The mystery of 7244 Laverne Terrace, Laurel Canyon: Wild space, trophies, and getting into deep trouble in The Big Sleep (1946). Part 2.

This piece continues from part 1, in a previous post.https://rjamahoney.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/the-mystery-of-7244-laverne-terrace-laurel-canyon-wild-space-trophies-and-getting-into-deep-trouble-in-the-big-sleep-1946-part-1/

Rev., September 17, 2016.

7244 Laverne Terrace, Laurel Canyon, in The Big Sleep (1946) is, to me, one of the most special places in all 1940s movies. Why? Why do I like this strange little house so much? What purpose does it serve, and why it is so central to the movie? The house is visited often in the movie, in fact, it could be said that the movie is woven in and out of the house.

In the beginning, Bogey meets up with the bad daughter there, and they have a talk

lav-1in that same scene, he meets Mars for the first time, and there is a very strange territorial nature conversation as each is wondering how and why the other is there, or how they are connected to whatever is going on

lav-2I want to point out that, just as in the city, here is yet another example in this movie of a door playing a major in-the-maze role, and someone just shows up at the door, and comes through the door

lav-3and the other people on the other side wait and wonder. Then, later, after someone shoots Brody at his own apartment door, and he runs off, Marlowe apprehends him, and then takes him out to the Laurel Canyon house, so we are there a second time

lav-4then the third time, which is really dangerous, as men with guns will be coming, they meet Mars there again for real, to settle what needs to be settled

lav-5I mean, the house plays an incredible role, so the question is why? In order to answer this its function, it its agency in the three encounters, and then its messages in terms of décor, have to be analyzed. The first thing is that he takes the bad daughter out there, she knows of it, possibly because it being a rental rented out by Mars, she stayed there once, maybe others in the crowd also stayed there, maybe it is a party house, or place of assignation. He takes her in by force, meaning that he is using it as a way station, a transitional place, where he can have some space, away from the office, to do things

lav-6Right inside the door we see that the place is only a small cottage, not meant for major show or lavish party, but private doings, assignations. It is also done up in the Chinoiserie artifact style, related ot the rococco, with a fantastical something by the door, likely prayer objects by the door, gaining entry into a sacred space of some sort

lav-7there is also a kind of bhuddha in the middle of the room

lav-8counterpointing lots of Chinoiserie vases on Chinoiserie carved high pedestal tables

lav-9and niches with other statues in them

lav-12There is another one on the opposite wall with a Chinoiserie chair in between

lav-10there is also a tableaux in the tympanum of a Chinoiserie scene, and a beaded curtain, evoking privacy in the space beyond

lav-13in his second visit, where he has knocked out the assassin, Bogey gets wind of someone being home, and steps beyond the beaded curtain, to see a man laid out on a bed, possibly dead, is this a wake of some sort? Was this this man’s home?

lav-14we see when he makes a call for the cops to come collect the assassin, that there are lamps, but not intimacy lamps, but little assistance lamps, overlooking and lighting little tasks, in this case whatever looking in address or phone books was required to make a call, not unlike the little lamps on nightclub tables

lav-15the third time, now holing up with Bacall, the lamp comes truly alive, figuratively, to speak of intimate space between them, and, in danger, adds to their abandon, and adventure pushing them together

lav-addit’s a swell little lamp, and means a cult of connectiveness has developed between them

lav-17we notice, when he pulls the gun, a fireplace, its shoulders also mounted upon by vases, the whole place

lav-18in a fight with Mars the Buddha is broken

lav-19it is left in form, as the head form survives, but the broken pieces fall straight down, as debris, meaning that it somehow keeps its form as a head, but now becomes kind of a head trophy, and there is even a hint of a piñata or something holding a secret being broken upon, but none here

lav-20Then Mars is sent out the door, and on the other side of the door, for the second time in the movie, someone is shot at a door, and then the escape is arranged, waiting that is until the police arrive, in the meantime, having got out of this danger, Bogie and Bacall decide to partner up their blazing hot chemistry throughout, so it is a love nest in the end

