“Background To Danger”
Eric Renderking Fisk | January 10th, 2018
If you consider yourself a writer and you’ve been writing for quite a while there are two types of work that writers regret. The first type of article a writer regrets is the article that is either mean spirited, misinformed, or the "just plain bad" finished work. For whatever reason a writer will write something that is filled with anger or supports a specific agenda or becomes dated; the thesis of the writing is not correct anymore. I’ve looked back and read things that I wrote in the past regarding a thought, idea or feeling at the time which is not how I feel in the here and now.
Maybe I hurt someone, or turned them off from all of my work, or convinced them of something that turned out to be wrong. I feel responsible and I'm sorry.
Believe it or not there is the other type of article that writers regret even more; the article that was never written to begin with.
This afternoon it’s early January with some beautiful flurries in the air and my wife and I had to visit a shop in a neighboring town that has not changed in more than 20 or 30 years. It is exactly the way it was when it first opened in the late 1900's. I was thinking about the passage of time and how many things I have done since this place first opened. That had me thinking about all the things I haven't done in this amount of time, too. And for whatever reason I was reminded of a couple of articles that I wanted to write in the early 2000‘s that I never finished.
A handful come to mind, specifically a review for “Background To Danger”, a movie my wife bought for me on VHS right around the time I started The Fedora Chronicles.
Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:
“Joe Barton (George Raft) is an American intelligence agent working an undercover mission in Turkey during World War II. Turkey is neutral territory, but the Nazis are developing plans to take control of the country. A strange woman passes Barton papers containing details of a supposed Soviet invasion. Also very interested in the documents are a mysterious Russian operative, Tamara Zaleshoff (Brenda Marshall), and traitorous Nazi agent Colonel Robinson (Sydney Greenstreet).”
From what I remember, “Background To Danger” wasn’t a great movie like Casablanca and would never be considered a classic by any stretch the imagination. There were a couple of scenes that were kind of hokey and you could tell they were working with models specially during the railroad scene. They obviously recycled sets from other movies of the era and simply changed the lighting or filmed at a different angle. To be fair that was not an uncommon practice by studios to save a couple of bucks during the war.
The plot was more than adequate and there were a couple of moments within this movie that I was at the edge of my seat. In retrospect the movie seems like it was years ahead of its time, more specifically it seemed more like a storyline from an Alan Furst novel. For a spy movie from the World War 2 era it ends on an upbeat note that’s a bit too cliché.
Background to Danger – as I remember - is merely a good film. Perhaps a prefect movie to see once every couple of years during a rainy weekend but not the material for an online group or likely to land a following of fanboys and girls.
That’s the qualifier: as I remember it. I don’t have a copy to watch any more and I haven’t watched it again because of this specific point: my review of this movie as it would be written in 2018 wouldn’t be the same as it would have been when I saw it the first time and with that enthusiasm. What I could have written in 2004 is gone and it would have been interesting to go back and read it.
That goes for a couple dozen movies I have seen between then and now. I skipped writing some reviews because I didn’t think they were “Flicks To Hold You Over.” Because of that, I think The Fedora Chronicles is a bit diminished, it's not as much of a website as it could. It doesn't have the same literary heft that I think it should.
It’s because of the reviews not written that caused regret, hence one kind is the cause of the other.
The lesson is the literary version of get back on the horse. Swallow that regret and move on, and keep typing. In looking back, I would rather have a couple more I wish I had written better than wishing I had written more. If I hurt any feelings with one article, I'll be sure to make amends in the next one.
Meanwhile... I might go and hunt down a new copy of Background to Danger.
Tell us what you think of the movie Background to Danger if you have seen it, or tell us about your own experiences with regretting something you wish you had written but didn't.