As the film begins, a shining rectangle illuminates the darkness of the cinema auditorium that, were it horizontal rather than vertical, might be the light-reflecting silver screen itself. This gleaming shape turns out to be a door, which opens onto a – if not the – quintessential North American landscape: Monument Valley, made immortal as the setting and backdrop of numerous Westerns. The camera follows a woman, at first only a silhouette against the bright light, crossing the threshold along with her onto the porch, leaving the darkness inside behind. From far away a man walks toward the settlers’ cabin, a man who is as mythical in Hollywood cinema as the distinctive landscape with the bizarre mountain formations from which he emerges: John Wayne as Ethan Edwards. The motif of entering and leaving, of traversing and crossing – because crossing a threshold always implies leaving a space and entering another – is central to The Searchers (US 1956, John Ford). The film is constructed around a series of crossings and transgressions, and it involves a constant change of places, both literally and metaphorically: It oscillates between familial and racial affiliation, between nature and culture, between wilderness and garden, between convictions and actions.
It is science fiction fact however, that Ellen Ripley should not have been “Ellen Ripley” at all. Dan O’Bannon’s original script for 'Alien' stated: "The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men and women.” ...
Motion pictures can influence the development of both normal and disordered personality. The femme fatale of the film noir movies of the 1940s and 1950s is representative of several related personality disorders characterized by histrionics, self-absorption, psychopathy, and unpredictability. This report will examine how various societal factors occurring during World War II and its aftermath influenced the portrayal of these disordered females and how these depictions, in turn, reflected and influenced American culture at the time. Specific reference to issues of criminology, economics, gender, as well as feminist viewpoints on this phenomenon will be explored.
The 1940s were an era of "women’s pictures." For the first time Hollywood assembled an array of films depicting the lives, challenges, and emotions of women. Audiences were almost entirely composed of women prior to 1945. The majority of box office stars were female. World War II induced an unparalleled collective response from women, resulting in new perspectives and rising ambitions. By 1944, 85 percent of women wanted to keep their jobs, whereas at the beginning of the war they viewed themselves as temporary custodians for their males’ rightful positions in the workforce when they returned home from the war (Rosen, 1973).
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) was adapted from a novel by the hard-boiled writer James M. Cain. The movie is interspersed with voice-over narration by the protagonist, Frank Chambers (John Garfield), indicating that he is recalling events in the past. Frank is a drifter who takes a job at a remote diner owned by an older man, Nick (Cecil Kellaway), after getting a look at Nick’s stunning young wife, Cora (Lana Turner). There is a strong sexual attraction between Frank and Cora, and, after one aborted attempt, they succeed in killing Nick and making it look like a car accident in order to be together. A suspicious D.A., however, hounds them and finally tricks Frank into signing a statement claiming that Cora murdered Nick. Cora beats the rap, and the lovers are bitterly estranged for a short period. In the end (after some other twists and turns), they come back together, knowing that they’re too much in love to be apart, knowing that they’re fated to be together. Ironically, they have a car accident in which Cora is killed. The D.A. prosecutes Frank for Cora’s murder, and Frank is convicted and sentenced to death. We learn at the end that he has been telling the story to a priest in his prison cell, awaiting execution.
“Between the Great Depression and the start of the Cold War, Hollywood went noir, reflecting the worldly, weary, wised-up under current of midcentury America. In classics such as Laura, Sweet Smell of Success, and Double Indemnity, where the shadows of L.A. and New York pulse with killers, corpses, and perilous romance, failure is not only a logical option but a smart-talking seduction.” – Vanity Fair March 2007
The dark night of forsaken city streets, vistas of blissful angst and unholy pilgrimage. I have been there and known their inhabitants: deadly dames, drunken losers, dangerous hoods, crooked cops, dreamers of broken dreams, and flawed heroes.
LA, Frisco, Chicago, and New York. I know these cinematic cities though I have never been. A resident knows his locale, but the city in its ectoplasmic center is not reached corporeally, only in the phantasmagoria of a thousand and one shards of shattered night. Luminescent environs of a cosmic b-movie. Wet asphalt, fog-laden piers, deserted streets, rusting hulks at anchor, the neon glimmer of purgatory dives, cigarettes and booze, dark tenements, the skid of car tires, and the wailing sirens of the dead. Staccato rhythms and aching horns, crowded pavements and desperate loneliness.
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