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Daily Dose #32: Over Now (Opening Scene from Criss Cross)


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We have now reached the end of the Daily Doses. Thanks everyone for participating in the discussions of these Daily Doses! Reading the daily posts has been a true pleasure for me, and I am sure for many students. There have been so many great insights, debates, and takeaways from just watching these short 3-4 minute clips. I hope this helped enrich everyone's understanding of film noir. 

 

If you do have a chance, please complete a short survey about the Daily Doses. The survey is completely anonymous and will take less than 2 minutes to complete, but will help me learn more about the Daily Doses and their role in online learning. Thanks!! : https://bsu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3Oh3rPg1vdIcbtz

 

TCM will deliver this Dose on Thursday morning, July 30, by email.

 

You can find the final Daily Dose on Canvas at: https://learn.canvas.net/courses/748/pages/daily-dose-number-32-over-now-july-30-2015

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In Criss Cross we see a long ariel view that slowly goes into a parking lot of a night club. The music by Miklos Rozsa is dark and ominous, you know things will be dangerous an deadly and probably turn out bad. In the parking lot Steve and Anna are kissing. Ana wishing it was all over and the next day. That all that had happened in the past will be wiped out, it will be “The way it should have been...from the start”. Steve concerned that she is there, that “he” can't see them together, that Ana know that she needs to go and wait at Palos Verde.

 

Inside Slim is looking for his wife, Ana, and not happy when he sees her coming in. He cross examines her about where she has been, she answers petulantly. Not a happy marriage. Slim even takes it out on the matre d'. Who complains about the “class of people he has to deal with.

 

You can tell things will not work out well for Steve, if for anyone.

 

The Daily Doses have been very helpful in introducing the films to be seen, and in bringing a greater analysis to films we watched.  

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Some of the style and substance in this film is that the darkness of the characters permeates into a dark atmosphere. We see the man who's caught making bad choices and his femme fatale that is pulling him into a path that will most likely lead to their destruction. The fancy clothes contrasted with the ugly traits of characters also makes us see that there is more to the people than can be picked up initially. The music and the lighting adds to the tension and also the building of the tension without using action but moreso interactions is a noir style. We know so much about these characters in the first few minutes just by what they discuss with one another.

 

The daily doses were really wonderful in taking snippets of time and thrusting me into the noir atmosphere. They were quick its true, but I feel as though there was great substance in allowing me to understand more about noir with these quick clips with the explanation and connection beforehand. I feel like they were really great tools to help us learn as we went along.

 

 

Mark

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The opening scenes in Criss Cross (1949) covers "the usual suspects" in noir film making tools.  Starting in darkness above a bustling Los Angeles, zeroing in on a darkened, crowded parking lot, then using the headlights of a parking car to spotlight a couple embracing in the shadows.  Moving to a medium close up exposes Steve (Burt Lancaster) and Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) looking and feeling guilty about being seen.   The two are planning something and worried about the outcome.  Almost identical to the conversation between Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet in Elevator to the Gallows (1958) only this couple is together in a claustrophobic lot, sandwiched between parked cars.  Their conversation of dread builds tension which the camera magnifies by moving in closer, putting the couple in a tighter frame.  Though we assume from their conversation, they are a doomed couple, Anna professes "after it's all over, it will just be the two of them...you and me, you and me!"  In less than three minutes we got an eye and ear full of love/lust, desperation, dread, doom, conspiracy, regret, danger, jealously, fear...all the things that spell out in capital letters NOIR.  But we knew that, otherwise professor Edwards wouldn't had it in our class line up!  Enter the picture  Slim Dundee (the "Oh so underrated" Dan Duryea) steely-eyed, cold, methodical and calculating he's obviously the one Steve and Anna are concerned about. (I've yet to see this film) but the short sequence in which we see Slim, we learn he's the character that makes everybody jump.  When Anna enters the nightclub the music in the background sounds like a warning chant as she is intercepted by Slim. The way he berates his employee looking for answers and the way he cross-examines Anna, this is a man used to getting his way and seems to have the power (and the motive and the opportunity) to do so.  And so the fate of these three is sealed and the rest of the movie (I assume) is just logistics.  I am so looking forward to seeing this one!!!

