Saturday, September 29, 2018

On Dangerous Ground: Human Desire (1954), I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Human Desire (Fritz Lang, 1954)

Her legs crossed, propped-
up on dressing-table. Eye
moving from slip to slippers. 
Her right arm across stomach, 
left hand resting on left knee. 
Head tilted to the right. Not 
yet thirty: if vulnerable, then 
contemplative. Or vice versa
Perhaps a neon hotel, refuge 
from everything but the camera. 
Lit to highlight the shadows. 
Three profiles, two mirrors
In one an open door, a towel 
on a hook. Next to another door, 
room or hallway. How many 
doors to make room, or an 
exit? How many mirrors to 
reflect the worldHow many 
profiles to glimpse a likeness
And who would enter, if jealous 
husband, roustabout lover or 
predatory boss. She who might 
murder, the desire to be human, 
so human to desire. The tracks 
parallel, meeting, crossing, straight 
out of Europe, the entrance like 
the exit, through the hallway, 
door, shadows, reflection, desire.

I Wake Up Screaming 
(H. Bruce Humberstone, 1941)

Walls, staircases, elevator shafts.
This must surely be why venetian 
blinds were invented. City angles 
dark rooms, claustrophobia, less 
angelic than threatening. Zanuck 
hated Tinseltown critiques, so took
it all to New York, with its nightlife, 
square jaws, hats, and cosmopolitan
homosexual innuendo. Then why
shouldn't a woman be attracted to 
the man who might have killed her 
sister; then that man waking up to 
find some inquisitive cop sitting 
next to his bed. droit de philosophe 
turning into templated shadows, severe 
lighting and a timely portentousness, 
like “What’s the good of living without 
hope?” Answer:  “It can be done.” Then
dogged by fog of intention: “What she 
meant we’ll never know. It’s what she 
said that counts.” Even if no one knows 
or cares what she or anyone says or 
means, be it melodrama or comedy. 
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow," 
reminder: this is a nearly recognizable 
nightmare of geometric wit and deceit.  

No comments: