RARA-AVIS: RE: Earl Emerson and Robert Towne

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@home.com)
Date: 18 Aug 2001

The two titles mentioned by Earl Emerson are from the P.I. Thomas Black/Seattle series. The entries through Deviant Behavior are a shade better than those that come after, though all of the Black books are definitely worth reading, including Catfish Café ˇhich I think was his most recent. Sharply written, great dialogue and some very powerful stories. His opening sentences are among the best. Here's the beginning of Fat Tuesday: "I was trapped in a house with a lawyer, a bare-breasted woman and a dead man. The rattlesnake in the paper sack only complicated matters." Who among us could put the book back on the shelf after that.

Nice to see all the chat about Robert Towne's work (though the less said about Mission Imp 2, the better). There's a scene in The Two Jakes that I've been curious about. And it's a SPOILER so move on by if you must.

---------------------------------------SPOILER ALERT

In Chinatown, Nicholson looks into Dunaway's eyes and says something about there being a little black speck in the iris. In Jakes, he looks into Meg Tilly's eyes in an almost identical setup, and, if you remember the first movie, you wait for him to make the connection. But he doesn't. He goes off on some other tack entirely, leading one to think that the similarity of scenes is an unplanned coincidence. Here's my question. Is it a coincidence? Or did Robert Towne write the scene with the idea of using the eye thing as a clue only to have Nicholson the director misinterpret its significance and throw it away?

Dick Lochte

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