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Author Topic: Union Station (1950)  (Read 2189 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: November 10, 2012, 08:19:48 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043090/

Union Station (1950)



PLOT SYNOPSIS: A sharp-eyes woman notices suspicious activity on a train, and gives railroad police a head start in a case involving the kidnapping of a blind heiress.


CAST, courtesy of imdb

William Holden    ...   Lt. William Calhoun
    Nancy Olson    ...   Joyce Willecombe
    Barry Fitzgerald    ...   Inspector Donnelly
    Lyle Bettger    ...   Joe Beacom
    Jan Sterling    ...   Marge Wrighter
    Allene Roberts    ...   Lorna Murchison
    Herbert Heyes    ...   Henry Murchison
    Don Dunning    ...   Gus Hadder
    Fred Graff    ...   Vince Marley
    James Seay    ...   Detective Shattuck
    Parley Baer    ...   Detective Gottschalk (as Parley E. Baer)
    Ralph Sanford    ...   Detective Fay
    Richard Karlan    ...   Detective Stein
    Bigelow Sayre    ...   Detective Ross
    Charles Dayton    ...   Howard Kettner

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Previous posts RE: this movie from the Film Noir Discussion Thread:


http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?PHPSESSID=mhvu0r9kp0jf45e602dtuvdjs7&topic=1822.msg147195#msg147195

cigar joe:
Union Station (1950) Director: Rudolph Maté, with William Holden, Barry Fitzgerald, Nancy Olson, Lyle Bettger, caught this on Netflix another WOW!!!. The story of this noir begins with Olson on a train back to Chicago. She watches as a speeding car races the train to the station on a parallel highway. Two men get out, board the train, and the car speeds away. The men inexplicably sit apart from each other and Olson notices that as one stows away his suitcase in the overhead rack that he's wearing a shoulder holster. She tells the conductor who wires ahead to the Lieutenant (Holden) in charge of security at Union Station. We soon find out that its a kidnap and ransom caper. Barry Fitzgerald plays his memorable stock Irish police commander, and Lyle Bettger is a great villain.

This film abounds in atmosphere and absolutely great, great, location shots, not only does Union Station play a prominent part, but we also get extended period Chicago Elevated shots, the Chicago stockyards, and the climax in the Chicago Tunnel Company RR tunnels (http://users.ameritech.net/chicagotunnel/tunnel1.html)     10/10 on the locations alone.

Streaming on Netflix


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dave jenkins: Union Station (1950) 6/10. Lyle's got a plan: kidnap a blind heiress and shake down her old man for $100,000. His only mistake: choosing Union Station as his frequent rendevous point, the province of one William Holden, railroad cop! Bill is soon on the case, thanks to sharp-eyed Nancy Olsen who notices Lyle carrying iron and acting suspicious. In this town the railroad police seem to be a division of the city cops, so Barry Fitzgerald quickly arrives with reinforcements (the exact setting is obscured, but it could be Chicago--there's one unintentionally funny sequence where a baddie is stampeded to death in a stockyard!). Jan Sterling is in the picture, as Lyle's moll, but when she becomes a liability, Lyle unceremoniously kicks her to the curb--literally. Then there's the exciting final chase, beneath the station, through the power generating plant, down the airshaft, into the "city tunnel" (a well-lit soundstage). Wounded, on the run, clutching a bag with his ill-gotten gains, Lyle is oblivious when the lid pops and money starts pouring out (Were you watching, Stanley?). The message of the film is clear: don't mess with Railroad Cop!

