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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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Wk 9 Criss Cross


-- Discuss how the opening of this film exemplifies the noir style and substance. Ominous music at the gate. Credits over the panorama of the city at night. Jarring font for the title “Criss Cross” which in look and feel has the edginess that we figure will abound in this flick. Overview gradually zeroes in on the individual story that will take place within this city. We see two people seeking cover between the vehicles of a crowded parking lot.   They seem insignificant specks in relation to the opening shot. They barely escape discovery by ducking away from the headlights of a passing car. They seem desperate, two lovers in the midst of some kind of crisis. They're kissing as if their world will be ending in 1,440 frames!  He’s pulling some kind of caper which requires him to be away from her for a few weeks. Her needy requirement for visitation is a few days. Her desperation to see him right now is jeopardizing his plan. He tells her so. These are clues that she will contribute greatly to his demise. Most likely he won’t be able to wait to see her and it’ll foul up the plan. They seem to be afraid of a man who’s inside the building. The lighting in the parking lot accents both of their attractive features. This is studio beauty lighting applied to noir. It’s dramatic, but there’s detail in the shadows’ darkness. Enter into the obligatory noir nightclub. We see someone who appears to be the owner/manager asking for the girl. First we think she’s his girlfriend. Bad news. Then we find out she’s his wife. Worse news. The actor playing the maître d is terrific, he says the things that will get his boss riled the least. He's just vague enough in his responses about the whereabouts of wifey.  He knows where she is, but he's smart enough to know that bossman will shoot the messenger so he keeps mum.  The wife enters. Husband asks her a million questions to try to trip her up. She answers each one without missing a beat. She’s been down this road before and knows hubby's every play before he even thinks about making it. Compare Dan Duryea’s characterization here compared with the one in “Too Late for Tears.” He’s very versatile and underrated. I always liked his work, but this course has given me a deeper appreciation of it.


There is also appropriate dark humor here in the character of the maitre d. He goes off on “the rotten class of people you have to put up with” and then greets two couples who are exactly that with a welcome worthy of royalty! Great casting on the part of the two couples in type and costume. The bit lands right on the mark.


-- 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? The daily dose assignment is a great learning tool. We deal today in 140-character messages. So, I think the DDs are TCM’s way of throwing 32 short messages at us that paint a picture of noir. We see similarities, we see differences. We categorize them, we analyze them. We evaluate them. We begin to understand the overall picture, and the individual elements contributed by the individual and collective players. I learned that the DDs illustrate that it is important to show the world of the story, whether it be urban grit, gangster grit, heartland grit, overseas grit, high-class grit or just plain general grit. That it’s important to set up the conflict right away, whether it be a heist, a murder, revenge against the femme fatale’s abusive boyfriend, a political intrigue of international espionage, gangsters killing gangsters or simply a case for a private eye.


The DDs allow us to begin to formulate our willingness to participate in this maverick sort of art form, this "film noir."  We can jump in at any level. The question is, how far out of the box are we willing to jump? Depending upon the look of the film, we can start to differentiate between the studios and production houses that did them and which we like best. There are different levels. Each level sort of overlaps with the next rung down the ladder, because at the bottom of this ladder, in my opinion, is the truest “noir”. The people who did the most with the least get my trophy as the best. At the top, MGM is a very safe bet. Bad stuff going on in antiseptic settings. We’ll see actors we recognize from costume epics and melodramas about rich people, but in this film getting down but not too dirty. If we saw these actors on the street, we’d run up to them and gush while we asked them for their autograph. They pose no threat. WB gives us something more edgy. It’s got some of MGM’s studio technology, and good but less glamorous actors. Their sets look urban and gritty, but still are clean, no debris. We like the actors in these and if we saw them in something else it would probably be in another film with some kind of an urban edge. If we encountered these actors on the street, we’d approach with caution, but we’d still ask (very politely) for their autograph. Maybe they’re as tough as their onscreen personas! RKO has some of the WB’s edginess with a little less budget. Bad things happening in places that are made to look bad. The actors you see here are good, but for some reason not good enough, and probably wished they worked at the WB or MGM, and If you saw them on the street, they’d most likely snub you because they’d rather you think they are too prestigious to grace you with an autograph. Poverty Row Studios like Eagle-Lion or independent production companies: Bad things happen in bad places. Locations that are the real deal, or if shot in a studio, bad things happen on cheap sets (Consider the Bobby Driscoll movie—The Window—it made Ralph Kramden’s place look like a palace.) If you saw actors from these films on the street, you wouldn’t go up to them (unless you’re an aficionado) because you really wouldn’t know who they are, but if you knew, you would care, and gush, because this bare bones stuff, to me, is the most exciting--acting and production-wise. Case in point, the spectacular “Gun Crazy” and the very fresh “The Gangster.” If there were only a good quality print of “Detour” unearthed!!!  They always seem to find things in London.  Somebody please look!


