Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Me and Peggie Castle

Dead women are dangerous. Those of us who write about them know this in our bones: falling in love with a dead woman is an invitation to madness.

I'm not sure when I fell in love with Peggie Castle. I first saw her films years ago, and it wasn't love at first sight. I mean, I always thought she was beautiful. And sexy. And fascinating. But my actual obsession with her started without me realizing.

One night I started doing research on her for an essay in the new issue of NOIR CITY. The next time I looked up, days had passed.

If you've never heard of Peggie Castle, don't feel bad. Most people haven't. Most film geeks haven't. Hell, most FILM NOIR geeks haven't. She was never famous. She was just another pretty and talented young woman who came to Hollywood with a lot of dreams that didn't come true. She had a brief career which she pursued with single-minded vigor but for some reason it just didn't...click. The ranks of noir goddesses are full of women with similar stories. There's no good reason that people like Martha Vickers and Helen Walker and Peggie Castle didn't become stars.They had everything stardom required except that last little bit of luck.

Of course, to be obsessed with one of these women is really to be entranced by the sheer ineffable nature of movies themselves. That's really, ultimately, what classic movie geekdom is all about, staring at silvery fragments of the past, looking for some kind of connection to ourselves, searching for that connection before we ourselves slip into the blackness.

      

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