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


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It begins with an aerial shot of a major city at night, an open world. The camera movement is a bit unsteady- just like the noir universe. As the credits roll the score by Miklos Rosza sets a mood of foreboding, and the camera shot gradually narrows to show a very closed world, a very secretive world of two people plotting and planning. She is beautiful, he is completely smitten with her. They kiss in the shadows. All the elements of noir, and of course the dialogue implies that there will be a diabolical crime, and that things probably won't go as planned. "Criss-Cross" is one well crafted film, great direction, fantastic cinematography, some of the best most economic snappy dialogue and thrilling performances by a stellar cast. I never realized how beautiful Yvonne DeCarlo was- her facial beauty made you want to believe in Anna even when you knew that she was completely selfish. I thoroughly understood Steve's delusion that she was his ideal. And Burt Lancaster was so rugged and yet so tender toward her, making him breathtakingly attractive. But Dan Duryea, in this film, was more hard-edged than I believe I have ever seen him. None of his usual carefree persona here, his mistrust of Anna and everyone else left his humor in short supply. He is my favorite noir character actor, I have loved him since I was a small kid, way back before electricity! As a film fan I am inclined to watch them over and over again- we all have films from which we could recite the entire script. Each viewing brings my attention to something different- maybe the dialogue, or the performances of the actors, sometimes I just watch the clothes and the cars (THE CARS!!!!!) and the set decoration, or listen closely to how the score is integral to the mood and the action in each scene. These DDD assignments have given us all a platform to formulate our thoughts about all aspects of film, and express them to a very large community of persons who share our passion for cinema. I am very sad that the "Summer of Darkness" must come to an end. I am already experiencing EDM- Eddie Muller Withdrawal. His passion for the genre and his education, his championing of restoration make him the ideal host. I never thought that I would enjoy a presenter as much as I enjoy Robert Osborne, but Eddie's set-ups could make me want to watch the Test Pattern! And he's dressed so beautifully!!!! Thank you , Eddie, for not succumbing to the attitude that appearance doesn't matter. It does. It is my profound hope that we will see Eddie on a regular basis in the future. And thank you, Professor Edwards, the course was a fun and exciting way to spend a "Summer vacation".   

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Wow...everyone else said exactly the same things I would have about the clip! As for the Daily Doses on a whole, it was a great way to learn. Not only did they provide you with a clip to watch, it also provided insight from the professor and questions for thought and discussion afterward. They enabled us to learn from the professor as well as each other. I've read some great stuff on the TCM message boards (I liked it a lot better than Twitter) and learned more than I would have simply through the lectures and reading materials assigned. I thought it was a wonderful part of the whole learning experience in this course. Thank you so very much Professor Edwards, Ball State University, the Canvas Network, and TCM. I hope you offer other classes in the future on classic films. This was a great experience that I'm so glad I invested the time in. And thank you to all the other students---I learned an awful lot from you, too. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of summer,

 

Bridget

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

The big city and narrowing in on two people.  In the four minute clip sets ups the story with lots of intrigue and betrayal.

 

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?

My favorite thing about the daily doses is seeing a clip from a film and getting a feeling about it and making me want to see it.  Without seeing these, i might have skipped on some amazing films.  I also liked the descriptions as well.

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32. CRISS CROSS: Cross My Fingers And Hope To Lie.

I've seen more trust at a divorce trial in a used car lot between a senator and a New England Patriot..

 

P.S.: I used to just focus on plot so I didn't notice the lighting and mise-en-scene but now I appreciate their artfulness and see them as integral parts of the story by conveying mood and state of mind.

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We are definitely smack in the middle of noir territory. From the opening shot, we establish our setting, Los Angeles, (or is it the Daily Planet in Metropolis?), as the camera hovers and glides over the city. We get a sense of the sprawling metropolis beneath us, filled with people and stories, and we move forward towards the one that will occupy our time for the next 90 minutes. This opening reminded me of the opening to Psycho, which ends with us passing through a window, one story picked out of many. A great score gives that provides a sense of foreboding, that as we zero in on the people that take center stage, we're walking into dangerous territory. Once we locate Steve and Anna, we get a quick sense of their relationship. Steve is pleading with Anna to be careful, to stop taking risks, and she is very much her own woman. We've located our femme fatale and our weak-willed man who may be a pawn. There is passion there, but perhaps the woman is using it to her own advantage, pushing the man into doing something he does not want to.

 

We then meet Slim, who is quickly, and not subtly, introduced as Anna's husband, and without knowing the details of the plan Steve and Anna were discussing, we immediately get an idea of what is to happen. Two lovers, with an unlikable obstacle, in their path. Slim could have been introduced first: pushy, paranoid, and our sympathies might have gone straight to Anna, but now we know she is two-timing him, that he has a right to be curious about what she was doing. We're only a few minutes into the film and we already are unsure who to place our sympathies with, but that's great noir. You take your lesser of two evils and you still come out feeling as if you've been complicit and tarnished like the characters in the film.

 

I have to say these Daily Doses were a great addition to the course. While I've seen a good number of the films that were chosen, by picking the doses out of the films that eventually aired on TCM, it was a great way to sample and to whet the appetites about seeing the entire film. My DVR and Netflix queue are already bursting with a lot of the films that TCM aired this summer and I can't wait to see a few of them just based on the small piece we got in the Daily Dose. It would be interesting if TCM made this a daily feature. It would be a great way to involve the community in the message boards in an ongoing discussion and also be nice teasers for films that will be airing on the network later that week. It was fun!

