Hello everyone this is Kay G. coming at you.
I have been introduced to something new and fascinating, something that fits my fad very well. (FYI: huge Film Noir lover) What I’m talking about is The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker. A classic “who done it” Hollywood tale set in the 1940’s. The story opens up just like a late Hollywood film, in the era of beauty, entertainment and great discovery; a place where stars are born. It is also the era of mystery and murder so from screen to page, a classic Film Noir.
Brubaker did a great job with his research team; he got the look and feel of this era just right. Brubaker got it down to the lingo, wardrobe, cars, war and the chain smoking. The story also mentions blacklisting, the Hollywood Ten, and even the communist party which during this time period in entertainment was a big deal. This story is written so well that it reads like a book, better yet it reads like a film, and Sean Phillips does a beautiful job showing how much visual plays an important part. The coloring is vivid and bold; Sean even does black and white shots when in the characters are in filming.
Fade out starts off with Charlie Parish a big shot Hollywood screenwriter, who still has nightmares of the war passed out drunk in an unknown bathtub. When Charlie awakes he finds Val Sommers raped and murdered with no recollection of what’s happened. Val is a hot and new coming actress who’s starting in a film Charlie is writing…well she was an actress. The whole night becomes a blur of images while Charlie attempts to put pieces together that he just can’t quiet figure out.
During the set of production, there is no mercy, re-shoots must be taken a new actress must be found and replaced. In the terms of show business, “the show must go on” and surprisingly enough there’s already been a new actress hired for the part. (Hmm…suspicious much?)
Sex and drugs play a big role in old Hollywood films. Women would do ANYTHING to make their dreams of being an actress come true, and the men producing and casting very much knew this. The scene where Maya Silver is introduced to take over Val’s role, is very fishy and makes the murder mystery that much more mysterious. At this point in the story, anybody could have killed Val.
The second act starts off with scandal and mystery as much as the first. Gil starts up by getting into some trouble once again. Gil’s a blacklisted screenwriter, and Charlie’s best friend along with being his working partner. Gil finds out information about Al Kamp; an old dirty man with a taste for young woman and co-founder of Victory Street Productions. Gil finds out about Kamp’s lifestyle and how the possibility of his past and fondness of young women might have a connection with Val’s murder. Gil gets stopped by Brodsky who is the head of security, the man who’s payed to clean up messes and bury them into the ground.
Maya and Charlie also become very cozy, very soon. One night at movie premiere, Charlie was asked to escort Maya and after some heated debate with a man that had to do with her ex-husband and her past, it let up to a very hot night. Charlie and Maya were glued together much after this, with sneak peek glances on set, and a weekend away. Charlie and Maya’s relationship took on steamy fire that led to sex and more sex every time. Yet, like everything else in Charlie’s life, nothing ever good seems to last for him. We find out a little more into whom Maya was and what her past was, a Mexican girl who was made to look like a star with the rest of her past washed and threatened away. All the while, Gil continues to dig up as much information about the conspiracy with Val’s death as he can with threat notes and stake outs.
The final act, act III is more complex, crazy, and everything just spills out. Charlie recollects about an evening he found Val lying on the floor, sick and drunk. This night secrets of each other’s past are told. Val tells Charlie about when she was a kid, and what she had to do to satisfy the needs of producers to help her career. Charlie reveals his past in the war and what it did to him, along with him fronting for Gil to help both their jobs and survival.
Secrets get deeper and truth gets told, this act is the most compelling of them all. In the middle of all this mess we find out about an affair Charlie has with Gil’s wife, which causes him to be more of drunk then he already was. Gil gets caught too deep into the truth and drags Charlie along with him to Kamp’s home trying to get the old man to talk, all to find him dead in the bathtub. Both men get caught and try to escape, but with guns blazing Gil gets shot and Charlie run’s to Maya’s for help. Charlie wakes up the next morning with Gil dead in the car and Brodsky ready to clean up the mess.
Everything becomes buried again once more. Brodsky made Gil’s death look like a poker game gone wrong. Maya is back with the Hollywood heartthrob Ty, now engaged for PR purposes and Charlie is even a bigger mess then he was before. In the end he finds out the truth to what happened. Charlie goes to Brodsky on the night of the big movie premiere and asks for the truth. That Drake Miller, an undercover agent looking for communist got too caught up in his pretend role of a producer. Miller enjoyed the life style he was pretending to be in, got caught up the parties, liquor and loose women. In his quest one night to find out the truth he goes to Val, with her not saying anything, anger rises in him and he chokes her to death. This truth as Brodsky tells Charlie, is full of maybe’s and speculation.
The story ends with Charlie a drunken mess, who has all of what happened to him and the people he knew swept under the rug. Charlie has to live this eating at him for the rest of his life; the truth about Val, Gil, Maya, and even himself. The ending had me feeling dirty and disappointed, everything getting swept under, no justice nor glorification, just darkness and another day. The Fade Out, is a gripping story of mystery and excitement that had me begging for more, just too bad it ended the way it did. In this ending, as sad as it was, spoke the truth of Old Hollywood and what really used to happen.
This is Kay G. over and out.