ext_12740 ([identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com) wrote in [personal profile] sovay 2016-08-29 06:12 am (UTC)

and it even reaches the level of parody more than once at the hands of Mel Brooks.

"AH! SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE!"

There's probably a fascinating study in this that intersects the femme fatale with the bad boy as monsterous other and crosses over from noir into proto horror.

You should talk to [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe (skygiants (http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/) on DW). She's been conducting an unofficial comparative study of film noir and Gothic romance. Apparently there is more than a little overlap.

I think I wrote this post badly, because my point was not that I was surprised that The Big Combo gave its unconventional sexual practices to its villains, but that I found it fascinating that in this case the conventions had shifted to the point where I had to think my way through the original interpretation, because sixty years later, rather than underscoring his no-good status, Brown's enthusiastic investment in Susan's sexual fulfillment reads to me as one of his few positive traits as a partner (or a human being) and therefore, instead of reading Susan as led astray and degraded by her inappropriate sexual desires, I find her conflicted feelings about the relationship especially sympathetic, because not only is she getting a whacking hit of endorphins and oxytocin from her interactions with Brown, he keeps looking when they're in bed together like someone who should be as attentive and considerate and pleased-by-pleasing-her when they're out of it and he's just not. I don't get to the ending and think, "Oh, thank God, finally you're with a normal man who will reawaken your natural womanly desires," it's pretty much straight-up "Good for you for figuring out what you like! Now find yourself who'll enjoy doing it for you and isn't an emotionally abusive career criminal!" The fact that I really do think that some of this is the film's intention also interests me, because even while I think it is criticizing aspects of its narrative's heteronormativity, it doesn't totally explode them—the best it can do for an ending is ambiguity, not reversal. Fante and Mingo are the most romantic, devoted characters onscreen and they're still a couple of trigger-happy thugs who die before the curtain call. Rita is a stripper, loves Diamond without any of the weird possessive obsession he displays over Susan, gets shot. That's all very Breen Office. But we still get the cunnilingus scene; we still get Brown trying to make his unhappy lover feel good. He's just such crap at the rest of the relationship, it's only going to work until the sweat dries. And that's perfectly realistic and perhaps that's why we see it first in noir.

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