By John Lekich & Photographs by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
In order to fully grasp the concept of film noir, you must inevitably understand how a normally rational man can be driven to the irrational act of murder. Normally, you’d have to sit through ninety minutes of broad-brimmed hats and cigarette smoke before the naked glare of enlightenment finally cuts through the shadows. Here, Alex provides an evocative shortcut with the help of actor, director and writer Bronwen Marsden.
I should mention that Alex’s trusty Malibu forms the backdrop for these shots. But, if you’re paying undue attention to the car, it could be that you’re cursed with an unnatural abundance of character. Hence, you will never be the sort of guy who – in the parlance of film noir – “plays the sap.” If you’re an ordinary man looking at these pictures – think classic saps like Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity or John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice - an interesting question comes to mind. Say a woman like this asked you to hit her elderly husband over the head with a monkey wrench. Say she asked you to hit him more than once.
There is the vague promise of insurance money and everlasting happiness. For now, there are trysts in the garage. Followed by drives along twisted roads where she tells you all her secrets. She insists on taking the wheel while you meekly ride shotgun. But, after a while, you get to like it. You are, after all, a sap. You want to say yes, even though you know what’s behind those eyes. An insatiable mixture of passion and greed that suggests your destiny might ultimately involve a final trip in the trunk of that same car. Not a good end. Still, you can’t help thinking about it, right?
Don’t feel so bad. Even a cool customer like Robert Mitchum would want to dive into those eyes. By sheer co-incidence, Marsden bears a startling resemblance to the smoldering Jane Greer. The femme fatale Mitchum falls for in the film noir masterpiece, Out of the Past. Let’s just say that things do not end well for Mitchum. (Or Mitchum’s car, for that matter.) And yet, it’s not hard to imagine him getting all hot under the fedora for the woman in these pictures. And, if Robert Mitchum can play the sap, what chance do the rest of us have?