Monday, March 30, 2009
Confessions On Tape
There must be something eternal about a guilty conscience, something that the guilty need to make eternal by recording their confessions for posterity.
In the recently discussed “Make Haste to Live” (1954) (see post here), Dorothy McGuire leads us to the flashback by setting herself down in her darkened office after hours, yanks a microphone to her mouth and starts blabbing the details of her sordid past to a reel-to reel tape recorder.
Fred MacMurray famously unburdened his guilty conscience with a Dictaphone machine in his darkened office after hours in “Double Indemnity” (1944) as he slowly bled from gunshot wounds. At the end of the film, we see several cylinders beside the machine he has used up. These old Dictaphones were like making records in wax, where the voice delivered an electrical impulse that was scratched onto the cylinders. (For more on "Double Indemnity" have a look at this post from January 2008.)
In “The Blue Gardenia” (1953), Richard Conte tries to trap Anne Baxter into a confession, and has a phone recorder and a transcriptionist standing by. He takes no chances, but gets no confession.
For that, Anne Baxter would have to be in a darkened office, all alone, talking to herself.
Would they have tapped out a text message on a Blackberry today? Speak into a mic to record their voice in digital files on their computer with Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software?