lav-21I think in fact this is what the house was.  We are in the wild space, adjacent to town. We are not in the country of danger, but the transitional zone, where people let loose, symbolically, then sometimes get into trouble. Maybe the Chinese décor is explained by the fact that some earlier day in the growth of Mars’ criminal empire this was a little opium den, where his clients came to get high, the relationship between Chinese décor and opium was pretty hard core in the 30s. By this point, it would not be that anymore, but the décor remained in faded glory to give the place still a certain sleazy forlornness. If then it became a house of assignation for any of Mars’s clients that needed a place to get away to with a girl, then that too would be a later offspring of his empire activities, a place adjunct to his also wild space club. It is clear that the bad daughter knew the place, maybe she got into trouble there; Mars only came by with the stiff manner of a landlord, but he looked like he had been through this place and many of its problems, drunks, pass outs, bodies, etc., many times; it was new to Bogey, but, not, I think, to Bacall, therefore on that regard as Chinoiserie statues were also then whispering statues representing secrets and intrigue (this was a stereotype at the time) it bespeaks that. The fact that a Chinese man was found in wake also suggests that Mars’ maybe at one point bought it from a former Chinese owner, and made an arrangement with him, for him to be waked there. In any case, for me this is the most classic case in movies of an entry point structure at the launching point into the wild space, where the monsters are, and where what is mere wildness of civilized indulgence can indeed get one into deeper and deeper trouble. It is a terrific place.

And, to focus in even further, it is symbolized in its transitory nature and its danger, by that very strange object by the door, one of the strangest objects of 1940s film noir.

lav-22what is it? it appears to have a dragon stand, a dragon rearing up or moving about as if to get ready for an attack

lav-23or there appear to be a coil of twin serpents, and one now rears up, and flares out a fire, on top of which is mounted this thing

lav-24on top of that, as if floating on the fire, is another vase, but with a flatness and stateliness that suggests an urn, possibly even a funerary urn, and then that is flanked by two other serpents, and on top of that is what appears to be a military helmet.

lav-25the animals on the side are not quite makeoutable, which adds to their mystique

lav-26what this means to me, especially with the helmet, at the very top

lav-27is that this is a trophy, a Roman idea, but here, Chinoiserie style, and then too done up in a flamboyant as if lifted from a print book style, closely related to a sense of the decadent as pervades the rococo aesthetic, so popular at the time, ceremonial. The placement of a helmet on top of an urn as a device to render a suggestion of a fallen soldier in a funerary effigy form is quite old. Elements like it exist in ancient Etruscan art, and likely Greek and Roman trophy art too (and in modern Army tribute, the empty boots display). (Two other aspects of this object, situated in this place, in the movie, reverberate: the oddest thing about the movie is the somewhat exotic appearance of Mars’ worst hitman, he remains to me an enigma, but possibly suggestion here that he is this thing come alive as a killer; then, too, remember that Mars is killed by a feint, that is, his trigger happy hitman are waiting outside to shoot whoever comes out the door, so Bogey sends Mars out first, they shoot, accidentally killing their boss, this sort of feint is traditionally in movies enacted by a waving of the hat, to see if anyone shoots, so the helmet plays that role, in terms of foreshadowing the ending). This would appear to be a Chinese version, bespeaking death, and that someone has or will be dying there. Since the Buddha head later is broken, and that happens during the fight with Mars, I suppose the inference is Mars in the end, not far from that protective shield, which will now recoil its protection, is to be killed

lav-28as a trophy, it also represents deep down, in its essence, a turning point in a battle, and the turning point in the broader psychogeography of the movie. Situated by the door, it acts as a scarecrow coming in, warning of trouble, to keep trouble out, but going out, suggests trouble too. The trouble that results here is that trouble is coming both ways, and all sorts of people are transitioning from evil wild habits inside civilization into straight up criminality outside of town. As a trophy, this links to the strange many footed stole that Bacall brings into her set up fake meeting with Marlowe at the sports bar, where they banter in double entendre horse race talk

