My Favorite Brunette (1947)

March 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

My Favorite Brunette

I had never seen a Bob Hope and this seems like a good place to start. I know it’s been remarked before, but Woody Allen’s comic persona is a complete rip-off from Hope ! Every mannerism, every routine, the way lines are both nonsensical, hyper-sexed and self-deprecating, it’s all there.

Double Exposure (1944)

March 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

Double Exposure

If you’re going to be at war and in 1944 to boot, this is a pretty good flick to spend your time with. Such nice people ! From Nancy Kelly as Pat Marvin to the soft-spoken Ben (aka Phillip Terry) to wolf-turned-lamb Larry (Chester Morris), such gentleness, such respect for careerist desires, for other people’s feelings — and then no one really dies (Ben who survives the torpedoed convoy) (By the way, what is Larry, able-bodied Larry, doing in an office in 1944?). Even in the straighforward B people care for each other in ways that are not as obvious in other cinemas. It’s a major attraction of American films, as corny as it sounds. The play on female independance is also quite funny though the final resolution (she does marry her boss after all) may not be to every feminist’s taste. Yes she is in the kitchen with apron and all — but she’s cooking pictures, not cakes.

And how about this dialogue as he takes her in his arms:
– Pat: “Just because I’m in your kitchen, that’s no reason to take advantage.”
– Ben: “Jee, Pat, I wish you’d stay here for always.”
– Pat: “Where ? In your kitchen ?”

Plenty of obvert narration too here as character after character looks straight at the camera: exhibit A:
kissing cheeks
“If I get kissed more on the cheek…”

Exhibit B, as Mr. Tucker offers some posture advice and a turnip:
chin up

Nothing revolutionary for a goofball comedy of this type, but still, it’s always pleasant to find reminders of how rich and resourceful Hollywood narration could be within the classical paradigm…

A Night in Casablanca (1947)

February 20, 2007 § Leave a comment

Gary Giddins was right (Comedy, Film, Music and Books) when he described the Marx brothers as

grown-ups pretending to be children pretending to be grown-ups

The exhilaration of watching their crazed zaniness in action comes not just from the slapstick and the fun of well-timed gags, but also from the innate optimism. Nothing is impossible, and everything is fun: need to break out of jail ? fly an airplane ? manage a hotel ? find Nazi loot ? outsmart crooks ? The Marx brothers evolve in a world where no one seems to notice that they’re crazy, one of the foundation of their humor as Giddins also writes. But even when people do notice (the Nazi in this instance, or the captain of police), they can’t take them to task since the child-like aspect is obvious to all. And so, from illogical gag to logical absurdity the brothers hop around and restore good sense and human relationship against all the nasty down-to-earth grabbing war-mongering serious authorities, and restore hope against hope. They dare to dismiss the most dangerous of men with a side-step and with the force of a child dismissing rational arguments for the power of the imaginary world. And the beauty is that they win, in the end. Especially if winning means, as in here, finishing the film not with a celebration of the victory of good over nazi evil, even if that’s an underlying issue of course — but with a chase after the hapless girl who dreams of being kissed with the three brothers around…

Rhetorical punctuation and noir films

February 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

Detour (1945)

A gripping noir film, talkative at times and a bit unconvincing in the depiction of Roberts’ emprisonment by Vera, but gripping nonetheless. Noir films replace love or power as the driving forces of tragedy, and replace it with the more democratic force of money. Instead of kings, bums and outcasts. Instead of Fate, greenbacks. But the tragic incapacity of its characters to break through, “to crash” as High Sierra‘s Roy Earle say it, is more poignant and just as powerful. Bums who want money, can’t think of nothing else, and will never get it, we’re sure. Their tragic flaw ? Some kind of naive sentimentality, some sort of belief that there is love, that with or without money the world will be theirs someday. That maddening belief, a romantic left-over, pushes them deeper into situation where money would be required, and the more they need it, the less they’ll have it. And thus popular, down-to-earth objects, a car, a telephone, a cigarette or an empty liquor bottle, a hat, a shrunken overcoat, a drugstore, those familiar objects of America, are transformed into tragic signs, figures of a fate bigger than the hero. Detour in its simple straighforward way gives a good example of this modern, regular tragedy.
a coffee mug ’twas all because of a coffee mug !
a juke-box detour4.png
detour5.png or a car…

But because familiar objects are so overpowering on the screen, doesn’t mean that a little rhetorical punctuation is not in order here and there, as in this change of light:

detour (1945)

February 12, 2007 § Leave a comment

Identify this road :
detour (1945) a long road West

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