Friday, January 19, 2007

Magic Bullet

Sometimes you come upon an idea that strikes you as utterly right, even as it flies in the face of logic or time. Here’s cultural critic Greil Marcus, interviewed in Time Out New York about his new book, The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice:

The writer David Thomson was talking to a class I was teaching, and he said, “I know exactly when film noir began--in a Dallas police station, when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald.” We’re all thinking, What are you talking about? Film noir goes back to the early ’40s! But he said that that moment was when everything film noir prophesied exploded into real life. Its depiction of a world out of control--where we will never know who’s actually running the show--became a true dimension of American life.

That’s one theory I can’t get out of my head.


Juri said...

And it's also the time when film noir finally collapsed, after some late bursts, such as STARK FEAR from 1961. The same had also happened with books - Dorothy Hughes's last novel, THE EXPENDABLE, from 1963, could very well be the last vintage noir novel.

Great theory, that one. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Except two world wars and the intervening depression kinda made it clear to everyone that Larger Forces, whether historical, economic, sociological, religious or some combination, had pretty much made it clear that No One was in complete control of human affairs, if anyone hadn't already noticed this in the previous generation's suffering at the hands of natural forces.

Part of the reason noir was such a popular mode, well before it was named, and literary naturalism before it.

But, then, I've never thought much of Marcus's thought, borrowed or otherwise.