Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Monday, November 10, 2014


And speaking of limps, I just saw an interestingly odd movie titled Act of Violence.  It’s a very noir movie, set in and around Los Angeles, shortly after World War Two – it was released in 1948 - and although it has some standard nourish elements, not least car chases, there are some interesting walking elements too.

As IMDB more or less has it: “An embittered, vengeful POW (played by Robert Ryan – he’s the guy with the limp – that’s him above, crossing the street) stalks his former commanding officer (Van Heflin, who’s trying to live a new and decent life in the California hinterlands – a fictional town called Santa Lisa) who betrayed his men's escape attempt from a Nazi prison camp.”  Meaty stuff.

It’s directed by Fred Zinnerman and based on a story by Collier Young, who was married to Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino, among others, so you know he wasn’t afraid of strong women. He also created Ironside, a hero who it must be said didn’t do a lot of walking.

Act of Violence has scenes set all over the place, including Big Bear and Glendale (the Glendale station stands in for Santa Lisa), but it’s when Van Heflin goes to downtown L.A. for some kind of trade conference, and falls in with some bad seeds, that things get really psychogeographic.

We see the mean streets of Bunker Hill, the Angel’s Flight Railway, the 3rd Street Tunnel (that's it above I think – though, if you told me it was the 2nd Street Tunnel I wouldn’t argue with you).  The city looks magnificently menacing and magnificently unfamiliar, and no place for anybody to go walking at night.

Noir though the movie may be, the poster, is definitely colorful.

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