Last October I watched but never wrote about Norman Foster's Woman on the Run (1950), a famously near-lost noir painstakingly restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Film Noir Foundation and released last year onto home media as a double bill with Byron Haskin's Too Late for Tears (1949). Part of the delay is that I liked but did not love the former film as I did the latter with its stone cold antiheroine and uncompromising final shot; this one suffers more from the congealing sexism of the nascent Fifties and as a result its emotional resolution leaves a tacky taste on my teeth and an inchoate longing for the advent of no-fault divorce. If you can bear with its limitations, however, Woman on the Run is worth checking out as a thoughtfully layered mystery and a fantastic showcase for Ann Sheridan as an unapologetically bitchy, unsentimentally sympathetic protagonist, a rare combination in Hollywood even now.
The 1948 source short story by Sylvia Tate was titled "Man on the Run" and the film begins with one: late-night dog-walker Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott) who takes a powder on learning that the murder he conscientiously reported—and witnessed at close enough range to know the killer again—was connected to a high-profile mob trial. A failed artist with a bad heart and a marriage that's been on the rocks almost since it launched, he looks tailor-made for the dark city, a loser coming up on his final throw. The camera doesn't follow him into the night-maze of San Francisco, though, to face or keep running from his demons in the kind of psychomachia at which an expressionist genre like noir so excels; instead the point of view switches almost at once to his estranged wife Eleanor (Sheridan), wearily deflecting the inquiries of the hard-nosed Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith, who will always look like Lieutenant Brannigan to me) with flat sarcastic cracks and an indifference so apparently genuine and total, it can take the audience a beat to recognize the depths of anger and resignation that underlie lines like "No, sometimes he goes to sleep and I walk the dog." Ever since Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), I have been wary of assuming the limits of women in noir, but Eleanor still stands out for me in her flippant, abrasive intelligence and her willingness to look bad—she knows it shocks the conservative inspector that she isn't all housewifely concern for her man and she needles him with it, referring to the dog as their "only mutual friend" and dismissing the bare kitchen with "He's not particular and I'm lazy, so we eat out." Faced with the possibility that Frank has taken his brush with the underworld as an excuse to run out on his marriage, she's more than half inclined to let him. But she's not inclined to let him get killed, especially not playing star witness for a police force whose last star witness got whacked while Frank was watching, and so in the best traditions of amateur detecting, complete with dubious Watson in the form of "Legget of the Graphic" (Dennis O'Keefe), the flirty tabloid reporter who offered his services plus a thousand-dollar sweetener in exchange for exclusive rights to Frank's story, Eleanor sets out to find her missing husband before either the killer or a duty-bound Ferris can. He's left her a clue to his whereabouts, a cryptic note promising to wait for her "in a place like the one where I first lost you." In a relationship full of quarrels and frustrations, that could be anywhere, from their favorite Chinese hangout to the wharves of his "social protest period" to the tower viewers at the top of Telegraph Hill. Let the investigations begin.
I like this setup, which gives us the city as memory palace after all: Eleanor's memories of her relationship with Frank, what it was like when it was good and where it failed and how it might be reclaimed again, if she can only find him alive. She is almost being asked to perform a spell. And while I suppose she could have done it on the sympathetic magic of a Hollywood backlot, it is much more satisfying to watch her revisit real statues and sidewalks, real crowds unaware of the private earthquake taking place in their midst. Hal Mohr's cinematography is a street-level document of San Francisco in 1950, with a cameo by our old friend Bunker Hill; he can organize shadows and angles as effectively as the next Oscar-winning DP when he needs to, but he keeps the majority of the action on the daylit side of noir, the lived-in, working-class city with Navy stores and department stores and parks and piers and diners and lots of California sun, which only looks like it shows you everything. The literal roller-coaster climax was filmed at Ocean Park Pier/Pacific Ocean Park, last seen on this blog in Curtis Harrington's Night Tide (1960). Back at the Johnsons' bleak, hotel-like apartment, Eleanor mocked Ferris for "snoop[ing] into the remains of our marriage," but increasingly it seems not to be as cold a case as she thought. Going back over old ground, she discovers new angles on her missing person; nondescript in his introductory scenes and ghostly in his own life, Frank Johnson becomes vivid in absence, hovering over the narrative like Harry Lime in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) or the title character of Otto Preminger's Laura (1944) until his wife begins to see a curiously attractive stranger in the place of a man whose familiarity had long since bred hopelessness. To fall in love with someone who might already be dead, to find someone in the process of losing them, these are the kinds of irony that noir thrives on and Woman on the Run derives as much tension from the audience's fear that irony will carry the day as it does from the actual unknowns of the plot, the killer's identity, Frank's status, Eleanor's own safety as her sleuthing calls for ever more active deception of the police and reliance on Legget, who keeps saying things like "I'm sorry I was so rude a moment ago, but it's always discouraging to hear a wife say that her husband loves her." He is another unexpected element, not without precedent but nicely handled. In most genres, his pushy charm and his genial stalking of Eleanor would mark him as the romantic hero, or at least an appealing alternative to a husband so avoidant he couldn't even tell his own wife when he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Here, with a triangle already established between Eleanor and the husband she knows and the husband she doesn't, the reporter is a fourth wheel at best and the audience hopes he accepts it. Without a reciprocating spark, it's not as cute as he thinks when he encourages Eleanor to call him "Danny Boy" ("People who like me call me Danny Boy") or leads her casually under the same wooden coaster where he used to bring dates, his contribution perhaps to the film's romantic psychogeography.
Honestly, I don't even dislike the resolution on the strict level of plot. By the time Eleanor realizes that the place where I first lost you isn't a bitter dig at a bad memory but a hopeful allusion to a good one, the audience is sufficiently invested in the reunion of these long-fractured lovers—despite the fact that we've never once seen them together, even in photographs or Frank's sketches and paintings—that to frustrate it would feel deliberately unfair, although of course in noir that never rules anything out. They're both taking chances, not just with their lives but their hearts. Frank who always runs away is standing his ground, risking being found by a gunman and a partner he's disappointed. Eleanor who has built such prickly defenses is lowering them, making herself reach out rather than preemptively rebuff. You want to see that kind of bravery rewarded, even when heart conditions and prowling killers aren't involved. What I dislike in the extreme is the film's attitude toward this conclusion. In its examination of the Johnsons' marriage, the facts of the script assign plenty of blame to Frank, an artist too scared of failure to try for success, a husband who retreated from his wife as soon as he felt that he'd let her down, a man who could talk about his feelings to everyone but the woman he was living with. The dialogue, however, insists repeatedly that the ultimate success or collapse of a marriage is the woman's responsibility—that it must be Eleanor's fault that her marriage went south, that she wasn't patient or understanding or supportive enough, that she has to be the one to change. It's implied in some of her encounters; in others it's stated outright. Inspector Ferris constantly judges her as a wife and a woman, even once asking "Didn't your husband ever beat you?" when she tells him to back off. He's the dry voice of authority, the hard-boiled but honest cop; I want to believe that Eleanor is decoying him when she apologizes for not believing his criticism sooner ("I guess I was the one who was mixed up—a lot of it's my fault anyway—I haven't been much of a wife"), but I fear we're meant to take her at face value. He's too active in the film's ending not to be right. Hence my wistful feelings toward California's Family Law Act of 1969. Sheridan's acting carries her change of heart from resolutely not caring to a clear-eyed second chance, but I almost wish it didn't have to. At least she has a good rejoinder when Frank queries their future together, wry as any of her defensive cracks: "If this excitement hasn't killed you, I'm sure I can't."
The movies with which Woman on the Run links itself up in my head are Robert Siodmak's Phantom Lady (1944) and Roy William Neill's Black Angel (1946), both stories of investigating women with ambiguous allies and ghostly romantic patterns; Sheridan's Eleanor is a harder, less conventionally likeable protagonist than either Ella Raines' Kansas or June Vincent's Cathy, which may account for why the patriarchy comes down on her with such personified, decisive disapproval, or it may be the distance from wartime, or it may be some other idiosyncratic factor that still annoys me. The fact that I can read the ending as happy rather than rubber-stamped heteronormativity is due almost entirely to Sheridan, who never loses all of Eleanor's edges any more than she slips out of her angular plaid overcoat into something more comfortable, plus the final cutaway to the Laughing Sal on the lit-up midway, rocking back and forth as if a husband and wife embracing is some great joke. Maybe it is. What makes this couple, so fervently clinging to one another, so special? He writes a nice love-note. She climbs out a skylight like nobody's business. They named their dog Rembrandt. This reunion brought you by my particular backers at Patreon.
There are theories at the office about how much longer this stint of Casual Job will go, but what have we learned about attempting to make predictions? We'll see how it plays out.
scruloose and I have now made it as far as episode 3 of Star Trek: Disco, and we're also up to date on The Good Place. Given my work schedule(s), I'm counting it as a partial win. I really want to start in on The Gifted, though.
I haven't watched any of the anime for The Ancient Magus' Bride (either the OAV or the recently-started TV series), but in the last several days I've seen it mentioned quite a few times here and on Twitter, and that delights me. The manga series is fantastic--definitely one of my current favorites of the things I'm working on. (The other being Yona of the Dawn.) In theory I really want to watch the TV series, but realistically, I said that about the My Love Story!! anime too, and like so much other media I ~really want~ to consume, it keeps not happening.
