Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Saved by the Book

A few months ago, I was reading Francois Truffaut's book-length interview with Alfred Hitchcock and was reminded of the scene in 1938's The 39 Steps where Robert Donat's character's life is saved because a hymn book in his pocket stops a bullet.

Alfred Hitchcock: . . . What I like in The Thirty-nine Steps are the swift transitions. Robert Donat decides to go to the police to tell them that the man with the missing finger tried to kill him and how the Bible saved his life, but they don't believe him and suddenly he finds himself in handcuffs. How will he get out of them?

After reading this, I seemed to come across again and again what TV Tropes calls the "Pocket Protector". I can recall three movies I watched this year by name that have it--Burton's Sleepy Hollow, Plunkett and Macleane, and Rainy Dog. The first two of those movies were both released in 1999 and were set in the 18th century while Rainy Dog came out in 1997 and was set in contemporary Taipei.

Maybe it's a measure of the religious leanings of Western audiences that over sixty years after a hymn book saved the hero in The 39 Steps it's a book of witchcraft that saves the hero in Sleepy Hollow while a villain is saved in Plunkett and Macleane by a nice thick bible. Or maybe it's just a sign of the kind of movies I end up watching.

It's a villain that's saved in Rainy Dog and it's by a cigarette lighter, much like a character in 1992's Hard Boiled. Asian films seem to prefer a concealed metal object over a book.

I feel like I've run across more instances of this plot device lately but I can't remember them. Maybe it's a sign I should carry something heavy in my breast pocket? Maybe it's just a sign I should remind everyone to read.

Twitter Sonnet #1177

A dream assembled markets for the street.
A ticking watch was dropped in bourbon straight.
Reflections made the face a very beet.
The early worm arose so very late.
A cagey coat contained the heart and ribs.
The apple fell across from heated snow.
Galoshes stayed where steps were calling dibs.
In crystal ice is more than atoms know.
Regarded glasses turn the eye again.
A name resembled clumps of tangled hairs.
The elbows knew the knees were real akin.
For joints as links were chained to bears.
In pockets kept beside the heart's a song.
The lighter's smaller book was very strong.

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