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Dark Passage
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Group Reads > February 2017 - Dark Passage

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 818 comments Mod
Dark Passage was written in 1946, and released as a film the following year.

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I think I'll steal a few lines from our own Algernon's review - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
- to get you hooked.

Another winner from David Goodis, one of the authors that contributed substantially to the success of the noir genre in the 1940's. More than a crime investigation, the novel is a study of an ordinary man trying to remain sane under immense psychological pressure. Vincent Parry is in prison for murdering his wife, a crime he is innocent of, although all the evidence is against him.

As with other novels from the period, it is quite short, yet it delivers one memorable scene after another, each with edge of the seat, white knuckled potential for violence, as even a taxi ride or buying a box of matches from the drugstore can pitch Vincent Parry over the edge.


Well, that sounds more exciting than the Superbowl, doesn't it?

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First edition cover


Franky | 394 comments Started a few days ago and am enjoying the pace and flow. I already see a few of the Goodis signature staples in just the first fifty pages or so. Glad to get back to reading Goodis. My last one was Nightfall, and I really enjoyed Shoot the Piano Player.


message 3: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Dark Passage was DG's high water mark as far as public recognition was concerned. It was first published in the Sat Evening Post, then as a novel. The screenplay was written by the director, Delmer Daves. You can't get any better than that. And Goodis got a writing job in Hollywood, and if it had not been for HUAC, his "treatments" for a working class version of The Best Years of Our Lives might have resulted in a fine movie.. BTW, did anyone think that, in the film, the hero's wife Madge jumped out of the window to insure Parry was blamed for killing her , or was it an accident? It's clearer in the novel.


Franc | 1 comments As this is one of my favorite Goodis books. I thought I'd give a few thoughts on the film. First I'm a huge noir fan, particularly of David Goodis He is the so-called "poet of the losers." But obviously you're not a loser if you are (1) Lauren Bacall, or (2) you can get Lauren Bacall to fall in love with you. Therefore, even though the film lifts 90% of the dialogue and plot from Goodis' book, it is transformed into a completely different film in tone, outlook, and meaning simply by casting Bogart and Bacall. I would argue for this reason it isn't really a noir film, despite the gritty cinematography on location in pre-tech boom San Fran and great noir performances by accessory characters like the amazing Agnes Morehead. Just my 2 cents.


message 5: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
Franc wrote: "As this is one of my favorite Goodis books. I thought I'd give a few thoughts on the film. First I'm a huge noir fan, particularly of David Goodis He is the so-called "poet of the losers." But obvi..."

I felt similarly about Bogart and Gloria Grahamebeing cast for "In A Lonely Place". I liked both versions, but they are not the same kind of story.

In Goodis case, the novel worked better in my experience at getting inside the mind of the faceless man. But the movie has Lauren Bacall ...


message 6: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Feb 01, 2017 02:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 293 comments I was surprised to read on wikipedia that Dark Passage was actually the subject of a landmark copyright case in which Goodis asserted that his book was used as the basis for the TV show The Fugitive. Even more interesting, the studio never denied borrowing from the Fugitive, they instead argued that Goodis' copyright was invalid because it was not explicitly stated when Dark Passage was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post. Goodis died before the case was decided in his favor, and his estate accepted a nominal fee as a settlement.


Bobby Underwood I finished this just a few days shy of Feb (thought it would take me longer to read it) and posted my review there. A lot of this mirrored Cornell Woolrich around this time.


message 8: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Randy wrote: "I was surprised to read on wikipedia that Dark Passage was actually the subject of a landmark copyright case in which Goodis asserted that his book was used as the basis for the TV show The Fugitiv..."

The lawsuit transcript shows a lot about Goodis as the writer of Dark Passage but his case was not very strong. See Mike Nevins' great article at
http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=17106


message 9: by Franky (last edited Feb 01, 2017 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 394 comments I purchased the film and am anxious to watch it after the read. I'm plowing through this at a pretty steady pace. Nearly half way done.

Franc, "poet of the losers" is an apt way to describe the protagonists of Goodis. Well put. There is always an inkling of sympathy for them.