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The Daily Doses have been extremely helpful in my noir journey. In approaching this course, I initially found it easy to lean towards watching films with directors and actors that I was already familiar with. The DD however, introduced me to films that I may not have sought out in the Friday line-ups. In addition, while providing me with a line of enquiry that gave me clues as to what elements I should be paying attention to, the DD also allowed me to gain insight through my classmates' perspectives and pushed me to reformulate my own. I've enjoyed all aspects of this course immensely and will continue to use our case files as I explore the films that I have not yet seen in the noir universe. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of this experience. Thank you!

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I liked the score for Criss Cross so much that I decided to look up Miklos Rozsa to see what else he had done.  Wow, what a career!  He contributed to so many films in one way or another; and a good many of them were noir.

 

Off subject; if you missed Richard Edwards' interview of Eddie Muller, you should check it out.  I thoroughly enjoyed the course and will miss Fridays filled with more noir than I bargained for.  With all the books written on noir, I've got a lot of reading to do.

 

Best wishes to everyone! 

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Although I took my final before watching the last of the Daily Doses I watched them and finished them for the sake of saying I made it to the finish line.

 

What a great experience this has been. I am a movie person and love movies. However film noir was always hard for me to wrap my head around because I heard so many opinions on what exactly it consisted of.

 

This class boiled it down into succinct pieces and really explained the different schools of thought about it as a cinematic form.  I also loved the fact that I discovered a slew of films I never heard amidst a collection of ones I already knew and loved.

 

I also took this class to get back into the swing of what its like to go to college now. I am thinking of taking more classes and this was a great way to ease into it and psychologically train my mind for the workload, schedule, quizzes etc.. I also loved that it was not dumbed downer simplistic.

 

The daily doses worked as informative illustrations to the module while also allow us to sample movies that we may want to watch. I think they made the process a lot easier.

 

As for Criss Cross. I liked it a lot.

 

There should be a section on LA noir as well as SF noir since I think there is a stylistic difference in the two settings on film.

 

The movie has a lot of the trappings o f noir with regard to lighting, staging, shadows and how the characters move in the frame. there also is a reliance on music to set the tone. Yvonne DiCarlo early on establishes herself as the woman who will ruin these men while Lancaster establishes himself as a tough guy. The dialogue is tight and tense and the undercurrent of control permeates through the first 4 minutes. 

 

 

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I have very little in the many if intelligent things to say about this clip as I spent the whole time ogling Yvonne DeCarlo, so I'll answer the second question. The Daily Doses have been invaluable in keeping my head in the game with this course throughout the week. They've provided me with a spring board into active viewing not only for the films covered.

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Possessivness and betrayal and foreboding doom served in dark shadows on a parking lot and in a nightclub underlined by the musikal score. The bitter relations and desperate expectations played out in depth in just some few lines. Excellent! Long time since I saw this movie. It is a favorite!

 

I think these Daily Doses added a lot to the course. It "forces" you to read and share opinions on films which somewhat helps to overcome the negatives of an online course. Besides it has ben a lot of fun! I have enjoyed this course tremendously and learned a lot more than I imagined given the time frame and effort necessary to follow it. A clear sign of a very very clever set up! No murky shadows and no bad mood there :-) Thanks a lot from Malmö, Sweden!!

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The camera angle showing the city streets at night along with the conversation in the parking lot. I felt that this added to the noir style of filmmaking because of the cheating wife POV.

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Diagonal, aerial view of the city at night, close-ups of Steve and Anna, two-shots of Steve and Anna and the classic scheme – a married woman who, together with her lover, wanted to escape from her obnoxious husband. And, as Burt Lancaster is a typical Hemingway hero, I presume Steve is going to pay the price...


The Daily Doses were an extremely helpful part of this course. There are so many wonderful movies to see and the Doses encouraged me to watch them, one by one. Investigating all those underlying meanings, hidden motives and dealing with all the noir emotions and background was a great and thrilling adventure. What's more – now I'm going to spread the news and simply share the mysterious world of film noir with my friends.


Prof. Edwards and the Canvas Crew – I humbly thank you for the opportunity of the cognition of the means and motives of film noir :)


Best wishes from Poland!


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

-- 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 film, Criss Cross, starts off with Franz Planer’s crisp, beautiful cinematography of a panning, aerial view of the Los Angeles at night. The dark lighting, desperation of the doomed lovers wanting desperately to be together are all indicative of the noir style. 

 

Overall, the Daily Doses have really opened my eyes not only to cinematic artistry, but to understanding the depth of film noir as having a life of its own because its birth came about, not from a need to escape, but from need to plant our feet into the earth of reality. Taking a more critical analysis of these films, I’m surprised to find that my thoughts and feelings toward some of them have altered in completely opposite trends.

 

I used think B films were mostly cheap entertainment that weren’t made to be taken seriously and was indifferent to films like The Hitchhiker and Too Late for Tears. Now I have genuine appreciation and respect for them because of their genuine artistry and unusual look and style. They’re not merely great for B movies, they’re great films, period.

