Zsa Zsa Gabor & _Touch of Evil_ (was RE: Irony, again)

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Thu Mar 18 02:08:10 PST 1999

On Wed, 17 Mar 1999, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> What remains at (and after) the end of the film? Garbage heaps and seedy
> streets. Oil derricks "pumping up money, money, money..." (as Quinlan says,
> comparing his slipping hold on a tiny bit of local police power to an
> immense flow of capital that has and will accumulate more wealth and
> power). The polluted water of the canal in which Vargas must wade to trap
> Quinlan. Cops who think that planting evidence and framing suspects are
> what it takes to "aid justice."

Don't forget the great utopian signifier, amidst the wrack and ruin of monopoly-industrialism, of the recorder: the conclusion is not really a series of confessions so much as a series of ambiguous hints. We're left at the edge of our seats till the very last, wondering if Quinlan will actually get away with it; in its own way, the mirror-image of the very beginning, where we keep waiting, waiting, waiting for an explosion which we never actually see. Hitchcock's photographic clue yields to the properly postmodern *symptom* of the clue -- the nuclear flash of the truth, in the junkyard of the signifier. I'd argue that the late Fifties was actually the start of aesthetic postmodernism, you can see the subject being slowly fragmented into zones of mediatic capital -- the same moment as Beckett's Endgame or Genet's The Blacks, really -- which also ties in to the theme of the neo-national borderland, the threatening Beat-era youth culture which could still strike someone who remembered the Thirties as deeply Fascist (an Adornic note, that), and of course a powerful gender ideology (the great scene in the hotel, where Janet Leigh discovers, in the Foucauldian sense, The Body). Amazing, how the revolutions of the Sixties were already coded into the innermost aesthetic DNA of the Fifties; it makes one wonder what unimaginable varieties of praxis lie dormant in our own Nineties culture, waiting for History to finally happen.

-- Dennis

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