Sunday, January 3, 2016


The Friday the 13th robbery went terribly wrong, with one gang member being killed by a guard dog and Hart (the hard luck protagonist) having pushed Charley’s arm when he was about to shoot a caretaker trying to protect his employer. Back at the hideout, Charlie--the boss of the criminal family-- now knows Hart is not a “professional.” Because Charley is, he levels his gun at him. Myrna’s eyes suggest Hart make a break. They had established a deep, almost wordless communication with each other. That the thin, ethereal Myrna opened herself to her brother’s killer shows that she knew he was a benevolent person who had to assume for a time the persona of a hard man to stay alive.
Hart could not know that Myrna would throw herself in front of Hart as he ran for the door. She takes the bullet in the head.
Myrna’s act mirrors the caretaker’s in trying to protect his employer. That succeeded, thanks to Hart. But that plot twist serves to make it clearer that fate, as in Down Here, Cassidy’s Girl, The Street of the Lost, The Moon in the Gutter, is an implacably merciless “let-down artist.”
Now Hart has no more interest in escaping. But Charlie no longer cares to shoot him. Contemplating the death of Myrna, he feels “it’s caught up with me.” He was in fact very protective of the gentle waif, allowing her to stay on after her brother’s death if she promised not to leave the house.
Hart walks out into the cold wind, not caring even to observe the street signs. “He had no idea where he was going, and he didn’t care.” The apex of doomed pulp romanticism, Black Friday’s final chapter is as dramatic and as bleakly noir as any in Goodis.
When RenĂ© Clement made “. . . and Hope to Die,” based on Black Friday, he made the perfect choice to play Charley, the aging Robert Ryan, his stressed face a study in pained perseverance.

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