RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS The Fallen Sparrow

From: billha@ionet.net
Date: 16 May 2001

On Wed, 16 May dc wrote about the movie The Fallen Sparrow:

> Dorothy B. Hughes and The Fallen Sparrow. I just saw the movie, and was
> disappointed. John Garfield seems to be sleepwalking through the role, even
> when he's doing some "are those footsteps?!! I hear footsteps!!!" number.

Yes, understand the film is not very good. But the film moment dc is focusing on here is, as I remember, a point when the novel can become interesting. As the protagonist investigates the death of his friend, his prison tortures at the hands of one mysterious person with a limp or shuffle in his walk ("Wobblefoot") flash into his mind, creating a psychic paralysis, especially as he becomes aware that he was allowed to escape and that his old tormenter is shadowing him.

There is also a "double" theme, familiar to hard-boiled fiction: the investigator tends to become like the criminal. How far is too far? (In this war time novel, the fascist or Ayrian power type becomes the Other that one might emulate.)

In comparison to her earler work, Hughes starts to modify her treatment of class. Upperclass types, who had practically filled out the whole cast (except for the police, of course) of earlier work, here are less central, more critically treated as almost "soft" fascists, or at least open to power ideologies. (One is reminded of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.) Kit, the protagonist, has "fallen" from any sense of entitlement, as a result of his experiences in Spain, and finds common cause with lower class Italian immigrants. This attentiveness to class/ethnic differences, with some romanticizing of lower class characters, marks Ride the Pink Horse, where the villain is a corrupt politician moving in upperclass circles.

I thought she did an effective job with the NYCityscape in The Fallen Sparrow, too.

Out for about a week. Hope the dialogue on Hughes continues. I'll catch up.

Bill Hagen billha@ionet.net

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 May 2001 EDT