lav-29It’s a beaut, I count seven tails, I don’t see any heads, but there is a fern menacing nearby, to indicate trouble, of an animals in jungle sort

lav-30women wore those big furs, symbols of their status as hunted animals, requiring protection, armor

lav-31the mobsters gal, beautifully played by Sonia Darrin, has a smashing one too, symbol of something bought her by a mobster, bad girl stuff

lav-32then the bad daughter, whom all of this is deep down basically about, getting her out of trouble, real trouble, but what that is we are never quite told, she wears veils, indicating mendicant state, a vestal goddess of the cult, and this funny, gnawing thing she does with her mouth in this scene, the way she is so loopy in that scene, it strongly infers that she is under the influence

lav-33the picture behind her seems to be a landscape of a more scenic, figurative, Mexican sort too, evoking exoticism

lav-34and the fact that in the first visit to the house she stands with another veil right in view of, profiled by that scarecrow trophy, that in this scene she fears who or what is coming through that door

lav-35and seemed also to fear entering into that place, with that trophy there, earlier

lav-36strongly suggests to me, in the silent codes that had to be made use of in movies of the time, under the code not to be too explicit in low class things, that she was a junkie, an opium addict and that is why she needed to go away for a while, if, Bogey says, that sort of thing works (or I think he said sometimes they actually cure her), and as a result this object is not only the trophy evoking the core battle of the movie, and the herm boundary marker transitioning from harmless casino fun to serious trouble fun in the wild space, and the turning points in the lives of the bad daughter, and, then, too, at the end, because they fall in love, Bogey and Bacall, but it also represents the secret menace that is afflicting the whole demimonde in which the movie takes place, so, it is, indeed, rather like a Roman trophy at the center of the movie, the core lattice formula property that symbolizes the twisting and turning of the amazing maze space of feints and false leads and misdirection and not knowing where one is all through this incredible movie. For housing the trophy, then, too, this house is revealed to be the temple to opium, a place of ill repute, up in Laurel Canyon, a part of LA that was growing then, and would grow in the 60s into one of the centers of horror and terror in the LA landscape. For all of these reasons, Geiger’s house, as it is called, the house at 7244 Laverne Terrace, Laurel Canyon, remains to me one of the richest, most evocatively mysterious, wonderful places in all of the film noir movies.

The Konga shooter model: the seven stages in becoming a psycho shooter.

April, 2014.

Woke up this morning thinking about shooters, and how we need to apply to our routine thinking on them, a kind of model used to determine how terrorists or made or gang members groomed. He is talked about as if he is just a kid who got mad, and went over the edge. It is not like that. So, a model to distinguish. based on a very clear cut example, the movie Konga (1962).

ONE, the genius stage.

First of all, you have to be an achiever, and, from that, develop a sense of entitlement in the world. This is the genius stage. The ability and capacity to carry it out, to pull it off, to get it done. Key is, YOU HAVE TO HAVE ACHIEVED AND KNOWN POWER AND WHAT IT FELT LIKE. Without this, nothing else can come. He has to have a sense that something was taken away from him, that he was cheated out of his due fame, which would have been great.

konga-1

TWO, the victim/effigy stage.

Second, there has to be, in your life, a crisis that brings you down, and makes of you an effigy of your former self, that is, you see yourself sacrificed for the rest of the world. You would only see that sacrifice of self in that scale if you had previously been so high (liken Nixon said, only those who have been to the highest mountain, know how deep the valley is). You are the victim, you will show them. So, the effigy stage. It is a kind of persecution complex.

konga-2

THREE, the avatar stage.

