The Pictures BY GUY BOLTON
BY GUY BOLTON (ONEWORLD) OUT NOW
Jonathan Craine is corrupt. Nominally, he’s employed as a detective with the LAPD, but that’s really just a cover for his role as a “fixer”, a man who ensures that scandal never attaches itself to Hollywood stars and executives. He’s also a man in mourning following the death of his actor wife, an event that’s convinced him to start anew. Shame nobody told MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, who calls on Craine when a producer working on The Wizard Of Oz is found dead in his home. Craine’s role is clear: to have the death declared a suicide and to protect Gale Goodwin, the newly widowed starlet, from the press. Except that’s not how things work out. Partly because a young cop, O’neill, won’t take short cuts and because he finds his own son threatened, Craine ends up becoming, once again, a good cop in a bad city.
Perhaps inevitably, it’s difficult not to read The Pictures without thinking of, say, Chandler, Bogart or LA Confidential. Pitted against such strong antecedents, Guy Bolton’s debut seems slightly overwritten, too concerned with establishing period detail when noir should be economical. Nonetheless, Craine is a well-drawn character. Get him moving through a satisfyingly grisly case more quickly next time around, and he has real boxoffice potential.