The Daily Doses assignment has definitely sharpened my wits on the way I view films and how I focus on the many factors that make it work the way it does (or does not), from camera angles, to props, lighting, music and how it all comes together.  As a photographer and movie buff, I've always looked at movies and tried to analyze them from different points of view.  The acting, the camera movements, depth of field, staging, lighting etc. but the advantage of this class has been being able to share and exchange so many different ideas of what we were all able to virtually view together.  This has been an excellent learning tool and I appreciate all those who participated in making this such a positive experience by sharing their collective knowledge and love for film!  Needless to say I hope the TCM message boards will continue to serve as a tool of communication for us all.  A special thank you to professor Edwards for the concept of this class and all the hard work that was required to make it happen.  I hope there is more to come!  Thank you all!               

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Siodmak literally drops us into the world of film noir. He carefully designed the opening of Criss Cross allowing us to travel viewing parts of Los Angeles. In comparison to this metropolitan area, Siodmak chooses to leave us in a specific and minuscule spot, which plunges us head first into one of the city's darkest stories.

 

Criss Cross implements numerous elements prominent within a film noir. The opening scene introduces us to an urban landscape, as we descend onto the city. Commanding, but haunting music accompanies shots of the landscape, which eventually lead us to a parking lot. Here, we meet Steve and Anna, both in the midst of a forbidden embrace. They speak of a kind of criminal plot, which seemingly involves Anna's insufferable and controlling husband, Slim Dundee.

 

This story is already occurring, and we have been granted admission to watch the fates of these characters unfold. Anna and Steve have already crafted a plot so intricately everything is set to begin within mere hours. An introduction to the Femme Fatale, her husband, and the "hero" have quickly been established. We know nothing of the characters' pasts. We never saw Anna and Silm's marriage begin to unravel, we never saw Steve and Anna become involved, and we never saw how and why the two decided to craft a heist. All of these events and more will unfold before our very eyes.

 

I often times enjoy this type of narrative. There are many unanswered questions from the very beginning, which only raises the level of intrigue for viewers keeping us guessing until the very end. The opening of Criss Cross proves to be the beginning of a great film noir.

 

These Daily Doses have helped me view films with an even more discernable eye. I thoroughly enjoyed the setup and deciphering the film clips. This helped me dig deeper and deeper into the underlying meanings within each film noir. The course continues to further my understanding of film and I continue to become enamored even more and more.

 

Thank you, thank you Professor Edwards! This has been a truly wonderful experience!

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From the moment Criss Cross begins we are pulled into the world of noir.  In the first aerial shot of the city, we see the city at a slight angle, telling us that something is wrong.  Eventually, we zoom into a dark corner of the city, almost literally entering the shadows.  Our lovers were hiding in the shadows, but are suddenly brightly illuminated by the headlights of a car.  They break apart, and the dialogue soon informs us of why: they are secret lovers, hiding from Anna’s husband.  In traditional noir style, we are dropped into the story with the plot already in motion.  There is clearly something going down tomorrow; the audience doesn’t know exactly what, but it is clear that it is something dangerous.  Our two lovers are lit, but there are shadows all around their faces, indicating that there is a darkness that surrounds them.

 

When the scene cuts to Slim, the audience knows instantly that this is Anna’s husband, since he is asking where “she” went.  Even though he is in a casual pose, with his hands in his pockets, it is clear that he is a dangerous man.  With his white suit coat, he draws the audience’s eye immediately.  He is shot from a low angle and is speaking to a much shorter man, all making him physically imposing.  He is clearly a force with which to be reckoned.

 

Anna passes through several shadows on her was to Slim, indicating that Slim can be found “in the shadows” as well.  To further emphasize this we see the shadows of the dancers around him falling on his white jacket.  He towers over her.  He is sharp with everyone with whom he interacts, and it’s clear that he is not a man that one wants to cross.  Without knowing what Steve and Anna’s plan is, we can already see how dangerous it could turn out to be.  

