Friday, November 19, 2004

Pulp fiction, old Hollywood, Italy and movies

I've been reading, or mostly looking at, It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps, and watching gialli and I came to a realization -

Part of the appeal of European genre fare is that it has the modern grittiness levels I expect and love, but it also has those kinds of impossibly attractive people that old school Hollywood brought out - Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren - in spades. They have a different bunch, the Franco Neros, Edwige Fenechs, etc., but the principle remains.

Why is this important to genre stuff? Because, that's the way pulp novels look. Impossibly rugged, square jawed men with perfectly buxom women. Not human beings themselves, but minor deities, sent down to show us our weaknesses and strengths through their example. Mythology itself.

Modern Hollywood's Big Stars, no, not the people constantly on the verge of becoming stars, never have that quality... They have a Very Exaggeratedly Beautiful version of The Person Next Door.

Mel Gibson could be your best friend's uncle. Ok, you'd stop and go, "My goodness, what a handsome uncle my friend has. He's like a pint of pure grain sexahol."

But he doesn't look like a Michaelangelo magically come to life either.

That, more than anything else, is what I want to capture in my maybe giallo. I'm thinking that I, as an American will always have trouble with that fluid European tone that makes them so charming.

"We must examine these clues and find out who the maniac whose stalking the city is and stop him. Oh, look. A cheese shop. Let's stop in and pick out a gorgonzola before we do that."

I need it to read visually so that anyone reading it will imagine it that way, though. I want it to look like an old paperback the way George Romero's Creepshow looks like an E.C. Comic.

(speaking of E.C. Comics, I really want to see this, really, really I do!)

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