RE: RARA-AVIS: Phantom Lady / Bride [was: Woolrich recommendations? ]

From: Christina Paul (
Date: 21 Feb 2008

[Note: I've included one line in this post that might be considered a Bride-Wore-Black "spoiler."]
>Killings, revenge, these are>staples of the genre. What you do with them is what>separates the good writers from the hacks.
  William: I agree. It just seems to me that what's distinctive about Woolrich is rarely found in, or enhanced by, his endings. His genius seems to lie in his construction of atmosphere and character--especially his portrayals of the isolated, the terrorized, the wronged. Julie (of Bride) is a killer, but she's also one of Woolrich's "hunted" protagonists. She seems compelled into her mission of revenge. Same for the protagonist in Rendezvous. The ending of Rendezvous I find to be consistent with the preceding chapters. The ending of Bride, however, seems (to me) almost like a tacked-on Production Code ending: the criminal will be humbled, and punished, and punished some moreā€¦
  But I admit that I've not yet really thought through my ideas about Woolrich's endings. Often (not always), I just get the sense that Woolrich's heart wasn't in them. Take the end of The Black Curtain, for example. It resolves nothing, but this irresolution doesn't seem deliberate or crafted. It's almost as though Woolrich has written the parts of the story that most excite him, and now he's trying to wrap things up.
  Some of Woolrich's endings are brilliant. But what's great about Woolrich is that the work holds up either way.
  I enjoyed your post on Woolrich very much, I'm just not sure I agree with this one line: "It's whatthe bride learns that makes the story what it is." I'm rereading Bride this week and will think about this. Maybe I'll be back in a couple of days to eat humble pie...

--- Christina Paul <> wrote:> I finally did get my hands on a (VHS) copy of> Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black. Generally I find> myself frustrated with film adaptations of novels> (characters, for example, often seem to lose their> layers and become less interesting), but I loved> Truffaut's ending. > Really? To me, Truffaut once again reduced noir toslapstick as he did with Shoot The Piano Player. It'snot the revenge that makes The Bride Wore Black noirbut the Woolrich ending. Killings, revenge, these arestaples of the genre. What you do with them is whatseparates the good writers from the hacks. It's whatthe bride learns that makes the story what it is andnot a separate and added vignette that misses thepoint. Having just seen The Leopard Man and having NoMan of Her Own, Night Has 1000 Eyes and Phantom Lady,I don't think there is a good film translation of anyWoolrich and I don't think there ever will be. And I'mbeginning to understand that that is part and parcelof why I like the guy's writing so much. As withWilliam Burroughs -- for different reasons -- it's notreally the story but all those things that happenaround it and all those things occur in your head andnot your eyes.WilliamEssays and Ramblings<>

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 22 Feb 2008 EST