film noir

The Shanghai gesture

The Shanghai gesture

This photographic investigation reminded me the fantastic 1941 film noir with the beautiful Gene Tierney. The only clue that I had was the word “gesture” and although I was very well acquainted with my human subject, I had no idea why I was investigating her for the 100th time… The life of a photographic investigator is full of unresolved mysteries that, just as it occurs in a good film noir, are answered unexpectedly at the end of the film after a plot twist that leaves even the most experienced viewer completely silent. The same thing happened to me at the end of this photographic investigation that “informed” me why it happened the way it happened, at the very end.

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The strange love of Lina Ivers

The strange love of Lina Ivers

I was on vacation, photographically investigating only the tropical scenery. I was in my beach house in Guadeloupe enjoying a beer in my veranda, eating a spicy carribean curry and watching with some friends a favourite film noir, “The strange love of Martha Ivers”. And then Mathieu, my faithful housekeeper, brought me the bottle. A bottle that was washed on the beach a few seconds ago, right in front of my house - a bottle with a message. My employers always know were to find me - because I let them of course. The message contained some clues about my next subject. One of them was her name, Lina. I was ready to send the bottle back to the Caribbean sea - I was on vacation after all! But some details of my subject’s description and the mystery that surrounded her caught my attention. And once that happens to a photographic investigator, there is no turning back. But I was going to stick to my plan for the night. I was going to call my assignment “The strange love of Lina Ivers” and that would only be the first part of her story. To be continued…

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The dark mirror

The dark mirror

She always had it in her purse. The dark mirror. A little mirror that would remain dark unless her partner and soul mate was around. This mirror had been dark for a long time since this man was missing -somewhere in Sierra Nevada. It was too dangerous to try to contact him, so she was letting her instinct lead her to nearby destinations in the high mountains of California. She was hiding in the shadows and secretly picking at the little mirror. My assignment was to steal it from her, but I let her suffer by it's darkness a little more. Maybe like this she wouldn't miss it so much afterwards.

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The final countdown

The final countdown

What can really be the end of a photographic investigator is not travelling in space, but travelling in time. And I've done that a lot... For some unexplained and probably mystical (or totally meaningless) reason, every time I had to travel in time I was going back to Venice. So, my energy resources were every time smaller, although my ticket was getting cheaper and cheaper. It felt like a countdown. "Al fin, que para morir nacimos" as they say in Mexico... "In the end, we are born to die". Who knows? Maybe the end of my photographic investigations would come in the middle, inside the time vortex, outside of time. I wonder if all my work would disappear with me too. It should, I think. 

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High Sierra

High Sierra

Her husband was rich and determined to be a film producer. He was a film noir lover and wanted her to be the star in the remake of a classic 1941 movie, "High Sierra", starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart. He also  wanted to shoot the movie in an original location in the Sierra Nevada, the "snowy mountain range"... She loved those mountains. It was high and cold in High Sierra and it reminded her the time when she met the infamous "Mexican", a writer who became her closest friend. But that was all in the past... She indulged her husband because she secretly hoped that fate would bring him into her life once more. The Mexican was missing and he was always enchanted by the high, cold mountains of California. 

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The thin man

The thin man

The clues I usually get are as vague as this one, so I wasn't really surprised. It was easy to find him and to follow him in an empty hotel. He started going down and down and down some endless stairs. "What could happen?" I thought... Well, I should have asked myself another question -and there are so many... Because as soon as I blinked, in the place of the thin man there was a thin woman. Going down and down and down these stairs... 

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The interview

The interview

It was scheduled for Christmas day of 1944 in a New York hotel and, as it happened so often lately, I had to travel in time -again. I was a little concerned because a photographic investigator can safely make no more than 6 time travels in a period of 2 years and this would be my 5th one. I didn't want to waste them in case a grand photographic investigation opportunity presented itself... It would be a crime not to be able to go, but, the truth is that you can never know if an investigation is important until after the investigation. So, I couldn't say no, although I was reluctant in my heart. But I also had faith. Besides, even if it would end up to be a complete debacle, there would be something there for me, anyway. The year was 1944 and I had met the infamous film noir director Otto Preminger in another time travel photographic investigation. We had some good laughs and he promised me that the next time we met, he would let me investigate Gene Tierney right at the premiere of the greatest film noir of all times, "Laura", that was due for that same day. They say it's bad luck to wish for a photographic investigation to fail, but I did anyhow... 

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I'm a fool to want you

I'm a fool to want you

We were listening to Donald Byrd's version of "I'm a fool to want you" and the shadows were very inspiring... So I decided to photographically investigate what would happen if we were shooting an hypothetical cover for the song, as a single. It was one of these autumn afternoons where everyone has a different version of what is going on. But don't they ever... My subject was impeccable, although she preferred Tom Jones' version. Oh well... 

