Tuesday, June 05, 2018

On Dangerous Ground: Film Noir Poetry- The Big Combo, The Big Heat

“Ontology! I’m just
  telling you a story
  about this projector, that’s all.”

            Edward Dorn, Gunslinger, Book II

The Big Combo (Joseph Lewis, 1955)

Parsing's never easy. What matters, 
Alton’s black & white. Not what
you light...it's what you don't. 
Hard-edged, as ever. Arrived, 
Hollywood, 1937. painter,  
writing the book, literally. Not 
plot but images, not ideas but 
things, black and white as colours. 
In-between non-manichaean 
shades framing low-budget fatalism, 
so we might see in the dark.

The Big Heat  (Fritz Lang, 1953)

Shocking, only if suburbia can 
be paradise. Unexpected violence 
and post-war fissures. Leave it 
to those German emigrés to expose 
wounds, commodity fetishism and 
middle-class angst. At the heart 
the heat: innocent home-keeper, 
vulnerable, tarnished. Contrast 
with the hoodlum’s moll. Bought 
and sold, at the bidding of their 
crime-sponging superiors. Home 
can’t be where the heart is, 
blabbing about Freud and child-
rearing. Yawn. No wonder their 
world is blown apart, a case of 
guilt by conventionality. Coffee-
scarred Gloria in post-war hell, 
damaged goods but a ticket out 
of drudgery. Her wound glowing 
nuclear, waiting in the dark for 
daddy to arrive. Sleazy hotel, 
where the big heat clings, quiet 
street props to Hoodlums Inc., 
without whom we would be little 
more than rootless cosmopolitans. 


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