Monday, January 10, 2022

On Dangerous Ground: Woman On the Run (Norman Foster, 1950), "One More Thing" (Apologies to Columbo).

Woman On the Run (Norman Foster, 1950)

Who finds Playland sinister necessarily gumshoes 

fate, not unlike Pinocchio ogling the Fat Lady before 

dodging phallic double-parkers, bumper stickers 

decrying the benefits of spousal abuse. Payback hot 

wire exhaust fumes stodgily mashing suburban mush. 

They said it was over even before it was over, the song 

celebrating insinuation, or, better yet, the benefits of

capitalist degeneration. Those westward petit-bourgeois 

wankers, ensconced in ocean-side condominiums, 

wallowing in cryptic crossword clues and anxious 

evenings of cathode narcolepsy. Gawked while stuffing 

coupons into letterbox conspiracies. Others say only 

movies make it real, concentrating the mind on guilt 

rather than gelt. Leaving idle hands and loose ends to 

track some alienated dog walker, thrust into the numinous 

night. Witnessing shock and awe gangland murder not 

far from where Kid Schlemiel once shared a joint with 

Janis Joplin, who, for all I know, was in fact Daffy Duck 

in disguise. Or is that stating the obvious? One person's 

truth being another's collective amnesia. But, yes, the man 

on the leash, marriage on the rocks, would have been 

better off  had he allowed his mutt to simply crap on 

the carpet. Yet any deliberation over whose tail is wagging 

what dog can only be speculative. That mask of civility 

frozen at the seams, Mrs Dog Walker totes the medicine 

that might alleviate her husband's frozen heart. But loyalty 

only goes so far; it's not that she wants him dead, just out 

of the way. Even if the guy she confides in is not now, 

nor ever has been, a confirmed newshound. Still, he speaks 

in complete sentences and treats her as if she just might 

actually qualify as human. But tattoo this: never fully 

trust a man in a film, circa 1950, who purports to take 

a woman seriously. As for Foster, his bona fides are 

themselves slightly suspicious, from the Mercury Players 

to Mr Moto and Charlie Chan. Schlepped his puny budget 

from L.A. to San Francisco to hoover the city's crevices. 

Call it psycho-geography, but only if emphasising the prefix 

of that neologism. As if the gaffer might have been stealing 

glances at Schlemiel's tear-stained Baedeker, to give him

license to prowl the city like a wounded coyote woofing 

and warping at every pit stop. Either smart before its time 

or retrograde after the fact, its laws and stipulations bleed 

the Avenues to the zoo and ocean. Holy smokey eyes, 

what politics of inevitability do not decry le bon temps 

roulet remain forever contradictory, insisting the plot 

is not the story, the narrative barely the end of the matter.

"One More Thing "

Adjectives like floating insects in a Hollywood swimming pool. 

So 1950s, larger than life, inflated by superlatives. Magnified to

billboard proportions. Though these days big would be biggest. 

Leading to the inevitable, if ambiguous: The Biggest Sleep: perhaps 

a euphemism for the most boring movie ever, or could it be a pill 

to get you through a troubled night? The Biggest Clock, a travelogue, 

or a typo in a porno ad? The Biggest Combo, a burger place on 

the Strip or the world’s largest aggregation of musicians. Back then 

big really did mean something. Like, before the first feature, a Big 

Boy to forget the Big One, before the final shrug, as in big fucking 

deal. Nodding out in sky scraping impeccable nonchalance. Framed 

by cigar-choking expressionist emigrĂ©s, their motto: I shot therefore 

I was. Time leading to paranoia, perversion to crime, and sleep, 

not orgasm, the little death. That coffee thrown in Gloria’s face a 

reality only when she clocks herself in the mirror. A woman with 

a scar, sister under the mink, more dangerous than a gun or an 

explosion. The mark so deep it becomes irredeemable. Which helps 

explain why it's always night in high-contrast simulacra. Why in 

the land of the minuscule, a less than average shyster can so easily 

become king. That is, if size matters, if modifiers have more import 

than that which they modify: Clock, Combo, Heat, Sleep, Steal, 

Night, Knife, Goodbye. This one goes out to who would remain 

anonymous, their ships lost at sea.  Continents long since absent, 

as insomniacs out of the past darkly. Falling adjectives like confetti  

between more frames per second than reality can ever hope to count.  


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