Between February 14 and February 21, Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren are hosting a For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon to benefit film preservation. This year, all proceeds are going to the Flim Noir Foundation. For one week, bloggers all over the internet are going to post blogs about different aspects of Film Noir.
I don’t do a lot of film criticism or dissection, but I am a proud member of The Film Noir Foundation, so I thought I’d put something up.
This short play, ORVILLE & WILBUR DISCUSS FILM NOIR, was produced by Augustana College and The Great Plains Dramatist Exchange in 2008. I thought it would fit in nicely with the festivities.
ORVILLE & WILBUR DISCUSS FILM NOIR
by John Weagly
(Lights up. ORVILLE and WILBUR are on stage. They both sit on a
couch, watching television.)
ORVILLE: What ya think?
WILBUR: ‘Bout what?
ORVILLE (Pointing at the TV): That. The movie. This fine classic motion picture.
WILBUR: I don’t know.
ORVILLE: It’s film noir.
WILBUR: Is it?
ORVILLE: It is.
WILBUR: I like cartoons.
WILBUR: “Jabberjaw.” “Hong Kong Phooey.” In fact, I think “Captain Caveman” is on.
ORVILLE: That’s all you’ve got to say? I’m tryin’ to broaden your mind, expose you to new things, and all you can say is “I like cartoons”?
WILBUR: Okay. I would prefer to partake in “Captain Caveman” rather than observe the intricacies of this noir film noir. How’s that?
ORVILLE: You don’t get it.
WILBUR: It seems kinda awkward, both of us sittin’ together, watchin’ film noir on a loveseat.
ORVILLE: This is a couch.
WILBUR: Is it? It seems small, like a loveseat.
ORVILLE: It’s a couch. Or a sofa. Or maybe a davenport. Or even a settee or a divan. But it’s definitely not a loveseat.
WILBUR: It seems small to me.
(ORVILLE and WILBUR scoot farther away from each other on the
WILBUR: So, what’re we watching?
ORVILLE: This is OUT OF THE PAST, the prototypical noir. It’s got it all. The hardboiled, cynical detective. The femme fatale. Obsession. Betrayal. The dark secrets that arise from out of the past.
WILBUR: That’d be a good name for it.
ORVILLE: What would be a good name for it?
WILBUR: Out of the Past.
ORVILLE: That is the name of it. Weren’t you listening?
WILBUR: Not really.
ORVILLE: You know, “Captain Caveman” ain’t nothin’ but “Scooby Doo” with a caveman instead of a Great Dane.
WILBUR: “Scooby Doo” had Fred and Shaggy and Daphne and Velma, two men and two women. “Captain Caveman” had Brenda, Dee Dee and Taffy, the Teen Angels, three women. On “Scooby Doo” they drove around in a van called the Mystery Machine. On “Captain Caveman” they had a van called The Teenmobile. Captain Caveman had super-strength and could pull objects and dinosaurs out of his fur. Scooby Doo couldn’t do anything but get scared and eat Scooby snacks.
ORVILLE: What are you sayin’?
WILBUR: There were many ways the two programs were different.
ORVILLE: I stand by my observations
WILBUR: This couch is lumpy. It’s botherin’ my bottom.
ORVILLE: Look, how long’ve I been your brother?
WILBUR: As long as I’ve known ya.
ORVILLE: I don’t mean ya no mischief. I just want you to think about how devious life can be.
WILBUR: That’s not very brotherly.
ORVILLE: These film noir films are about trust and treachery, they’re a commentary on life not being fair, about the cruel hand of fate. They’re about the poetry of despair. They can teach a man what to expect from the cold, hard world.
ORVILLE: Life is hard. These old movies can be viewed as training films on dealing with the particulars of living.
WILBUR: They’re mysteries, right?
ORVILLE: Not always. Often times the plot can revolve around a mystery, like in THE MALTESE FALCON or THE BIG SLEEP or CHINATOWN, but not every time. Movies like THE MAN I LOVE and SUNSET BOULEVARD are also film noirs without the question of Who-Done-It being posed. Why even the classic DOUBLE INDEMNITY…
WILBUR: Captain Caveman solved mysteries.
WILBUR: Captain Caveman could be considered in some circles to be a hardboiled detective and the Teen Angels could each be considered, in their own ways, to be femme fatales. Taffy in particular manipulated Captain Caveman by using her feminine wiles, twirling his fur and calling him “Cavey Wavey.”
ORVILLE: “Captain Caveman” isn’t film noir.
WILBUR: If it’s obsession and dark secrets you’re looking for, “Captain Caveman”…
ORVILLE: It isn’t noir! There’s no pessimism, no alienation, no melancholia. It’s just…silly.
WILBUR: I like it.
ORVILLE: Don’t you ever consider your own fate?
WILBUR: Not really.
ORVILLE: Life can be unexpected.
WILBUR: I know it.
ORVILLE: Destiny can have calamitous surprises for you around every bend.
WILBUR: That’s to be expected.
WILBUR: In the episode “Muscle-Bound Cavey,” Captain Caveman pulled a couch out of his fur.
ORVILLE: Cavemen didn’t have couches.
WILBUR: They didn’t?
ORVILLE: No. They didn’t have couches or sofas or davenports or settees or divans.
ORVILLE: They didn’t have loveseats either.
WILBUR: Well, what did they sit on?
ORVILLE: Cold, hard rocks.
WILBUR: That doesn’t seem fair.
ORVILLE: Say that again.
WILBUR: Sittin’ on rocks.
WILBUR: Life doesn’t seem fair.
ORVILLE: That’s all I was sayin’.