Third, you have to then take into yourself the belief that you are specially chosen to save the world and that you have invented the very thing that will change everything about life as we know it. You will show everyone that you were right. And that is Becker’s serum. This is the avatar that possesses you: it is only by possession by an avatar, which is like possession by a demon, when you really are no longer your old self, that you can scale up your ambitions to world scale, this new fantasy self, a self possessed, the old self erased, by an avatar. This is the avatar stage, Konga. This avatar is revealed by new behavior that is highly entitled and risky, and begins to take advantage of others around you, menacingly, it does not come out of the blue.

konga-3

FOUR, the golem stage.

Fourth, but then that quest will have negative human consequences, so that at some point you are tempted to, and, worse, do step over the line, confuse the wires, and make use of that evil solution to attack all who oppose you in a negative way, as a golem. (the golem, internally, can take the form of an overriding sense of entitlement which leads to an exploitational life philosophy, whereby you justify assaulting and abusing others to make up for the wrongs experienced earlier). But, in this phase, others will begin to protest your actions, but now your new self has no problem in just getting rid of them, illegitimately, you use your power to get revenge on others. So there is a trail of previous everyday crime in the life of a shooter (in Konga, this came, as in all monster movies, when the doctor could not resist using his new invention, a gigantic gorilla-ized chimp, to go kill his enemies).

konga-4

FIVE, the monster stage.

Fifth, in that contretemps someone close to you will have a eureka, and see that you have gone too far, someone will protest, and this person’s interference will ratchet things up, so that your avatar will have to act and in doing so act against you too; it becomes a monster. In Konga, this happened when the long suffering assistant saw that Becker was hitting on the pretty student, in jealousy she fed Konga lots of the growth serum, for him to grow into a massive King Kong, which took down here too. This monster then will get out of control, doing damage even to you.

konga-5

SIX, the puppetmaster stage.

But, here is a key point, somehow you are able to take command of the monster and do some damage even if it kills you in the end. Because you have been the genius, an effigy before, because the avatar is made in you, because you made the golem, you have a measure of control and management of the monster, but you are its puppet, under its control, ultimately, it is driving the car. So you can act, apparently rationally, but it is the mad rage hardly in control. The rampage/puppetmaster stage. This is when the shooting commences.

kongsho-6

SEVEN, the beserker stage.

But then it does get out of hand and kills you. You always get in so deep that you are killed too, making people think this is a type of suicide, but no, you are killed by your mania, by possession by an avatar. The bell tolls for thee. And when you are killed, then the monster is left behind to beserker without any control (this happens internally by simply shooting, no longer caring for one’s own life, which is why shooting incidents always end in sucide). This is the apocalypse/beserker phase.

kongsho-8

So, again, to summarize, you can ONLY get a shooter by the working out of these seven stages of mental breakdown (though I say mental breakdown, by this model, derived from horror movies, where the distinction remains in tact, a person only goes “mad”, which is premediated, evil “insanity” in the metaphorical sense, and by definition still sane, if an extreme state of sane thinking, not “mental illness” as clinically described:

One, genius stage.

Two, effigy stage.

Three, avatar stage.

Four, golem stage.

Five, monster stage.

Six, puppetmaster stage.

Seven, apocalypse/beserker stage.

With the terrorist planning and activity commencing in stage six, and played out in stage seven.

One has to be careful of magical thinking, of thinking based on purely visual resemblances, hauntings, not realities. Most importantly, this model demands that we consider that this stuff does not just float like fantasy inside of a kid’s head, and then he shoots, all popular culture, of hero movies and art and all that is deeply inscribed with sacrificial vision thinking, meant to burn off this kind of thing in the everyday mind, in the sane self, it has to become the fabric of his lived life, physically, materially, culturally, in the world. It has to be part of his everyday routine, his life as it is. He has to have created for himself a secret cult world of fascist intention where he does his mad science, that is mad scientist 101, without it, there is no shooter. The only thing that leads to a shooter is the cultivation of personal fascism, set up by a specific set of qualifying criteria.

