Scarlet Street : Superstition referenced in opening scene?

Superstition referenced in opening scene?

In the first scene of this film, Christopher Cross's boss offers Cross a cigar. He then impulsively hands out a cigar to another middle-management type standing beside them. The boss lights his own, then uses the same match to light the co-worker's, and then turns with the same lit match to light Cross's cigar. Cross seems to hesitate, and then the boss asks something like, "What's the matter? You're not superstitious?" to which cross replies something like, "No, no, of course not." But then the camera pans down to show us Cross crossing his fingers as if to ward off the bad luck.


What superstition is being referenced here?

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

It's funny, I watched The best Years of Our Lives just a couple of days ago, and they referenced the very same superstition, but I didn't think much about it. Then I watched this movie today and chuckled during the scene.

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Oh you mad cuz I'm stylin on you

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?


It's amazing how often one learns something new and then one seems to notice it everywhere. In a relatively short period after getting this question answered, I seemed to see it referenced in several places-- mostly other old movies.

I think your post suggests why this "As soon as I learn it, it crops up everywhere" phenomenon seems so common: before watching Scarlet Street, I had already seen (and loved) The Best Years of Our Lives, but I don't remember the three-on-a-match reference in it-- assumedly because I didn't know the reference and glossed over it when viewing.

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

Definitely! I was actually thinking about the very same thing not long ago.

I found out about The Band after watching Scorsese's The Last Waltz just last month (I don't listen listen to rock much, so I was oblivious to them). I think I've heard them referenced in at least 6-7 different situations since.
Same thing with The King of Comedy. The next day Rupert Pupkin was referenced all over an episode of Entourage and I've heard him being mentioned a bunch.

Funny thing, the human mind. =)

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Oh you mad cuz I'm stylin on you

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

3 on a match
Bad luck

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

In the 60s or 70s there was a US game show called 'Three on a Match.' I didn't understand the reference until much later.

And think...this has to be a fairly recent superstition, since ancient people didn't have cigs or matches.

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Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

We're clearly intended to register the 'unlucky' third cigar to be lit and Chris's finger-crossing to ward off bad luck. Of course Chris soon has the bad luck to get involved with Kitty. But does the superstition trope recur? I was half expecting it to but didn't notice. (Like I was expecting the presentation watch to figure again significantly but it didn't.)

"I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken."

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

"(Like I was expecting the presentation watch to figure again significantly but it didn't.)"


Didn't Chris take it out in the presence of Kitty, which thereupon reinforced her impression that he was wealthy, "working in a bank" (and not in the lowly position of a cashier/teller)?

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?


In the scene in the bar with Kitty and Chris,after he saves here, she lights her cigarette off a candle. That is a bad luck thing to do. I think it might be Irish. That's a nice bit of foreshadowing. I wonder if Chris notices it and just ignores it,since he is so smitten?




Dictated, but not read.

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

I'm surprised that, for all the replies, no one identified the basis for the "superstition." During World War I, soldiers realized that lighting three cigarettes from one match gave an enemy gunner time to train his rifle on the person holding the match...hence, lighting three cigarettes from one match put the match-holder in jeopardy.

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?


Thanks for the post. Yes, the superstition's origins are interesting. Check out the second link in my second post.

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

Yep. The first light drew the gunner's attention. The gunner readied his aim on the second light. The third light.... kapow!

Love's turned to lust and blood's turned to dust in my heart.

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?


There's a movie named "Three on a Match" from 1932.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023590/


The IMDb description reads: 'Although Vivian Revere is seemingly the most successful of a trio of reunited schoolmates, she throws it away by descending into a life of debauchery and drugs.'

Sounds like a negative ending, furthering the superstition that it's bad luck.















May I have 10 thousand marbles, please?
- Flounder, Animal House

Re: Superstition referenced in opening scene?

According to the superstition, it's bad luck to lit three cigarettes or cigars off the same match.
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