It’s 30 November, the last day of November – and Noirvember – and it’s safe to say that I messed up. I overestimated this self-imposed task to post something everyday and follow Noirvember to the letter. I did not anticipate the sheer volume activity that would flood my way and make this month one of my busiest of the year.
It’s started slowly and surely, but a combination of minor health niggles and research activity soon put my intentions to rest. May it was this task – the incentive to become more active on here – that kickstarted my hunger for something that I’ve been missing and craving for a very long time. It got me back into a much-missed circle, asking questions of myself and critiquing my current situation and general career plan. It gave me a much-needed kick to use my site more and to post whatever I wanted to at that particular moment, be it a photo, quote, anecdote or whatever. I wanted to do more in-depth reviews, analysis and wittily constructed posts but there’s always time – maybe I’ll do a mini Noir celebration in the year?
Let’s just see where this site takes us, shall we? Out of the Noirvember darkness and into the light…
One of my first memories is of Humphrey Bogart’s face. I’ve already spoken about this in one of my TCMFF posts, but my Dad’s wardrobe is plastered in black and white postcards and film stills of Bogart, Lauren Bacall and James Dean. I grew up with the assumption that every father did this, and that everybody knew these faces, these voices, these films. I was raised with the assumption that every child knew of The Maltese Falcon, and that every parent paid homage to Old Hollywood. I may not have studied film long-term, but I had the best education: my Film Noir schooling began at home.
The time has come to dig out my winter coat. It’s a shortish, greeny-blue, faux-fur number and I have had it for five years. When it is cold I want to sleep wearing it, and I hate taking it off once indoors. It becomes second skin from November until March. Winter is a sartorially fun season – lots of layering, fabrics, accessories and jewels – and it’s easier to up the glamour stakes. My rules are: the fluffier, bigger, warmer and cosier the item the happier I feel. I love the Film Noir Femmes who enter a room dripping in fur and pearls and hats and carrying a muff (no sniggering at the back). Luxuriant, indulgent, decadent. In my head I resemble Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, but in reality I’m Jane Lane.
We have all experienced a moment, a point in time, of tripping and falling flat on our face. The fall can be physical – a moment of clumsiness or brought on by wearing the wrong shoes – or, most often, the fall is emotional. This is a tricky one because dented pride and emotional scars run deep. It happens to all of us. We make mistakes, we stumble, fail and we experience major wrongs when nothing appears to be going as planned. The most integral thing is not the fall: it’s the recovery.
This occurred to me the other night while re-watching The Thin Man (1934), the unparalleled film series about the sleuthing adventures of Nick and Nora Charles (the divine Williams Powell and Myrna Loy). Nora’s entrance is classic screwball farce. While Nick is dapper and demonstrating the art of how to shake a perfect Martini at the bar, the beautiful and impeccably tailored Nora is dragged in by Asta, the couple’s wire haired terrier. With arms filled with Christmas shopping she looses her footing to take one of the most elegant prat falls in memory, perfectly splaying herself on the floor before being helped up by those around her. Nick does not help as much as watch on with an amused, yet loving, smile.
Yet, as she stands up, she is still perfect with not a hair out of place. She could dwell on her fall but instead the couple launch into their witty repartee for which the show is so adored. So what that she has fallen? She is not embarrassed- why should she be? Instead she points to her husband’s martini and asks “how many drinks have you had?”. When he replies, “this will make six Martinis,” she casually asks the waiter “will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here”. She carries on as if nothing had happened.
If you fall – for whatever reason – so what? Don’t slink off with your tail between your legs. Remember the mantra: DO AS NORA CHARLES. Her pride is not sore (although her head certainly is the morning after). Don’t fret and wallow on the ground, pick yourself off, stand up straight and down six martinis.