Re: RARA-AVIS: The Burglar

Mark Sullivan (
Mon, 29 Mar 1999 11:10:12 -0500 (EST) I've probably brought this up before, but am I the only one who thinks
the central scene (when Belmondo kills the cop during a traffic stop) of
Breathless was Godard's homage to Goodis? We know Godard was a big fan
of American crime fiction in general and Goodis in particular.

As for your comments on The Burglar, Mario, the Goodis books I've read
(9 or 10), seem to fall pretty easily into two categories, the books
which just follow a guy on the run and those that are more heavily
plotted. Ironically, it is the plotted ones I have the more trouble
with. I mean, the plot of Dark Passage is absolutely ridiculous. If
Chandler believed you send in a guy with a gun whenever the plot lags,
Goodis believed, when your fugitive has nowhere to go, send in a savior.
I mean, getting into a cab in the middle of the night, just to have the
cabbie say, Hey, I know you, you're that wife-killer. Well, I ever
believed you did it and, not only that, I happen to know a plastic
surgeon who can help you. Give me a break.

I can't believe I continued on with Goodis after that. But I'm glad I
did. The books that are more character-driven, just chronicling a man's
fall can be quite great. My favorite is Street of No Return (which was
made into an absolutely terrible Samuel Fuller film). This is closely
followed by Down There (Shoot the Piano Player), Cassidy's Girl and
Blonde on the Street Corner. Each is the story of a down and out guy
who, for one brief moment, thinks he can regain his former, more
respectable life, usually with a slight, frail girl by his side, only to
later submt to his fate, usually with a very buxom drunk woman.

Burglar was somewhere in betwen. I also like the early part, but
believe it fell apart when they reach the beach town.


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