Jay, thanks for the background and the link.


message 10: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments The film has striking images, beginning with the image of a barrel bouncing precariously on the flatbed of a truck. Yes, "claustrophobic" is a good term for Parry's predicament, even if he does wind up with Humphrey Bogart's face -- and girl.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 293 comments Jay wrote: "Randy wrote: "I was surprised to read on wikipedia that Dark Passage was actually the subject of a landmark copyright case in which Goodis asserted that his book was used as the basis for the TV sh..."

That's a great link, Jay. Thanks for sharing it. It seems like there are definitely similarities between Dark Passage and The Fugitive although I admit I've never seen an episode of the TV show (I did see the 1993 movie). Not sure it's enough for a copyright suit though, which is why I was surprised that the copyright suit was such a landmark case.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 293 comments What about the author's use of long run-on paragraphs? Did anyone find them distracting? Goodis usually used these paragraphs to try to really get inside Parry's head, showing how paranoid he was about getting caught.


Franky | 394 comments Randy wrote: "What about the author's use of long run-on paragraphs? Did anyone find them distracting? Goodis usually used these paragraphs to try to really get inside Parry's head, showing how paranoid he was a..."

Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the ideas in the character's head are speeding up and random. I think it was strangely effective. Without giving too much away, Chapter 11 is such a unique way of getting into Parry's head with the inner dialogue.


Franky | 394 comments Finished, and was pretty impressed mostly. I guess some of the decision making was a bit head-scratching but I really over all felt this was a fine book. For me, not as good as Shoot the Piano Player, but maybe a step below. I'm really digging the cover of this book, too, with Bogey and Becall on the front.

Anyhow, on to the film very soon. So, from the discussion so far, it sounds like there are vastly different things in the storytelling between book and film.


message 15: by Bobby (last edited Feb 08, 2017 09:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bobby Underwood Franky wrote: "Finished, and was pretty impressed mostly. I guess some of the decision making was a bit head-scratching but I really over all felt this was a fine book. For me, not as good as Shoot the Piano Play..."

Yeah, I think with both this and Laura, the films almost overshadow the original source. But with Dark Passage, there's a slightly different feel between the book and film, as there would have to be - except for the first part of the film, and it's just like the book mostly. With Laura, if you've seen the film first, as a lot of people have, you can much more relate what you've viewed in the film to what you're reading, even though it's structure is different. I also think those long sentences in Dark Passage only worked - whereas they're usually annoying - because the whole thing's in Parry's head, and you know that's where you're at, so you understand it.


message 16: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Feb 09, 2017 09:45AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 293 comments Franky wrote: "Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the ideas in the character's head are speeding up and random. I think it was strangely effective. Without giving too much away, Chapter 11 is such a unique way of getting into Parry's head with the inner dialogue."

Bobby wrote: "I also think those long sentences in Dark Passage only worked - whereas they're usually annoying - because the whole thing's in Parry's head, and you know that's where you're at, so you understand it."

I agree with you both. Normally I don't like run-on sentences (I think I saw one paragraph that lasted the better part of 2 pages in my edition) and the stream of consciousness narrative technique but I thought it was effective here to help us get into Parry's head. Goodis seemed more interested in really exploring the paranoia that Parry felt, and not so interested in his own color-by-numbers whodunit plot, the ending of which did not surprise me at all. The book works better as a study of the extreme paranoia felt by a wrongly convicted prison escapee than as a mystery.


message 17: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
Randy wrote: "Franky wrote: "Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the ideas in the character's head are..."

For me too the book worked better at getting inside the head of the characters. I'm reading "Laura" right now, and in this case the differences between the source and the movie adaptation are less noticeable.


Bobby Underwood Algernon wrote: "Randy wrote: "Franky wrote: "Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the ideas in the charac..."

Randy wrote: "Franky wrote: "Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the ideas in the character's head are..."



Randy, I agree, it's much less a traditional mystery than a man on the run novel dealing with his fear of being caught. Who actually killed his wife is secondary to his escape.

