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Matinee Melodrama; by Scott Higgins
Topic Started: Apr 27 2017, 11:44 AM (116 Views)
Fantomas
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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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There are basically three kinds of serial books. One, those containing original research or interviews with the people who made serials--which can be very interesting. Two, books with a lot of pictures, which can be fun if you haven't seen the pictures before. Three, self-published drivel by semi-literate fanboys--which are neither fun nor interesting.
Matinee Melodrama is in a different category--academic analysis of serials. I don't think the author (a college professor) discovers anything you haven't noticed before, but it's impressive seeing critical terminology usually applied to Bergman or Kurosawa being used to analyze the ending of Chapter Six of Perils of Nyoka, which takes up seven pages of text.
Most of the time Higgins avoids sounding too much like a doctoral thesis, but every now and then you get a sentence like: "They are very long films, some lasting over four hours, time enough to get comfortable in the diegesis."
(Try picturing Anthony Warde turning to William Witney before a shot saying, "I don't know, Bill. I'm just not comfortable in the diegesis.")
It's certainly a different way of looking at serials, worth a read, as long as you don't expect Alan Barbour-type prose.

And hey, get this. Higgins thanks the students in his Cinema of Action and Adventure course at Wesleyan. Think about that for a moment. You can go to a college like Wesleyan today and take a course for credit where you watch serials. Why didn't they have that when I went to college?

P.S. Both In the Balcony and, ahem, another serial website get a mention in the footnotes.
"For life is short, but death is long."
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The Batman
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Nice review, Fantomas. I just ordered and received this book last week. I'm looking forward to it and will start it right after I finish the Joe Bonomo biography.




Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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