Wednesday, June 10, 2015
#NoirSummer : Daily Dose of Darkness 3
What an opener! The camera slides along the scene--men asleep in hammocks or lazing around, when blam! In a single shot the view moves to the "big house" where a single gun shot rings out and out the front door stumbles a man. Everyone is startled, including the animals. Out follows Bette Davis, and she keeps shooting, over and over again, until she has emptied the gun into the poor sod. Not only does she shoot him, boy does she ever make sure the job is done!
Then the full moon is briefly obscured by clouds, and when it reappears, it bathes Bette Davis in light, not unlike a police spotlight mounted on prison walls. She's caught, and she's culpable.
But the scene goes on for her to send her man to say "there's been an accident." (It reminded me of that old joke, "Your honor, he fell on his knife!" "Twenty-seven times?!") She's cool and collected, thinking 4 chess moves ahead. No histrionics or swooning here, there's one person in charge and it's easy to see who that is.
This scene gives the same feeling of tension and "what's going on" that the opening scene of M does-there's the facade of normality but something has gone horribly awry. We can only hope as curious viewers that the story will flashback to fill us in on what brought the characters to this point. Playing fast and loose with the timeline is a classic component of noir, and this opener gives us the hint of that.