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In this clip we are flown across the city with flickering lights that probably each have their own story. We are then literally pulled into a darker corner zooming in on the lives of two people in the midst of a clandestine meeting. This little clip has many film noir elements. We have night on night filming, low camera angles of Duryea to make him see more ominous,an overall feeling of uneasiness, and music that underlines it all. I haven't seen this movie before but I'm looking forward to it.

 

I loved the daily doses and I'm missing them already. They were a great precursor to lecture. I have never taken a film class before and these little clips along with the instructor comments taught me how to hone my skills of analysis. I particularly enjoyed being able to read the opinions of my fellow students and then being able to share my own. I have never used the TCM boards much before but now I'm looking forward to continuing to read everyone's insights into film plus hoping I see my fellow students there.

 

I want to join others in thanking Professor Edwards and everyone behind the scenes for making this wonderful class possible.

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The first thing that struck me was the similarity of the conversation between the two lovers here and the one we saw in Elevator to the Gallows. Both lovers have a plan to double-cross the lady's husband, and it's noticeable that both plots are to be carried out by the man while the woman waits for him - plausible deniability for the wife if things go awry perhaps? - which makes me wonder (it's Noir, after all) if the woman's love is true or whether they're simply using their lover's lust as a lever to achieve their goals? 

 

In an case, you cannot blame Anna if she really wants away from her marriage as her husband - as we find out in just a few seconds - is a thug with money who is all about control: we see him question her repeatedly about why she was outside and then, when he doesn't get the answers he wants, lashes out at the person nearest to him.

 

I loved that we were dropped (parachuted from the plane?) straight into the story here, Noir seems to dispense with so much of the elaborate set-up that we find in so many other films and takes us straight to the heart of the action and we know things are only going to get more tense and complex from this point! 

 

Awww, Daily Dose I'm going to miss you. What am I going to do now in the morning with my breakfast? 

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As I watched the opening scene from "Criss Cross" I thought a great deal could be summed up in the line said by the waiter about "the rotten class of people you have to deal with".  In so many instances, such is film noir.  Then I got to thinking about my favorite "rotten people".  The femme fatales.  Phyllis Dietrichson, Kathy Moffet, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Helen Grayle, Annie Laurie Starr, Norma Desmond, Kitty Collins, Gilda and so many more.  Briefly, I started to miss them but then I realized they were just moments away.  Fortunately, I have their films in one form or another. 

 

The Daily Dose will be missed, along with all the people who left comments and helped me so much in my film noir journey.  One I plan to continue. You, along with Professor Edwards, Ball State, Canvas, and all those behind the scenes, have been terrific!  My morning coffee won't be the same. 

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-- Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance.

 

The overhead night shot of LA with the iconic LA City Hall shown prominently, we then pan to the left swinging over the old Bunker Hill neighborhood (another classic of Noir iconography) zooming down towards a parking lot of a night club. We see a row of parked cars we follow a vehicle as it drives down a lane, it slows and passes a couple embracing in the dark. The vehicle brakes then backs into an open slot it's headlights illuminating De Carlo & Lancaster. We cut to a close shot on the two.

 

Nice intro.

 

De Carlo & Lancaster are obviously in a tryst, former lovers and previously married, they are discussing the planned aftermath of a robbery, and the future of their affair. De Carlo intensely repeats that she will make it up to him in close up and we see Lancaster respond, is he in the chips or is he a chump?

 

-- Now that you have seen all 32 Daily Doses, what did you take away from the Daily Doses assignment? Did it contribute to your learning about film noir?

 

Since I've been a Noir and Hard Boiled aficionado for quite a while I've seen all the films previously in the Daily Doses, but the biggest thing I've taken away from the Course though are the Noirs that I were premiers for me personally. 

 

It's funny, but you see in all the various posts that Classic Noirs are still in the eyes of the beholder. Some folks still rigidly define them to a checklist, they got to have a femme fatale, they got to have a detective, they got to be in Black & White, they have to have German Expressionist cinematography they have to have a downer ending, etc., etc. Others define them way more liberally. Reading various books on Film Noir you get varying totals of films that are classified as Noir, from 200 to 3,000.  

I remember the professor giving a link to a cross reference between all these various sources of lists and still I came up with titles that were not on any of them. Its this nebulous quality that keeps the subject alive. 