 

I used to feel that The Third Man was the quintessential film noir, but after this course my thoughts have shifted on this. The Third Man is indeed a great film, one of the greatest. Visually, it is a crowning achievement for classic films and the noir style. However, although it is indeed noir, it is a very weak example of its defining noir compared to some of their other counterparts. I’m putting the brief analysis in italics to discern it from the rest of the post.

 

------------------------------------

Harry Lime is charismatic and Orson Welles does make him charming, but complex he is not, in fact he is probably one of the most black and white (pun intend?) sinister characters in the noir genre. Alida Valli’s Anna is firmly loyal to Lime, not even thinking or acknowledging his crimes, and Martins and Major Calloway both want Harry captured. Martins’ motivations seem more personal than altruistic as he begins longing before the stubborn Anna, but he hardly torn up over what has to be done about Harry or even being rejected by her at the end of the movie.

 

The story and characters are unusually straightforward and uncomplicated as far as noir (even compared to its B-noir counterparts) and totally absent of the moral ambiguity and complexity so vital to the noir genre. Either this is because war-torn Vienna more than makes up it with its intricacies with its own (actual) history and ravaged desolation- as a result, the filmmakers don’t develop the characters as much or perhaps Vienna, itself, winds up overshadowing the characters. Either way, the characters seem strangely unaffected by their environment unlike in The Asphalt Jungle or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers where the setting plays a huge part in driving the characters to their desperation for escape and tranquility.   

-----------------------------------

 

I'm sure many will disagree with me. I was surprised that my thinking of noir has changed this much, even of Elevator to the Gallows, a film I loved deeply but now I like some of the other noir better than it. My thoughts haven't changed for the worse though. I still love and appreciate these films for what they are, I'm just looking at them differently now. I wouldn't be surprised if my thoughts were to shift around again in a couple of years or so, etc. 

 

Anyway, I do wish there were some things were different about the Daily Doses. For example, I wish we could’ve gotten daily doses on The Big Heat, Detour, Odd Man Out, High Sierra etc., possibly in place of Beware My Lovely, Criss Cross, and 99 River Street that didn’t really inspire anything new or interesting.  I would especially loved to have read what people would’ve had to say about Detour. That would’ve made for a fascinating read!

 

I wish we would’ve been given different kinds of clips beyond film openings (aside from just Brute Force and Desperate, both similar scenes) to comment on in the later weeks of the course. As great as some of these openings are, by the time, I got to the final few weeks, I feel like I exhausted what I could have said about the style and context of the openings, themselves. If I didn’t happen to have already seen the entirety of some of these movies beforehand, I wouldn’t have had anything to talk about.

 

Although, on the other hand, the openings are testament to the power and artistry of film noir/classic cinema that so much (story, set-up, characters, tone, etc.) is established in about 4 minutes or less, whereas often the average contemporary film needs 3-4 times that length to do the same. Anyway, I am sad to see this class end and only 3 days after the festival ended on Turner Classic Movies. I’ve not only gained insight and wisdom on film noir, itself, but of cinematography, technological advancements, world history, literature, etc. Thanks so much TCM and Professor Edwards, I hope you reopen (or advance) this course again soon in the future. I'll certainly participate again again!  

Edited by forlorn_rage
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The film, Criss Cross, starts off with Franz Planer’s crisp, beautiful cinematography of a panning, aerial view of the Los Angeles at night. The dark lighting, desperation of the doomed lovers wanting desperately to be together are all indicative of the noir style.  

 

 

Overall, the Daily Doses have really opened my eyes not only to cinematic artistry, but to understanding the depth of film noir as having a life of its own because its birth came about, not from a need to escape, but from need to plant our feet into the earth of reality. Taking a more critical analysis of these films, I’m surprised to find that my thoughts and feelings toward some of them have altered in completely opposite trends.

 

 

I used indifferent to films like The Hitchhiker and Too Late for Tears with given acknowledgment of its importance to film noir and cinema. Now I have genuine appreciation and respect for them because of their genuine artistry and unusual look and style. They’re not merely great for B movies, they’re great films, period.

 

 

I used to feel that The Third Man was the quintessential film noir and B films were mostly cheap entertainment that weren’t made to be taken seriously.

 

I do wish there were some things different though. For example, I wish we could’ve gotten daily doses on The Big Heat, Detour, Odd Man Out, etc., possibly in place of Beware My Lovely and/or 99 River Street that didn’t really inspire anything new or interesting.  I would especially loved to have read what people would’ve had to say about Detour. That would’ve made for a fascinating read!

 

 

I wish we would’ve been given different kinds of clips beyond film openings (aside from just Brute Force and Desperate, both similar scenes) to comment on in the later weeks of the course. As great as some of these openings are, by the time, I got to the final few weeks, I feel like I exhausted what I could have said about the style and context of the openings, themselves. If I didn’t happen to have already seen the entirety of some of these movies beforehand, I wouldn’t have had anything to talk about. Although, on the other hand, it is testament to the power and artistry of film noir/classic cinema that so much (story, set-up, characters, tone, etc.) is established in about 4 minutes or less, whereas often the average contemporary film needs 3-4 times that length to do the same.   