We will find then that at some point in the past he had a very nice relationship with a popular girl who then dumped him, and then he was dumped by all her friends. We will find that he did great in school, then suffered a terrible defeat, and gave in to effigy making of himself. We will find that he then changed, that is, his ideas amplified, grew grandiose, he became possessed by an avatar, maybe he gave him a new name, that avatar then went to work in creating a life for him to carry out its mission of revenge. This then caused contretemps in his life that then tempted him to suborn his own mission and use the power in a personal and illicit way, to make of it a golem. Then someone somehow reacted negatively, by cutting him off, by turning something against him, that precipitated the crisis, the golem became a monster. He then thought he could ride it, but as expected once he started in on the shooting it overwhelmed him, he became a mere puppet of the monster others had made of his golem (but he started the dark stuff) and he ended up destroying himself along with the others he brought down with

So as to worries of a parent about a gaming son. Likely, he has a touch of genius, but not enough of it, he had no taste of power, for the sting of his low standing at the moment to drive him over the edge. A slacker does not a shooter make. He has not had any particular experience of greatness or humiliating fall event that makes of him an effigy either, he does not have a persecution complex. For that, he does not in any way think that he can save the world, he is not possessed by an avatar, with grandiose ideas of vengeance, he does not and has not any avatar that he has then used as a golem, nor is there anyone near him that can turn that golem into a monster, though parents sometimes do this (and having a gun culture helps), which he then has to recoup to use again, but be destroyed by in an apocalypse. That is, a gaming son might have a lot in common on a personal incidental level with the shooter, but in terms of actually getting caught up in the model of how a shooter is made, he has none of the ingredients, the complex cannot develop, according to this analysis.

This feels a lot like my model of a chip on the shoulder of the artist in an essay in 90s, my vision of his sacrificial vision. How does it remain positive and affirming? Because he avoids the golem stage, he channels it into art, from when it remains, while dangerous, flirting with danger, bad boy, essentially benign. That is, this model only leads to terror and crime, if fulfilled, it can be entered into, but also dropped out of, at any point, at each incompleteness, however, short-circuited from fulfillment in mayhem.

The negative elements of the model are the precipitating defeat that turns him into an effigy, that is a negative; then the fact that he becomes possessed by an avatar and loses his old self; and then that he uses the avatar as a golem to kill; then that another uses it against him and turns it into a monster that attacks him, causing him to counterattack, and go berserk, to be killed. If on the other hand you find consolation for the effigy in a world of imaginary victory, and the avatar is a positive inspiring voice that leads you but does not possess and submerge you, then you are lead forward to create not golems but keepers, guardians, protectors, saints, and this then keeps off the monster and the apocalypses, allowing you to experience apotheosis, an imagined realization of all your dreams, in art. It is the catholic method of cult art, goes way, way back. A kind of symbolic sacrifice of self, to repair the world with new visions of hope.

The mystery of 7244 Laverne Terrace, Laurel Canyon: Wild space, trophies, and getting into deep trouble in The Big Sleep (1946). Part 1.

Rev., September 17, 2016.

Of the many pleasures of The Big Sleep (1946) the relaxed, but, then, also tense spatial dynamics of its imagining of the city of Los Angeles is very high on the list. It’s fair to argue that the ambience and atmosphere created by the psychogeographic dimensions of how the plot is spaced out in LA is primarily responsible for the dynamic momentum of the movie. The fun thing is that there is downtown LA, where everything seems quaint, but, then, open-ended in an odd way. Then there is a strange in-between zone, between the city and the country, where some not great things also happen. And, finally, there is the far out country, where danger lies, people hide out and nefarious doings are afoot. In each zone, there are peculiarities of passage, of entry and exit. One does get the impression that the movie is set up as a maze with herms at every turn of the maze marking the way in a way that promises intrigue and mystery around the next corner.

