I missed the era of nickel matinees at the movie theater, staring up at the flickering black-and-white images of Hollywood's brightest, wrapped up in catching the pratfalls and passion. I was, however, able to indulge in the nostalgia of the era thanks to PBS and the show Matinee At The Bijou. I gained an appreciation for classic serials, the artistry of Keaton and Chaplin, the gruffness of Bogart, the sensuousness of Bacall, the power Crawford, and the majesty of Grant. I also got sucked into the shadowy world of film noir, a place where shadowy figures tried to manipulate hard-nosed men and desperate women, where vices could be your downfall, where death erupted suddenly and without warning. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Dial M for Murder, DOA, The Naked City, The Asphalt Jungle... movies that would grab you, reel you in, and keep you on the edge of their seat with their gritty, gutty stories.
Growing up, what boy didn't want to be Humphrey Bogart, chasing bad guys through back alleys or trading innuendo and smoldering glances with Lauren Bacall?
It is an art form that has faded from the American consciousness in this day-and-age of CGI-drawn visuals, explosions, incessant hammering of automatic weapons, and thinly-veiled bodies heaving against each other in bed. We want everything heaved at us in a frenetic ballet of violence or spoon-fed to us as a sappy, syrupy confection. We are rarely pulled unwillingly into a story, left wondering if the people we see are actually who we think they are. Too much of modern movie making is trying to hide the obvious in a complicated goop of misdirection in the vain hope of surprising people.
Which brings me to a thing which crossed before my eyes a little over two weeks ago, a project by the talented Kirsten Vangsness (also known as Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds) and her cohorts at Opiate of the Masses. It is a movie homage to the glory days of film, and film noir in particular, called "Kill Me, Deadly." It is a laugh-out-loud comedy that stars Ms. Vangsness as the femme fatale of our drama, Mona Livingston, Dean Lemont as the clueless gumshoe with the hots for her, Charlie Nickels, Joe Mantegna as Bugsy Siegel, noted gangster, and the incomparable Lesley-Anne Down as Lady Clairmont, the shadowy lady in the background.
It's not often you will find me shilling for something, but my heart has been sold to this piece of work that touches on an era that was one of the watershed moments in movie making. But rather than some dour replication of the genre, here are people who love art, film, film-making, and have put a comedic spin on it that will at once have you enthralled and in stitches. It doesn't take much to support a fine project such as this, but ever simoleon, every sawbuck, every bit of dough takes it that much closer to completion. Watch the trailer, read the back story, and help Opiate of the Masses finish bringing this story to life. Get you piece of the action now...