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Noir and Roger Rabbit

Because of my friend George’s marvelous HBO series I once again subscribe to HBO.  Which means that I can watch movies while I’m cooking or cleaning up the kitchen.  The other day WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was on.  I’ve always liked the movie, but now I have a far greater appreciation of how closely to the noir formula the writers hewed, and what a wonderful job they did.

I’d never read Chandler or Hammett, I’m embarrassed to admit.  Oh, I’d seen Bogie in The Maltese Falcon, but I hadn’t actually read any of the seminal works.  The closest I’d come was Ross McDonald who I think is a brilliant writer, but he wasn’t the originator of the form.

While I was traveling in Australia last year I needed paper books while airplanes took off and landed.  The IPad was great once we were in the air, but I have a restless nature, and I can’t just sit even for takeoffs and landings.  So my traveling companion loaned me several of his noir mysteries.

What became rapidly apparent is that a formula was born, and like all good formulas it serves it’s purpose — it’s familiar without being trite, exciting because the reader/viewer can anticipate what is coming next, and comforting because you know right will triumph.

So, here I am watching Roger Rabbit, and by god it’s all there.  There’s the burnt out detective with a tragedy in his past.  There’s the dangerous femme fatale who you suspect is behind the murder, at a critical point in the story the detective stumbles across a dead body, but doesn’t go to the authorities, the detective is always at odds with the authorities, a critical witness is shot.  In Roger Rabbit there is a dame/twist/chick/frail with a heart-of-gold who has stuck by the burnt out detective.

I was just charmed and delighted, and I ended up enjoying the movie even more now that I had a small background in noir mysteries.  It just shows that a deeper understanding of the antecedents of anything can deepen the appreciation whether it’s noir mysteries, dressage, opera, dance, etc.

0 Responses to Noir and Roger Rabbit

  • Equine Art says:

    I have loved this film ever since it was first made, but this DVD really does not do it justice.

    Despite being called a ‘special edition’, it contains not a single extra feature. The widescreen format is not anamorphic, which means that the MPEG aspect ratio is 4:3 and the picture resolution of the viewable area is lower than it should be. The quality of the film print used is poor and contains scratches and white speckling. The film has also had some bits edited out, so I suppose you could say it contains a negative number of special features: i.e. some normal features taken out. This is a shocking misuse of the format because the DVD standard contains the possibility for having optional scenes which can be shielded from young viewers, so why wasn’t this used?

    I doubt it will be long before the next version comes out, the ‘collector’s special edition’ or whatever they will call it, so my advice would be to wait for that.

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