RARA-AVIS: Historicals

From: stephen holden ( sjholden@hotmail.com)
Date: 04 Feb 2000

I think many hardboiled writers fall into the trap, when writing historical fiction, of feeling they have to pepper their prose with brand names or contemorary objects to convey historical authenticity. The same thing happens in films, especially British films, set in the 1920s or 1930s where every character spends most of their time adjusting their fedora or lighting their filterless Woodbine with a Zippo or talking on a bakelite 'phone or winding their gramophone. And the newspaper reviews then talk about a
'lovingly recreated period atmosphere.' It's as if the props department was the most important contributor to the film. Most good 1920s or 1930s hardboiled films ('Chinatown', 'Mulholland Falls', 'Devil in a Blue Dress') don't overload the scenery with props.

-Stephen Holden-
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