The Woman in the Window

Talking about film the other night with a custodian in my school, he asked “So what’s your favorite film noir?” Not wanting to disappoint, I searched my increasingly aging mind and, of course, hedged. Luckily I had a copy of “The World’s Most Overly-Used Cliches” handy and was able to respond with, “Well, you know there are so many that it’s hard to pick just one.”

Nevertheless, here’s one to consider with a good plot summary of the film from its Wikipedia site (CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT )

The Woman in the Window (1944) starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, and Dan Duryea

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“After criminology professor[4] Richard Wanley sends his wife and two children off on vacation, he goes to his club to meet friends. Next door, Wanley sees a striking oil portrait of Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) in a storefront window. He and his friends talk about the beautiful painting and its subject. Wanley stays at the club and reads Song of Songs. When he leaves, Wanley stops at the portrait and meets Reed, who is standing near the painting watching people watch it. Reed convinces Wanley to join her for drinks.

Later, they go to Reed’s home, but an unexpected visit from her rich lover Claude Mazard (Arthur Loft) leads to a fight in which Wanley kills Mazard. Wanley and Reed conspire to cover up the murder, and Wanley disposes Mazard’s body in the country. However, Wanley leaves many clues, and there are a number of witnesses. One of Wanley’s friends from the club, district attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey) has knowledge of the investigation, and Wanley is invited back to the crime scene, as Lalor’s friend, but not as a suspect. There are several comic dialogues in which Wanley appears to know more about the murder than he should. As the police gather more evidence, Reed is blackmailed by Heidt (Dan Duryea), a crooked ex-cop who was Mazard’s bodyguard. Reed attempts to poison Heidt with a prescription overdose when he returns the next day, but Heidt is suspicious and takes the money without drinking the drugs. Reed tells Wanley, who overdoses on the remaining prescription medicine.

Heidt is killed in a shootout immediately after leaving Reed’s home, and police believe Heidt is Mazard’s murderer. Reed, seeing that the police have killed Heidt, races to her home to call Wanley, who is slumped over in his chair, and apparently he dies. In an impossible match on action, Wanley awakens in his chair at his club, and he realizes the entire adventure was a dream in which employees from the club were main characters in the dream. As he steps out on the street in front of the painting, a woman asks Wanley for a light. He adamantly refuses and runs down the street.”

As for my own thoughts, this was one of the first films I watched after my nior baptismal. It’s held a special place for me for a number of other reasons too.

For one, Edward G. Robinson’s character is not one I would have previously associated with his acting career. As a kid, my opinions of Robinson had been shaped by the characterizations of him as a cigar-chomping cartoon character from Looney Tunes and Courageous Cat episodes. As an every man of sorts caught up like future Hithcockian protagonists , I could relate to his plight and sympathize with his character.

Additionally, the role of the femme fatale was played to perfection by the lovely Joan Bennett. I was stricken by how risque her dialogue, costumes, and actions were in the film. Anyone thinking that old films play as prudish by today’s standards (or lack of) need only watch Bennett’s portrayal here.

Finally, The Woman in the Window carries with it a sense of redemption missing (and with good reason) from most noirs. Fortunately it pulls it off without feeling forced or heavy-handed. Not an easy task to accomplish. This is a not only a highly recommended film noir held in high regard by fans of the genre, but also one that’s easily accessible to all.

Click the link to watch The Woman in the Window (1944- Directed by Friz Lang)

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Why Noir, Part 2

Black film?

“No, film noir,” I was told. Not being much of a Francophile, I had to take their word for it.

But to me, it’s been more like gris.

And like so much of my own life (our lives?), I know now why.

“It’s grown-man’s music,” said Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones in an interview I’d heard awhile back. At the time, I was much younger and didn’t quite get his take on the blues. And neither could I make the connection between his words and my future journey into the cinematic gris.

That too I know now why.

