Saturday 3 May 2008

Femmes fatales, damsels in distress, villains, heroes

This is the May 1937 cover of Detective Tales magazine. I love it. I just love it. You have one balding villain with a skin that looks almost green (I wonder if that was intentional) about to stab the blonde, a masculine hero that shoots at some other badguys, and not one but two dames, one blonde one redhead, both of them in distress. It's suspenseful and dramatic. I just love the panicked eyes of the redhead when she sees the bald man about th stab the blonde, too much into her work to see the imminent danger. I will have to find those stories and read them. I have finished the first story of Pulp Fiction: The Villains, the adventure of Ed Jenkins (nickname the Phantom thief), a burglar created by the father of Perry Mason. I also want to get eventually the book on crimefighters and dames. I am reading at the moment Hard Revolution by George Pelecanos, just so I can enjoy something more modern and slightly less escapist (not that there is anything wrong with escapism). Pelecanos is probably my favorite crime fiction writer at the moment, so I recommend his books a lot. It's not so depressing as being noir (because he never kills hope), but it's definitely hardboiled.

Anyway, my intention writing this entry was to talk about archetypes. I see four different archetypes in this picture: the Villain, the Hero, the Damsel in Distress and the Femme Fatale (since both women have the look of femmes fatales). The badguy has the features of a villain: the long face, that looks even longer with the face (what's with bald headed men as villains? A sign of impotence and inadequacy?), the aquiline nose, the very elegant clothes, the angry eyes. Visually, he is my favorite character of the picture. I am surprised that it is the redhead who is tied up, I think redheads in that kind of fiction should be more active and fierce than blondes. The hero looks a bit too much virtuous for my taste. But I guess it goes with the role.

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