For the longest time it felt like there weren't anime versions of any manga titles I've worked on, but it's never quite been true. I mean, Sgt. Frog had a (pretty long-running!) series and movies and all, although I gather the plots rarely adhered closely to the manga (and with that series, there's no need for them to, really); also, DN Angel got animated in some capacity (TV series?), but as I only actually worked on the final two volumes that Tokyopop released (vol. 12 and 13, I think?), it never sank in and felt like "my" series. And X has been animated twice, but I actively loathe the movie and am deeply grumpy about the TV series...
...and then there're the newer things that I keep wanting to see, but not finding time for: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, My Love Story!!, Yona of the Dawn, and now Magus are all out there. (Okay, no--I did see an episode or two of My Love Story!!, and that was wonderful.) (I feel like I might even be missing one. And now I suddenly really want someone to animate Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer.)
Will I ever make it as far as checking those shows out for real? No idea. (I even have an ongoing Crunchyroll subscription, but I don't exactly make use of it. [Terrifying media-to-consume list, etc. etc etc.])
Last night was my fourth aerial silks class, so we're halfway through. ( It wasn't *bad*, but I also don't feel like I managed to do a whole lot )
scruloose and I are so utterly out of the gardening habit at this point. We don't have anything planted specifically for autumn, and we gave the tomato plants up for lost a couple weeks ago when I kept hearing that there was an overnight frost warning and last-ditch tomato harvesting should happen. So we did that, but since then I've been seeing local photos and stuff from gardeners carrying right along with harvesting their tomatoes etc. Next autumn we won't be so quick to say, "Oh, I guess we're done now."
A lot of the tomatoes we brought in at the abandoning-them point were still very green, but those all seem to have ripened up nicely. There's just one left now; scruloose has been working his way through them. The plants did produce some more fruit, but scruloose's experiment in eating one of those post-final-harvest tomatoes wasn't tasty, for whatever reason.
As a result of wandering off from dealing with the tomato plants, I should admit we've also completely slacked on dealing with the flowers. >.< Which isn't so bad for the potted annuals, because they have an expiry date, but we really need to double check what to do about the perennial bed and the potted raspberry shrub.
And whatever else happens, those bulbs need to get planted. *determined*
Still, at 4am yesterday morning I was being bright and cheerful and very prepared. Sign In sheets, printed copies of the crew list ect. We installed a small show in the Palace Hotel, operated it, then took it down and stuffed it back in the truck by 1:15 pm. The nice things about this 10 hour work day were the hourly rate which was almost $10 above our normal rate (special contract for companies who refuse to sign a long term contract with us) AND the fact that it was all at double time. The Union contract says that anytime we are forced to go to work before 6am (or after 12 midnight) that the employer has to pay us double time until we get a 9 hour break. In this case the company didn't want to pay for an extra day for the hotel ballroom for our setup, and the event started at 7am.
Had a nice day with Donald today.
Warning: This poem contains some intense material. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes anxiety, forboding, fear of communication, many references to Shiv's awful past, because the inside of Shiv's head is always a warning, feeling trapped, boundary issues, impaired consent, talking about scars, extreme body modesty, touch aversion, references to past malpractice in mental care, touching which is unwanted but permitted, graphic description of past abuse, poor self-assessment skills regarding physical and mental complaints, defensive lying which has become a reflex to the point that Shiv often can't tell the truth even when it would benefit him more than a lie, vulgar language, resistance to help, minor violence (not directed at a person), emotional flashbacks, overload, desperation, scary basement memories, and other challenges. This poem may be extra-stressful for people with a history of therapeutic abuse, toilet abuse, and/or child molestation. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
( Read more... )
Pairing/Characters: Jenny Flint/Madame Vastra, Strax, Sam Swift, Ashildr | Lady Me
Contains: implied sexual content
Summary: From the journal of Jenny Flint, 1895. In which an old foe of Madame Vastra's reappears to attempt to steal a valuable gem. Or is the gem really a gem?
Title: Anything For a Friend
Pairing/Characters: Missy/River Song
Contains: implied sexual content
Summary: Two psychopaths fell in love and got married. One of them saved the other's life. But they wouldn't say it's love--well, at least Missy wouldn't, anyway.
Pi Cat literally is on a heavy rotation schedule from becoming lightly dampened on her all-weather pillow outside and being inside where there is always the potential for kitty treats if she's lucky. She peers at us through the sidelight on the front door (aka "the catwindow") and goggles in the bevel so it looks kind of crazy, signaling she'd like the door opened pretty much every time she catches anyone's eyes.
Time to get out "the cat towel" - an old towel that serves to mop wet paws and dry off a wet kitty when she comes in during the rainy months.
The one advantage of having an interviewer stand me up, as I remarked even at the time, was that the employment agency that had set this up now owed me one.