The Daily Doses have been such a pleasure to do.  This whole course has been a blast. Thanks to all, and happy viewing!


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How handsome are these two actors sneaking between dark cars for this romantic tryst. You know this is not going to end well, it's a Noir film with a controlling husband.  I'm, looking forward to the emotional experience and watching closely with a discerning eye.  

 

The daily doses have become a nine week ritual in the morning. First I turn on TCM, then to the computer for the daily dose. Professor Edwards's commentaries sharpened my vision and understanding to carefully look at the whole clip, not just the obvious. I have never posted anything in my life until this class. I now feel comfortable enough to post an observation and back it up with knowledge.

I am grateful for the opportunity to  have experienced everything.  When is the next class?  Thank you!!!

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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.

 

Agree on Naked City and I Wake Up Screaming, but two other top-notch noirs that were not on the Summer of Darkness schedule also come to mind: Dassin's Night and the City and of course Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.  These are two of best noirs ever made, by two masters of the craft.   Both are very much worth a look.   

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Agree on Naked City and I Wake Up Screaming, but two other top-notch noirs that were not on the Summer of Darkness schedule also come to mind: Dassin's Night and the City and of course Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.  These are two of best noirs ever made, by two masters of the craft.   Both are very much worth a look.   

 

I would say Night and the City is my favorite noir missing from the Summer of Darkness.    First rate and a very dark film.   It is a 20th Century Fox film and that might have something to do with TCM not leasing it (MOVIES-TV,  a Fox affiliated station,  shows the film often).    

 

As for Naked City  this is a Universal film and TCM doesn't show many Universal films since they are also difficult for TCM to lease.   I view the film as borderline noir, and more of a police procedural film (but clearly one of the best of those).   

 

Touch of Evil;  well what hasn't been said about this film.    A masterpiece even when it borders on the macabre.  

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Criss Cross: In thinking of the title and opening shot we see an over-view of criss-crossing streets and a parking lot.  Cars connecting to people.  People kissing. Past, present and future connecting, crossing over.  The futility of hoping for a happy ending coming out of misdeeds... Beauty and darkness, power and weakness.  Control and loss of control.  These opposite pairings in style, substance and narrative are what make Films Noir so attractive to me.

 

I loved, loved, loved the daily doses.  It kept this class fresh and immediate for me.  Being able to watch a very short, digestible, yet powerful clip everyday, with the conscientious posts from the thousands of viewers was amazingly entertaining and inspiring! 

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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.

 

Great choice. Let me add 2 more directed by Jules Dassin: THIEVES' HIGHWAY, (1949), with Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb - italian-american California fruit growing family fights a diabolic protection racket -

 

and NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) - made in London after Dassin was forced to flee US, narrowly escaping Communist witchhunters. Stars Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney and Googie Withers (British). One of the best-ever portraits of the downfall of a small-time street hustler. Fascinating look at London underworld.

 

Both from 20th Cen Fox. Seldom, if at all, on TCM but available on Criterion DVDs, Hulu Plus streaming.

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Daily Dose of Darkness #32:


Over Now (Opening Scene from Criss Cross)


 


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


 


The aerial view, the titles rolling, the music playing; superb music by Miklos Rozsa, makes this noir style and noir substance.  I have not yet seen a movie with Miklos Rozsa's music that fell short of magnificent!!!  Outstanding music man!!!  And, as I have written before in these posts on the daily doses, music is probably a good 75-80% of a good film, to me!!!


