Passages records the books I'm reading, the live music I'm hearing, and the movies I'm seeing. Every now and then I'll throw in a passage from a book I read a while back or a trailer from a old favorite movie. Occasionally, there is something that simply caught my eye. But most of it is what I'm reading and hearing and watching in real time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Genius of the System

Warner's released White Heat in the summer of 1949, and neither the critics nor the public knew quite what to make of it. Without a stabilizing narrative force -- a love story, say, or a more appealing agent of law and order -- the viewer is necessarily drawn to the doomed and anarchic Cody. At the film's end, the nominal hero, Edmund O'Brien, pumps one bullet after another into Cody and mutters, "What's keeping him up?" The answer is obvious. It's what kept Robinson up at the end of Key Largo -- that odd logic of stardom and drama and Hollywood myth making, accumulated through decades of films and roles. It's what gave stars like Cagney and Robinson, Davis and Muni, Bogart and Flynn, the power to overcome conflict and loss and even death itself, and to be forever reborn and forever revitalized in another role, another life, another on-screen incarnation.

Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood and Filmmaking in the Studio Era

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