Saturday, January 02, 2010
William Faulkner and Film Noir
Ed here: I've been reading a collection of Faulkner's short stories and decided to see what I could find about him on line. Even when I was reading him back in my high school days I felt that he had a kinship with crime writers. Hard to get much darker than Faulkner at times. I mean Sanctuary alone would win would him Top Five Standing in the Existential Misanthropic Society. I came across this excellent piece on the Bright Lights Film Journal site.
Faulkner and Film Noir
"Some good pictures come out of Hollywood.
God knows how, but they do." — William Faulkner
BY DANIEL BARTH
This article originally appeared in issue 12 (Spring 1994) of our discontinued print edition. This issue featured several articles on film noir and neo-noir, all of which are now available online. See the table of contents below.
"In their movie Barton Fink (1991), Joel and Ethan Coen presented a character, W P. Mayhew, who was William Faulkner in very thin disguise. The image that lingers is a sad and disturbing one — Faulkner drunk and raving, wasting his genius and talent in the service of loudmouth producers of low-budget movies. But the Coens' depiction of Faulkner as a hapless drunk being destroyed by the Hollywood studio system is misleading. Though he was an alcoholic and hit some very low periods in Hollywood and elsewhere, Faulkner did not drink himself "into an early grave between B movie scripts," as one reviewer of Barton Fink concluded (Behrens, 25). In fact, Faulkner worked off and on as a scriptwriter for over 20 years, from 1932 to 1954 (even after receiving the Nobel Prize), and did not shuffle off this mortal coil until 1962. Far from destroying art and artist, it may be that film writing is all that enabled Faulkner to survive and get his work done. As his biographer Frederick Karl points out, "Faulkner not only survived, but thrived, some of his best work coming out of his early Hollywood years" (Karl, 483). It is also clear that Faulkner's work as a novelist and scriptwriter had an important influence on the film noir style from which the Coens have taken so much inspiration."
for the rest go here