 


It seems I may have seen this film a very long time ago....I am really looking forward to seeing it again, with the freshest eyes ever for film noir!!!


 


 


-- 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?  


YES!!!  A hundred times, yes!!!  Fresh eyes, good eyes, quick hands, musical beats....the daily doses are richer than you can believe.  But then you must know how grand they are....since you put them together.  Such insight and visionary greatness.  A true artist has this vision.  You, sir, are an artist.....a film noir artist, of the highest order.


 


AGAIN, THANK YOU, DR. EDWARDS FOR THE RICHEST SUMMER EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.  THE HEAT IN HOUSTON IS HOTTER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE ALL THRU THIS #NOIRSUMMER EXPERIENCE;  ALAS, THE NOIR SHADOWS COOLED THINGS OFF AND I STAYED IN THE SHADOWS, NOT JUST TO BE COOL BUT BECAUSE IT IS COOL!!!


GOD BLESS YOU!!!


 


 


SINCERELY,


 


DIANE DYAN BIGGS


AKA NOIR KNIGHT OWL


 


 


#NOIRSUMMER


 


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I would say Night and the City is my favorite noir missing from the Summer of Darkness.    First rate and a very dark film.   It is a 20th Century Fox film and that might have something to do with TCM now leasing it (MOVIES-TV,  a Fox affiliated station,  shows the film often).    

 

 

Need to read this board bottom-to-top like KISS ME DEADLY's opening credits - then I would've seen NIGHT AND THE CITY alread mentioned! A must-see!

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

The film noir style is first displayed with opening night scene of the city. Then night shot in the parking lot of the couple embracing. The lighting uses low key with their faces dimly illuminated. It seems that the Anna is playing around and she and Steve have something planned that may not turn out well.

 

-- 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?

The Daily Dose was a little snippet of the film and usually enough to get a sense of how the film was put together and the techniques and style used. I commented on all the Daily Doses and for me it was important to take the time and think about the suggested topics for discussion. It force me to 'get involved.' As the weeks went I felt more comfortable about expressing my thoughts and opinions.

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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!

If we are making recommendations. I would say Cry Danger with Dick Powell and The Prowler with Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes. Both are little known Noirs that the Film Noir Foundation saved and restored.

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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 Desparate, I had to get out of there fast, so I took a Detour and I 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 I wound up "just five little miles from San Berdoo" where I tripped on 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 to 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.

WOW!!!  I WISH I HAD WRITTEN THIS AND I FEEL I COULD EVEN ADD TO IT BY SAYING THAT ON 99 RIVER STREET I ALMOST GOT ALL WET, BUT WOUND UP BACK AT DINER HAVING COFFEE WITH ALL THE THRONG OF FILMS NOIR, EVERY ACTOR, EVERY MUSICIAN, EVERYONE OF THE WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WHO MADE THESE FILMS...FRITZ LANG ASKED TO SEE MY PHOTOGRAPHY AND Miklos Rozsa'S MUSIC IS PLAYING PURPLE PLEASURE JUST FOR ME.....WHEN THE BELL RANG, IT WAS THE POSTMAN SAYING HE COULDN'T DELIVER MY LETTER BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE AND MY LIFE WAS SPARED ANOTHER DAY TO WATCH YET ANOTHER FILMS NOIR.....HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE, TIP MY FEDORA ONE MORE TIME....I LOVE ROBERT MITCHUM, HATING THAT HE DIES IN A LOT OF HIS BEST MOVIES....TO LIVE TO SEE ONE MORE FILMS NOIR.  THANKS VERY MUCH FOR LETTING ME SHARE....

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The most prominent noir elements in this clip were those of forbidden love between Lancaster and De Carlo. For some reason, I've always been fascinated by movies, tv shows, and books that have infidelity as one of the main plot points. Kind of messed-up, but the fascination is there nonetheless. 

 

I think the Daily Doses have made me more perceptive of movies as a whole, and has made me notice more details that would have slipped under my radar.