This is probably at least PART of why I then got a DIFFERENT temp. job without having to do an interview for it.*
Anyway, it's basically filing. This company out in Waltham switched to electronic record-keeping for most purposes a couple of years ago, but they still do some paper filing; more to the point, they have umphteen years worth of paper records, and they need to figure out what to do with 'em. Part of the answer is that they employ some sort of off-site document storage firm; but the files still have to be packed up and sent off, and they now want to (a) inventory them, and (b) group them by expiration date, so that when the time comes to have 'em shredded, they can just have their storage people throw out the whole box, rather than pull individual files. Since everyone there is busy already, and since I guess one or two people are on medical leave or something, this is now my job. It's unexciting, but at worst will look decent on my résumé when I'm applying for future office-type stuff.
Plus there's free coffee. And the people are friendly and chill.
As such, the big question** is How long is this going to last? This is a mystery for two reasons:
1) As I said, I've mostly been hired to deal with a filing project. Thing is, I'm still not entirely sure of the scope of the project; and the last time I got hired to do filing, I finished it in about half the time expected, and then basically twiddled my thumbs while my superiors hunted frantically for something for me to do. There's been vague talk about maybe having me do other stuff after that, but it's been just that: vague. This is partly because
2) I've barely seen my notional supervisor. I started on Thursday,*** which unfortunately ALSO turned out to be the day she was going to be in a three-hour meeting that had been several years in the planning; and then she was playing catchup the rest of the day, and then wasn't in at all on Friday. So I guess I'll try to figure this stuff up at some point in the course of next week. Because as things stand, I don't know whether this gig is going to end next Friday, or next year.
* Have I mentioned I hate job interviews? Only about a hundred times, I guess.
** Well, in addition to "Can I manage NOT to throw out my back lugging around and/or bent over boxes of files?"
*** Despite my concern that I might need to start the job the day I got the offer, I was actually supposed to start on Wednesday. However, I also had to take my car in to the shop on Wednesday, especially if I was then going to haul myself out to Waltham. And I could have just arranged to start half an hour late (dropped the car off, and then caught a train to work), except that I would then have needed to repeat this performance on Thursday (to pick it back up), and I figured that it would be less disruptive to just start a day late--if they were ok with that, which fortunately they were. Plus I had a couple of other appointments scheduled for Wednesday.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 13
When a woman places her child up for adoption rather than raising the child herself, how is that predominantly viewed in your culture (not necessarily by you)?
Good! This is an excellent thing to do if she felt unable to raise the child herself.
Neutral, neither good nor bad.
Bad. She should have raised the child.
Adoption is extremely rare or nonexistent in my culture.
Other, which I may choose to elaborate on in the comments.
Anyway, in the fourth episode of S1, ( mild spoilers )
- Eat lunch. Self-explanatory.
- (Hand)wash my summerweight wool dresses and put them away. The putting them away part might actually happen tomorrow, since it takes a while to dry them.
- Run a load of laundry that includes my jeans so that I have the option of wearing jeans next week.
- Finish my Yuletide letter squeeing for goodness' sake
- Play a few hours of Stellaris (this isn't really a goal, just an acknowledgment that it's going to happen)
- Pick up some more things around my room
- Go to Home Depot and buy a hangar rack/crates for shoes? Maybe? Install those things? Put up shelves? Now we're getting into blue sky dreaming territory. Ha ha ha. (I have shelving units from Ikea I've been meaning to put on my walls since I moved in. That would be a good project too.)
Let's see how much actually gets done...
We went out and looked at yardwork projects together. We picked out a place to plant the big bag of bulbs, and Doug mowed that along with the paths in the prairie garden. Since we're supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow, I'm waiting on that before planting them, so the ground will be softer.
I also picked up sticks around the house, since that yard will need to be mowed later.
Late monarchs are fluttering around the prairie garden.
EDIT 10/21/17: I went back out and dug up some toadstools so the south lot can be mowed.
⌈ Secret Post #3944 ⌋
Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.
( More! )
Secrets Left to Post: 03 pages, 56 secrets from Secret Submission Post #565.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
The first secret from this batch will be posted on October 28th.
1. One secret link per comment.
2. 750x750 px or smaller.
3. Link directly to the image.
- Doing it RIGHT: http://i.imgur.com/KuBug.png
- Doing it WRONG: http://imgur.com/KuBug
Optional: If you would like your secret's fandom to be noted in the main post along with the secret itself, please put it in the comment along with your secret. If your secret makes the fandom obvious, there's no need to do this. If your fandom is obscure, you should probably tell me what it is.
Optional #2: If you would like WARNINGS (such as spoilers or common triggers -- list of some common ones here) to be noted in the main post before the secret itself, please put it in the comment along with your secret.
Optional #3: If you would like a transcript to be posted along with your secret, put it along with the link in the comment!