You can’t get more B-movie than Violated (1953)

Crime B-movies are a dime a dozen. There are more crime B-movies than a there are porterhouse steaks in a butcher’s shop. Except Violated would be a steak a little too bloody with too much gristle.

From the opening sequence, which contains an unseen vicious murder, an unseen killer and lots of screaming, to the ending, which provides a convenient psychological answer, the doctors tell us it was “subconscious compulsion right down to the hair fetish,” Violated is the very epitome of B-movie.

The premise of the film is everything you might expect: a violent crime with sexual motivations by an unknown individual investigated by the police. There are a couple of suspects, some explanations from a doctor and a couple of possible victims (in this case a young girl starting a modelling career and a burlesque dancer).

The police are as wooden as the plain room sets they inhabit. It’s not worth your while distinguishing one cop from another, they are all one formless entity only in the film to help the viewer figure out the identity of the murder. At one point, a roomful of cops are interviewing a suspect and one, I can’t remember which and it doesn’t seem to matter, says you’ll talk “you dirty rat.”

One of the most interesting elements of the film is the reaction of the police. A cop fires into the air after hearing someone shout “Hey, stop that guy.” It makes you wonder whether the film is being overly dramatic or the fifties were a very different time. Let’s hope it was the former.

Look out of the lynchpin of the police’s investigation, it’s a suit sent to the drycleaners with hair on it. A far cry from modern police procedurals and crime scene investigators, but it works in the movie as does the killer’s explanation. After the doctor puts the guy under, we get a brief explanation

The killer’s failure to go through with marriage because her “was afraid of having children” leads the doctor to ask, “Was your childhood so terrible?” Of course it was, how could it not be. The first problem was “I once saw my father cry,” but then it turns out the killer saw “A man was stroking my mother’s long beautiful hair and kissing her.” Who was that man? Well, he’s not in the film, but he also wasn’t his dad.

Violated even has a moral for us, more of a warning if you like. Want to know what we should look out for to avoid this morally corrupt individuals? Look for the guy that helps you pick up papers when you drop them. If you’re not careful he’ll turn out to be a sexual monster with a pair of scissors.

My favourite parts of the film? Easy, couple of burlesque dancers getting into a quick cat fight and the creepy killer as he goes down a fire escape. Forget the wooden cops, this actor was going out Stanislavsky on the part.

Watch Violated online. The extended shot of the burlesque dancer in a top hat is the very definition of gratuitous. 

 

Gatsby’s Car and the American Dream

The Great Gatsby and the Car

If the Fast and Furious franchise has taught us anything, it is that cars are closely linked to the American Dream. It should be no surprise that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novel considered a seminal text of the American Dream, features a car as both plot device and symbol.

Gatby’s car, introduced when Gatsby’s takes Nick to lunch, represents his status and can be understood as a of Gatsby’s character.

 “It was a rich cream color, bright and there in it’s monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.” (pg.33)

 The bright colour of the car and reference to the mirrored suns reflects Gatsby’s wealth as well as an attempt to draw the attention of Daisy. The metaphorical reference to it’s “monstrous length” provide an over-exaggerated depiction of Gatsby and his wealth. The listing of various boxes that have been attached provide a sense of the added adornments that pus the car, and by implication Gatsby, beyond the more established wealth of East Egg and Tom and Daisy.

 

The contrast between Gatsby and Tom and proximity of their characters is presented through the pivotal Plaza Hotel chapter when they swap cars, facilitating the first tragedy of the novel (it is arguable there are many tragedies in The Great Gatsby, the first irrevocable tragedy is the death of Myrtle). Tom’s brief stop at Wilson’s garage while driving Gatsby’s car sets the stage for Myrtle running out into the street and in front of the speeding car after the traumatic events at the Plaza Hotel. By running out into the street, Myrtle is actively chasing her dream of Tom and wealth. Her death presents a dramatic reminder of the fatal consequences of chasing a dream.

 During their brief stay at the Plaza Hotel, both Gatsby and Daisy are forced to confront the reality of each other. Gatsby faces the obstacle of Daisy’s love for Tom that cannot be quickly swept away. Daisy realises that Tom and Gatsby are more similar than she might have imaged, diminishing the dreamlike status of Gatsby. After Tom has triumphed over Gatsby and regained his wife, it is significant that he says:

 “You two start on home, Daisy,” said Tom. “In Mr. Gatsby’s car.” (126)

 Tom is clearly confident in his victory over Gatsby and nothing to feel from the man, trusting that even though Daisy will ride in the Gatsby’s monstrous car, it will not be sufficient enough to provide Gatsby with any measure of success. When Gatsby’s car become the “death car” (128) after leaving the Plaza Hotel, it is not just Myrtle who is killed, Daisy and Gatsby’s dreams have also died.

 Let us forget for a moment the ridiculousness of Daisy wanting to drive so she could steady her nerves. Gatsby tells Nick, “when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive” (133). Instead, the death of Myrtle is a symbolic retaliation of Daisy on Tom for his cruel destruction of her dream. Unfortunately, Myrtle’s tragedy begins a reaction that ultimately kills Wilson and Gatsby utilising the car as a means to (incorrectly) identifying the murderer.

 Oh yes, and here is a Fast and Furious trailer for good measure.