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The opening starts with the music (which emphasizes crisis in its sound).  We are viewing Los Angeles at night (the downtown area) from above by air.  Then we come to a parking lot.  We are moved by the camera onto the ground.  A car pulls in, and its lights show a couple kissing.  From their dialogue you see the woman sneeked out to meet her lover.  She says, "If it was only all over now; if it was only this time tomorrow."  That is the same as "Double Indemnity," and later "Elevator to the Gallows."  She is telling Steve it will be just you and me the way it should have been (I don't trust her).  

 

Dan Duryea (Dundee) is dressed in a white tuxedo, which makes him stand out from the black suits.  He is taller than the waiter.  He asks where she is? 

 

We are in a nightclub.  It sounds Cuban from the music.

 

Mrs. Dundee comes walking down a flight of stairs.  She is the full frame.  Dundee starts giving her the third degree about why she went outside.  She is definitely defensive.  People on the dance floor are looking at the couple.  She walks off, and Dundee chews out the waiter for getting an earful.  Later the waiter comments "this rotten line of work; the rotten class of people you have to put up with."

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Is it wrong of me to want the story to follow the maître d'?  He had the best line.

I guess as we watch the entire movie, we will see why they are a rotten class of people.

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That dose of Criss Cross had just about every little noir thing possible going on in it. Dramatic danger music plays to Universal's spinning globe and then to a moving overhead shot of the city at night, over which stylized titles superimpose names of noir icons like Miklos Rozsa and Robert Siodmak. Cut to a dark nightclub parking lot where headlights illuminate a young, beautiful (although not far enough from Lily Munster for comfort) Yvonne DeCarlo in a furtive embrace with a nervous but ever sexy Burt Lancaster. Their shadowy conversation reveals a passionate thing going on between them, and that some excrement is about to go down which will cause them to have to split up and lay low for an indeterminate length of time, a few weeks at the least. Yvonne DeCarlo's Anna assures Burt Lancaster's Steve that once this excrement goes down, everything will be alright between them, and they will be together, just the two of them, forevermore...while this consummately shot and acted closeup of Anna's declaration really reveals to the viewer the most treacherous femme fatale ever. Cut to inside the jazzy nightclub to what appears to be the owner of the club jealously grilling his maitre'd as to the whereabouts of his wife - enter a sassy, dismissive Anna. Noir, noir, noir!

 

I think I have learned as much from the Daily Doses as from all the other course material combined. Seeing and the clips and then responding to the prompts is what got me to apply what I learned in the other course materials, etching the info into my mind. And I loved getting the chance to talk movies with other movie lovers - something I'm gonna make a point of doing forward! 

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

 

Night, city dark, lit only by street lamps.  Aerial shot high over city moves away from downtown probably westward, camera is moving downward as it travels, with the street lights getting scarce and the neighborhoods in more darkness.  Our noir couple is caught in an embrace by car headlights in a parking lot.  The femme fatale, Anna (DeCarlo) is doing most of the talking - fast talking - and by now we ought to know the patter –“I’m so worried about you, I’m almost sick inside.” “If only it was this time tomorrow.” And, “All those things that happened to us; everything that went before.”  Oh, darling, just wait, it’ll be all right.  I’ll make it all right.  You’ll see..… Uh-huh.  Poor gullible sap Steve (Lancaster).  He consoles her, worries about her, urges her to go back inside, while she pours it on, seemingly oblivious to any danger.  But he doesn’t notice - he’s in love.  There is tension between these two, and it has to do with what will happen tomorrow. And what will happen tomorrow has something to do with the past, and something to do with making those yesterdays “right” for them and their future together justified.

 

Turns out she’s Mrs. Dundee, and Mr. Dundee (Duryea) has been looking for her in the nightclub.  Also, the Head Waiter has been covering for her and has done so before, you can tell by his quick, canned responses and soothing manner.  The conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Dundee is the opposite of her conversation with Steve but just as tense - Mr. Dundee drills Anna about where she’s been, she has her story ready and down pat, telling him some tripe about putting the top up on the car, and her keys, and her this and her that and the other, while he counters every answer with another question.  Finally, she blows up and tells him to leave her alone.  Mr. Dundee comes off as possessive, jealous and watchful of her every move. There is lots of tension between these two.

