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Hardie Writes: Cinema Rediscovered 2022: Day 4 & 5

Still from Double Indemnity, part of Cinema Rediscovered

Welcome to Rife Magazine’s  Day 4 & 5 coverage of the hotly anticipated film festival Cinema Rediscovered!

By the end of my Cinema Rediscovered journey, I had viewed 13 films and 4 lectures in 5 days – a very fulfilling if a little tiring experience. It was great listening to so many cinema experts and expanding my knowledge on so many underrated, hidden gems. In the closing weekend portion of the festival, however, it was time for some certified, well known Hollywood Classics.

What I found more intriguing is how internally conflicted they were rather than the standard self-assured all-American heroes

Day 4 culminated with the thrilling duo of Double Indemnity and 1962’s Cape Fear whilst Day 5 was headed by one of the most well-known movies Casablanca and iconic western High Noon. Whether it’s from the Academy Awards, the IMDb Top 250 list or Martin Scorsese, these four films have been dubbed some of the best of all time. Therefore, I wanted to explore where they all succeed and what it really takes to make a Hollywood Classic.

First, let’s take a look at the characters. The tall, chiselled, white leading man was the staple at the time and here was no different (although Humphrey Bogart wore lifts to be taller than co-star Ingrid Bergman). What I found more intriguing is how internally conflicted they were rather than the standard self-assured all-American heroes. Gary Cooper’s Will Kane initially leaves town in High Noon to avoid a shootout is just one of the many reasons why John Wayne hates this film and I love it. Fred MacMurray’s Walter Neff doesn’t want anything to do with an insurance scam at the start of Double Indemnity, but he just can’t resist Phyllis Dietrichson. Played by Barbara Stanwyck, Dietrichson is also the female lead with the most depth, further proving that progressing past the token love interest makes movies a lot more interesting.

Still  from Casablanca, part of Cinema Rediscovered

I believe the biggest strength of all four features are the villains and how the films create threats

Bearing this in mind, I believe the biggest strength of all four features are the villains and how the films create threats. High Noon’s real-time ticking clock leaves you stressfully waiting for an infamous gunslinger and trying to avoid being caught by Nazis in Casablanca or head insurance salesman Barton Keyes (excellently portrayed by Edward G. Robinson) in Double Indemnity has the audience on the edge of their seat. My favourite, that elevates Cape Fear into this conversation, is Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady. Wearing a Panama hat and speaking with a thick southern drawl, Cady’s style is simple but distinctive. Always lurking in the background living in Gregory Peck’s head rent-free would be unnerving enough, but it’s the fact that he’s seemingly untouchable by the police that pushes anxiety levels to the max.

Each tense moment from Cape Fear, as well as Double Indemnity, is heightened by the accompaniment of piercing violins, yet they never distract from the on-screen action. High Noon is an outlier from most movies as it only repeats bars from the opening song ‘The Ballad of High Noon’ by Dimitri Tiomkin, which complements the western genre well and somehow adds to Kane’s increasing desperation each time it’s played. This aspect of repetition is what Casablanca taps into most effectively, and why I believe it’s the most famous of the four. Using ‘As Time Goes By’ emphasises the love between Rick Blaine (Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Bergman), helping develop their relationship every time we hear the song. It also goes in hand with the phrase ‘Play it again, Sam’, one of the many quotes tied around the film.

Still  from High noon part of Cinema Rediscovered

Having such a catchy script allowed the audience to do their best ‘Here’s looking at you kid’ impression, thus cementing it in the annals of pop culture to pass on to the next generation. Tying memorable dialogue from a sharp, punchy script together with an intriguing, twisting story and you have the bare bones that makes up these great pictures. Granted, it’s easier said than done to replicate all of this (I’ve not even mentioned cinematography or editing) but they’re all something I consider when I critique as well as writing my own stories.

These four films alongside the rest of the festival have stoked my passion for cinema and I hope they’ve helped you rediscover everything you love about film too.

Did you get a chance to visit Cinema Rediscovered? Let us know on our socials!

Please note: This event finished in July 2022

To read more from Nathan, visit his website here.