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Archive for April 27th, 2011

Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

Complainers tend to be a bore, and complainers about their emotional states seldom come close to the level of fascination. This is an intuition that has consigned the films of Michelangelo Antonioni’s prime to a precarious stature. Particularly as sustained by his go-to exponent of nausea, the actress, Monica Vitti, Antonioni has made difficult headway in enunciating a bind that, in the casino of movie production, has moved him to commit all his chips. Was this a mistake, or what?

In view of the demonstrable fact that that plunge has galvanized a goodly portion of subsequent film production, we have to recognize that, at the very least, it spotlights a consequential addiction. There has, of course, always been historical friction; but that conflict has, until quite recently, always implied a fraternal disorder, allowing of an ultimate resolution, such an upbeat approach to conscious interaction being the essence of that rationality defining civilization as universally understood. (more…)

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Director: Robert Siodmak

Producer: Mark Hellinger

Screenwriters: Anthony Veiller, Richard Brooks, and John Huston

Cinematographer: Elwood Bredell

Music: Miklos Rozsa

Studio: Universal Pictures 1946

Main Acting: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, and Edmond O’ Brien

Since I already focused extensively on the opening scene of another noir on this countdown, I will keep my adoration for the beginning of The Killers brief and limited to a single paragraph. I will say that it challenges and even surpasses Kiss Me Deadly in effectiveness. Robert Siodmak (no stranger to this countdown) really comes out punching with that opening right cross to whichever “bright boy” you care to inflict bodily harm on. That first image is basically lifted by both Aldrich and Lynch in their own filmographies and put to extensive use. Focusing on a car barreling down a dark road with a behind-the-shoulder shot, we are quickly placed in the prototypical noir universe of a stylized and menacing Brentwood, New Jersey. Rozsa’s intense and rousing score sets up the mood perfectly, as Sodmak’s name on the screen can’t cover up the two figures stalking about in the background. Their initial destination is a service station that looks closed and empty. They instead walk across the street to Henry’s Diner which is open and accepting customers. Unfortunately, these guys are not really looking for “roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes.” What they really want is the whereabouts of The Swede (Burt Lancaster) and to plug him with enough holes that he looks like one of those old cartoon characters that takes a drink and begins to spout water all over his body. The tension elevates to almost unbearable proportions as the duo takes the whole eatery hostage and we wonder what these assassins will do next. Fortunately they go away without any bloodshed. They have only one intended target, and he sits hopelessly in bed, waiting for the end to come. (more…)

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