Algernon, I was surprised Laura had never been picked for a group read. The film is romantic noir at its best, but then the book is one of the finest detective mysteries of all time in my opinion. I usually hate a narrative with differing viewpoints, but the way Caspary does it, it's marvelous, with each "voice" - you get McPherson twice - really giving the reader a three dimensional depth to the story. One of those strange circumstances where having seen the film actually enhances the reading experience, in my opinion, despite already knowing the ending.


message 19: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
Bobby wrote: "Algernon wrote: "Randy wrote: "Franky wrote: "Randy, those were quite noticeable, even more so than the two other books I've read from Goodis. Sort of reminds of stream of consciousness like the id..."

"Laura" was proposed in the poll at least three times, but never won. Myself included, I thought the movie flawless and didn't see the need to check the novel (not to mention the availability before the ebook publication). I realize now that the succes of the movie comes not only from Premminger's vision but also from the quality of Caspary's writing. I'm glad I finally got around to picking it up.


message 20: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill (coloradobill) | 63 comments Found myself having to push my way through this one at many points as it seemed to have too much in the way of "now how did that really happen" to it. Enjoyed it when Goodis took time to describe the setting of the characters, but started to cringe a bit every time I heard the word "pest" used or when a scene would go on for too long. Still, glad this was a group pick as Bogey is my favorite actor and I love exploring books that have movie tie ins. Ended it with a two star rating, but probably 2.5.


message 21: by Robin (new)

Robin (storey) | 15 comments I have read three chapters and can't read any more. I find his style, with its short, schoolboy-like sentences amateurish and the story so far stretching credibility. (A beautiful woman whom he's never met manages to find him while he's on the run, decides to help him because she feels sorry for him and takes him back to her place???) That's as far as I got.

Perhaps I haven't given it a fair enough go, but I have many more noir novels on my list that I would rather read.


message 22: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill (coloradobill) | 63 comments Robin wrote: "I have read three chapters and can't read any more. I find his style, with its short, schoolboy-like sentences amateurish and the story so far stretching credibility. (A beautiful woman whom he's n..."

I almost bagged it as well, but then there would be a decent twist in the story and I would keep going. This happened a few times and before I knew it I was at a place where I just figured I should finish it up.


message 23: by Ralph (new)

Ralph Loder | 34 comments Married couples lead separate lives. Friendship is no relief. Everyone is alone. The hero doesn’t want much, “a job in a war plant, and Sundays with his girl…” In the end, he clings to the hope of human connection, even as he knows it won’t happen.

My first rule of noir is, “The hero is doomed.” This novel delivered and then some. Everyone is doomed, doomed to a life of loneliness. This was a wonderful book, noir the way I like it.

Did anyone else notice the use of color? This is the second Goodis novel I’ve read recently where color seemed to be important. The first was ‘Of Tender Sin.’


Franky | 394 comments Ralph wrote: "Married couples lead separate lives. Friendship is no relief. Everyone is alone. The hero doesn’t want much, “a job in a war plant, and Sundays with his girl…” In the end, he clings to the hope of ..."

Ralph, that's a good way to describe noir, and the main character of such a noir novel.

Strange as it sounds, the writing here reminded me a bit of Hemingway with the short, choppiness of sentences, but then he would really plug away and get into the head of the main character, so it went beyond this. That's an interesting idea about the color imagery as well. I didn't notice, but I'll have go back and look. I have "Of Tender Sin" on my to read list.


message 25: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Robin wrote: "I have read three chapters and can't read any more. I find his style, with its short, schoolboy-like sentences amateurish and the story so far stretching credibility. (A beautiful woman whom he's n..."

She (Irene) helped b/c her father had been wrongly put in prison and it ruined his life. She had read about Parry's wrongful imprisonment and read about his escape. She was a friend of Parry's wife, who had given false testimony at Parry's trial. It's a contrived plot, true, but Goodis gets deep into motivation and people becoming unhinged, and under great pressure.


message 26: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Ralph wrote: "Married couples lead separate lives. Friendship is no relief. Everyone is alone. The hero doesn’t want much, “a job in a war plant, and Sundays with his girl…” In the end, he clings to the hope of ..."

Garnier has a chapter in his bio of Goodis entitled "A World of Colors." Orange and purple are colors he is obsessed by.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 293 comments Jay wrote: "Garnier has a chapter in his bio of Goodis entitled "A World of Colors." Orange and purple are colors he is obsessed by."

I noticed this, and I thought it was Goodis' way of getting into Parry's head. Irene's apartment was decorated in purple and after that he seemed to notice purple everywhere he went and was thinking about purple all the time too. Madge's apartment was decorated in orange I believe, and I took that to mean that Madge was as different from Irene as orange is from purple.


message 28: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Yes, and from Goodis' last novel _Somebody's Done For_ we learn thatb purple is the color of the semi-precious stone Amethyst. It has a purplish cast, b/c the legend has it that a woman Dionysus was chasing prayed to the gods to protect her chastity, and she was changed into this beautiful stone, which is purple b/c of Dionysus's tears. He was the god of wine, among stronger motivators to lose inhibitions. The female in the novel is, for dark psycho-sexual reasons, unable to respond to any man's desire. I just posted something on this on my Facebook page on Goodis:

https://www.facebook.com/Pulp-Accordi...


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin (storey) | 15 comments Jay wrote: "Robin wrote: "I have read three chapters and can't read any more. I find his style, with its short, schoolboy-like sentences amateurish and the story so far stretching credibility. (A beautiful wom..."

Thanks for enlightening me, Jay - if I'd read further I would have discovered that. But I just couldn't make myself do it!


message 30: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments No one can like every writer. I know people who can't read Faulkner and dislike D H Lawrence.

I had to read Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queene in grad school and I still hate him, despite the complex allegories he worked out. He invented a stanza that made me dizzy, and there were zillions of them in his epic poem.


message 31: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill (coloradobill) | 63 comments Well put, Jay. Funny, I loved his Night Squad, so even within an author's works some ring for some while others might not.


message 32: by Sean (last edited Feb 19, 2017 10:28AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sean | 1 comments Unlike Robin, I didn't mind the short sentences. (No offense Robin, just a difference of opinion.) While definitely noticeable, I actually found them refreshing. They brought the image of quick thoughts that pop into one's mind.

Similar to Robin, however, I did find the 'far stretching credibility' distracting.

But I kept with the story and finished it. While clearly dark (hence the noir tag, lol), I found the style, for the most part, enjoyable. The 'whodunit' conclusion wasn't particularly surprising but I don't think that's point of noir. Looking forward to reading more of Goodis' work.


message 33: by Ralph (new)

Ralph Loder | 34 comments Jay wrote: Garnier has a chapter in his bio of Goodis entitled "A World of Colors." Orange and purple are colors he is obsessed by.

I've been down with the flu or I would have replied sooner. Thanks for the info. Have you read Garnier's biography? Is it worth reading?


message 34: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
I'm reading the "Criminal" comic, and I just discovered both Ed Brubaker and Duane Swierczinsky are big fans of Goodis : there's an essay on his Philadelphia roots and a review of the movie "Burglar", script written by Goodis based on his own novel, in the back pages of "Second Chance in Hell".
I made a note to try to find both the movie and the novel for further study.


Franky | 394 comments I saw a pretty cool biography of Goodis on youtube. (I think it had been posted before, but I'll try to find it ).

As others have stated, yeah, probably the biggest beef I had was the odd decisions by characters that led to a lack of credibility (as Sean and Robin pointed out). I found this to be the most predictable of the Goodis reads, yet, to me it was still satisfying in terms of simply the character study of our main character.

Jay, I'll definitely check out "A World of Colors".

I'm watching the film, and I sort of finding the camera point of view (with Parry as the point of view) somewhat annoying. It reminds me of the film adaptation of "In a Lonely Place" which I didn't care for (but I loved the novel of that one).


message 36: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill (coloradobill) | 63 comments Franky wrote: "I saw a pretty cool biography of Goodis on youtube. (I think it had been posted before, but I'll try to find it ).

As others have stated, yeah, probably the biggest beef I had was the odd decisio..."


Loved In A Lonely Place with Bogey. Just picked up the Criterion mastering, but if you loved the book Franky, then I need to get my hands on it pronto.

A film that used the first person point of view for the entire film was Lady in the Lake with Robert Montgomery (1947). Now that was a trip!


message 37: by Bill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bill (coloradobill) | 63 comments Franky, just found a copy of In A Lonely Place. Will post after arrival and finishing.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Algernon wrote: "I'm reading the "Criminal" comic, and I just discovered both Ed Brubaker and Duane Swierczinsky are big fans of Goodis : there's an essay on his Philadelphia roots and a review of the movie "Burgla..."

