David Benedict on theatre

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The Independent Online
When I grow up I would like to be Billy Wilder. Unlike say, Hitchcock, who specialised in one genre, Wilder covered the waterfront. He did the prisoner- of-war movie in Stalag 17, ripped into Hollywood with Sunset Boulevard, made the best sex comedy ever written in Some Like it Hot, and even cajoles a good performance from Kim Novak in the tough, trashy and underrated Kiss Me Stupid. All that and Double Indemnity (below right). For those who haven't seen this hard-boiled masterpiece, or have never heard of the genre (this is, after all, a theatre column), here is the essential guide to How to Star in Your Own Film Noir.

1. Wear black and white. Women: floor-length gowns are out as you have to show off your anklet. Men: a mac with turned-up collar is essential, as you only ever go out when it's raining.

2. Make sure you are either backlit or lit from the side through venetian blinds. Practice emerging from shadows for dramatic effect. Also, getting in and out of taxis at high speed.

3. Get a very big phone. You will explain most of the (indecipherable) plot on it.

4. Learn ventriloquism. This will enable you to do your own voice-over.

5. Smoke all the time.

6. Redecorate the bedroom with plenty of mirrors for reverse angles.

7. Women: acquire a rich, ugly husband. Men: acquire a gun.

8. Be terse and tawdry at all times, especially when delivering these lines:

Barbara Stanwyck (insolent and smouldering): "There's a speed limit on this estate, Mr Neff. Forty-five miles an hour."

Fred MacMurray (ensnared): "How fast was I going, officer?"

Stanwyck: "I'd say around 90."

9. Go and see Double Indemnity on stage.

'Double Indemnity', Theatr Clwyd, Mold (01352 755114)

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