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February 1996, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mark Toscani <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 16:06:30 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (36 lines)
>Matt McAllister asks:
 Can anyone suggest movie clips
>that are rich in nonverbal complexity, and illustrate some concept about
>nonverbal symbols?  I'd appreciate not just suggesting a scene, but also
>pointing out what you think the scene does nonverbally.  Things like
>posture, eye contact, body language, spacial relations, paralanguage (the
>way words are said) would be great!
The first film that came to mind was just released on video: SUDDEN FEAR
(1952) with Joan Crawford and Jack Palance.
Crawford is a rich playwrite who marries an actor she once fired. Via a
jammed audio player, she learns Palance and girlfriend Gloria Grahame will
kill her for her money in the next 48 hrs. Crawford then plans to kill
Palance and somehow pin it on Grahame! The second half of this film noir
thriller is really like a silent film with minimal dialogue and much
One scene that uses paralanguage: the morning after Crawford plots to kill
her husband (and, in turn, she knows he may kill her at any minute!), she
has to play the part of "loyal wife". She kisses him and gives Palance a
certain look. Palance asks why she looks at him that way. Crawford
responds: "I was just wondering what I'd done to deserve you." To Palance,
this is a sweet and loving response. To the audience, it is an ironic
statement from a woman who means business!!
But, check out the film. You should find many examples. And, heck, it's
just great fun to watch!!
Mark Toscani
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