Green for Danger

Driving home on the interstate, only billboards keep us from reentering the black-&-white world of a movie set in 1943. They beckon like lit windows in a whorehouse of dreams. We are adding up the clues & concluding that we lacked sufficient information to have known who did it or why, but perhaps it was better that way. The conventional presumption of entirely solvable mysteries, though essential to the genre, breeds false expectations about outcomes in what we like to think of as the real world. In this movie, the buzzbombs can die and drop anywhere; people turn pale as hospital gowns when they hear the buzzing stop. The droll & self-regarding inspector wields a folded umbrella like the idea of a weapon, & fails as much as he succeeds. None of the characters are wholly likeable: in this way, too, the film imitates real life, or at least the shadow-side of it. Ironically, though, it’s the abundant & dramatic shadows in the night scenes that stretch credulity, since the sources of light that cast them are, as usual in the movies, unseen & improbable. The green danger of the title concerns the breath, or lack of it, which we can assess by watching a leather bladder beside the operating table expand & contract. As for colors, green or otherwise, we are of course forced to take their word for it. From such flawed clues we deduce far more than we ought to, & allow ourselves briefly to believe in these frail people, in this fatal time.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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