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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg160757#msg160757

Groggy: Savant reviews the new Olive Films collection: http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s4026noir.html

« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 04:23:41 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 04:26:05 AM »

IMDb Lists Union Station, LA as a filming location and its filling in for Union Station Chicago obviously, but IMDb also curiously lists the 3rd Ave El in Manhattan as a filming location (I just submitted a correction to IMDb) , but surely this has to be a mistake, Chicago has El's too (and Union Station) and the chase after the kidnapper that Holden makes clearly ends up at a stockyard, I don't ever remember there being any stockyards in Manhattan along any Els they were down beside the Hudson around 60th Street.
One more addendum the film was based on the book Nightmare in Manhattan - Thomas Walsh - about a child's kidnapping in NYC's Grand Central Station so it is a amalgamation of LA - NYC - and Chicago - this is a generic Dark City in Noirsville

« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 02:45:39 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 01:51:36 AM »

I give this movie a 7/10


In this brief YouTube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qayvB58c2UI check out the cut that appears at the 0:22 mark. It's a terrible cut because the movie violates the 180-degree rule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/180-degree_rule A movie should never cut to a shot 180 degrees from the previous shot; this had me mighty confused when I saw the movie; I kept rewinding it till I finally realized the this shot "crossed the line" from the previous shot

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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 02:39:00 AM »

Now you are repeating yourself. You mourned about that before.

I think the 180 ° rule basically means something different. In this scene there are enough clues to help the viewer to know where he is. Even if I don't recognize the actors when I only watch that small bit. And they had to cut to the other wagon after the jump anyway.

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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 04:34:58 PM »

Now you are repeating yourself. You mourned about that before.

I think the 180 ° rule basically means something different. In this scene there are enough clues to help the viewer to know where he is. Even if I don't recognize the actors when I only watch that small bit. And they had to cut to the other wagon after the jump anyway.

yes, I mentioned it previously, but I wasn't able to properly articulate my problem because I hadn't heard of of "the 180º rule;" now that I know about that term I can articulate my problem clearly and concisely by just saying it violates the 180º rule.

yes, the camera had to move to the other train car, but it probably woulda been better if it hadn't done an exact 180º switch. Maybe, when he jumps from Car #1 to Car #2, they should have had the camera on Car #2 the whole time, filming the jump from Car #2.

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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 02:38:24 AM »

Then they had broken the rule before the jump. Where's the difference?

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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 03:06:47 AM »

Then they had broken the rule before the jump. Where's the difference?

they could have moved the camera from Car #1 to Car #2 without having to move it 180º degrees

for example, the shot before the jump, inside Car #1, maybe could have been from one of the seats on the side of the car, rather than being shot straight down the aisle directly facing Car #2; that way, after the jump when they switch to the straight-down-the-aisle shot of Car#2 facing Car #1, it's not a 180º switch.

On the other hand, I guess it would have been awkward for the camera to cut to car #2 - an empty car - before the jump was made.... maybe instead, the camera should have stayed on Car # 1 all along: filming the jump, and staying there in Car #1 after the jump, as the car pulls away and the conductor in Car #2 tells the gangster "that's a great way to break your neck," the two cars were pretty close so it's reasonable that you could have still heard him, even standing in car #1.

another option is to film the whole jump from outside the train, on the side, in a wide shot; using a crane shot. I'm not sure what the budget was like and the logistics of setting that up in a train station.

Another thing is that perhaps it's not as bad to "cross the line" if you switch the depth of field... like eg. if you start in a medium shot, and the cut to a long shot 180º away, maybe that's not as confusing. But in this case, they basically had the exact same shot, from a very similar distance, and I had to rewind the dvd like 5 times before I figured out what happened.

I'm sure as hell not a cinematographer, maybe my solutions are no good, but I can't believe that the only way to film it was to cut from a straight-down-the-aisle shot of Car #1 to a straight-down-the-aisle shot of Car #2.


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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 03:36:47 PM »

Maybe it was supposed to be a WTF moment, you are not expecting the train to break apart just like Holden but, it was effective the way it was filmed.

