Friday, December 04, 2020

On Dangerous Ground: This Gun For Hire (1942), Touch of Evil (1958)

This Gun For Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942)

A lone hitman, ever more. Though scarred,
Raven is at least kind to animals. As our
better angels before their wings were
clipped and the tabloids discredited
absence. A crippled remnant of an old-
school country song witnesses one of
his transgressions. Rise up, shorty, you 
have nothing to lose but your fedora. 
Window-licking alien visiting a diseased 
planet. Like the last purveyor of commodity 
fetishism, lost in an abstract chiraroscuro, 
whose oblique angles stain the walls. 
To watch is to be esconsed in an old Etonian
nightmare. Is this what war and modernity
have wrought? Rave on, you catalogue of
fear and looping, offered to the highest
bidder. Naturally, the pettiest of criminals 
will hand over marked bills, then report
them stolen. What a scam! Caught in a
drift of historical artifacts. She asks him,
why not do the decent thing and kill for 
peace? What a guy. What a fool am I. 
Better stick to that song, tweaked by a
Tinseltown leftist. Life imitating art 
or vice versa, like Standard Oil greasing
the gears of I.G. Farben. Wings clipped,
Raven's heart, dry, a leaf droning in the
wind. A wire beyond the last proletarian
chimney, where smoke will obscure
each and every object of desire.

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

Tracking the time it takes to boil an egg, 
as chorography melts into crackerjack 
philosophy. Fortune-telling soon turns 
into a cottage industry wherein only fat 
cops and the shadow know. Deliciously 
spent, alienated labour, surplus capital, 
and a soupcon of false consciousness. 
The sum of which I sleep therefore 
I am. And so say more with less, then
less with less. Because stylisation will
betray the territory as well as the map.
It's the image, stupid! Everyone trying
not to be hookwinked. That he was some 
kind of man. As opposed to what? may
I ask. Ad absurdum made flesh, stored 
in some bumpkin's menagerie. All power 
to the echo chamber! Straddling borders 
superating north and south, here and there, 
law and order, motels and flea pits, Rocky
and Bullwinkle, Santa Monica and Venice. 
Charlton, not yet an NRA shill, mis-cast. 
Unlike,"Shakespearean loony" Weaver. 
Or sleazy Akim, strangled, a lamb's tongue 
stuck in his craw.  Marlene second only to 
Mercedes, ambiguous motorcycle madonna 
gypsy queen, threatening hubby's wife 
with a dubiously accented "mary jane." 
Hey, guapa, how about throwing a little 
smoke my way! Or am I already high? 
Enough to know Orson wanted Tijuana 
but settled for mongoose oil wells, trash-
filled canals and a cliché-trodden boardwalk. 
Boasting he could make shinola from shit. 
Not an uncommon tendency in that line 
of work. At least the rough cut was delivered 
on time, his future not yet used up, that is 
until the assholes demanded he re-edit and 
re-shootReleased as a B-movie, supporting 
Hedy's Female Animal. Poor Orson. Nearly 
300 pounds of topographical genius,
the padding and corruption oozing from
every pore. A sign of the times emblazoned 
on celluloid wings: now and forever, a lean 
on his body and a mortgage on his soul.    

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