Introduction to Film
Paper Assignment #3: Editing

English 2450/Communications 2010, section 5
Steven Shaviro
Paper due on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

You will be watching a sequence from Howard Hawks' classic action/adventure/romantic film To Have and Have Not (1944), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (two of the biggest stars of the time, who were romantically involved both in real life and onscreen). The film takes place in a French colony during World War II. The sequence you will see shows an early meeting between Bogart's and Bacall's characters, before they get involved.

Hawks follows the rules of continuity editing closely. What's more, he edits the film in such a way as to not call attention to itself –- he wants us to concentrate on the characters and the story. Your task is to pay attention to Hawks' editing choices nevertheless. How does he move between establishing shots that show the entire space in which the action takes place (a crowded cafe in the first part of the sequence) and medium shots that show us the figures of Bogart and Bacall more particularly? How does he both draw the space for us, and show us the relationships among characters within the space? How does he convey to us Bogart's interest in Bacall, when he first sees her? To what extent does she seem to reciprocate, and how does the editing make us aware of this? What are Bogart's and Bacall's relationships to other people in the scene (in particular, Bacall's relationship to the man she is seated with at first, and then to the jazz pianist?) In the latter part of the sequence, when they are alone and no longer amidst a big crowd, how does Hawks' editing help us to understand both the attraction and the antagonism between them? How does the editing work both to tell the story as efficiently as possible, and at the same time to give us detailed information about the characters and their surroundings?

The film clip is available for streaming at:
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