Thursday, November 5, 2009

Legally Noir

By Kelli

It was a frame. Clean-built, splinter free, squared off corners. Solid oak. No way to talk around it, no one to talk through. Just me, and two-bits to call the first shyster I picked out of the lineup.

The skinny cop in the corner smirked and kept working at the toothpick in his mouth. I opened the directory he shrugged toward me, wondering if the same bums would be hustling the ambulances ten years later.

Skinny heard the intake of breath when I turned toward the attorney section, and found that the last poor sucker brought in for "questioning" had ripped out all the pages.
On my own. No money, no friends, no tricky Dick lawman on my side of the interrogation room. Just enough for a phone call ... if I could just remember who the hell to call ...

My legal case will undoubtedly be film noir, so we need a legal eagle who is used to working in black and white, and since Perry Mason will be busy defending Rebecca (who is about as innocent as I am), who's left?

There's Paul Diegler (Jimmy Stewart) from Anatomy of a Murder. Good guy, persistent, convincing, has that everyday-guy thing down pat. Problem is, if there's a good-looking blonde on the other side of the courtroom, he might get distracted. Dames are a weakness ... along with a touch of vertigo.

The Paradine Case's Anthony Keene (Gregory Peck) is no better in the broad department. Heard his whole life crumbled around some Italian dish who played him like Pagliacci. Not so keen on Keene.

There's a guy named Atticus Finch who is like a legal Superman, bucks the system, fights for justice ... but he does his work in straight drama, not genre frame-ups. Likewise Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy),
probably the greatest lawyer of them all. Based on Clarence Darrow, he argues for the separation of Church and State and the emancipation of science in Inherit the Wind. But my case won't get Henry publicity and won't earn satisfaction for Atticus, so nix on those two.

That does it. I think if I'm gonna stand a chance, we'll have to switch genres. I've got it! The one person who could beat the best lawyer in the world (and District Attorney) Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy, natch) ... Amanda Bonner!! As played by Katherine Hepburn, she champions Judy Holiday in Adam's Rib, and other than falling sucker for David Wayne's ridiculous flirtations, she's got it covered. Nobody--and that means nobody--argues with Hepburn and wins ... unless she wants them to.

And just to make sure of it, let's bring on her assistant, Elle Woods ... who doesn't work in black and white, but can serve as a good distraction for the prosecution. All right, I feel much more optimistic.

Amanda strode into the dimly lit office, lit a cigarette, and flashed a million dollar smile. The Irish cop with the wrinkled, battered face dropped his cigar and blanched. "Darling," she said. "All I'm trying to say is that there's lots of things that a man can do and in society's eyes it's all hunky-dory. A woman does the same thing - the same thing, mind you - and she's an outcast." The cop growled. "Stop quoting from that movie, Amanda. You got any thing else?"

She whistled ... and the office door opened and suddenly we weren't in Kansas anymore. A colorfully-dressed young woman posed with her hand on her hip, and proceeded to cite the case of Hitchcock vs. Preminger with Kanin presiding.

On the way out of the jailhouse, Elle linked arms with Amanda and I ... and we all headed for the nearest spa.


I'm celebrating the fact that CITY OF DRAGONS is now on the Macmillan site! Which means I'm in the same author directory as Thomas Hardy and William Shatner! :)


Bobby Mangahas said...

I figured your trial would be film noir Kelli. Although, I'd be very disappointed if it wasn't.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks a million, R.J.! :) Noir it is, except that I don't want to be, ahem, fatalistically *&#@%$ on page one ... so I metamorphosed it into a screwball comedy with a happy ending. :)

Hey, it's my trial, and noir only works if you're reading or writing or watching it ... not living it! ;)

Take care, sweetie!


Bobby Mangahas said...

Noir only works if you're reading or writing or watching it ... not living it! ;)

Very True.

Unknown said...

Four words, people. The Verdict -- Paul Newman!

Noir in color, kinda :)

Shane Gericke said...

Shatner! You must be in heaven! I would be ...

Kelli Stanley said...

Ah, yes ... Paul Newman. He was such a great guy and a great actor. I miss him every time I look in the fridge and see his delicious salad dressing, too!

He shoulda won an Oscar for The Verdict ... one of the Academy's great injustices!

Thanks as always for the great comment, Mysti! :)


Kelli Stanley said...

Shane, it's so funny ... just last year, I was waiting in line with friends at BEA to get to be in the Great Man's presence. I actually spoke to him! And gave him a copy of NOX (sort of like offering your first-born). ;)

And now we're both published by SMP ... talk about your small worlds! ;)

Hope you're feeling better, honey ... and keep us posted on that trip to the courthouse. Gave me chills reading about it.



Sophie Littlefield said...

oh Kelli, you have *the* voice for that cinematic setting. Love it!

Jen Forbus said...

Alright, the can of worms was opened so I'll just spout my little rant - "The Academy has MANY, MANY injustices!" Enough said.

I love that you chose women, Kelli! If I could get her to jump the fence and "defend" I'd want Samantha Kincaid on my side. She's so diligent! Of course another prosecutor I highly admire is Alex Cooper...and she has Mike Chapman (*sigh*) on her team! ;)

Celebrate! Celebrate!