Tin Starlight

It’s been an age-old frustration for many filmmakers that the camera eye can’t replicate all the wonders of the human eye. For instance, when we’re in a dim room, we can still look out the window and see the bright daylit world. Our eyes rarely if ever register the kind of overexposed glare seen so often in films (and often used to striking visual effect). The human iris has an amazing latitude, unmatched by any camera even today.

In THE TIN STAR, Anthony Mann and his collaborators tackle the problem, I think, by shooting interiors open to daylight. I may be wrong and they may be blasting vast amounts of electric light at the problem, but what it looks like to me is a roofless set. Must’ve looked pretty funny if you were there.

It does look a little strange to me onscreen, too. Although this shot, where the set has at least part of a ceiling, creates a more plausible contrast between light and shade. It’s often the way that pushing in the direction of realism results in strange stylisation. However, the technique allows a lot more interplay between indoors and out, dramatically useful in a story where Sheriff Tony Perkins feels the prying eyes of townsfolk watching him at all times…

6 Responses to “Tin Starlight”

  1. Is that Claire Trevor I spy looking rather miz in your header?

  2. Yes, in Raw Deal, possibly my favourite Mann noir.

  3. Like Winchester ’73 This is another Mann I saw when it cmae out and was quite impressed with. This was no Saturday matinee shhot-em-up but a film about grown-ups and their lives. Most informative for children.

  4. Yes, more and more I realise that while the visual-aural set pieces are what thrill me most in cinema, it’s probably the dialogue scenes that are most USEFUL. Tony Perkins’ oeuvre is particularly instructive: Pretty Poison shows a sure-fire method of getting a date with Tuesday Weld.

  5. Ah but it’s Tuesday who always chooses to date you — not the other way around. Didn’t you see Soldier in the Rain ? Making Tony Perkins think he chose her is the heart of her dark charm.

  6. Heh! Still to see Soldier. Sounds like a must.

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