Monday, March 26, 2018

Kelli Stanley's "City of Sharks"

Kelli Stanley is a critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of crime fiction (novels and short stories). She makes her home in Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, a city she loves to write about.

Here Stanley dreamcasts an adaptation of her new Miranda Corbie Mystery, City of Sharks:
I had one actress in mind when Miranda Corbie introduced herself to me in City of Dragons.

Rita Hayworth.

Miranda looks like a young Rita, can turn on the kilowattage like a young Rita (think Gilda), and, underneath her hardboiled defenses, is an exquisitely sensitive soul. Her armor is as tough as she is vulnerable … indeed, that’s why the armor exists.

Rita could express that kind of vulnerability, even in more traditional (i.e. misogynistic) femme fatale roles (think Lady from Shanghai) … and, for my money, her performance as Gilda—the play of conflicting, competing emotions that played across her face in so many scenes—was one of the best in the entire noir oeuvre. Rita combined intelligence, strength, wit, sexual allure, romanticism, beauty and vulnerability in a way few actresses ever have.

But now we’re in the fourth book of the series—City of Sharks. Actresses that could’ve played the role several years ago—Charlize Theron, for example—have aged out of it. Could a contemporary younger actress capture Miranda? And capture her in a way that both evinces 1940 and transcends it?

Maybe. But the list is short.

Top choice, were I to ink a deal tomorrow, would likely be Haley Bennett, a young actress who can steal scenes from Emily Blunt and linger in your memory (she was one of the few good things in Girl on a Train). Haley’s got the acting chops and charisma, at least from what I’ve seen of her.

Other actresses in the age range (late ‘20s to early ‘30s) include Rebecca Ferguson, though I think she looks a bit too beautifully Scandinavian, and Margot Robbie, who played twitchy so well in both Suicide Squad and I, Tonya. Talent-wise, any of these three may be able to pull off the complex role of Miranda Corbie … Haley capturing Miranda’s vulnerability, Rebecca her decisiveness and courage, Margot her pain and determination.

As for directors, Patty Jenkins would far and away be my first choice, followed by Ava DuVernay and Todd Haynes.

And until all of this happens, I can at least queue up Gilda in the DVD player … and dream.
Learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kelli Stanley & Bertie.

The Page 69 Test: City of Sharks.

--Marshal Zeringue