By Madeline Harvey
The other weekend I found myself sipping Earl Grey tea and eating scones with raspberry jam slathered over them. I skipped the clotted cream because for me it simply ruins the experience of a freshly baked scone. Some of you may be wondering about my homemaker skills and curious to know if I baked the scones myself. The answer is, yes, I baked them—if by baked you mean popping down to the shops first thing on Saturday morning and having them home before they cooled.
Seemed to have meandered off course there.
Back on track, I got to thinking about Noir and when I was first exposed to this genre. For those who don’t know, it’s hard-boiled detective with a bit more sass and class. After about an hour, and three scones later, and six ponderings over why last year’s dresses didn’t fit right anymore, I realized exactly where and when I was introduced to Noir.
Summer 1996, I was nine years old and my parents thought it a good idea for me to learn how to ride a horse. Honestly, they were barking mad. They probably thought because of my tiny frame I’d make a fantastic jockey. Four years later, I had the most wondrous growth spurt and now I tower over my mum and see eye-to-eye with my father. Anyway, this excursion lead us into the countryside where I found myself meeting Bronwyn, this glossy brown mare with an attitude worse than my best mate’s.
This was the start of my fear of horses.
Not only did Bronwyn dislodge me from the saddle, but when I rounded out behind her, she kicked me. Broke my arm in two places, she did. And there I was rendered useless for the entire summer. But then, in hopes of making it up to me, my mum used to take me down to the video store and rent me whatever I wanted to watch. Which is when I found my first Film Noir.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Alright, you can stop your giggling just now. It is Film Noir, despite being a comedy and despite it celebrating cartoons. Eddie Valiant is every tortured, noir protagonist every created, and he wears a fedora as well. He drinks, grieves his brother’s death, works hard and lives in a shoddy one-room apartment. Except, he’s a good guy at heart, and he gets the job done.
This is a hard-boiled detective story that takes place in Toon-Town, where the underbelly is just as seedy as any other city in any other Noir movie or film. It’s a thriller, a murder mystery, and is a mastery of depicting the dark and light we come to favour in this movie/novel genre. But it is more than the trickery of film and the overall feel of the movie. It has something far more enticing and that’s the most extreme femme fatale of all times…
There she is. A super vixen, redhead bombshell every man adores but refuses to cross. She is the perfect woman who oozes sex appeal from her tight glittery dress, half-lidded eyes to her breathy, seductive voice. Not only that, but the movie revolves around her and intrigue only builds as the suspicion around her does. In the end she is a bit different from a lot of the other Noir female roles out there, in that she really does only wants to save Roger Rabbit, the man who makes her laugh.
You know what, the more I think about the movie, the more I come to the conclusion that this isn’t just Film Noir. It’s Film Noir at its best.