Two Sample Annotations of Secondary Sources

        The first annotation is short but it does the job because it quickly points out the source's observation about a pre-existing pattern in film noir technique, and it suggests quickly how it might apply to scenes in our films which the source did not notice.  That gap in Telotte's attention gives you something to say that is still "news."  The second note is longer because the value it adds to our thinking consists linking a single known change in one film's plot to a chain of scenes the source does not notice, and it briefly summarizes the pattern of evidence (i.e., it's one short step short of a paper thesis).   I've added "rationales" in [italics and square brackets] to explain each note's value in detail, but you would be responsible only for the source and the note, itself. Click here for an example of how to use creatively a source's evidence and reasoning.

Telotte, J.P.  Voices in the Dark: The Narrative Patterns of Film Noir.  Champaigne-Urbana: U Illinois P, 1989.  

            In addition to providing a more theoretically sophisticated discussion of plot types than Walker's earlier essay, Telotte deals with some techniques important to film noir effects.  These include the voice-over flashback (e.g., Third Man's opening montage), subjective camera shots (seeing Rick's hand signing the check from his point of view, seeing the sewer grating above us from Harry's point of view), and documentary style (almost everywhere in Third Man, in the Paris flashback in Casablanca).  The only direct reference to either film (not surprisingly) is Telotte's observation that Delmer Davies' Dark Passage (1947) uses a subjective camera shot involving Bogart that appears to allude to the check-writing scene in the earlier film, Casablanca, which for Telotte has nothing to do with noir style.   

[Rationale for the Note's Importance: Because Telotte does not do the intellectual work of drawing the connection between subjective camera and Casablanca's relations to film noir, Telotte's observations about noir technique are important sources of insight.  The note writer makes that connection by extending Telotte's reasoning to a new set of facts.  This is original scholarly work because the note writer is transporting the insight to a film the source does not consider to be part of the pattern he's studying.] 

Wapshot, Nicholas.  "The Trouble With Harry" in The Man Between: A Biography of Carol Reed.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1990.  207-36.  791.43023 R323Sw

            Wapshot says that Orson Welles began adding lines to his part in the Great Wheel scene: "Instead of speaking of lovers who had used the Great Wheel before the war to find some privacy, . . . he added extra cynicism to the part of Lime by referring to the lost pleasures of the children of Vienna [who] . . . used to ride this a lot in the old days [but] . . . haven't got the money now, poor devils" (231).  This fits into the film's pattern of references to children, especially to children playing crucial roles in Harry Lime's downfall.  Greene's script started it with the children driven mad when Harry's diluted penicillin fails to cure their meningitis, and little "Hansel," the infant detective who pursues Holly and Anna through the streets shouting "Papa!  Papa!."  In the novel, knowledge of the penicillin racket is crucial to changing both Holly's and Anna's mind about Harry, but in the film, we never see Anna being shown those pictures.  She only reports having been told by Callahan.  (What kind of a woman would she be to continue to love Harry after seeing those maimed children, and what would that do to our sympathy for her?  We only watch Holly being forced to bear that particular kind of knowledge about his "friend.")  Reed then added Hansel's role in observing the porter's quarrel with Holly, possibly even seeing the porter's murder, which helps motivate the otherwise bizarre scene when he chases Holly and Anna down the street.  This makes children crucial to the discovery of crime, but also mocks Holly's errors in "detecting" Harry's "murder."  Anna tells Holly that Harry never really grew up, but remained a child in his heart.  Holly, when he sees Harry's shoes in the streetlights but wants to know who's following him, shouts the old schoolyard cry, "Come out, come out whoever you are!"  (Is that in Greene?  I doubt it, but it's possible British schoolchildren use the same cry so I want to check the script on reserve.)  Then Welles improvises the lines about children (instead of lovers) being unable to use the Great Wheel due to the devastation of the war.  Finally, when they come off the wheel, one child pushes futilely at the slowly-turning merry-go-round while another child rides.  Those children will inherit Holly's and Harry's world, but what will they do with it?  Which path will they follow, Holly's or Harry's?

[Rationale for the Note's Importance: Unlike Telotte's helpful offer of an interpretive principle which we might apply to a primary source he doesn't consider, this source aids us by supplying a single important detail about one change the director made to the film.  Since the biographer is seeking to flesh-out the figure of his subject, and not to analyze a film, he stops there, however the film scholar need not join him.  The biographer's information about how the director and actor added information about children to the movie could fit into and help develop a scholar's already existing insight about the importance of children to the movie's effects.  In this instance, the biography helps us demonstrate that some references to children were the intentional product of the director's and actor's work, not solely Greene's screenplay.]

Click here to read sample student-written annotations of secondary sources relevant to The Third Man.  Some are good, some are barely acceptable, and some are useless.  Test them by asking whether they tell you enough about the source so that you would know whether it would be worth looking up yourself.