Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Film Noir at Bedtime

Admission:  I am a voracious reader.  While everyone else in English class was always complaining about how many pages of reading were required homework, I had to hold myself back and not keep reading for fear that I would blurt something out during class that should not have been part of the discussion.

And I have not been to my local library in far too long.

Which means that my nightly reading is limited to what is on my bookshelf.  (I refuse to read books on an electronic device.  I cannot help but wonder what is going to happen to everyone’s eyes after constantly staring at screens for a lifetime?)

The most recent novel that caught my eye was Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

It is amusing to read books from high school – some of the underlining makes sense, and other phrases seem an odd choice.

“But I kept thinking about Phyllis Dietrichson - and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg.”  Walter Neff, Double Indemnity  

I forgot just how descriptive the writing is.

The stock characters of the femme fatale . . .

“She wore two shades of blue that had been selected because of her eyes.  The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly red, her full lips more brightly red.  White teeth glistened in the crescent her timid smile made.”

“Miss Wonderly, in a belted green crepe silk dress, opened the door of apartment 1001 at the Coronet.  Her face was flushed.  Her dark red hair, parted on the left side, swept back in loose waves over her right temple, was somewhat tousled.”

“She had put on a satin gown of the blue shade called Artoise that season, with chalcedony shoulder-straps, and her stockings and slippers were Artoise.”

the trusted side-kick . . .
“She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuff clung to her with an effect oft dampness.  Her eyes were brown and playful in a shiny boyish face.”

and the rather hysterical dialog is beyond wonderful!

“ ‘I haven't lived a good life, ‘ she cried.  ‘I've been bad - worse than you could know.’” 

And while I certainly do not want to be anywhere near a gun or knife, not to mention all of that cigarette smoke, boy oh boy, those ladies really knew how to dress!

[Click on image for source]


  1. Hammett, Earle Stanley Gardiner, Megan Abbott, Cain, Chandler.....the best!!

  2. You are soooo right about their knowing how to dress. A certain degree of elegance was normal everywhere, is the impression I get - just as normal as a degree of scruffiness is nowadays, I suppose. But I know what I prefer to see...
    Thanks for refreshing the eye and mind again!

  3. I know just what you mean about always delighting in the books that you had to read for school, I was exactly the same way, just as I positively lived at the local library when I was growing up, too (which, at the time, had a 30 title limit that you could take out at the same time and I almost always had 30 books out; it almost amazes me when I look back just how many titles I found the time to read as a youngster). I still do a lot of reading (of real books - totally with you about preferring paper to a flat little computer screen for reading books), but doubt I'll ever match the level I did back in those days again (what with all the demands of adult life taking up so much of one's time!).

    ♥ Jessica

  4. Chalcedony shoulder straps and Artoise slippers. Sigh. I wouldn't mind participating in a few nefarious schemes if I had a wardrobe like that.

    Glad to hear that a youngster like you is resistant to the e-book rage. I thought I was being an old fogey, but I have yet to understand what the advantage is. E-versions are no cheaper than regular books. The reader doesn't weigh less than a book. Why exactly do I want it?

  5. I'm reading The Maltese Falcoln now. I've seen the movie but now really enjoying the short story.