When night falls downtown, it isn’t Hollywood noir…
“When you read a story, you accept its implausibilities and extravagances, because they are no more fantastic than the conventions of the medium itself. But when you look at real people, moving against a real background, and hear them speaking real words, your imagination is anaesthetized. You accept what you see and hear, but you do not complement it from the resources of your own imagination. The motion picture is like a picture of a lady in a half-piece bathing suit. If she wore a few more clothes, you might be intrigued. If she wore no clothes at all, you might be shocked. But the way it is, you are occupied with noticing that her knees are too bony and that her toenails are too large. The modern film tries too hard to be real. Its techniques of illusion are so perfect that it requires no contribution from the audience but a mouthful of popcorn.”
Mr. Chandler, in that little note about the movies was talking about Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.” He wrote two drafts and then was fired — pretty standard for Hollywood — as was his reaction to the final screenplay. He hated it.
“What I cannot understand is your permitting a script which after all had some life and vitality to be reduced to such a flabby mass of clichés, a group of faceless characters, and the kind of dialogue every screen writer is taught not to write—the kind that says everything twice and leaves nothing to be implied by the actor or the camera.”
And now we’re going to take one of my long orbital swings through Hollywood and history, right back to…me, Vickie Lester. I, like Mr. Chandler disliked having my screenplays rewritten. I disliked it so much I stopped doing it, and turned to writing novels. It’s not like the words of a book, once written, are inviolate. A good editor will work your tail off, urging you with every wile and witticism they’ve got to clarify, pick up the pace, and polish the text.
I can’t say that I’m jaded about the motion picture industry, I just wasn’t somebody well suited to tinker with the Dream Machine.
I love it here. It’s my home. And everyone I know (almost everyone) works in the industry. And contrary to what Mr. Chandler said, I do complement it from the resources of my own imagination.
So, my first novel was about Hollywood, and so is my second (still in progress), and the third? Most likely, yes, all about the place that brought you over the rainbow.
Pink on the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, at the 2014 Oscars