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From the "If I Had But Known" School


CaveGirl
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I personally love movies where one of the leads is in the dark about something, but the audience knows.

 

Now I don't mean a film like "Touch of Evil" where we all see the bomb being put in the car during the opening credits, but of course Janet Leigh and Charlton Heston are left completely oblivious to the back story. That's a different type of suspense, but I like the more romantic kind where the guy or girl turns out to be slime, after appearing to be so humane, like in Sam Fuller's "The Naked Kiss".

 

I dig the films where the lady marries some rich guy, only to find that he's a bit of a Bluebeard and has a locked room up on the third floor, due to his previous nefarious activities with the female sex. And then she keeps wanting to find the key to open the room even if it means she might meet her fate very quickly also.

 

The "If I had but known" type of film I mean, is the one where the star is unaware of some tragic flaw in her or his paramour or associate that could prove deadly.

 

I guess we could class "Rebecca" as that kind of film, but can you think of more since I will immediately order them from somewhere if it is one I've never seen.

 

And thanks in advance~

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The "If I had but known" type of film I mean, is the one where the star is unaware of some tragic flaw in her or his paramour or associate that could prove deadly.

 

Great topic. A lot of the 'women in peril' stories apply. Like Stanwyck in CRY WOLF and THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS.

 

Of course, sometimes it's the viewer who says 'If I had only known' it was going to be another one of these movies, I would have chosen a comedy instead..!

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My favorite film with this kind of set-up is Blood Simple. Four main characters, none of whom know what's going on, each operating from a different set of assumptions, while the audience sees the whole picture. 

Larry,

 

Is there a technical term for this type of story? CaveGirl has come up with a great phrase for it, but I am guessing there's a more academic classification.

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Is there a technical term for this type of story? CaveGirl has come up with a great phrase for it, but I am guessing there's a more academic classification.

 

It looks like the term is Dramatic Irony. I had to look it up.

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Great topic. A lot of the 'women in peril' stories apply. Like Stanwyck in CRY WOLF and THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS.

 

Of course, sometimes it's the viewer who says 'If I had only known' it was going to be another one of these movies, I would have chosen a comedy instead..!

Well, that would never be I, TB since I love people in peril movies!

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My favorite film with this kind of set-up is Blood Simple. Four main characters, none of whom know what's going on, each operating from a different set of assumptions, while the audience sees the whole picture. 

Yes, great movie; thanks Lawrence for mentioning it here!

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Larry,

 

Is there a technical term for this type of story? CaveGirl has come up with a great phrase for it, but I am guessing there's a more academic classification.

I did not come up with that classification sadly, TB but just ripped it off as usual from another source but I've always thought it was an apt phrase.

 

I think back in the day when TV Guide used to give a simple synopsis of the film, they would say it was from the "If I had known school" of story.

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I must wonder if: Gaslight (1944) is appropriate to this question because she marries him with no knowledge of his true personality or plans.

 

La femme publique (1984) is similar in some ways in that it is innocent woman becoming involved with man with unknown powers. I like this movie very much but I am very reserved in recommending it and would never suggest DVD of it be purchased with no prior viewing. I feel that this is beautiful and very powerful movie in many ways but I believe that: A. Zulawski is an acquired taste.
 
The wife in: The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) does not know his true nature as is true also for wife in: Dial M for Murder (1954).
 
Indiscreet (1958) comes to my mind also in that she does not know of important factor of his life when she becomes involved with him but the only danger is to her heart and to his head and so you may wish to not include it in this category.
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CaveGirl--"Lady in the Dark" syndrome (No, not the 1944 Ginger Rogers musical).

 

 "Angel Street" (1940 British version of 1944's "Gaslight)--Diana Wynyard is excellent in this film.

 

"Wait Until Dark" (1967)--Audrey Hepburn's entry in this category snagged an Oscar nomination.

 

"Conspirator" (1950)--Elizabeth Taylor turned eighteen while filming this.  Robert Taylor Menaces her.

 

"Undercurrent" (1946)--Katharine Hepburn's one attempt at this genre.  She wasn't good at playing Stupid, so she plays the film for comedy.

 

"Midnight Lace" (1960)--WHO could be terrorizing Doris Day with phone calls???

 

"Foul Play" (1978)--Why do dead bodies keep disappearing after Goldie Hawn reports them??  Why does a person(s) want her dead??

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CaveGirl--"Lady in the Dark" syndrome (No, not the 1944 Ginger Rogers musical).

