HUGO, LENI, KANE, NOLAN, ELLROY, DE PALMA
Michael Guillen has riffed off a nice summary of the links between The Man Who Laughs, The Dark Knight, and The Black Dahlia in a two-part piece stemming from a recent screening of The Man Who Laughs at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. In part one, Guillen describes in well-researched summary how Conrad Veidt's Gwynplaine inspired the creation of the Joker. Then, in part two, Guillen explores the themes that link The Man Who Laughs with The Black Dahlia and The Dark Knight. Discussing the "problematic erotic triangulation" between Lee, Bucky, and Kay in The Black Dahlia, Guillen writes:
That triangulation is articulated through a scene in De Palma's film where Lee, Bucky and Kay—in what Village Voice critic J. Hoberman terms "an unlikely date"—catch a screening of Leni's The Man Who Laughs. In a September 2006 interview with Daily Breeze reporter Jim Farber, Brian De Palma stated, "If this film works, it's because I stayed scrupulously on the Ellroy road. I didn't try to change things. What I did do was try to find visual equivalents for some of the things he's doing in the book, like introducing a scene from the German Expressionist silent film The Man Who Laughs, rather than having somebody have to explain what that key image is all about. I tried to keep very much to Ellroy's story structure and the way he explains things, which sometimes explains nothing." Expressionistic dualism, anyone? De Palma's strategy in this scene is to observe how The Man Who Laughs reveals the varied interiority of his three main characters. As Armond White delineates for Cineaste, "Bucky is transfixed, Lee is bemused and Kay is frightened—reflecting their individual response to life's horrors." (Cineaste, 12/22/06). Hoberman qualifies Kay's "agonized response to [Gwynplaine]'s scarred face" by reminding that the audience soon discovers she herself has been branded.
THE JOKER IS DRESSED TO KILL
By the way, we can add Keith Uhlich to the list of Dark Knight critics getting tons of hate mail for disliking the film. Uhlich does, however, make a De Palma reference in his review of the film at The House Next Door. Uhlich makes a quick comparison between the nightmare at the end of De Palma's Dressed To Kill, where Bobbi kills a nurse and then dons her uniform to escape a mental institution, and the Dark Knight sight of Heath Ledger's Joker moving through a hospital wearing a nurse's uniform.
POLAND COMPARES KNIGHT TO THE UNTOUCHABLES
Sure, we've seen plenty of critics compare The Dark Knight to De Palma's The Untouchables, but somehow we missed Dave Poland's early review of Nolan's film, where he stated that Nolan here is reaching for "a Godfather-esque effort" that nevertheless shoots itself in the foot by being too long, and yet not long enough. Poland writes: