Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #48: Secrets of a Co-Ed (1942)

I must hide my secrets away.

An earlier work of Gun Crazy (1950) director Joseph H. Lewis. The film is a warning to all the young women restless with the salty sweat burn of young lust. As a gangster puts it in the film: “Awwww, women! They’re the cause of everything!”

A young woman named Brenda secretly desires a life free from restraints and obedience. She’s infantilised by a patriarchal world of crooked lawyers and nonchalantly violent gangsters afflicted by the beauties of women. Brenda passes up on a well-to-do life with a young lawyer-to-be for a hood named Nick who likes to shoot people. Brenda meanwhile writes about all her woes in a diary. Her “secrets,” she calls them, and the diary gets referred to unnecessarily as “the secrets of a co-ed.” Twice.

Once Brenda and Nick run away together, Nick mentions that a “crazy fortune teller” once told him about famous couples like Romeo and Juliet, Mark Antony and Cleo, people who lived crazy for each other no matter what. Apparently, the fortune teller was a huge jerk, since he/she left out the bits about PAINFUL DEATH. Spoiler: Nick dies. And because she finds Nick’s body, Brenda’s pegged as the killer. Makes sense to me. She who smelt it dealt it.

There are two shots sort-a-maybe-kinda worth seeing. One consists of a zoom on a possibly phallic cigar, moodily crushed in hand by Brenda’s angry father after he orders Nick dead for dating his daughter. The other is during the final minute. Brenda is seen through a fireplace fire, sitting, rising, and tossing her diary into the flames. She metaphorically avoids the flames of hell and walks away with the good boy she was getting bored with at the start of the film. Her secrets are probably lost for all time.

So: Currently I am waiting for an inter-dimensional spaceman to channel the contents of that diary directly into my brain. When that day comes, woe unto thee, for my arrows will blot out the sun.

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