of the road when Diane follows Frank?) Then she invites Mary, Frank’s girlfriend, out to lunch. She makes sure that Mary knows that Frank was lying about the previous night when he was really with her (Diane). Mary sees right through Diane, but she waits to hear Frank lie again at the end of their next work shift, when he invites her out for a T-bone steak. Mary isn’t willing to put up with Diane and Frank’s shenanigans forever, though.

 

....

 

 The point that really resonated with me was the one about class differences. In fact, the plot for me was reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard; the Tremayne house was reminiscent of the house in Sabrina. Both movies use class differences as a theme. I was very aware that Diane Tremayne was offering a lower-class job (chauffer) to Frank so she could keep him around. It struck me as creepy on her part and crazy of Frank to agree to it. But we wouldn’t have had a film noir without it!

 

One flaw for me: Robert Mitchum as an ambulance driver? That just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t know why, but it just felt all wrong somehow.

 

 

Seemed jarring for me too, first time. Also, young Mitchum as an artist(!) in THE LOCKET. His face is just so indelibly fused with the type of character he plays in OUT OF THE PAST. Putting his Westerns aside, it takes a bit of effort to believe him in a non-trenchcoat role but it's worth it. :)

 

Well-to-do characters with a more or less twisted psychology and complex family (blood and extended) relationships, that's something Otto Preminger liked to portray in his Fox noirs - LAURA, WHIRLPOOL, FALLEN ANGEL. I always find his characters intriguing.

 

The relationship of Frank and Mary is unusual for the time. I liked that Mona Freeman's Mary was down-to-earth and levelheaded. Though genuinely fond and caring of Frank, she wasn't going to cling to him when she realized it was futile. The role of the film noir "good girl" is so often trite and thankless but here it's really fleshed out.

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I wonder if Carala collaborated with the Nazis; was this made clear in Elevator to the Gallows? He's held in high esteem by everyone in the police station except Florence. Once the officers hear that she is Mrs. Carala, she is given preferential treatment. They will let her go, her husband doesn't even have to know about it, she won't have a record. And the worst crime committed in the film seems to be Florence's adultery. Is this because she's a woman cheating on a man? Because Carala is so well-respected and she should be punished even more severely? If Carala were revealed to be a war criminal, would he have been tried by the international community before the International Military Tribunal, in something similar to the Nuremberg trials?

 

Thanks for pointing that out. I rewatched the relevant parts and there's no explicit mention of Carala's role in the occupation, just that he profited off the Indochina and Algeria wars. Julien seemed to function as a sort of "front" or "whitewasher" for Carala. With his reputation as a war hero he was someone who could lend the firm's dealings an air of respectability. More than that I could not gather from Julien and Simon Carala's brief dialogue before the murder. True, if it were known that Carala once made deals with the Nazis or Vichy government, he wouldn't be where he was. Maybe there was some mention of Carala's past in one of the extras on the DVD.

 

At the end, the authorities clearly see Florence's guilt as far greater than Julien's because she put him up to it.

 

Great movie, and interesting to contrast and compare to American noir!

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The political background of the story would've been a lot more apparent to the French viewers at the time. France had just come out of the Indochina war which was just as ugly as our later war in Vietnam and was currently embroiled in their colony Algeria's fight for independence, all while the wounds of WWII and the Nazi occupation were still very fresh. Florence's husband Simon Carala headed a corporation which did indeed grow wealthy off of wartime arms deals and presumably collaborated with the Nazis, which in itself would've made Carala anathema to every self-respecting patriotic French citizen. Julien, on the other hand, was a French Foreign Legion veteran and patriot. This explains why the courts would go easy on Julien for Simon Carala's murder.

 

But Florence would earn the harshest possible sentence because she planned the murder for the wrong reason - adultery. But the way the film is shot and scored, we don't think of the ugly scarlet-letter word. We just feel the pure, passionate love that drove them to murder. That's what makes the ending so painful. Through the whole movie we've suffered with Florence and Julien, wishing for them to find each other and find out what really happened. But like quicksand sucking them down, fate's trap just gets deeper and deadlier in the course of that tragic Saturday. Once the interrogation occurs in that completely dark room without any furniture or visible light we know it's all over.

 

The brilliance of Jeanne Moreau's acting is in how she keeps it all together outwardly but we know that inside she's in agony over Julien's absence and presumed betrayal. Florence may qualify technically as a femme fatale yet there's no sense of duplicitousness in her like we get from, say, Phyllis Dietrichson. Florence would never betray Julien if they ever got together. But no such luck. When we do finally get to see them together in the end it's on photos swimming in a developer tray.

Egythea_A, thank you for your comments. I had trouble understanding Carala's direct involvement with his arms dealing during the war and the connection with Indonesia  and Algiers. Thanks for the valuable information about the conflict between France and Indonesia. I had no idea. It's certainly helpful to have information like that at your fingertips. It makes viewing the movie more meaningful.  Julien's and Carala's conversation about Algiers and Indonesia now make perfect sense. You are right when you say that the subject would have been more familiar to French audiences than to the American audience. I'm proof of that. 

I understand how the French courts would have gone easier with Julien than with Florence. I suppose they would look upon Carala as a war criminal and realize that Julien, in all probability, executed him.

I don't know when I have seen a film that portrays such a palpable and intense love between to people as Julien and Florence. Very moving. Thanks to you I can view it again on an entirely different level. Thank you.

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Thanks sherrif34  for helping me out with the ending. I wanted to keep this movie. Maybe the storyline wasn`t the greatest, but the music was wonderful. I had never heard of Jack Teagarden the trombonist until TCM broadcast the Clint Eastword produced JOHNNY MERCER 100th anniversary special in November 2009. THIS TIME THE DREAM`S ON ME. The song was written by Johnny and Harold Arlen for the 1941 movie BLUES IN THE NIGHT. Johnny and Jack Teagarden met on The Paul Whitman radio show. I assume that TCM could only show THE STRIP once.My dvr player contains many film noirs. Too bad the player doesn`t have a larger capacity for storage.

I am happy to have been of some help. I remember that TCM broadcast with Clint Eastwood. I loved it. Regardless of how we feel about The Strip, having that movie would be fun in that you could watch it just for the music alone.

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Roadblock (1951)

RKO Radio Pictures

 

 

I was disappointed with Roadblock. I’m a fan of Charles McGraw but I feel he was miscast here. The role called for more charisma or spunk. His delivery was stiff at times.

He was so much better in his previous films. The role called for a Robert Mitchum type. Also, the story never quite intrigued me.

 

I thought Dianne (Joan Dixon) played the perfect femme fatale until- she softened up and tells Peters, “Who cares about money?“ WHAT? Femme fatales do not say that!

 

The RKO look was undeniable in all the scenes. Nicholas Musuraca knows how to “Paint” a scene. My standard line applies again here- Roadblock is beautiful to look at.

 

Overall this noir had its good moments but only fair at best.

 

I liked the film but your point about McGraw being miscast rings true.

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