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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2013, 02:47:27 AM »

Here is a short dialogue scene done with typical shot-reaction shot 180° changes:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAEJt-Rvaqo

It is not confusing cause the audience knows

for me in union Station it is absolutely clear where the characters are

What the 180° rule really means is this:

If there is a scene which shows a running man who moves on the screen from the left to the right is followed (maybe after another short scene) in which now the camera had changed around the 180°, than in reality the man is still running in the same direction, but on screen he moves now from the right side to the left. This gives the audience the impression that he is now running back.
If such a scene is set against a certain recognizable background the audience would be able to follow the camera turn. So if the man is running on a beach with the sea in the background, and after the camera turn he is now seen with the land in the background, the audience is able to understand that he is still running in the same direction. Still it is confusing, and a professional director would always avoid such a senseless 180° turn.

In the Union Station scene it should be clear where the camera position is, as you see both men jumping and then you see Holden in the second wagon, and the movement of the second man is continued after the cut. Actually I don't understand how this can be really confusing. It could be done probably more clear, but then the scene doesn't work as smoothly.

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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 04:05:00 AM »

that scene in The Social Network is no comparison. Every time the guy and girl are both shown on the screen (at least partially), the guy is on the right and the girl on then left. Breaking the 180º rule (as I understand it) would mean putting the camera on the other side of the table.

IMO, here is a perfect illustration of the 180º rule: if you ever watch a football, basketball, or hockey game.... or for you Europeans, a soccer game: there is a main camera, on one side of the field that you see  most of the time during live action. Say for example, the camera is on the east side of the stadium, and it shows Team A shooting at the goal to the right, and Team B shooting at the goal to the left. They may use shots and show replays from various angles: northeast, north, south, southwest, lower, higher, etc. But one thing they'll never do is show a shot from a camera mounted on the west side, directly opposite the main camera on the east, in the same sort of wide shot – cuz then it would appear as if Team B is shooting to the right and Team A is shooting to the left. That would be a violation of the 180º rule.
(In fact, I recently watched a hockey game that showed a reverse angle, and the broadcaster pointed out specifically that it's a reverse angle, so the viewer shouldn't be confused and think the teams are shooting the wrong goals.

When I was watching Union Station, I saw the guy jump away from the camera, ie. he jumps from the car on which the camera is mounted onto the car moving away from the camera; then there's a cut, and now we see him landing toward the camera, ie.  jumping from the car that's moving away from the camera and landing on the car on which the camera is mounted.

whether or not this shot would've confused you if you'd seen it before I mentioned anything, who knows. Maybe you;'re smarter tahn me. But I think it's pretty clear that two shots come from exactly 180º apart (and at the same distance shot, so it's not like moving from a wide shot to a closeup).

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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 05:49:42 AM »

Of course I'm smarter.

But I saw only the short clip and had problems to distinguish between the actors who all wear the same kind of coat. I even hadn't recognized Holden. But when I see the complete film it would be easier cause I know who is who. And then as you said the cut is made in a motion which also helps a lot.
The Social Network scene always shows the shoulder, yes, but the Union Station scene also shows the actors. And I could easily find other scenes with dialogues where they cut from one actor in close up to the other one in close up. This is a standard way to film dialogues by ignoring the 180° rule. And generally making 180° swaps is standard procedure in films. The rule only applies to the scenes where the swapping leads to misconceiving.

Your example from a sport game only illustrates what I already explained with the running man example. These are exactly the things where the 180° rule is important.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 06:01:54 AM by stanton » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2013, 04:46:47 PM »

Oh, I found our old discussion on this subject (in which I never used the term [or knew about the] 180º rule) - it was in the MTSURMT http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=10908.msg165245#msg165245


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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2013, 02:47:20 AM »

Yes, and I wrote after watching the short clip:

"Just watched it, I don't know what you mean ...

The guy jumps on the other wagon, and then the next shot shows him from the other wagon, and the wagon he left gets smaller in the back. For the 2nd shot the camera was turned round for 180°. Some would say the film breaks here the so called "180° rule". "

Hmm, just wanted to watch the clip again, It is blocked now.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 02:48:55 AM by stanton » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2013, 03:37:29 AM »


Hmm, just wanted to watch the clip again, It is blocked now.

sorry I accidentally made my videos private... now I made them public again, you can watch it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qayvB58c2UI

« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 03:58:25 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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