 

 

Reading your comments only illustrates just how great this short, introductory course by Professor Edwards was.   It provided us with the analytical tools, the background and the basic knowledge to explore, examine and 'mine' noir on our own and with one another once the course ended; calling attention to and bringing into focus a wide range of lighting, camera angles, storylines, character portrayals and social and economic factors, etc. that combined to create film noir in a specific time and place.  

 

I would imagine Professor Edwards (and Eddie Muller and everyone else associated with this course) envisioned we'd take these new eyes and analytical tools with us the next time we watched a film...and not even just a film noir.   Given the obvious restrictions Professor Edwards was working under I think he did an amazing and an amazingly thorough job!

 

That said, there was no way he could possibly have done DDD's on ALL the films shown over TCM's Summer of Darkness, nor were all the DDD's on the openings of the films that were selected, but I'm sure Professor Edwards selected the films and the clips of those films he did for very specific reasons that tied-in with a particular point of focus he wanted to make.  

 

The TCM message boards also mentioned and frequently discussed numerous films NOT covered by DDD's  --- often at length --- either on their own merits or in conjunction with a film featured on a DDD, and many of us have suggested a litany of other films (as well as noir fiction, music, photography, reference books, etc.)  not included in the Summer of Darkness schedule.  

 

The mere fact that we've all become so much more aware of noir in it's myriad forms, and so much more capable of appreciating it while we enjoy it is, I suspect, the best possible testament of just how great and rewarding an experience this course has been for the 20,000+ of us who enrolled in it.   We all want more, and we can get it, too, now that we've been better equipped to get more on our own.          

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Reading your comments only illustrates just how great this short, introductory course by Professor Edwards was.   It provided us with the analytical tools, the background and the basic knowledge to explore, examine and 'mine' noir on our own and with one another once the course ended; calling attention to and bringing into focus a wide range of lighting, camera angles, storylines, character portrayals and social and economic factors, etc. that combined to create film noir in a specific time and place.  

 

I would imagine Professor Edwards (and Eddie Muller and everyone else associated with this course) envisioned we'd take these new eyes and analytical tools with us the next time we watched a film...and not even just a film noir.   Given the obvious restrictions Professor Edwards was working under I think he did an amazing and an amazingly thorough job!

 

That said, there was no way he could possibly have done DDD's on ALL the films shown over TCM's Summer of Darkness, nor were all the DDD's on the openings of the films that were selected, but I'm sure Professor Edwards selected the films and the clips of those films he did for very specific reasons that tied-in with a particular point of focus he wanted to make.  

 

The TCM message boards also mentioned and frequently discussed numerous films NOT covered by DDD's  --- often at length --- either on their own merits or in conjunction with a film featured on a DDD, and many of us have suggested a litany of other films (as well as noir fiction, music, photography, reference books, etc.)  not included in the Summer of Darkness schedule.  

 

The mere fact that we've all become so much more aware of noir in it's myriad forms, and so much more capable of appreciating it while we enjoy it is, I suspect, the best possible testament of just how great and rewarding an experience this course has been for the 20,000+ of us who enrolled in it.   We all want more, and we can get it, too, now that we've been better equipped to get more on our own.          

 

Hello VanHazard, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. It’s great that we can still comment and discuss the class even after it is (sadly) over. Unfortunately, I wound up sending the post before realizing I didn’t even finish my thoughts about The Third Man! Whoops. You can re-read the post again for the changes if you’re interested (as long as you don’t start a fight, lol).

 

Anyway, there were over 100 films covered in the Summer of Darkness festival. I didn’t at all mean that there should’ve been daily doses on all of them (not sure where you got that from my post). I would’ve gone crazy trying to come up decent analysis’ for all of them!

 

I simply meant that some of the daily doses didn’t inspire any original thoughts or observations from and there would’ve been other films not only more appropriate for discussion- but personal favorites in the noir genre (as well as my own) that I would loved to have seen insight on. I would loved to have read the analysis’ on Detour as it is a film that has such an effect over me beyond what I can convey through sensible words.

 

Since, this is the first time that this course was presented, I think it would great benefit from well-rounded constructive criticism from various students- like emailing or posting the links to the website where the class was taking place. The email service wasn’t working very well (as many found out) and I’ve been looking like crazy for the website! A good 2-3 weeks passed before I finally found it and was able to register!

 

That aside, I was actually taken back when Professor Edwards reminded us this was only a brief “introductory” course. So much was covered in the course that I wound up with much more out of this class than I received from my previous film classes or even dreamed of ever getting from future ones.

 

I hope the class takes place again very soon (with the technical glitches straightened out). I doubt it deep down, but here’s hoping!

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Hello VanHazard, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. It’s great that we can still comment and discuss the class even after it is (sadly) over. Unfortunately, I wound up sending the post before realizing I didn’t even finish my thoughts about The Third Man! Whoops. You can re-read the post again for the changes if you’re interested (as long as you don’t start a fight, lol).

 

Anyway, there were over 100 films covered in the Summer of Darkness festival. I didn’t at all mean that there should’ve been daily doses on all of them (not sure where you got that from my post). I would’ve gone crazy trying to come up decent analysis’ for all of them!

 

I simply meant that some of the daily doses didn’t inspire any original thoughts or observations from and there would’ve been other films not only more appropriate for discussion- but personal favorites in the noir genre (as well as my own) that I would loved to have seen insight on. I would loved to have read the analysis’ on Detour as it is a film that has such an effect over me beyond what I can convey through sensible words.

