December 20, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Below is a follow-up to my earlier post, “Another George Hodel “Thoughtprint”: Seeing Things As they Are, Not As They Appear to Be.”
LW (Luigi Warren) and Ryan’s posted comments:
Steve: Those appear to be vintage, German-made Kismet Art Deco scissors. FWIW, “Kismet” means “fate” or “destiny,” so perhaps they are a visual pun on your father’s part. In Kenneth Branagh’s 1991 whodunnit “Dead Again,” partly set in 40s Hollywood and featuring nods to Man Ray and Hitchcock’s “Spellbound,” a pair of vintage German scissors is a key clue to the identity of the murderer. Make of that what you will. -LW
I find it odd that GHH simply didn’t get rid of the scissors the same way he did the knives, and instead gave it to you. Do you think he was purposely giving you a thoughtprint–in the same way he took you on a hot air balloon ride over San Francisco–as if to say “it’s right under your nose but you still can’t see it”? Ryan
I had seen “DEAD AGAIN” shortly after its release in 1991, and enjoyed it, as a noir thriller. However, since all things suggesting the possibility that my father, George Hodel might be connected to murder(s) would not enter my consciousness, until after his death some eight years later, of course, no connections could or would be made. Moreover, by that time, even unto the present, I had forgotten the details and storyline in DEAD AGAIN.
Last week, thanks to LW’s references to Kenneth Branagh’s film, …”Dead Again, partly set in 40s Hollywood and featuring nods to Man Ray and Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” and a pair of vintage German scissors being a key clue to the killer” and his admonition to “Make of it what you will” I wasted no time. I rented and rewatched the film that very night.
Before I continue, please take two minutes and watch the original 1991 Dead Again trailer here.
Dead Again (Paramount Pictures 1991) has an exceptionally strong cast: Kenneth Branagh (stars and directs) Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson, and Robin Williams.
Mike Church is a Los Angeles private detective who specializes in finding missing persons. He takes on the case of a mystery woman whom he calls Grace. She is suffering from amnesia and has no memories of her own. She keeps having nightmares involving the murder of a pianist, Margaret, by her husband Roman Strauss in the late 1940s. In an attempt to solve the mystery about these nightmares, Church seeks the help of Madson who is an antiques dealer with the gift of hypnosis. The hypnosis sessions will soon begin to reveal some surprises.Written by Sami Al-Taher <[email protected]>
As I began the film, I decided to attempt to watch it through my father’s eyes. View it using his thoughts, his experiences, his mind. For the next 107 minutes I imagined I was George Hodel, the cinephile, having returned to San Francisco after living abroad for four decades. (Dead Again was released in August, 1991, just ten months after GHH’s return and leasing of his penthouse apartment in downtown San Francisco.)
Rather than presenting a lengthy narrative attempting to describe the many “connections” and not wanting to present spoilers, (as I highly recommend this film to all my readers), here are a few bullet point connections:
Location set in Hollywood literally blocks away from George Hodel’s1940s Franklin House. (One of the scenes is shot on Shakespeare Bridge on Franklin Avenue, just 12 blocks east of our Sowden/Franklin House.)
Period bounces back and forth from Los Angeles of the present (1991) filmed in color to LA of the 1940s, filmed in black and white.
Involves a December 1949 murder trial in downtown Hall of Justice. (George Hodel was on trial for incest in the same courthouse in December, 1949.)
Newspaper clips from Dead Again trial summary as shown in the opening credits of the film.
The prime suspect is a musical prodigy pianist/composer who is convicted of murdering his wife during a jealous rage, by stabbing her with a large pair of German made scissors.
As pointed out by LW in his comment, the film pays homage to GHH’s favorite film, “Spellbound” and to winks and nods to surrealists Dali and Man Ray by reproducing some of their major artworks as graphics and paintings in various scenes, and slightly modifying the artists originals with a “scissors motif.”
Scissors as shown in Dali Dream Sequence scene in Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)
Scene in Dead Again Man Ray’s original photo with violin F-Holes replaced with scissors
Scene in Dead Again Dali’s original Melting Watches replaced with scissors
My reaction? Two words. BLOWN AWAY.
Based on the subject matter and how it was presented I have no doubt that George Hodel in watching this film, must have lit up like a pinball machine. Lights and bells had to be going off every few minutes as he watched it. (They did in my mind and I was only pretending to be thinking as my father would.) How much more real for him!
So, back to Ryan’s original question and LW’s admonition to “Make of it what you will.”
Do I now think that his giving me the pair of German scissors was a thoughtprint, much like the taunting balloon ride he gave me (the then unsuspecting big city homicide detective/son) over his Bay Area killing fields as Zodiac?
I DO. As Ryan pointed out, why not just throw the scissors away, as he had purportedly had June do with all their household large knives?
We have seen his need in all of his many crimes to provide so many twisted “clews” as “catch me if you can” taunts.
This one was another. This was not the loving gift from father to son. It was not personal. Rather, it was another mock from serial killer to homicide detective. A very subtle and private joke, saying and proving to himself, that in his words, “I AM CRACKPROOF.”