Lost in the Movies: Kings Row as TWIN PEAKS CINEMA #9 (podcast)

Kings Row as TWIN PEAKS CINEMA #9 (podcast)

With the new year comes a new themed miniseries for my Twin Peaks Cinema podcast: "Small Town Blues" (the last series, "What's in a name?" explored Laura, Vertigo, and Sunset Boulevard as seminal influences on Peaks). One of the most fascinating things about the work of David Lynch and Mark Frost is their world creation, the way they explore the social fabric of a complex community. "The bucolic small town with a dark, seamy underside" has been a particular American mainstay for generations, with Lynch's own Blue Velvet preceding Peaks for several years, itself drawing upon melodramatic tropes of fifties cinema. One of the best examples of this "genre" (if we can call it that) may not have had any direct impact on Peaks at all - I don't think Lynch or Frost ever referenced it - but it certainly feels like a kindred spirit. Kings Row explores the old-fashioned charm of nineteenth century life alongside a fascination with (explicit) Freudianism. Its characters cavort in sunny fields and lurk in delipidated old houses; they travel as far afield as Vienna and also venture across the wrong side of the tracks for romance - a shabby, more urban-feeling neighborhood that in some ways feels even further from their home than Europe. Like Twin Peaks, Kings Row contains worlds. Thematically, the connections are quite striking, especially when it comes to Cassandra Tower (Betty Field), a troubled young woman whose aura of mystery and repressed secrets torment the protagonist (Robert Cummings) as he comes of age. Of course Kings Row's lasting legacy was that it provided Ronald Reagan's most acclaimed role and the notorious line that he borrowed to title his memoir (before launching a political career dead set on denying the dark undercurrents that Kings Row unearths beneath America's optimistic topsoil). "Where's the rest of me?"

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