The city of LA is presented as a very small, compact place, where people not only know each other, but are constantly bumping into each other. The milieu consists of a night club, and the homes or apartments of those involved in that world. That brings the mobster Mars into the picture, from several directions, and then, of course, Lauren Bacall, who is a client of Mars, spends a lot of money at his casino, and then is involved in other ways. The weird thing about this city of LA is that while there are all sorts of spaces, people seem to have no locks on their doors, and they keep just stopping by, stopping in, and doors are opening and closing, a lot. This interpenetrability of the urban space is exemplified by a scene in which at one time or another in it all the principals get involved, when Marlowe stops by Mars’ apartment. Immediately inside, a gun is pulled on him

slep-1there is a whole gun play with others too as it seems that everybody is packing, and using it as backup coming through doors where they don’t know what is what

slep-2at that earlier exchange, Bogey dismissed Mars’ gun by saying that’s the second time today I’ve run into a guy who thinks a gat in the hand means you got the world by the tail. Then, surprise, Bacall turns up here too

slep-3there is a whole lot of interrogation, and then when Mars answers the door, having taken the gun to the door so many times, and opened it cautiously, fearing that trouble might be coming from behind it, even if in the city his apartment is open to such close insecurity, this time he does not have the gun, and is shot at, through the door, the first time this happens in the movie. This then causes Bogey to chase after the shooter, scrambling down the steps, a nautical painting representing this space as casting out into other spaces, always moving one along in the game of searching for the killer

slep-4another fun thing is that the clubs in the city look like houses too, they have a very domestic, cozy feel, nothing fancy, Bogey even questions her, why did we meet at a place like this, as if it is not common, also, at this place, he’s got to find a pay phone to get messages out, and the movie is careful throughout to show him putting his dimes in. Here Bacall saunters in to a not very glammy place, carrying with her a draped long many footed fur, a trophy

slep-5they then have a swell game of cat and mouse, talking of their style in terms of ways in which various race horses run from the post, and then he catches her up in trying to pay her off, so he knows of the labyrinth of the city and its deceptions

slep-6the accessibility of Marlowe’s LA might be prototyped by his own office, where people are coming and going all the time. The walls are covered in sporting pictures, including boxers, meaning he is of the milieu of the night club, and the men’s club, an open, chummy world. In this scene he is quite shocked that Cook broke in on him, and Cook explains (the bad daughter also broke into Bogey’s apartment, open ended), the doorman having been too lax in security, but the fact that someone got in and is negotiating with him is a sign that, again, spaces in the city are highly interpenetrable by other forces. (again, here, horses race imagery prevalent)

slep-7My notion is that in the movie LA is pictured as a “glass onion”,  the office, and the frosted door panes of Marlowe’s office, it is a place where access to places is easy, but, for that, also dangerous, people need their guns to answer the door, and can get shot answering doors. For that, things feel throughout to be cozy, but fated, filled with dread, as if some sort of former security and norm, in the context of the quaint look of some of the urban sets, has been raffled at the edges, and things are coming apart. And Marlowe is racing to get to the bottom of this job before things do in fact come apart. The city is doing OK, but there is a sense in the movie that it is also coming apart at the seams, and the trouble is expanding outward.

