WEIRDLAND: Dream Dump, Gulf City, L.A. noir: The City as Character

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dream Dump, Gulf City, L.A. noir: The City as Character

"This was the final dumping ground. He thought of Janvier’s Sargasso Sea. Just as that imaginary body was a history of civilization in the form of a marine junkyard. The studio lot was one in the form of a dream dump. A Sargasso of the imagination". -NATHANIEL WEST
(The Day of the Locust novel, 1939)

Karen Black and William Atherton in "The day of the locust" (1975) directed by John Schlesinger

"On 70th anniversary of The Day of the Locust, West’s picture of the “Dream Dump” still rates Number One. “West’s ‘Locust’ captures Hollywood. Novel’s portrait still strikingly relevant 70 years on” -Variety, May 8, 2009.

Lizabeth Scott as Dusty Coral Chandler and Humphrey Bogart as Capt. 'Rip' Murdock in Dead Reckoning (1947) directed by John Cromwell

"Rip follows the clues to Johnny’s hometown of Gulf City. (It’s unclear where Gulf City is supposed to be, but it has to be somewhere along the Gulf Coast. There are palm trees, and Bogie refers at one point to “Southern hospitality.” There is a real Gulf City in Florida, but it’s an unincorporated little town that had a population of zero by the 1920s.)
Rip rolls through the microfiche in the Gulf City public library until he finds a newspaper article dated September 3, 1943, with the headline “Rich realtor slain.”

The motive was jealousy — both men loved a woman named Coral Chandler — and Johnny confessed to the murder, but disappeared before he could be sentenced, and enlisted in the army under a false name.
Rip tracks down the woman in the case, the beautiful and statuesque Coral “Dusty” Chandler (Lizabeth Scott), a singer in a Gulf City nightclub". Source:

“Walking through a city like New York or Los Angeles is like walking through a dream—or a nightmare,” writes Nicholas Christopher in Somewhere in the Night, and he catalogs elements of that hallucinatory promenade: “Corridors, stairwells, precipitate rooftops, towers, and antennae, streets that can be shadowy or frozen in time or frenetic with flashing steel and chrome, forbidding doorways, gigantic windows that with a subtle change of light can become funhouse mirrors. Not to mention the ever-changing faces and grotesqueries— the city of dreams differs very little from the city of reality.” Dream and reality are the touchstones of film noir".
-"L.A. Noir: The City as Character" by Alain Silver and James Ursini


countsheep said...

I love noir genre, too, happy weekend, Kendra :)

Kendra said...

Noir is one of my fav genres, I hope you have a good weekend, countsheep!