Woody Allen and Philosophy: You Mean My Whole Fallacy Is Wrong?

By Mark T. Conard; Aeon J. Skoble | Go to book overview

15
Woody Allen's Film Noir
Light: Crime, Love, and
Self-Knowledge in The Curse
of the Jade Scorpion

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) occurs in the shadow of Bogart. Set in 1940, Allen's film about private investigator C.W. Briggs (Woody Allen) replays the classic Bogart detective film, The Maltese Falcon (1941). Like C.W. Briggs, Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), is a private detective. Both are accused by the police of a crime they are investigating. Both suspect the woman they love of the crime. Both relentlessly track down the guilty and bring them to justice. Moreover, each film involves the issue of the moral status of the private detective who pursues criminals. Finally, each involves the issue of trust.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion responds to The Maltese Falcon, and presents a more positive understanding of how moral character, supported by love and the self-knowledge love fosters, offers an alternative to the corrupt film noir world Bogart inhabits. Like Allen's earlier protagonist Allan Felix (Woody Allen) in Play It Again, Sam (1972), who finds a way to imitate yet transcend his hero Bogart,1 Allen finds a way to imitate yet transcend the film noir of an earlier epoch in American cinema.

1 See my analysis of this film in Reconstructing Woody: Art, Love, and Life in
the Films of Woody Allen
(Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998), Chapter 2.
especially pp. 26–28, and also that of Sam B. Girgus, The Films of Woody Allen
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), esp. pp.18–19 and 22.

-243-

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