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!