straight down the line

Reading Noir…

The Shadow “The Death Triangle” was definitely my favorite to read. Once I actually figured out who all the characters were (it’s a lot of names to keep straight) I was right on the edge of my seat the whole story.  The part where they flashback to their time stranded in the ocean was a little hard to follow only because it’s not a visual flashback and they don’t just say “flashback” so you really have to be actively reading. Because I haven’t listened to other episodes of this series, in the beginning I didn’t totally understand the identity of “The Shadow”. The way he was discussed I thought he was villain, but towards the end it turns out he’s actually almost a hero figure. I’m interested to see if the characters like Martan and Dr. Evans continue throughout the series or if every episode is just a completely new encounter of characters with “The Shadow”. This episode, I thought, was actually really intense and the radio aspect was quite intriguing – I’ve never read any radio shows before. The organ playing I think is such an underrated classic noir theme… i’ve noticed it on like three different occasions already. I think it’s because organ music just has this ominous haunted house feel to it. The story seemed, to me, to be very fast paced adding to the urgency of figuring out the mystery – adding to the noir effect.

To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed with “The Killers”. I’ve read other works by Ernest Hemingway so I was pretty excited to read this and it just wasn’t what I expected. I think it just lacked an element of… urgency? mystery? From the beginning, everything is pretty much laid out on the table – there is no intrigue. The only two questions left to be answered in the story are “why did someone have a hit out on Ole” and “are the hitmen successful in their quest”. The first question, is so uninterestingly answered you forget to pay attention. The second question, perhaps the only reason anyone is still reading, (spoiler alert) IS NEVER EVEN ANSWERED! Did they bust into his hotel room and kill him or did they decide to stop pursuing a life of crime?? No one actually knows. Because the real plot of this story is actually centered around the main character Nick (a male hero, very Hemingway-esque) and his confusion as to why these men would senselessly kill a stranger. The ending is very appropriate for the times however, it reminded me a lot of Casablanca, in the way Nick just decides he’s going to get out of this town and make something of his life! It all just seemed very fake and dramatized to me, like a bad Hallmark movie. As far the noir is concerned, as I said earlier, despite the setting and the content (gangsters/mobs/hitmen/crime/chaos) there was no sense of urgency or mystery. Again, it felt more like a story about Nick’s self discovery than a murder mystery.

I’m starting to notice a diner theme in noir… but then again when most of this was written no one would convene to discuss a heist in an Applebees. Anyway, I actually loved the Postman Always Rings Twice. We’re studying noir in my cinema studies class as well so I’d love to watch both adaptations of the novel and compare them. I also kind of want to read the long version because I feel like this express version may have left out a lot of character development. I obviously don’t know what was left out but it just felt like a very rushed explanation of complex characters… anyone willing to murder their husband deserves a long explanation. It took me a while to figure out the title… so obviously I googled it and read a few different theories but I would like to believe it has something to do with karma and the “ringing twice” referring to the irony of killing someone in a car accident then yourself dying in a car accident. This story, similar to “The Death Triangle” but very unlike “The Killers” had that sense of urgency and mystery. I’m also noticing trust is a huge element of noir. Writers never give the reader or audience enough trust as to where they feel comfortable – it’s almost like a method for keeping people on the edge of their seat. I didn’t trust Frank or Cora not to turn on one another where as in “The Killers” I pretty much trusted the hitmen were out to kill someone and Nick would try to stop it. Even in “The Death Triangle” I didn’t trust Dubrille or Martan for a second and even though I knew Corvet was a bad guy… it was too obvious for him to be the actual villain.

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