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Le clan des Sicilians

Le clan des Sicilians

She was being watched and she knew it... Ennio Morricone's mesmerising theme from an old french movie with Alain Delon, Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura was haunting the almost deserted pavilions of the Biennale of Venice. Something was wrong and each time footsteps approached she felt the danger. But not fear. Of course I was there not only to investigate her but also to protect her from her pursuers. It was her shoes that they wanted. In the heel of the left one there was a hidden secret. Pressure would destroy it, so the only way to ensure her safety was to make her run... And I did. 

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Mis Legs (part 1)

Mis Legs (part 1)

Another obscure Venice personality, connected to the Mister circle of spies and other mysterious people... Her code name was "Mis Legs" not only for the obvious reasons but because this was the last thing her enemies saw after they were defeated... I investigated her through many angles and the fact that you are seeing the fruits of my photographic investigation proves that I wasn't her enemy. To be continued...

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Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity

My subject had all the makes of Billy Wilder 1944 film's femme fatale... Better even than Barbara Stanwyck, in my photographic investigator's opinion.. "How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?" wondered Walter Neff in the film... Maybe my subject's partner did too, but to me he looked like he hadn't seen the film... Maybe I was wrong, who knows?

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Dogon

Dogon

She was named after the infamous Mali tribe and she frequented a bar named Sirius... And I don't believe in coincidences... It goes without saying that she was a woman of mystery and many hidden talents. My assignment was to follow, befriend and photographically investigate her in order to discover clues about a hidden treasure. Was it hers, was it a legacy, was it mystical, ancient or stolen? I was dying to find out because since my first investigative steps, as a child, I was always looking for treasures. And although I would be very well satisfied with gold or diamonds, I suspected from the start that it was about something else, much more precious, much more subtle. I got to work fast, because I was promised a 25% cut on that treasure. The investigation is still ongoing. 

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Nicoletta's corsets (part I - the Black Corset)

Nicoletta's corsets (part I - the Black Corset)

Nicoletta was a magical being. She created enchanted garments in a little shop in Campo S. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. Her creations were famous for the special attributes they gave to the one who wore them, so I was hired to investigate 4 of her most powerful corsets. First, the Black Corset. Probably the most impressive one. It's secret, and greatest power, was that it could hide the halo that surrounds exceptional, spiritual beings from clairvoyant agents that worked for... (let's put it this way)... darker forces. It was a protection, a magical armour for ethereal presences. And it worked perfectly. Nicoletta used Luana, a beautiful fairy, to model her corsets and make sure that they served their purpose. And I was the witness. 

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The dark corner

The dark corner

She was my biggest rival's secretary. That meant that she knew all his secrets. The truth is he wasn't really a rival... more of a rival wannabe... I don't have rivals. But I had a difficult assignment and my subject was missing in action... He knew all about her, so I thought it would be easier to investigate his secretary. The secretary is a most important character in a situation where a photographic investigator is involved... like in a film noir. Needless to say, I don't have one. My faithful helpers, Juanita and Lupe do the job. But again, they can't be investigated by my "rivals"... they are cats. I watched one of my favourite film noir movies, The Dark Corner, for inspiration. Lusille Ball was playing the investigator's secretary. 

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Weather in London

Weather in London

The job totally depended on it… He pretended to be a performer and the only way to investigate him was to pretend I was a celebrity photographer. It always works. But to do so, I needed sunlight coming through a window before sunset that particular evening. So it all depended on the weather in London that day, because that's where my photographic investigation was taking place. When I saw the clouds parting I knew no force in the 'verse could stop this investigation. The weather in London was agreeing with my intentions... and for that to happen, they just couldn't have been my intentions… I just thought they were. That reassured me even more.

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Out of the past

Out of the past

"I never saw her in the daytime. We seemed to live by night. What was left of the day went away like a pack of cigarettes you smoked. I didn't know where she lived. I never followed her. All I ever had to go on was a place and time to see her again. I don't know what we were waiting for. Maybe we thought the world would end. Maybe we thought it was a dream and we'd wake up with a hangover in Niagara Falls. I wired Whit but I didn't tell him. 'I'm in Acapulco,' I said. 'I wish you were here.' And every night I went to meet her. How did I know she'd ever show up? I didn't. What stopped her from taking a boat to Chile or Guatemala? Nothing. How big a chump can you get to be? I was finding out. And then she'd come along like school was out, and everything else was just a stone which sailed at the sea". Scenes from one of the best film noir ever made, Jaques Tourneur's 1947 "Out of the Past" were flashing inside my head while I was investigating this "embarrassingly beautiful woman" -to quote one of "Il Mister"'s (my most famous subject) favourite expressions... This time I could not risk the slightest hint about the place or the reasons concerning this photographic investigation, it was too dangerous. But the narration of Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) about his femme fatale Kathie (Jane Greer) seemed most appropriate... 

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