 

-- 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?

 

I see character and plot as a whole when I watch movies.  These Daily Doses forced me to see the segments of these films, how they go together to project themes or set up twists and turns in the plot or develop character.  They also helped me focus on the weekly discussions and pay attention to the comments in each Daily Dose, as they are hints about what we are to look for in that scene.  One of the hardest things for me was to disregard the rest of the story (Asphalt Jungle, D.O.A., Out of the Past) and only see the scene.  It is also hard for me to critique movies on a technical basis only (like many scholars seem to), and discussions on technique were the hardest for me to get through.  Nevertheless now when I watch even “normal” classic movies, I’m sitting there looking for “hints and allegations” in the camera work, lighting, and technique.  I’m looking for any symbolism in the importance attached to objects or ideals, and motive in characters’ actions.  The Daily Doses didn’t just contribute to learning about film noir, I learned about movies on a broader scale, as well. (For example, I think seeing All About Eve or The Little Foxes and even Sunset Boulevard again is going to be quite interesting.)  Well done, Richard Edwards, and very much appreciated.  The work and effort was obvious in the detail put into them.  And thank you for the bibliography and constant references which for a novice are quite valuable resources.

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The film noir style shows in the aerial shot in the dark with only the lights of the city as the camera closes in on the parking lot from above and down to the car driving into the lot and shifting as its lights illuminate the couple as they kiss between the cars, randomly lit up as they try to hide in the darkness. The substance is the two who are hiding, desperate to get away from their situations and making plans to run away together. The feeling of oppression of her situation is evident, her hope to make the past go away in hopes for a better future and his need to help her escape increase the tension. When the camera opens up to the inside of the club, we see the man ironically dressed in white bullying the maître'd to tell him where his wife is. We can tell he is no knight in white. He is the man she fears. We also see the maitre'd scoop up the "butts" (play on the word ****) as he complains about the job and the class of people he is forced to deal with.

The seedier side of life is presented here. People who are unhappy are tossed in the random world that provides no real hope of escape. They are trapped between two cars, hiding in the darkness, randomly found by the headlights of a passing car. Things do not bode well for them.

 

As far as the Daily Doses have helped in this class, I have loved them. They have forced me to look harder at each scene. Often I would watch the first time and not have much to say, but because I had questions to answer, these tended to be the ones I wrote the most about. There is so much hidden, so many clues subliminally offered. The lines in the background, the music, the camera angle and lighting clues. It has made me watch much closer and more attentively.

Plus I love any excuse to watch movies!!!

I watched a movie last night called The Judge and laughed when I recognized the conventions and camera angles that I learned about in film noir. Really well done, I thought. Even my husband is now seeing it. He noticed it too last night.

Thanks, Dr. Edwards and TCM/Ball State!!!

 

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The Daily Doses have introduced me to Film Noir films I never heard of, or have seen in bits and pieces.  I am still in the process of annotating "Kansas City Confidential."  It is an engaging movie.  I never heard of it before.  John Payne does a good job as the angry guy who is framed.  He also played the same way in "99 Riverstreet."  Before he was in romantic musicals.  He was married to Anne Shirley, who starred in "Murder My Sweet."  Evelyn Keyes gave a terrific performance in "99 Riverstreet" when she pretended to have killed a man for trying to assault her.  The camer kept on her face and body movements.  Her eyes were pleading and terrified.  Someone I wondered if this was an act on her part, and it was a setup.

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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.

Thanks to this course, I will be focusing on the cinematography, lighting, music, dialogue/acting, and costuming in other films.  I am best at remembering musical scores and admiring costumes.  But the other elements and the director's choices are what make a film the way it is. 

 

I recently attended the Hollywood Costume exhibit in Los Angeles.  It had costumes from the silent era all the way up to Mockingjay.  I learned a lot about the directors.  They decide what costumes the actors will wear.  The director is the pivot point of a film.  I am not sure he controls who will act in a movie.  But he is responsible for getting the performances out of the actors.  He also works on the dialogue with the writer.  And he works with the cinematographer.  In the films we have seen in this course, this combination has made film noir so universal and still relevant for a new generation.