 

Since, this is the first time that this course was presented, I think it would great benefit from well-rounded constructive criticism from various students- like emailing or posting the links to the website where the class was taking place. The email service wasn’t working very well (as many found out) and I’ve been looking like crazy for it. A good 2-3 weeks passed before I finally found it was able to register!

 

That aside, I was actually taken back when Professor Edwards reminded us this was only a brief “introductory” course. So much was covered in the course that I wound up with much more out of this class than I received from my previous film classes or even dreamed of ever getting from future ones.

 

I hope the class takes place again very soon (with the technical glitches straightened out). I doubt it deep down, but here’s hoping!

 

 

Absolutely agree with you that Professor Edwards covered an awful lot of territory over a matter of a few weeks.   And yes, I think many of us could think of several films we expected to see covered and/or scheduled for DDD and airing during the Summer of Darkness that were omitted for one reason or another.   That was probably unavoidable regardless which particular films Professor Edwards and TCM selected, however.   We all have our favorites, and there-in lies the rub.   Impossible to please everyone.  

 

I actually found it more informative and expanding that some of the DDD's focused on films that I either had not seen, had not seen in a long while, or that I might not even consider true noirs.   It sharpened my ability to look at these films with a more discerning, analytical eye; looking for moods, atmospheres, the play of light and shadow, camera angle, character depictions, etc. that I was less aware of before this course began.

 

In the end, the course not only introduced me to and helped me appreciate new films I hadn't seen, it also reacquainted me with films I had seen many times and allowed me to see them with a fresh set of eyes.   I'm not sure it gets much better than that!           

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Thanks Van Hazard and Forlorn Rage (great names btw) for this constructive discussion of the Daily Doses. I really appreciate you sharing these comments, and I am always looking to improve online learning, and think this discussion raises several great points to consider. 

 

And I'm happy for further insights on issues that I felt I had to take into account for delivery movie clips to 20,600 people four times a week:

 

1. The focus on opening scenes was very intentional. The TCM audience does not like spoilers (so that means endings are out). Second, if I show an interior scene from a movie, it frequently requires additional set up and sometimes does not make sense on its own if you haven't seen the movie. And many students had never seen the movies behind these Daily Doses, so openings make a lot of sense. There is no prior knowledge of the film necessary. 

 

2. Openings are quite important, as many films use the openings in very different ways. I will agree that some of the film noir openings could be seen as repetitious (hopefully not too many), but part of the charm of just watching a film's opening is two-fold to me:

 

2a. If you watch the opening 3-4 minutes, that might encourage you to want to see the rest of the film. And I did want to try to use the entire Daily Dose each day to arouse your curiosity to watch a film you might have otherwise skipped in the TCM schedule.

 

2b. Each film has to establish its own story world, and usually even 3 minutes into a film, you can see the strategy used by the filmmakers to establish the world you are about to spend another 90 minutes or so with. And if some of the openings are repetitious, that is evidence that these filmmakers were starting to create story conventions that the audience was getting use to as film noir developed. 

 

3. The Daily Doses were tied to both the weekly material and the pre-determined TCM viewing schedule. Therefore, each week I had to figure out how to deliver a clip that provided deeper insight into a learning module and I had the 13-14 films that upcoming Friday to choose from. If I wasn't tied to the TCM schedule, I might have arranged some of the clips differently, but overall, I was very happy that the clips play out in relative chronological order, so that you can see film noir evolve from Daily Dose #1 through Daily Dose #32. 

 

4. There were no restrictions on what could be discussed about a Daily Dose, though I did see that my "starter questions" tended to be followed by a great many students. I will definitely consider adding a wider range of possible topics to explore if I were to use the Daily Doses again. 

 

5. Independent of the clips themselves, I did try in all 32 curator's notes to add useful information to the Daily Dose. Rather than reading that material all at once in Canvas, the Daily Dose allowed me to send out short but critical observations that you could think about at the start of your day. 

 

Overall, I hope everyone enjoyed the Daily Doses. My favorite part was their brevity. Adult learners don't have a lot of time to spend on free online courses, so I wanted to see how sending 5 minute modules might work. And the data from the survey seems to indicate they worked quite well as a method for learning about film noir. 

 

Again, any further suggestions on how to improve the Daily Doses is always welcome!

 

Thanks! Prof. Edwards

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Thanks Van Hazard and Forlorn Rage (great names btw) for this constructive discussion of the Daily Doses. I really appreciate you sharing these comments, and I am always looking to improve online learning, and think this discussion raises several great points to consider. 

 

And I'm happy for further insights on issues that I felt I had to take into account for delivery movie clips to 20,600 people four times a week:

 

1. The focus on opening scenes was very intentional. The TCM audience does not like spoilers (so that means endings are out). Second, if I show an interior scene from a movie, it frequently requires additional set up and sometimes does not make sense on its own if you haven't seen the movie. And many students had never seen the movies behind these Daily Doses, so openings make a lot of sense. There is no prior knowledge of the film necessary. 

 

2. Openings are quite important, as many films use the openings in very different ways. I will agree that some of the film noir openings could be seen as repetitious (hopefully not too many), but part of the charm of just watching a film's opening is two-fold to me:

 

2a. If you watch the opening 3-4 minutes, that might encourage you to want to see the rest of the film. And I did want to try to use the entire Daily Dose each day to arouse your curiosity to watch a film you might have otherwise skipped in the TCM schedule.

