Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Numbers Game - link & conclusion

The link to the BBC iPlayer is here... and the film ends thus:

Voice Over
Another story in the naked city.
But that’s another movie. Not in verse
Like this, but then it’s cheating when you move
The breath from the line’s end to somewhere else.
So Shakespeare had it. Half the time you can’t
Tell if they’re speaking verse or plain old prose.
I’m off to a movie written by Kit Marlowe,
Now there’s a man could hammer out a line.
He knew the numbers game’s no game of chance.
And now the river’s lapping and the corpse
Lies by some rock, without a wad of money,
And shots ring out somewhere in the distance.
The marble columns die into the darkness.
The stairs descend into sheer melodrama.
Good night Miss Sturridge. Goodnight Mr Lewis.
I’ll go find Jack and Rose down at the movies.

River continues lapping a little longer with fade out music.



So was she fatale? Was it Mike Walker being shot or firing the shots?

It might have been - I am going by memory here - on the shoot of The Blue Dahlia, directed by George Marshall and scripted by Raymond Chandler, that Marshall is supposed to have rung up Chandler to ask him about who had done what as the plot was greatly complicated. Chandler is supposed to have replied: I can't remember, or words to that effect.

Which only goes to show that noir is not about story, nor about plot. The story is generally predictable, the plot generally hideously complex. The complexity is point. What the complexity says to us is that life is insoluble and labyrinthine, that there are sinister forces moving beneath the surface, that it is seductive and morally ambiguous, that nothing is quite what it seems, and that the resolving of it is best done by hunch and endless patrols down the mean streets, and even then it never ends quite straight. In other words the predictable ending is unresolved, except by death.

In other words film noir is symbolic poetry, not naturalistic fiction.

So I feel I have been reasonably faithful to the spirit of it in cutting the 7 minute script where I do. So you don't know whether the briefly tragic-sounding, visionary Nancy is fatale or not? She might be the ingenue? The point is that Mike Taylor's life is sardonic and murky, Nancy's steeped in dream and myth, and Rose and Jack's skirt the action and that they like going to the movies. As do I.

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