Re: RARA-AVIS: Dark Passage (The film)

From: Stephen Burridge (
Date: 04 Mar 2009

  • Next message: Nathan Cain: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Dark Passage (The film)"

    I haven't read "Dark Passages", but I have seen the film and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The plot relies heavily on coincidence, as you note, but there are lots of well-played characters and the movie is good visually as I recall. There is the odd device of presenting part of the film literally from the main character's point of view, i.e. other characters look at the camera when addressing him, etc. Awkward but we see the scenes and people he's watching. Then he undergoes plastic surgery and eventually Bogart emerges.

    My guess about why it is Goodis's best know book, if it is, would be simply because it was made into a Bogart/Bacall fim.

    I'm currently about three quarters of through "Cassidy's Girl", which is real hardcore noir, imho, quite a ride.


    On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 8:44 AM, Nathan Cain <> wrote:

    > I wish I had gotten to this during Goodis month, but here goes...
    > I think one of the main reasons I've never read much Goodis is because
    > of the film version of Dark Passage. It is not a good film and a large
    > part of the problem is the story, which relies on coincidence so
    > heavily as to go beyond incredible into some realm of its own. Parry
    > escapes from prison, then hitches a ride with a guy who happens to be
    > a small time blackmailer, and then he runs into Irene, who happens to
    > be obsessed with his case. Irene happens to be friends with Madge, the
    > woman whose testimony sent Parry to prison, but apparently Madge
    > doesn't know Irene was at Parry's trial every day and also Parry never
    > managed to meet Irene although they apparently ran in the same social
    > circles. And don't get me started on the fact that Parry gets the one
    > cabby in the city who happens to run a sideline businesss finding
    > customers for a crooked plastic surgeon and the fact that when Parry
    > finally confronts Madge she just happens to fall out a window.
    > Now, every writer of fiction uses conicidence. The key is to use it
    > sparingly and to make it believable, and not to keep heaping it up
    > until it becomes unintentionally funny. My question to the list is,
    > does the movie follow the book closely (i.e,, is the book as
    > ridiculous as the film), and, if so, why is Dark Passage Goodis' best
    > known work? My exposure to him is limited, but surely there are Goodis
    > stories that are a tad less silly. The Wounded and The Slain, which
    > Hard Case reprinted, didn't have any outlandish plotting, and it was
    > more or less forgotten until recently.

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