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If I were to list my favorite films noir, “Criss Cross” would certainly be on the list. This is a fine scene to wrap things up. I love noir bad guys and Dan Duryea is one of the best.

Another film that would be on my list of great noirs would be “Kiss of Death” (1947). It was Richard Widmark’s first film, but his character, Tommy Udo may be one of the most evil characters in film history.  It wasn’t discussed in this course, but it goes to show that we have probably only scratched the surface and there is a lot more noir to indulge in.

Another thing that wasn’t discussed much during this course was the art of the editors. It seems like writers, actors, and directors get all of the glory. To me one, one of the most important elements in great noirs is contrast – light and dark – good and bad – high and low – fast and slow. Films often succeed or fail based on the ability of the editor to keep the pacing just right, and the ability of the editor to balance those contrasts in films noir is essential.

Nonetheless, I am grateful for everything that was discussed in this course. I’m certainly not a novice, but I learned a lot. I am impressed with the way that Professor Edwards was able to make this course meaningful for both beginners and more knowledgeable students.

I think the best way to end Professor Edward’s “heist” is with a confession. I confess that I spent WAY too much time thinking about, writing about, and watching noir this summer. Other things have slipped while I indulged in the darkness, but I thank everyone on the message boards for keeping me company.

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This clip is loaded with noir style and substance.  The city at night with the camera leading us into the story.  Two characters whose passion is corrupting them into committing a crime. Low key lighting with "unromantic close-ups of direct undiffused light which create a hard statuesque surface beauty that seems more seductive but less attainable, at once alluring and impenetrable" as stated in "Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir".  Yvonne De Carlo's close up is like a perfect mask.  She seems to be using Burt Lancaster to get her away from her controlling, jealous husband.  Dan Duryea isn't going to let her go without a fight.

 

I've enjoyed this class and I think the daily doses where an incredible help in understanding the points being made in the modules.  An actual example is much better than a description. (A picture is worth a thousand words.)

 

I've also very much enjoyed coming to the TCM Message boards and discussing the various clips.  Reading other people's take on them has been interesting as well as helpful.  Though the class is over, I intend to continue coming to the message boards.  I'm glad I've gotten an introduction to them, by taking this class.  It's been a great "dark summer".

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Well, it's over classmates.  This case is closed.  To cull two quotes from the final Daily Dose:  "I'm all sick inside. . . .now, will you shut up and leave me alone."

 

I'll miss the sharing of thoughts on this forum.  I guess you're on our own now, gumshoes.

 

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Another thing that wasn’t discussed much during this course was the art of the editors. It seems like writers, actors, and directors get all of the glory. To me one, one of the most important elements in great noirs is contrast – light and dark – good and bad – high and low – fast and slow. Films often succeed or fail based on the ability of the editor to keep the pacing just right, and the ability of the editor to balance those contrasts in films noir is essential.

I agree.  Editing is an essential part of creating the tension.

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Daily Dose #32 opens with our class taking our final ride together over the city of Los Angeles in the film noir zeppelin.

 

Yes, I know that zeppelins were pulled out of service after the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster, but I have always wished I had had a chance to take a ride in one (ok, not that particular flight), and whenever I see aerial shots in films noir, I like to imagine they were taken from a zeppelin, the official dirigible of film noir, ha ha.

 

Realizing that I am taking the final ride with my classmates and our instructor today, I am too bummed out to attempt any analysis of the clip. Instead, I will just express my appreciation for what we have experienced and shared during the past nine weeks. I feel that I have learned so much from watching the daily doses and reading the comments made by my classmates and our instructor!  

 

Here's looking at you, kids!

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  Looking forward to 2pm today.  Thank you all on the message boards for all the information and insights to these great films.  I learned a great deal from the discussions and mostly the take away was that we all share the love of this art form, and to know that you are not the only crazy that love these films makes it truly special.  

 

  I was wondering if you(all message board contributors)  could name one movie that wasn't shown during this summer that you feel is one that was missed, so that i could watch them or look for them.  I noticed that pickup on south street, wasn't shown but mentioned, so that one would be a great one to add, but i will add "life at stake" a b movie that i liked.  

