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Flashback Frivolity


CaveGirl
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Though flashbacks seem often to be the province of the "black film" they do show up in otherwise more conventional films. But I always enjoy them wherever found and two of my favorite movies with flashback sequences are "Phantom Lady" and "Murder is My Beat" which do happen to be noirs.


 


PL came out in 1944 and was directed by Robert Siodmak, and adapted from a Cornell Woolrich story. It starred Alan Curtis as the erstwhile innocent man who was the vexed by incidents shown in flashback, with also the darling Ella Raines and the great Thomas Gomez. Franchot Tone also brought class to the proceedings.


 


Edgar Ulmer was at the helm of MIMB, which bodes well for any film, and it starred the unique Barbara Payton and Paul Langton [more famous from tv shows] in a mise-en-scene potboiler classic.


 


Both films benefit from the flashback bits to aid the storylines. Name any films you think do the same.


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Could any film come close to matching "Citizen Kane" and its pivotal flashbacks?

 

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Wow, there really are so many great ones in that film, Jakeem.

 

Good call! And a lot of times, being that characters will remember the same scene but in differing ways, the film really becomes convoluted, just like real life.

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Wow, there really are so many great ones in that film, Jakeem.

 

Good call! And a lot of times, being that characters will remember the same scene but in differing ways, the film really becomes convoluted, just like real life.

 

Well, now you're talking about Kurosawa's 1950 classic "Rashômon" -- and its 1964 American remake "The Outrage"!

 

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It may sound like I am taking this in a different direction. But personally I prefer flashbacks that are not newly constructed. Flashbacks that are actual flashbacks. We see this on long-running television series (especially soap operas) where they remember a scene that was recorded years earlier. The actors are watching it on a monitor, then when the clip ends, we are back in the present, and the reactions are always genuine-- because they are looking at a part of filmed history (their character's, as well as their own individual history as a performer). 

 

But this can happen in movies too-- where in a sequel, we see a flashback of something that happened in an earlier film involving the same characters, especially if it's relevant to a new plot point. Again, I think authentic flashbacks have greater dramatic impetus than phony flashbacks that were filmed at the same time as the new material. 

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I got a lot of movies with flashbacks rattling around in my skull, but can't settle any down enough to bring them up.

 

Maybe just the flashback of Rick and Ilsa's time in Paris in CASABLANCA, which does help to clarify their connection, and Rick's reaction to seeing her again.

 

Sepiatone

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THE LOCKET has a wonderful structure of interlocking flashbacks.

 

RAW DEAL is the unusual film where the bad girl (Claire Trevor, of course) narrates the flashbacks.

In fact, The locket is all flashbacks except for a small amount of the film.

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There are probably a lot of biographical movies that use flashbacks, starting the story late in the person's life and then telling the story in flashbacks. Examples with real people would include Chariots of Fire, Amadeus, or The Great Moment.

 

Examples involving fictional characters would be the aforementioned Citizen Kane, Lydia, or The Great Man's Wife.

 

Actually Chariots of Fire is one of several movies that start off with a funeral and use that to introduce the flashback. There's also The Barefoot Contessa and The Power and the Glory; I think Miracle of the Bells might technically be another.

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Laura (1944)

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Airplane! (1980)

 

I do not know if you would consider: Happy End (1967) to be a flashback.

 

I believe that: A Man and a Woman (1966) has flashback scene but it has been so very long since I have watched it that it may be I am projecting from memories they state.

 

Serenity (2005) has many powerful flashbacks. The opening is false-flashback within flashback.

 

Edit: I should perhaps note that opening of: Serenity (2005) is sequenced as: informational flashback to establish setting followed by: false-flashback to establish character conflict followed by: flashback to establish plot. I feel that it is perfect opening for movie because it firmly puts viewer into that world and intensely presents motif of movie. I believe that it is great determinator as any person who likes opening of movie will like all of movie and any person who does not like opening will spend their time better watching completely different movie. The first two flashbacks can be seen in clip at: 

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During the opening credits sequence of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, we see Peter O'Toole as the title character prepping and then mounting his Brough(pronounced "Bruff") Superior SS100 motorcycle for his final and fatal ride...

 

PICTURES_01.JPG

 

(...and thus making almost the complete film done in flashback format and after his funeral) 

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