 

2b. Each film has to establish its own story world, and usually even 3 minutes into a film, you can see the strategy used by the filmmakers to establish the world you are about to spend another 90 minutes or so with. And if some of the openings are repetitious, that is evidence that these filmmakers were starting to create story conventions that the audience was getting use to as film noir developed. 

 

3. The Daily Doses were tied to both the weekly material and the pre-determined TCM viewing schedule. Therefore, each week I had to figure out how to deliver a clip that provided deeper insight into a learning module and I had the 13-14 films that upcoming Friday to choose from. If I wasn't tied to the TCM schedule, I might have arranged some of the clips differently, but overall, I was very happy that the clips play out in relative chronological order, so that you can see film noir evolve from Daily Dose #1 through Daily Dose #32. 

 

4. There were no restrictions on what could be discussed about a Daily Dose, though I did see that my "starter questions" tended to be followed by a great many students. I will definitely consider adding a wider range of possible topics to explore if I were to use the Daily Doses again. 

 

5. Independent of the clips themselves, I did try in all 32 curator's notes to add useful information to the Daily Dose. Rather than reading that material all at once in Canvas, the Daily Dose allowed me to send out short but critical observations that you could think about at the start of your day. 

 

Overall, I hope everyone enjoyed the Daily Doses. My favorite part was their brevity. Adult learners don't have a lot of time to spend on free online courses, so I wanted to see how sending 5 minute modules might work. And the data from the survey seems to indicate they worked quite well as a method for learning about film noir. 

 

Again, any further suggestions on how to improve the Daily Doses is always welcome!

 

Thanks! Prof. Edwards

 

As a long time member of the TCM chat forum and a studio era movie fan (pre-codes, noirs, screwball comedies,  Bette Davis, etc..),  I really enjoyed your, to many to mention,  contributions to this forum.    I'm hoping you do something similar with other styles \ genres of film. 

 

Great work!  

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As a long time member of the TCM chat forum and a studio era movie fan (pre-codes, noirs, screwball comedies,  Bette Davis, etc..),  I really enjoyed your, to many to mention,  contributions to this forum.    I'm hoping you do something similar with other styles \ genres of film. 

 

Great work!  

 

Thanks! I always enjoyed reading your posts too, which definitely falls into the "too many too mention" category. I wish I could have posted more, but the running of the class required the bulk of my attention. My Canvas thread, which I answered solo, ended up with over a 1000+ posts, for example.

 

Also, I liked to see most of the discussions focused on course materials like the Daily Doses to develop organically here. Sometimes as instructor of a course, my words can carry too much weight. So I tended to read more than post because I did want to read what the students were getting online to post about.  

 

But that said, I will do my best to keep contributing to these discussions. I can hang up my "instructor hat" temporarily, and just be another film fan.

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Thanks Van Hazard and Forlorn Rage (great names btw) for this constructive discussion of the Daily Doses. I really appreciate you sharing these comments, and I am always looking to improve online learning, and think this discussion raises several great points to consider. 

 

And I'm happy for further insights on issues that I felt I had to take into account for delivery movie clips to 20,600 people four times a week:

 

1. The focus on opening scenes was very intentional. The TCM audience does not like spoilers (so that means endings are out). Second, if I show an interior scene from a movie, it frequently requires additional set up and sometimes does not make sense on its own if you haven't seen the movie. And many students had never seen the movies behind these Daily Doses, so openings make a lot of sense. There is no prior knowledge of the film necessary. 

 

2. Openings are quite important, as many films use the openings in very different ways. I will agree that some of the film noir openings could be seen as repetitious (hopefully not too many), but part of the charm of just watching a film's opening is two-fold to me:

 

2a. If you watch the opening 3-4 minutes, that might encourage you to want to see the rest of the film. And I did want to try to use the entire Daily Dose each day to arouse your curiosity to watch a film you might have otherwise skipped in the TCM schedule.

 

2b. Each film has to establish its own story world, and usually even 3 minutes into a film, you can see the strategy used by the filmmakers to establish the world you are about to spend another 90 minutes or so with. And if some of the openings are repetitious, that is evidence that these filmmakers were starting to create story conventions that the audience was getting use to as film noir developed. 

 

3. The Daily Doses were tied to both the weekly material and the pre-determined TCM viewing schedule. Therefore, each week I had to figure out how to deliver a clip that provided deeper insight into a learning module and I had the 13-14 films that upcoming Friday to choose from. If I wasn't tied to the TCM schedule, I might have arranged some of the clips differently, but overall, I was very happy that the clips play out in relative chronological order, so that you can see film noir evolve from Daily Dose #1 through Daily Dose #32. 

 

4. There were no restrictions on what could be discussed about a Daily Dose, though I did see that my "starter questions" tended to be followed by a great many students. I will definitely consider adding a wider range of possible topics to explore if I were to use the Daily Doses again. 

 

5. Independent of the clips themselves, I did try in all 32 curator's notes to add useful information to the Daily Dose. Rather than reading that material all at once in Canvas, the Daily Dose allowed me to send out short but critical observations that you could think about at the start of your day. 