 

 "Angel Street" (1940 British version of 1944's "Gaslight)--Diana Wynyard is excellent in this film.

 

"Wait Until Dark" (1967)--Audrey Hepburn's entry in this category snagged an Oscar nomination.

 

"Conspirator" (1950)--Elizabeth Taylor turned eighteen while filming this.  Robert Taylor Menaces her.

 

"Undercurrent" (1946)--Katharine Hepburn's one attempt at this genre.  She wasn't good at playing Stupid, so she plays the film for comedy.

 

"Midnight Lace" (1960)--WHO could be terrorizing Doris Day with phone calls???

 

"Foul Play" (1978)--Why do dead bodies keep disappearing after Goldie Hawn reports them??  Why does a person(s) want her dead??

Oh, good stuff that I'd forgotten, FL!

 

"Undercurrent" for sure and I love "Angel Street" actually more than "Gaslight"/

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I must wonder if: Gaslight (1944) is appropriate to this question because she marries him with no knowledge of his true personality or plans.

 

La femme publique (1984) is similar in some ways in that it is innocent woman becoming involved with man with unknown powers. I like this movie very much but I am very reserved in recommending it and would never suggest DVD of it be purchased with no prior viewing. I feel that this is beautiful and very powerful movie in many ways but I believe that: A. Zulawski is an acquired taste.
 
The wife in: The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) does not know his true nature as is true also for wife in: Dial M for Murder (1954).
 
Indiscreet (1958) comes to my mind also in that she does not know of important factor of his life when she becomes involved with him but the only danger is to her heart and to his head and so you may wish to not include it in this category.

 

Thanks, Sans Fin!

 

Guess what, I don't know "La Femme Publique" at all so that will be fun to look for. Love the others too!

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Guess what, I don't know "La Femme Publique" at all so that will be fun to look for.

 

 

The movie was made in: 1984 but I did not know of it until approx. a year ago when a friend sent it to me. I am a fan of: A. Zulawski and: A. Wajda and I will watch nearly any movie based on works by: F. M. Dostoyevsky.

 

I believe that: TCM has shown Zulawski's: Possession (1981). I believe that it is safe to say that you will like: La femme publique (1984) if you liked: Possession (1981).

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The movie was made in: 1984 but I did not know of it until approx. a year ago when a friend sent it to me. I am a fan of: A. Zulawski and: A. Wajda and I will watch nearly any movie based on works by: F. M. Dostoyevsky.

 

I believe that: TCM has shown Zulawski's: Possession (1981). I believe that it is safe to say that you will like: La femme publique (1984) if you liked: Possession (1981).

Hey, had not looked it up yet but I'm a fan of Wajda too and in college got into a period of reading almost anything by Dostoevsky so this should be right down my alley, my dark alley, SF!

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CaveGirl--"Lady in the Dark" syndrome (No, not the 1944 Ginger Rogers musical).

 

 "Angel Street" (1940 British version of 1944's "Gaslight)--Diana Wynyard is excellent in this film.

 

"Wait Until Dark" (1967)--Audrey Hepburn's entry in this category snagged an Oscar nomination.

 

"Conspirator" (1950)--Elizabeth Taylor turned eighteen while filming this.  Robert Taylor Menaces her.

 

"Undercurrent" (1946)--Katharine Hepburn's one attempt at this genre.  She wasn't good at playing Stupid, so she plays the film for comedy.

 

"Midnight Lace" (1960)--WHO could be terrorizing Doris Day with phone calls???

 

"Foul Play" (1978)--Why do dead bodies keep disappearing after Goldie Hawn reports them??  Why does a person(s) want her dead??

 

Re Midnight Lace, if we have to ask who then there is no Dramatic Irony.

 

Some of the stalker type movies mentioned here and elsewhere, Wait until Dark and Julie, for instance, the idea is so obvious and in-your-face that I don't believe that these would qualify as true Dramatic Irony, although technically they might.

 

Better examples are more subtle IMO. CG's idea of the locked room is like this, a story is in progress and there is something mysterious about the room. It's only part of plot, therefore subtle, and it might mean something really cool about the story. It's DI so long as the audience knows what the room means and at least one of the protagonist does not know.

 

There may be some good ones mentioned already. I haven't seen all the films so I'm in the dark about those.

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Re Midnight Lace, if we have to ask who then there is no Dramatic Irony.