And, indeed, if The Big Sleep had stayed put in the city of LA it would have filed in alongside of a zillion other movies of the life, all of them deflating into cops and robbers deskbound business. This movie avoids getting paralyzed at the desk, by keeping Bogey on his toes out in the real world of the investigation. But if the movie only rattled about the film noir limits of downtown LA, then it would have filed in with many others, lots of doors and hallways, and the like (same milieu in the Thin Man, for example). But, The Big Sleep is distinguished for taking the milieu out for a ride, to a larger greater LA dimension, especially for the time. There is a sense that trouble is expanding, and its expanded universe is where that trouble is going. According to psychogeographic theory, every soul marks out its safe and unsafe places in its surroundings, and then grades the world accordingly. In between the safe place of the wagons circled at home, and the unsafe place of the country beyond, is a transitional zone, called the wild space. It is in the wild space that the dwellers of the safe place can vent some of their anxiety and thus partake of as it were counterfeit or shortcircuited versions of real terrors beyond. It is into this space adjacent to, and lying close in by civilized space, but not yet fully out into outer space, that the denizens of the safe place projects their imaginings of bogeys, their monsters, and go play with them, to as it were test run before getting into real trouble outside in the raw outside world. This is space where in the 40s society girls go bad, and this movie is famous for its bad girls, not only the younger sister, who is a snip, and a mess, with a problem, but Bacall herself, who is into all sorts of things. It is in this wild space, this liminal zone between civilization and wilderness, between the city and the country, that the movie comes alive with a special feeling. The management of space in this zone is enlarged to a lattice level, spreading out in all directions, with all sorts of spatial confusions. The epitome of this is Mars’ strange nightclub, far out of town. For me, it is right up there with the country cabin in Laura, and the strange country nightclub in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as some of the most evocative wild space interiors in film noir movies. The club appears to be a ranch style house

slep-8it appears to have a front yard, and a white picket fence, and you approach it as you would a suburban house, from a parking lot. It feels like the house in Christmas in Connecticut, it does not feel like a nightclub

slep-10the degree to which this sort of outlying country house club was common at the time, I am uncertain. But it has about it a surprising, slip-sliding away signification to it because you think it is a house, then it turns out not to be a house, and then you look for a club, but it remains a house, and then there are strangers in the house, having a party, so it could be either that this was Mars’ house at one time and he gave it over to partying, or eventually started up a secret nightclub in it, as in the movie I recently watched with the Corot, see title, and then it drifted, and become a party house, which was later formalized into an actual club. The space in the club is very odd. Bogey drops in, but then there is a cigarette girl, pretty well stripped down, to show him in. But then he spies a room off to the side, where, as if at a private ski lodge party, Bacall is actually performing something, with a sit around of the fire group of jazzy friends. Even odder is that Bogey signals hello from the door, and here again we have another of those funny bumping into you meet ups, obliquely passing by, with other business.

slep-11when Bogey stands at the door, spying in on the events inside, all that room set up like a den in a standard house, more sporting pictures above, he stands at the door, and the cigarette girl stands behind him as if a herm to announce he is entering in and out of domestic and nightclub space, that he is in transition,

slep-12this shot reminds me, and was likely quoted, in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, which offers another sliding-signifier space of a home made over into a club, and a club always falling back into a home, resulting in a wild space ambiguity where no one quite knows where one stands. Only in the case of the Kubrick, people were having sex on tables in the other rooms. Even odder, is that, this venture into pseudo-domesticity, is then pulled back, interrupted by an abrupt return to business, as in one of the former rooms of his room, if that thesis is operative, Mars has set up his office, so Bogey goes off into there. And here Mars serves him a drink with a hunting dog picture behind him, indicating that we have graduated from controlled in-city sport like boxing and racing, to the hunt, out in the more open wild spaces lying outside the country

slep-13and even truer to telling the mazelike nature, the where am I? dynamic of this shifting ground, is the next shot where we see the hunt dogs take a lead that segways them into a reflective zone in a maze, doubling up their uncertainty in terms of where they stand (and there are two, in two different dimensions, assembling a pack, a sign of menace

slep-14the fact that Bacall then calls back Bogey, after the meeting, for him to be sure to see him, and this results in some shtick with three or four people passing this message along. He comes through a space that for its smoke now looks more like a bar, to a casino in back and not only is Bacall at the table but Mars is called out to OK a bet and when he Oks it and she wins some folks of a not so farious sort around the table give her takeaway money an evil eye, causing Bogey to offer to drive her home. She is then robbed in the parking lot, he rescues her, though later he suspects the whole thing was staged