 

Overall, I hope everyone enjoyed the Daily Doses. My favorite part was their brevity. Adult learners don't have a lot of time to spend on free online courses, so I wanted to see how sending 5 minute modules might work. And the data from the survey seems to indicate they worked quite well as a method for learning about film noir. 

 

Again, any further suggestions on how to improve the Daily Doses is always welcome!

 

Thanks! Prof. Edwards

 

Hello Professor Edwards. I'm thrilled to finally be able to interact with you directly. I wasn't sure you would see my final post (I ran out of time to post it on Canvas), but took a chance to post it on here anyway. I'm so glad you were able to read my post after all- it was totally worth the time. And thank you for your very thoughtful reply- even numbering the points, very thorough. 

 

1. I wondered if viewing the openings had to do with avoiding spoilers for the films. Note: Some of the articles did actually contain spoilers, but I was careful to skim through quickly to avoid them.

 

I'm so glad that TCM doesn't encourage spoilers (although sometimes their brief interview promos of film veterans do wind up spilling the endings. Go figure). I hate it when people say that they're entitled to spill the beans about events in films just because they're ------ years old. If I haven't seen it, it's new and I don't want to know what happens until I see it!

 

2b. No thank goodness, not too many of Daily Doses were repetitive. I'm glad to have seen the openings on a lot of these movies. As I said in a previous post, they utilize quite a bit of artistry and often establish plots and characters so well in just a few minutes. I can't really think of any films today that do that. Even if they were repetitive, I could deal with it, if the information was readily available. As I said before, I couldn't find the link or any mention of "canvas" anywhere on TCM, the sign up page for the class, or even the Summer of Darkness page. I never received an email on it until several weeks into the class. I think I managed to find the page through the right keywords on google. If nothing else, I hope this is corrected above all else. Although any improvements within the class is certainly welcome as well!

 

Amen to your last part about the lack of time! I tried putting in what time I could, but it was only toward the end of July that I could really put in all the time and energy into all the daily doses. I do regret not being able to do them sooner since it's the first couple of posts that got a lot of the buzz. I would've loved a lot of viewings and feedback on my posts because some of them turned out to be absolute beauts! Anyway, your curator's notes and discussion questions provided great starting points. I didn't bother just limiting myself to those though. It would've hindered my learning experience if I did that. Whatever came to mind, I wrote it down, like a film viewer's diary. 

 

All the work did come with a setback. Not only was there the 2 months of Summer of Darkness; back in May, Sterling Hayden was the star of the month and Orson Welles' films were the Friday Night Spotlight. So, there were actually 3 months that noir films were being showcased! Now they're gone and I'm feeling the withdrawal pains. :/ I watched Shadow of a Doubt yesterday to try to alleviate them somewhat, giving quite a bit of attention to the lighting and mise en scene than I would've otherwise. It helped to soothe the pain... A little.

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Thanks Van Hazard and Forlorn Rage (great names btw) for this constructive discussion of the Daily Doses. I really appreciate you sharing these comments, and I am always looking to improve online learning, and think this discussion raises several great points to consider. 

 

And I'm happy for further insights on issues that I felt I had to take into account for delivery movie clips to 20,600 people four times a week:

 

1. The focus on opening scenes was very intentional. The TCM audience does not like spoilers (so that means endings are out). Second, if I show an interior scene from a movie, it frequently requires additional set up and sometimes does not make sense on its own if you haven't seen the movie. And many students had never seen the movies behind these Daily Doses, so openings make a lot of sense. There is no prior knowledge of the film necessary. 

 

2. Openings are quite important, as many films use the openings in very different ways. I will agree that some of the film noir openings could be seen as repetitious (hopefully not too many), but part of the charm of just watching a film's opening is two-fold to me:

 

2a. If you watch the opening 3-4 minutes, that might encourage you to want to see the rest of the film. And I did want to try to use the entire Daily Dose each day to arouse your curiosity to watch a film you might have otherwise skipped in the TCM schedule.

 

2b. Each film has to establish its own story world, and usually even 3 minutes into a film, you can see the strategy used by the filmmakers to establish the world you are about to spend another 90 minutes or so with. And if some of the openings are repetitious, that is evidence that these filmmakers were starting to create story conventions that the audience was getting use to as film noir developed. 

 

3. The Daily Doses were tied to both the weekly material and the pre-determined TCM viewing schedule. Therefore, each week I had to figure out how to deliver a clip that provided deeper insight into a learning module and I had the 13-14 films that upcoming Friday to choose from. If I wasn't tied to the TCM schedule, I might have arranged some of the clips differently, but overall, I was very happy that the clips play out in relative chronological order, so that you can see film noir evolve from Daily Dose #1 through Daily Dose #32. 

 

4. There were no restrictions on what could be discussed about a Daily Dose, though I did see that my "starter questions" tended to be followed by a great many students. I will definitely consider adding a wider range of possible topics to explore if I were to use the Daily Doses again. 

 

5. Independent of the clips themselves, I did try in all 32 curator's notes to add useful information to the Daily Dose. Rather than reading that material all at once in Canvas, the Daily Dose allowed me to send out short but critical observations that you could think about at the start of your day. 

