Scene Analysis 1: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, Paramount, 1944)3

 25 Shots. Dietrichson’s House, where Walter and Phyllis first meet.

  • MLS, two shot: Walter Neff knocks on door; house attendant answers door. She tries to dismiss him but he insistenly goes through. Non diegietic music coming from the background.
  • MS: Low key light; Walter continues to ask the maid for Mr.Dietrichson, but then looks up when he hears a questioning voice from upstaris.
  • MCU: Walter and maid looking up towards the staircase, Phyllis emerging from the top staircase in a white towel.
  • MCU: Walter answering to Phyllis, introduces himself to her.
  • MLS: Phyllis enters more into the frame under a glowing light that illuminates her.
  • MCU: Walter smiles at Phyllis, laughs nervously, is automatically attracted to her.
  • MCU: Phyllis, aware that she is still in a towel excuses herself so she can dress, exiting back into the darkness.
  • MLS: Maid makes a comical comment about locked up liquor as she directs him to the living room. Pans to walter walking towards the living room.
  • LS: Walter walking into the living room, low key light, shadows cast off from the blinds in the room, pans to him approaching desk.
    Reverse MS: photo frames of Mr. Dietrichson and his daughter Lola; VO of Walter.
  • LS: straight on; Walter feeds the gold fish, VO of walter’s thoughts on Phyllis, walks under light as he looks up staircase.
  • CU: Phyllis shoes descending the stairs, pulls back on Phyllis as she finishes buttoning up her blouse, pans to her approaching a mirror, high key light is on her, Walter is seen in the reflection then enters the frame from the back right side. As he conversates with her she turns around and addresses him about the insurance he is selling. Non diegetic music stops. 
  • MLS: Low key light, Phyllis enters right of the frame and sits down on chair, followed by Walter who sits on an armchair opposite her. Key light on Phyllis. As Walter discusses the insurance to Phyllis, she gets up from the chair and camera pans as she paces back and forth, she is illuminated under the key light and her dark shadow becomes much larger, emphasizing her dark nature as she plots something terrible.
  • MS: Walter notifies phyllis of his experience on his insurance company, looking pleased of her interest in him.
  • MS: Pans on Phyllils as she sits back on her chair, continues to ask Walter about the insurance policies.
  • MCU: Walter interested on her ankle bracelet, learns her first name.
  • MLS: low key light. Walter and Phyllis sitting across from each other. Phyllis rises from her chair as camera pans and followes her while Walter follows, he turns opposite and faces phyllis, begins to flirt with her.
  • MCU:  Phyllis facing Walter, high key light on her. Back and forth shots between Phyllis and
  • MCU: two shot; Walter continues to flirt
  • MCU: High key light on Phyllis, flirting is called off once Phyllis mentions her husband.
  • MS: Walter and Phyllis both in frame, but pans as walter turns to pick up his hat and briefcase by the mirror, low key light, then walks back to exist as phyllis returns back in frame to walk him out. When walter finally exists, Phyllis is still in frame under shadow as door closes shut. 

This scene illustrates the dynamic relationship between Walter and Phyllis. The introduction of Phyllis clearly demonstrates her role in the film, as she enters with a towel suggessting her sex appeal like a temptress. However, she is seen all in white, signifying purity, which fools Walter throughout the film, believing she is a “dame” that seeks refuge from an unwanted husband. All of the dark shadows in the house creates a dark, threatening atmosphere. With only the minimal light from the blinds, there seems to be no way out of the darkness and danger that lays ahead. In fact the only light that is shown is whenever Phyllis is in frame, and her clothing all in white giving her an illuminous glow, shows that even light can be dangerous falsification.


The Lady Eve (1941)0

                    A screwball romantic comedy that deals with deception in a light hearted manner. Barbara Stanwyck is the flirty Jean, and Henry Fonda is the hopeless romantic Charles (Hopsie). Two of them on screen are a delight to watch as they fall for one another. However, their love is cut short when Hopsie discovers Jean’s intention was to use him for his wealth. Heartbroken since she was truley in love with him, and only continued with the ploy for his money because of her father, Jean decides to get back at him by taking a false identity as a high class english women named Eve. Eve manages to get Hopsie to marry her but then loses him on their wedding night when she babbles about her many sexual encounters. Upset and leaving off without settling a divorce, Hopsie embarks on another boat trip where he coincidently meets up with Jean again. The film ends with them rekindling their love for one another, as Hopsie admits to adultry because of his marriage  while Jean admittedly states “so am I,” signifying that they already are married.

With the lovers ongoing physical comedy and funny dialogue, it makes it enjoyable to watch those two onscreen. As much as I felt how Jean was portrayed as a manipulative and corruptive snake, I felt sympathetic toward her character since she was not all in on the ploy to get Hopsie as her father was, which shows her as a soft romantic as much as she is a temptress. Sturges shows how these characters go through turmoil within their romance, but undermines it as he uses slapstick comedy and smart wit as a way of their romance.


Citizen Kane (1941)1


 Considered possibly the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane is a memorable film notably by it’s story, cinematography and odd camera angles.
Orson Welles stars as Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper tycoon who dies in the begining of the film, leaving the media in a frantic to dicover the meaning of his last words, “rose bud”.

Welles developed a strong narrative film with lots of contrast camera shots; High/low angles and deep focus shots.
In the opening scene, the first shot is of the no trespassing sign at the gate.  As the camera tilts up above it, there is a dark castle like mansion in the distance seen through fog that looks eeire and dangerous. A meduim close up shot of the window shows a light switch turned off. A close up shot of snowy cabin is the frame the zoomed out to reveal that it is the inside of a snow globe. An extreme close up of a mustached man saying the words “rose bud,” which the snow globe is then rolled away and crashes down the stairs. A nurse emerges from a door through a reflection in a mirror. Medium shot of her arms are seen pulling the covers over Kane, signifying that he has died.

This scene clearly sets the tone of film, begining with the first shot of the No tresspassing sign. Viewers are already alarmed that they are “tresspassers” sneaking in at Kane’s dark surroundings and witnessing his death.

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