 

Some of the stalker type movies mentioned here and elsewhere, Wait until Dark and Julie, for instance, the idea is so obvious and in-your-face that I don't believe that these would qualify as true Dramatic Irony, although technically they might.

 

Better examples are more subtle IMO. CG's idea of the locked room is like this, a story is in progress and there is something mysterious about the room. It's only part of plot, therefore subtle, and it might mean something really cool about the story. It's DI so long as the audience knows what the room means and at least one of the protagonist does not know.

 

There may be some good ones mentioned already. I haven't seen all the films so I'm in the dark about those.

Not that it is a big deal, but my affection for films with the "If I had known" subtlety are way below the more haughty meaning of dramatic irony in a work of theatre or movies.

 

That is a much loftier concept, whereas I just mean films where one of the protagonists is being buffaloed by a two-timing louse who looks like a sophisticated gentleman of the upper classes or something like that. Very simple stuff, but fun to watch the person being buffaloed start looking through the other person's drawers while they are gone, and finding they murdered their first wife or even something like "Fatal Attraction" where you start seeing that Glenn Close is mentally unsound, whilst Michael Douglas does not get it. I seem to remember there was a scene where she told him that her father was dead, then said no and then later we find he is or something oddball like that. Just a totally giallo type moment with soap opera plot points. 

 

Thanks for your sage input, Laffite!

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lafitte--I was working from my own definition, not the "Dramatic Irony".  CaveGirl called her syndrome "Had I But Known..  I skipped over LawrenceA's DI name entirely; my fault for any confusion.  I apologize.

 

My name "Lady in the Dark syndrome"--"Wait Until Dark" Literally fits that.  Again, my fault, this time for thinking too literally.  

 

Of the films I named, "Angel Street" (1940) is probably the best.

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lafitte--I was working from my own definition, not the "Dramatic Irony".  CaveGirl called her syndrome "Had I But Known..  I skipped over LawrenceA's DI name entirely; my fault for any confusion.  I apologize.

 

My name "Lady in the Dark syndrome"--"Wait Until Dark" Literally fits that.  Again, my fault, this time for thinking too literally.  

 

Of the films I named, "Angel Street" (1940) is probably the best.

I was happy to see films which more correctly were of the dramatic irony type since I like them too, but just wanted to be more explicit in my personal meaning of the tagline "If I had only known" theme.

All the films mentioned are tops in my book, FL.

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lafitte--I was working from my own definition, not the "Dramatic Irony".  CaveGirl called her syndrome "Had I But Known..  I skipped over LawrenceA's DI name entirely; my fault for any confusion.  I apologize.

 

My name "Lady in the Dark syndrome"--"Wait Until Dark" Literally fits that.  Again, my fault, this time for thinking too literally.  

 

Of the films I named, "Angel Street" (1940) is probably the best.

 

Oh heavens, 293, no apologies. I was just flashbacking to those ancient days in college where I can still see my professor shaking his head and saying, now surely you can come up with better examples than that. Damn Prof. Ruining my fun even as I grow brittle.

 

==

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Not that it is a big deal, but my affection for films with the "If I had known" subtlety are way below the more haughty meaning of dramatic irony in a work of theatre or movies.

 

That is a much loftier concept, whereas I just mean films where one of the protagonists is being buffaloed by a two-timing louse who looks like a sophisticated gentleman of the upper classes or something like that. Very simple stuff, but fun to watch the person being buffaloed start looking through the other person's drawers while they are gone, and finding they murdered their first wife or even something like "Fatal Attraction" where you start seeing that Glenn Close is mentally unsound, whilst Michael Douglas does not get it. I seem to remember there was a scene where she told him that her father was dead, then said no and then later we find he is or something oddball like that. Just a totally giallo type moment with soap opera plot points. 

 

Thanks for your sage input, Laffite!

t/y

 

I see, and I get it. It's a great thread, I think more about it. It's just that I suffer from compulsive "hauteur" and yet the word hardly applies, try "hack" that's me, it's about as close as I'll ever get to sage. The only sage that applies to me is to be found in my spice cupboard. (sigh)

 

==

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Secret Beyond the Door - Fabulous cinematography. Fritz Lang directs. In some ways it's an inside-out version of Scarlet Street. Joan Bennett doesn't know much about Michael Redgrave when she marries him, and then . . . .

 

Dragonwyck, with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price, is another example.

 

The novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart is usually credited with inventing the "Had I but known" opening to a novel. This would typically give a preview of some of the events to come, and how the protagonist would have behaved differently "had she but known." 

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