Thursday, August 18, 2011

Falling in Love Again

By Kelli Stanley

First, a little Dietrich. Click the video and wait a few seconds (past the artifacts) and you'll see why Marlene became a legend.

As for why fools fall in love? A noir writer shouldn't answer this question ...

After all, we deal in amour fou (though it could be legitimately asked if there is any other kind).

Amour fou, for the uninitiated, is that state of headlong, heedless, passionate, thrilling, incapacitating, obsessive, sweaty state of complete desire for a woman or a man whom you know -- the small part of you that is able to cling to rationality -- to be no good.

And not just no good. Rotten to the core, corrupt, scheming, and worst of all, using you for his or her own ends. You're a laughing stock at the end of the affair, and probably impoverished.

That's the happy ending. In the unhappy ending, you're dead.

In the scene from The Blue Angel, above (the movie that made Marlene a star and brought her to Hollywood), she's the object of the amour fou. The fou, of course, is Emil Jannings ... the wreck of a man who's still ogling her.

Film noir is full of this sort of tale ... ad nauseum. Some are done superbly well (Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity, for instance), some not, but the genre--for all its dark reputation--is obviously quite concerned with amour, fou or not.

Amour fou tends to be the device through which women are demonized in noir, so you don't see much of it in my writing. Sure, Arcturus had a youthful fling with a dangerous woman named Dionysia, but then again ... the Roman noir series is told from his perspective. And it's obvious that he's madly, passionately, heedlessly devoted to Gwyna.

As for Miranda ... well, plenty of men have lost their heads over her. Will she ever be able to love again? I can't say. She's a complex woman with complex issues. Amour of any kind requires trust. And she's nobody's fool.

Men tend to fall in love with her because ... well, here. Just watch this video.

Miranda combines strength, intelligence, passion, beauty and a palpable, sexual allure with an aching vulnerability. She won't be owned, but they know she's been for sale, and the combination can be overpowering.

So why do fools fall in love? I'll let Shakespeare have the final word:

"Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love."

That's from Love's Labors Lost. Y'see, the Bard was a noir writer, too.

City of Dragons will be out in paperback on August 30th!
"Memory Book" (a new Miranda Corbie story) will be published September 6th as an ebook and on The Criminal Element. September 13th brings CITY OF SECRETS, the sequel to City of Dragons. To read the first chapter of CITY OF SECRETS, just visit my website.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled program!


Meredith Cole said...

I like it--Shakespeare as a noir writer. He sure did write about some crazy obsessive love, didn't he?

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Meredith! :) Yeah, Shakespeare was the man. Othello is probably my favorite play, followed by Macbeth.

Michael Wiley said...

Any post that includes the phrase "amour fou" is a good one, Kelli. As for Shakespeare, yes, definitely: Hamlet is dressed all in noir. And then we have famous titles like Midsummer's Noir Dream.

lil Gluckstern said...

I immediately thought of Othello-the destruction of innocence, the obsession, and the creeping pervasiveness of evil. In Noir the bad guys seem so disconnected from the good impulse of the soul; in this way, your hero and heroine, Kelli, don't have that. They are most definitely, good guys. the circumstances on the other hand....I like your post. Marlena certainly had that certain something that evoked smoky, sensual nights.

Gabi said...

So bad guys = good time, then death. Okay.

Kelli Stanley said...

Midsummer Night's Noir! One of my favorites, Michael! Except Puck has a name change to, well, something that rhymes. ;)

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Lil! :) Agatha Christie defined Iago as the perfect villain in her last Poirot novel (Curtain) ... I always thought her analysis was spot-on.

And yes, Marlene was quite something--a formidable and brave woman, and one of my heroines! :)

Kelli Stanley said...

I'm sorry to break it to you, Gabs. The bad guys are always the sexiest, but, well, that amour fou curse is kinda permanent.

For a good example, watch Criss Cross with Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo! (both young at the time)


Lynn H. said...

I'm sorry -- but I can't see the Dietrich clip without thinking of Madeline Kahn's brilliant parody in Blazing Saddles.

Kelli Stanley said...

Lynn, I LOVE that number--one of my favorite comedy bits ever. :)

She's actually paying homage to Marlene in Destry Rides Again (where Dietrich sings "Go See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have".

I miss Madeline Kahn ... she was a phenomenal comedienne!!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I love Miranda! The fact that she seems invulnerable to love makes her that much more exciting to read and see what happens. It's a nice change from the usual romantic tensions in books.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you so much, Sue Ann!! :) And may I say that no on does romantic suspense better than you do in your vampire series! :)

kathy d. said...

I am very fond of Miranda, too. I read City of Shadows and passed it around to friends.

I eagerly await City of Secrets.

Miranda is sort of like V.I. Warshawski, only with a difficult past and some vulnerabilities in the present. But smart, gutsy, independent, decisive, determined and more.

And I like her politics!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you very much, Kathy!! :) Miranda and I deeply appreciate that!!! :)