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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!

 

I, too, am gonna miss this class tremendously. We should try to meet up on the boards when we see noir (or other favorite) movies on the TCM schedule...

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Our last Daily Dose!  No, I don’t want to leave Noir Country!

 

Before this course, I always associated Miklos Rózsa with his scores for biblical epics.  His scores for films noir have been amazing, though, setting the dark, foreboding mood and complementing the action.  Criss Cross is a perfect film to end the course on.  It has all the elements we’ve come to associate with film noir: night, an urban setting, forbidden lovers, secrets, a troubled past, a plot, a controlling boyfriend.  Yvonne De Carlo as Anna is fascinating in this clip, tender and soft with Steve and firm and resentful to Slim.  She holds her ground when Slim aggressively questions her.  She knows that he suspects something, but she will not yield to him.  Of course, in true noir fashion, there will be several twists and turns along the way, and the title suggests the characters will double-cross each other before the film is over.

 

I have learned so much from this course, and it’s been a treat reading the thoughts of other people on this board.  The Daily Doses were wonder teasers that got me excited for the films on Friday.  These nine weeks have definitely deepened my understanding and appreciation for film noir, and the time period these films were made in.  So often in history, the post-war period and the 50s are ignored or derided as “boring”, but so much was happening, and these films reflect the attitudes and atmosphere of those times.  Thank you, Professor Edwards, for your insightful lectures and commentary, thank you TCM for putting Summer of Darkness together, and thank you to my fellow classmates for your great posts!

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

I really liked the contrast of light and dark in the opening of Criss Cross.  Possibly the slickest looking opening for film noir I've seen. Light credits, and black back-drop, aerial city scape versus city streets, and interiors closer to the subject and the many inhabitants stories. In this case we become acquainted with Steve Thomson (Burt Lancaster) and Anna (Yvonne De Carlo). Cut to interior nightclub and quirky character Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea) makes it rather unforgettable.  

 

  • 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?

I am not sure I added much to the topics of discussion but I took away so much.  It made me feel I joined a cool club where my appreciation for darker subjects and whiskey only sharpened my tastes and appreciation.  I believe I can talk the talk a little more on the film noir subject now.  It's been a slice Professor Edwards.  Thank you so much Summer Of Darkness and TCM! Enjoy the remainder of the summer.  Cheers!

 

Sincerely,

David

 

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If we are making recommendations. I would say Cry Danger with Dick Powell and The Prowler with Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes. Both are little known Noirs that the Film Noir Foundation saved and restored.

 

Well those two are first rate,  little known noirs.    TCM has shown Cry Danger and since it is an RKO picture they should show it again fairly soon.   While Rhonda Fleming was in a handful of noirs (Out of the Past being the most iconic),  in Cry Danger she has the central women role instead of a secondary part.   Richard Erdman as Powell's sidekick is great in this film.

 

The Prowler is interesting.   Nice to see Van Heflin get the lead male role instead of his typical secondary role,  as well as being such a flawed character and Evelyn Keyes is featured in a part that is almost as good as she was in 99 River Street.   

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In just the first four minutes of Criss Cross, the audience is given several clues that it is about to embark on a great noir ride, among them are an urban setting (LA, one of the three big "noir cities") at night, hard-boiled dialogue, a tough dame, and clear indication through Steve and Anna's dialogue that something is off kilter, among others. There's trouble brewing, and the men are embroiled in it just as much as the women.

 

It's hard to believe this is the end of the Daily Doses. They've been a regular part of my routine for weeks, offering a daily tidbit about some aspect of film noir that has only--and will continue to--enhanced my knowledge and appreciation of noir. Each was like a puzzle piece, focusing on elements like lighting, music, camerawork, performances, etc. Now that I have all of those pieces, I'll be able to put them together with each film I watch, opening new windows for understanding and appreciating the depth and substance of noir. Thanks, Prof. Edwards, for an amazing ride! I tip my fedora to you.

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