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Author Topic: How things change  (Read 10612 times)

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Lance Charnes

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How things change
« on: July 28, 2009, 01:05:43 AM »

I just finished Eric Ambler's A Kind of Anger (1964). The NYT review: "A thriller of the highest order--ironic, witty, literate, ingenious, understated and unflaggingly suspenseful...brilliant."

It's a decent story -- one very like the sort of thing I write -- and an interesting period piece. But note the highlighted word in the review: "thriller."

Body count: 0. Fights/torture scenes: 0. Car chases: 1 (one page). Explosions: 0. Sex scenes: 0 (implied fade-to-black canoodling). Saving-the-world tropes: 0. Psycho-killer villains: 0. Most of the book consists of two to three people sitting about, talking. Yes, the "greatest thriller writer of our time" wrote...a cozy. It may not have been a cozy in 1964, but it certainly is one now.

Would Eric Ambler -- Edgar- and Gold Dagger-winning writer of best-selling novels of espionage and intrigue -- get published today? Sadly, I think not.

*Sigh.*
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 01:09:07 AM by Lance Charnes »
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MTH

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Re: How things change
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 06:00:32 PM »

Probably the movies changed writing more than the other way around. And of course all the forensic advances. I was watching a Miss Marple the other day (ok laugh at me) and the two detectives enter the crime scene where a body is sprawled across a desk with a huge knife sticking out of his back. The detectives ask a few questions of the family and Miss Marple and then one says, "I think we're done here." For some reason that made me giggle. Times have changed!
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Matthew S.

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Re: How things change
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 10:00:37 PM »

Probably the movies changed writing more than the other way around. And of course all the forensic advances. I was watching a Miss Marple the other day (ok laugh at me) and the two detectives enter the crime scene where a body is sprawled across a desk with a huge knife sticking out of his back. The detectives ask a few questions of the family and Miss Marple and then one says, "I think we're done here." For some reason that made me giggle. Times have changed!

MTH - I saw that same Miss Marplel - PBS, right?  While I didn't think it funny, I did ponder on the change in science.  Even still, there are so many places in the world where CSI is still an infant art.  Most municpalities can't afford the kind of bucks it takes to do something like that. 

Still, she wasn't the worst actress to play the role - or the worst movie rendition of the books.

Now I'm thinking of Grosvner Park (did I spell that right?" - the movie.

Have to see it again.

Matthew S.
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Kelly K.

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Re: How things change
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2010, 06:27:39 PM »

Body count: 0. Fights/torture scenes: 0. Car chases: 1 (one page). Explosions: 0. Sex scenes: 0 (implied fade-to-black canoodling). Saving-the-world tropes: 0. Psycho-killer villains: 0. Most of the book consists of two to three people sitting about, talking. Yes, the "greatest thriller writer of our time" wrote...a cozy. It may not have been a cozy in 1964, but it certainly is one now.

Does a thriller have to have these things, even today?  I think it's sad if they do. 
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Lance Charnes

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Re: How things change
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2010, 10:35:03 PM »

According to the agent blogs I follow, yes, otherwise it's not a thriller (suspense, maybe, or intrigue). Agent blogs aside, I haven't read a contemporary thriller lately that hasn't had most or all of these elements.

MTH suggests that thrillers have likely changed due to the influence of changing standards in films. I suggest it's television news that's done the job. Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (the second one) was considered a thriller back in 1935; North by Northwest, a blockbuster thriller in 1959, is recognizable as essentially the same film with the same stakes, a slightly higher level of violence and just a little more sex. TV news was nothing back then, talking heads reading the headlines.

Add in the TV news revolution -- 50 years of televised wars, genocides, riots, and assassinations -- and you get Eagle Eye: North by Northwest with Shia LaBeouf, a body count in the dozens, mass destruction everywhere, and the fate of American democracy in the balance. And it's PG-13.

Snow White famously scared the pee out of kids in 1937; now we use it to babysit the toddlers.
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jeammaslo

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Re: How things change
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2019, 12:10:22 AM »

The past, I have, but find the answer alone about this. This has been known.
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