A visual and audio punctuation mark answer to the question posed in the title might look and sound like this:

And it would make the point better than these words could ever do.

Why Noir, Pt. 1

It’s the authenticity I think.

What is it about this type of film that draws me in? I was wondering about it on the way home tonight. I wonder about it a lot actually.

The real steel probably is part of it. At least part of the Part 1 part. In my imagination, the steel was more real than the steel today. Like you could feel it when you shut a car door. Sounded better. Heavier.

And the smoking. I sorta liked that everyone was always smoking. And drinking too. It was out there, not hidden. Everyone was doing a lot of both. Shamelessly. Not like they should have been ashamed, but more like, they were not ashamed.

The authenticity.

The Lie

It’s all about the lie. In golf, as in life.

Forget about grabbing the 60 degree wedge. Please. Never mind the distance. It’s all about your lie.

Been caddying since I was 17. I’m 53 now. Way too many golfers pay way too much attention to distance. Pulling out the 60, without regard to the lie, is usually the quickest path to the, “what am I DOING” blurt which invariably follows every either thinned, skulled, t-boned, bladed, or chunked shot.

Instead, most golfers would do better to hit a higher percentage pitch and run shot with a less-lofted club.

The Mirror on the Wall

On another cold Sunday morning and up alone while everyone else sleeps, I made my way through some photos from only a few lives ago.

Damn it. How can it be that so much has changed?

No longer little girls, smiles have been replaced by the brooding of young adulthood (oh could I have stopped time and taken a number amongst the long line of dreamers who’ve gone before– like I’m covering some new ground here).

Where are they now? Locked away in their thoughts; comprehending the slights and arguments that the passing of time slowly uncovered.

I was a hero then; maybe. In my own mind. The delusion made it easier to go on.

Now what? More tears. The passing of time is a mirror which haunts me.

And today it’s speaking back a little louder than usual.

Dust Motes Near the Lockers

Just floating through the air.

Sitting here now, I can almost remember thinking that I’d remember the dust motes. Emerging from the bathroom, I’d walked down the hall on the way back to class.

And just across from the entrance to the school library, there were windows which looked out into the courtyard. The Florida sun would burn through the saline air of a beach life, highlighting the particulars of that first few periods of the day moment.

And just like then, I’m alone.

Like gasoline fumes, there was something mirage-like about the dust motes floating within the rays of light.

In high school.

On a day which left no other impressions (where did they go? where do they go?), I still have that vision today. How can that be?

With my own children now at the age of me that day, I wonder what seemingly insignificant events interrupt their days. And I wonder too how much they’ll take with them.

So I sit here tonight thinking and writing because I don’t know what else to do.

Dust motes.

Job Opening

Immediate opening for the following job in which few, if any, will understand. The successful candidate will be from another planet and must have the following:

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  • Demonstrated success translating research results into actionable recommendations that have a traceable impact on product or design strategy and execution.
  • Extremely strong communication skills and demonstrated success presenting research study results in a clear and compelling manner to cross-functional stakeholders that persuades action.
  • Razor sharp attention to detail, highly organized, ability to accurately set and consistently meet commitments.
  • Minimum of 5 years experience leading design research activities within a product development organization or in support of a large website.
  • Experience utilizing qualitative analysis techniques (e.g., content analysis, affinity modeling) and quantitative analysis (e.g., cluster analysis, descriptive and inferential statistics) to explore, understand, and establish relationships between discrete data points.
  • Experience conducting research throughout the product development cycle of successfully launched consumer web and/or software applications, including up-front discovery, concept generation and exploration, and various forms of design evaluations.
  • Advanced degree in Cognitive or Experimental/Social Psychology, Cognitive Science, Human Factors/HCI, Anthropology, Design, or related area.
  • Experience in quantitative research and analysis and experimental design a plus.
  •  Yeah right. 

A Dessicated Rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

So how much of this is autobiographical? You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seashells ’82. That’s what the cover says. Was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.