Dir. Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Sc. Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Cine. Giles Nuttgens
Prod. Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Jonathan Tucker, Goran Višnjić
Based on the novel The Blank Wall (1947) by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
About The Event
Crime novelist Elisabeth Sanxay Holding was, in the opinion of Raymond Chandler, the “top suspense writer of them all.” Yet, of her voluminous fiction, only one of her crime stories has received feature-length adaptation: The Blank Wall (1947), which has been filmed twice, first as the Max Ophuls-directed The Reckless Moment (1949) and, a half-century later, as The Deep End (2001), written and directed by David Siegel and Columbia graduate Scott McGehee.
This neglect is all the more startling, however, inasmuch as Holding’s output was perfectly suited to the studio-era genre of the “woman’s picture.” Along with her contemporary Charlotte Armstrong, Holding was one of the most skilled exponents of what literary critic Sarah Weinman has since dubbed “domestic suspense” – a hybrid of crime story and melodrama in which mystery and intrigue is woven around familial obligations.
The Blank Wall is Holding’s masterpiece in this respect, a novel about an everywoman housewife and mother, Lucia Holley, who is trying to keep things together while her husband is away at war. When a dead body shows up, Holley has to stay on top of her domestic responsibilities while simultaneously trying to dispose of a corpse and negotiate with blackmailers and the police.
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Image: Artwork for the 2023 Kit Noir Film Festival / courtesy of Columbia University School of the Arts