 

Overall, I hope everyone enjoyed the Daily Doses. My favorite part was their brevity. Adult learners don't have a lot of time to spend on free online courses, so I wanted to see how sending 5 minute modules might work. And the data from the survey seems to indicate they worked quite well as a method for learning about film noir. 

 

Again, any further suggestions on how to improve the Daily Doses is always welcome!

 

Thanks! Prof. Edwards

 

 

Thanks, Professor Edwards, for your response.  The fact that they're still being discussed...and missed...a week after the course has closed is a testament to how well-crafted and effective an instructive tool they actually were.

 

I, too, noticed that your 'starter' questions often seemed to restrict, not expand, comments and analysis; almost as if they literally became mini-assignments and questionnaires in themselves that required direct responses.   Unfortunately, adding a wider range of possible topics or points of focus may only prompt more knee-jerk responses.   Would more generic, open-ended suggestions prompt us to furnish our own 'starter questions' and connections for you and each other?   I'm not sure how that might work.       

 

I especially liked the way the Daily Doses clips, curator notes and points of focus dovetailed the weekly modules; whetting our appetite, as it were, for some of the films we would see that Friday while also giving us something to think about and look for when we saw them.    Each DDD also seemed to built-upon or amplify an element(s) of what was covered in your lecture and supplemental assignments, so that we were kept structured and focused even as the scope of the course continued to expand.

 

I also echo Forlorn Rage's sentiments re the importance of time...ours and yours...in a course of this nature.   The brevity of the DDD's allowed us to take them on as time permitted in our respective schedules.   It allowed us to view them more than once, make notes, compose our thoughts and post them the message boards and discuss them with one another at any time during the day or night.  

 

The value of that open-ended convenience for everyone involved, only possible in an online course of this nature, cannot be overstated, and doubtless was one of the reasons why 20,600 of us registered and were able to actively participate in your course. It was...and continues to be...a wonderful experience.  

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I just finished watching Criss Cross again, only this time my viewing is at the end of our course.

 

One thing that struck me is how self-aware Burt Lancaster’s character Steve Dundee is of his own descent.  Below at the 22:00 minute mark of the film:

 

 

Steve:  Anna.  We were married.  About two years ago.  It lasted seven months.  A man eats an apple.  Gets a piece of the core stuck between his teeth.  You know.  He tries to work it out with some cellophane off a cigarette pack.  What happens?  The cellophane gets stuck in there too.  Anna.  What’s the use? I knew one way or the other, somehow I’d end up seeing her that night.

 

Having a character that is painfully aware of what’s happening to him or her and not really be able to do anything about it is fascinating.  It’s the opposite of classic three-act story structure where protagonists are aware of their own dilemma and take actions (heroic) to rectify their problem.

 

In a more traditional or classically structured story we may find a protagonist who vows to do anything possible to overcome every obstacle and let nothing stop him from winning the heart of the woman he loves.  In noir, the protagonist is aware that his love might literally kill him but won’t take any action (anti-heroic) to alter his course.  This especially underscores the futility of trying to control love.  The doomed noir love story really defines what falling in love means.  This fatalistic behavior has the effect of seeing a car wreck.  You know it’s horrific but you can’t tear your eyes away from the carnage.

 

I’ve also thought that the doomed noir protagonist, in this example a man, is never very far away from any other everyday citizen.  In this respect, I’m always wildly sympathetic to fated characters, believing that whatever scenario I see on the screen could happen me.  Consequently, noir stories are cautionary stories but that doesn’t mean once cautioned you can avoid the various pitfalls and dead-ends that are expressed in film noir, especially when your head is swirling with the intoxication of amour fou.

 

Criss Cross is really well done and Miklos Rozsa may be my favorite noir composer.  Burt Lancaster is fabulous at portraying the self-aware yet doomed character he also portrayed in The Killers.  Yvonne De Carlo gives a very fine performance as the self-serving, head turning Anna.

 

-Mark

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Similar to The Postman Always Rings Twice, in that here is a pair of lovers having a clandestine meeting in the parking lot.  After that we see Anna's interaction with her husband, whom I think owns the club.  So the husband is highly suspicious of his wife and gives her the "third degree" concerning her whereabouts.  I think the husband knows there is something going on, only he can't find any proof of it.  I think he feels like his wife is cheating on him, but he has yet to catch her at it.  Anna is apparently pretty good at covering herself.  Steve is ever willing to be there for her.  It makes me wonder what happens after their plan has been seen to the end?  If they are planning to do away with her husband, is Anna going to be with Steve as she promised in the parking lot?  Or does Anna have another man waiting in the shadows to do away with Steve? 

 

The elements of noir style are here.  There is the mystery of what are these two love birds planning?  Who is the person they are plotting against?  What is going to happen?  Is it a murder?  A frame up?  Who will be framed, Steve or the husband?  Now the audience has invested in the film, they have to see it through to get the answers.  The tension comes in when Slim interrogates Anna when she comes back into the club.  Yes, there is something going on and going to happen, soon. 

 

I enjoyed the analysis of the openings.  Some were quite involved and I wanted to watch the rest of the film to see what happens.  Others threw me off, they had a different catch than the usual noir film opening.  And that can put anyone off their guard.  It's not obvious from the start that there is a plot or mystery afoot, so you don't think twice about your initial reaction.  Then the director throws something at you totally out of left field and, POW!  You are hooked and being reeled in. 

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