 

 Many thanks again to all.............................

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Well! Now I know where Mike Figgis got his idea for the opening credits of "Leaving Las Vegas". I'd like TCM to put together some programming about how current films borrowed from classic films -- showing the classic film and the current film back-to-back. Are there any original ideas to be had anymore? My comment is off-topic, I know, but I was really struck by Figgis' "heist" of Criss Cross opening credits.

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The first thing I noticed was the music: beautiful but it made me a bit on edge for some reason. You knew right away something alarming was going to happen. I love how you're literally dropped into the movie, and how the lovers are lit up by the headlight. Their faces looked furtive to me, immediately making me worry that someone might have seen something they shouldn't. The dialogue confirmed that these people were hiding a plan to escape someone they were both frightened of. The dialogue also showed the woman close to panic, and you began to wonder how reliable she was, whether she would be the one who did something which would blow back on the man.

 

Then you saw the husband, and it all made sense. No wonder she wanted to escape this guy. Suspicious, controlling, unpleasant ... but powerful and rich (look at that fur coat she has one!). It's intriguing, because you wonder how she got into this situation. No one would marry someone like this (or stay in the relationship) unless they felt compelled to.

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Darkness, shodows, low-key lighting, desperation, agony, dramatic music score, a strong female character, more quetsions than answers. It seems to me that 'Criss Cross' presents us in less than 5 minutes a lot of elements of film noir in the 1940's. There's no discussion at all if this is or isn't a noir. the clip speaks from itself.

 

Mr Edwards, thanks a lot for these Daily Doses! I can tell you that for me they were really important to highlight (no jokes) many points of film noir discussion. They also helped me choose some movies to watch and even know more about many terrific movies I have never heard about before. your notes were great also, and the entire selection made me think deeper and in such a intimate way on film noir.

 

This has been a great course, thanks for all! i hope we could have more like this in the future, maybe about the silent era, or a particular Hollywood classic studio system, or another genre... There are infinite possibilites.

 

Best regards to al!

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Last Daily Dose of Darkness. The end of a wonderful couple of months with this great course. I'm certainly gonna miss it, and I hope we'll do something similar in the near future.

 

This last video is another masterpiece of a film noir scene. The love triangle consisted of Lancaster, De Carlo and Duryea is the perfect setting for a whole line of crimes, double-crosses and fatal mistakes made by all three of them, who of course are leading to their deaths or otherwise destruction.

 

All three characters appear in this first scene, and what I've noticed is the contradiction between Steve (Lancaster), a handsome and passionate character who desperately wants his ex-wife (De Carlo) back, and Slim (Duryea), a shady mobster who doesn't seem to have any passion in him. Both Lancaster and Duryea are iconic noir characters, the former as a star, the latter as a character actor, usually a villain.

 

One thing I learnt from the Daily Doses is that the opening scene often is a great deal for a film noir, as it shows the director's intentions and what more or less we're going to face during the film. And another is to look for details like sound, music and lighting to better judge the film's content.

 

The whole course has been a wonderful experience, and a great way of learning so many important things about film noir and movies in general. Like film noir itself, however, it's dynamic, not static, and its influence to everybody associated with it will continue to live on.

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I criss crossed into Noirsville.

I traveled to Iverstown with Two Strangers on a Train where I got Cornered, met two killers in a diner and got caught in some Crossfire.

I was Desperate, I had to get out of there fast, so I took a Detour and hopped on the outbound train with Charles McGraw. He said I was His Kind of Woman!!

I took a walk up Mystery Street  where I ran into Mildred Pierce and conversed with Laura.

I traversed The Asphalt Jungle and wound up "just five little miles from San Berdoo" where I tripped on a statue of a black bird, found a locket and got bumped on the head...."I saw a big black hole and dived in"...right into The Big Sleep.

 

Well, Tomorrow is Another Day.

And lest we forget, The Postman Always Rings Twice.

 

Words cannot express how much have I enjoyed this course. It has been an enormous and deep well of information. These movies have been a passion of mine for a very long time and I have come to view all of you as my "film family". I won't be vacuuming when these fantastic movies are aired. I will be viewing them in an entirely different light. They reflect our country's history and are an important part of the film legacy.  A big round of applause and a standing ovation for Professor Edwards, Eddie Muller and all who contributed to the success of this venture.