slep-16while Bacall can play deadpan sufficiently to get away with seemingly being innocent when involved in strategizing against Bogey, for some reason, her body language when she snuggles into the car seat is not under her control. In Batman (1989), I credited Kim Basinger for striking a pose, in the Batmobile, whisked off by this uncertain character, to in body language evoke abandon, being swept off in an adventure beyond one’s control, and a problem life that is now totally out of hand, but going anywhere. Overwhelmed with abandon, Basinger cozies into surrender. Same thing here, and it is likely that Burton was quoting this scene, as when Bacall snuggles down in she more or less concedes that she is out in the wild space and though she is embroiled in calculations and plottings, in truth things are out of control, and she needs his help—and love, great scene

slep-17and she gives us the same surrender pose coming back from their most farthest out of town mission, again featuring a coincidence meeting, when at this point Bogey admits that she has surprised him, because he didn’t think they made them like that anymore, and then she says I guess I love you

slep-18in that third ring beyond the wild space, is the beyond zone, beyond the safe place, beyond the circled wagons, out into the country, where things are dangerous, because darkness, evil and whatever crooks want to do are. This adventure in darkness involves Marlowe coming upon a garage, faking a flat, then being hit and tied up by Mars hitman, but then it turns out this rough looking barn is linked to a surprisingly nice house, where he is tied up, and he meets Mars’ mistress, who is hiding out out there, to be safe (another role that the country played, the apotropaic), and at the end of that road he likes the woman he finds there. Oh, its got big cozy lamps, a rock country fireplace, a mantel, it’s a country cabin

slep-19and then, too, again, in another odd place, Bacall shows up, just like in the city

slep-20she is profiled by a limited Bluemmer style landscape of a square sort which, unlike horizontal landscapes, does not spell trouble without, but contracts back for this outlying place to try to pretend to be less wild and less out there, with a tamer rendering of the landscape

slep-21and then there is a strange little herm figure on the mantel, apparently a peasant women playing a pipe instrument of some sort, or perhaps carrying a cornucopia, both of which, as peasant imagery evoke simply hard work in simple middle class folks, while the themes would present the bounty of an idyllic nature, also seem to civilize the outlying space, and announce to us here that by this point Bogey has stopped seeing her as a strange intrusive presence but as his good luck token, to see him through, so ultimately this is a mercury figure, transiting from crossroads, to other events

slep-22in fact, in that scene, as Bogey tries to convince the woman that her boyfriend is a killer by way of proxy, and she is not buying it, there is another odd picture on the far wall

slep-23it to seems to a genre picture of a Mexican sort (or late DeChirico), a picture of lovers, announcing that this place is a cult place, a lover’s meeting place, and a refuge too, but maybe farther out of town that it wishes, exoticizing it by reference to a large exotica, Mexico (this looks too like a prototype Walter Robinson painting)

slep-24but then, now, Bogey is tied up, now Bacall is enlisted to cut him loose, then they escape, cleverly, and Bogey has to wear handcuffs through the whole scene, it’s a terrific sequence, evoking the unsteady and dangerous ground of out of town. And it is after this, freeing him, buying in to him entirely now, that on the way back into town, that Bacall truly settles in, resolved, but with a deeper sense of abandon

slep-25all of this is terrific town and country by play. The city is, in dream imagery, a strange interpenetrable, glass door, door watching, apotropaic, herm-needing, glass onion; the country is an entirely scary place where people hide, and hide out, and meet illicitly in love, or simply get out of town for a bit, but, for that, bad things can happen there, it is the whoosh down the drain. One is civilization, the other is the beyond.

But the route that Bacall and Bogey are now taking brings back into the city, but to a transitional point. It is 7244 Laverne Terrace, Laurel Canyon, and, to me, one of the most mysterious, strangely empowered places in all 1940s movies. Why? Why do I like this strange little house so much? What purpose does it serve, and why it is so central to the movie? The house is visited often in the movie, in fact, it could be said that the movie is woven in and out of the house. For this reason, it is apparent that 7244 Laverne Terrace is the psychological heart of the movie, what does it mean? will be discussed in part two of this essay.