If you're into Goodis I recommend the Goodis biography by Philippe Garnier:
GOODIS - A LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE by Philippe Garnier


message 39: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Ralph wrote: "Jay wrote: Garnier has a chapter in his bio of Goodis entitled "A World of Colors." Orange and purple are colors he is obsessed by.

I've been down with the flu or I would have replied sooner. Than..."


It's definitely worth reading, Ralph. Garnier was in Hollywood and interviewed almost everyone connected with Goodis there, and in Philly. . He saw the Warner Brothers' archives and gleaned info from that. There are lots of images. He recently wrote a new version in French, and put more images from his collection in that work. I agree with a reviewer from Thee S F examiner that it has a lot of Garnier's wit and impressions and therefore is not a classical biography that allows the reader to see Goodis from another perspective than Garnier's. Some might not agree with Garnier's feeling that Goodis is a mysterious, unfathomable character. It's not that exceptional to have a secret life based on psychosexual urges and primal fears that make self-defeating life decisions. It is exceptional to have them entwined in creative expression as Goodis did, and must have suffered for doing. In his final novel, he had a character say that he "was fed up with himself." That character died at 50, which was Goodis' age when he died.


message 40: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments Algernon wrote: "I'm reading the "Criminal" comic, and I just discovered both Ed Brubaker and Duane Swierczinsky are big fans of Goodis : there's an essay on his Philadelphia roots and a review of the movie "Burgla..."

Please tell me what "Second Change in Hell" is -- a story, a magazine? I'd like to see the articles.

Goodis did the movie with his friend Paul Wendkos, who directed the film. Jayne Mansfield has the female lead, and does a good job, although the Gladden of the novel was one of Goodis' ethereal, unattainable, ill - fated women, frail and slim. Opposite of Jayne. That is the kind of joke Goodis may have grooved on. One blurb for the film reads "You'll be tense with suspense and limp from excitement!"


message 41: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
Jay wrote: "Algernon wrote: "I'm reading the "Criminal" comic, and I just discovered both Ed Brubaker and Duane Swierczinsky are big fans of Goodis : there's an essay on his Philadelphia roots and a review of ..."

"Second Chance in Hell" is a single issue comic story that can be read on its own, but is part of the larger "Criminal" story arc. At the end of the story the authors added a blog and an essay by a guest writer where they explore their roots in the genre and their current interests. Swierczynski is Philadelphia-born and a Goodis fan.


message 42: by Frank (last edited Mar 17, 2017 05:52AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Frank Thirdeyed | 88 comments I really don't know how to rate this. Since I didn't really like it, but I was never bored and the book had a good flow, that wanted me to keep reading.

Didn't feel Parry's panic so much, since he kinda had (view spoiler) Irene didn't do it for me either, like she was too mysterious and (view spoiler) .

Also, this is one of those "Look, the plot is kinda complex" stories, wich had too much information to tell and told it all the time. That, to me, is not atmosphere. It's just a bit boring. I did like the detailed (view spoiler)

I don't know, this is not bad writing, it's just not for me. I did like Shoot The Piano Player a lot, so I am not giving up on Goodis yet.


message 43: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Gertzman | 254 comments This scene is the kind of detail Goodis did more of when he started writing his paperback pulp originals. The readership was different than a slick mag (where DP was first published) and extreme violence and “grand guignol” detail was one aspect that sold books (a kind of porno of violence). In Of Tender Sin the hero actually tears the scalp off an assailant. In Down There, Eddie and the Harleyville Hugger fight to the death. The long fight starts in the bar and goes out into the alley. The weirdly wonderful detail in DP is that Arbogast’s body *talks* to Vince, just as his friend Felsinger’s body did. Goodis described his technique here as “going subjective.”
I would like to see that Sat Eve Post text. I’d be surprised if the editor did not leave out some of the description of Arbogast’s body.


Frank Thirdeyed | 88 comments I love that fight in Down There! Haven't read Of Tender Skin yet.


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