 

Criss Cross is a great movie. Dan Duryea, Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo shine. Noir all around.  If you haven't seen it, I recommend setting the DVR and giving it a try.

 

Best to all of you.

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I too, thought the same thing instantly when watched this clip, in that Steve and Anna reminded me of Julien and Florence from Elevator to the Gallows.  Rather than trying to meet, they are separating. Also Steve seems to be the planner, cool and calm; and in Elevator to the Gallows, Florence was the brains.  Anna and Julien are the ones with trepidations. I did notice however that Anna seems to have two faces. She was this timid and deperate woman in love when she was with Steve, but when she was with Slim, her face hardened and her walk changed. Slim started right in on her and Anna knew how to hold her own.

 

"Steve, all those things that happened to us, everything that went before....we'll forget it. You'll see, I'll make you forget it." "You and me. The way it should of been from the start." What happened and what did she do? Who is the real Anna? Steve seems kind and like someone who fell into a trap. The things people will do for love.

 

This has been a great class. Watching these daily doses really makes you pay attention to everything; every word, every look, and every shrug of the shoulder. What's in the light and in the dark. Everything has it's place and purpose to help tell the story. After a class like this, you look at any movie differently. You're not just seeing a movie, you're actually immersing yourself in every second of it. Feeling every emotion and taking every journey with the characters.

 

This has been a great journey. Thank you to everyone....TCM, Eddie Muller and Dr. Richard Edwards. Thank you all for taking the time of putting this together for all of us.

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What can I say about Criss Cross, it is one of the great noirs, right up ther with Gilda and the Maltese Falcon. Also, the close-ups of Yvonne De Carlo - best use of film ever! Noir themes in the opening scene is the over head shot of the darkend city, \cutting the couple in the parking lot embrassing each other, only to find that the Yvonne is married to Dan Duryea, Right off the bat we see a love tryst and we know Mr, Murphy is going to step in... I just don't want to give too much away..

 

I'm feeling a bit saddened that this is the last daily dose and our collective look into noir is coming to an end. It's been a great Summer Of Darkness. For me, I think the best part of the daily doeses are reading what others impressions are- from the messages of the experienced as well as the novice. I hope that many of you have developed a better understanding and appreciation for film noir and how truly wonderful they can be.

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  Looking forward to 2pm today.  Thank you all on the message boards for all the information and insights to these great films.  I learned a great deal from the discussions and mostly the take away was that we all share the love of this art form, and to know that you are not the only crazy that love these films makes it truly special.  

 

  I was wondering if you(all message board contributors)  could name one movie that wasn't shown during this summer that you feel is one that was missed, so that i could watch them or look for them.  I noticed that pickup on south street, wasn't shown but mentioned, so that one would be a great one to add, but i will add "life at stake" a b movie that i liked.  

 

 Many thanks again to all.............................

 

I would highly recommend I Wake Up Screaming (1941) with Betty Grable, Victor Mature and Carole Landis...be sure to get the version with Eddie Muller's commentary!

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  Looking forward to 2pm today.  Thank you all on the message boards for all the information and insights to these great films.  I learned a great deal from the discussions and mostly the take away was that we all share the love of this art form, and to know that you are not the only crazy that love these films makes it truly special.  

 

  I was wondering if you(all message board contributors)  could name one movie that wasn't shown during this summer that you feel is one that was missed, so that i could watch them or look for them.  I noticed that pickup on south street, wasn't shown but mentioned, so that one would be a great one to add, but i will add "life at stake" a b movie that i liked.  

 

 Many thanks again to all.............................

 

I would highly recommend I Wake Up Screaming (1941) with Betty Grable, Victor Mature and Carole Landis...be sure to get the version with Eddie Muller's commentary!

I would recommend this film, too. But the best film noir, in my opinion, of those who weren't shown during these two months is Jules Dassin's The Naked City (1948). The epitomy of semi-documentary noir, with brilliant direction and an Academy Award winning cinematography by William H. Daniels.

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