The Song Is You and Bury Me Deep deserve a look
|Ahhh...the Serie Noir|
and powerful exercise. John Huston, Howard Hawks and various less significant directors turned these books and others into starkly lit, popular movies that the French went nuts over critically because of the Existential subtext, terming the books ‘Serie Noir’ and the movies ‘Film Noir.”
The Song Is You takes bit player’s Jean Spangler’s 1949 disappearance as a jumping off point for an exploration of La La Land’s corruption of characters who came from other regions and upturned their naïve dreams. Abbott’s hero, Gil Hopkins, is a studio flack with a major drinking problem and a marriage that he busted up. The Hollywood studio’s power is compared to that of the gangsters providing various nefarious services to movie stars and others. The scenes between Hopkins and real-life party girl starlet Barbara Payton possess an authentic ring and are very funny. There is poignancy in Hopkins being his own worst enemy and his inability to succeed simultaneously in his professional and private lives. The solution to the mystery is a little startling, though it also reminded me a little of the tone of The Black Dahlia.
Bury Me Deep looks deeply into the Winnie Ruth Judd (The Trunk Murderess) case in Phoenix. In reality, it was extremely lurid since two best friends were dismembered and their bodies packed into trunks and sent by railroad to L.A. It screams tabloid and it’s surprising that it wasn’t somehow worked into the first season of American Horror Story. However, Abbott presents female consciousness with sensitivity and refrains from detailing the seamier elements of the story, though they are more than merely suggested.
I can imagine movies made from either of Abbott’s books described here. Curtis Hanson directed the wonderful movie version of L.A. Confidential, but trimmed one bizarre, faux-Walt Disney storyline and a number of characters as well as turning the book’s jazzy style into a visual symphony. Brian De Palma could not find an equivalent method in transforming Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia, though he was hobbled by Josh Friedman’s dreary script that chopped apart the book’s whole plot and threw out the best parts. Would Kathryn Bigelow or John Dahl consider directing a movie from one of Abbott’s novels since she’s written six?