Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On Dangerous Ground: In a Lonely Place (Ray, 1950), The Killers (Siodmak, 1946)

In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

A shattered world, future so bleak 
it’s hardly worth the effort. If not for 
a post-war temper, lashing out, hairpin-
turns at ninety psychopaths an hour, 
losing a woman so beautiful she could 
pawn your breath, and schlep the ticket
from L.A. to Tijuana and back again. 
But asking that hat-check girl home to 
turn a hack screenplay into something 
saleable? So fucking cynical, yet so 
human. As if those cloying lines- “I was 
born when you kissed me. I died when 
you left me...", blah, blah, blah- were 
nothing more than an excuse. In the end, 
you couldn't even look at each other, 
so profound the betrayal. Though, in 
this version, you weren't guilty, or at 
least I don't think you were. But the 
other crimes. Much closer to the edge, 
everything played out, depicting this 
world we have so clearly inherited.  

The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

Night time the proverbial 
for irritable hoodlums, 
terrorising night-shift small-
town diners. Laconically 
seeking jack-of-all boxer, 
small-time criminal, gas
station pump-man. Twenty
minutes and Hemingway is
conveniently thrashed. With
a thin line separating history
from back-story. Think Citizen 
Kane for pulp-heads, albeit  
with a jones for fractured 
narratives. A frozen demeanour, 
ever the plight of insurance 
investigators, Swede's passivity 
and hat-factory heist despair. 
O'Brien, untarnished enough 
to ask lascivious Ava if she
would take to his hotel room
stands at attention, like he's
recovering from severe case 
of erectile dysfunction. Not 
condition Swede recognises.  
“She’s beautiful,” he says, 
droolinglike Bugs Bunny on 
steroids, down Ava's cleavage
leaving his girl-friend on the 
sidelines searching for a different 
angle, while only the musicians  
stand capable of calculating so
slippery a hypotenuse. But whose 
dream is this? Movies-within-
movies, planetary jail-house spiel, 
death bed supplication, a stair-
case littered with Ava’s victims. 
All to prevent premiums rising 
a tenth of percent. And what 
about the pay-out? Times Square 
humanity, five-and-ten jewellery, 
more than anyone can imagine.


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