RARA-AVIS: Re: Crazy About the Bird

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 26 May 2008

> The belief that there is a "dingus"
> handed down from the Knights of Malta, encrusted in
> jewels covered with lacquer, is fanciful. Killing
> people to get hold of it, is psychotic.

Fanciful? It is a work of fiction, after all.

And it is never suggested in the novel or the films that the real statuette doesn't exist in the FICTIONAL world that they depict. Merely that the bird in hand at the end of the story is a fake, which gives the ending a rather noirish poignancy.

It's certainly an original interpretation, I'll grant you that, but it is never suggested in or supported by the text (or more likely the screenplays) that these people are delusional; unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Misled, murderous, treacherous, greedy, obsessed? Yes. But not nuts.
(I think that's the clinical term)

So the characters (Brigid, Thursby, Gutman, the sea captain, etc., etc., etc. -- even Spade himself, who at first suspects Brigid has somehow switched birds) believing in the bird's existence is not a sign of any "psychosis."

We now return to regularly scheduled programming, where we learn that Philip Marlowe was also psychotic, because no Sternwood family ever lived at that actual Los Angeles address. You could check old phonebooks or voter registration rolls.


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