After years of writing non-fiction, I tiptoed into the world of mystery fiction. I had a lot of challenges, but perhaps the greatest was getting past movie clichés. Biggest groaners:
1. Never Trust the Nice Guy… or Girl: The more innocent a person seems, the more he or she is likely to be guilty. (If the bad guy is wearing thick gloves, it’s a she.)
2. Speeding Cars Can Fly: You know the routine: a good guy speeds downLombard StreetinSan Franciscoat 90 miles an hour. He misses a curve, tops a hill, and suddenly he’s airborne. Of course, the car lands back on its wheels and good guy continues on as though nothing was out of the ordinary.
3. Bad Guys Are Terrible Shots: They all talk big, but boy are they lousy with a gun. The good guy has little trouble dodging the bullets, even when they come from all sides at once.
4. It’s Always the Right Time for a Soliloquy: No one, good guy or bad, seems able to resist. They have to explain their plan in detail. Or brag on and on about their genius. Or expound upon the lesson to be learned. Come on, guys, get on with it.
5. Any Dope Can Access Top-Secret Files: No, you don’t need Julian Assange and his Wiki leaks. Anyone with a computer, it seems, can pop into a coffee shop and hack into the most guarded government database.
6. No Emergency Room for Me! Movie people aren’t like us. Beat them up, stomp on them, drown them, shoot them—they always get up, dust themselves off, and walk away spouting a wise crack. It’s a miracle. Maybe, after a really serious encounter one will need a steak for a black eye, but that’s about the extent of it.
7. If a Car Rolls Over, It Will Explode: You’d think all the good guys would have lawsuits pending with auto companies, but they seem to take those exploding cars in stride.
8. “Oh, Wow, I’m Out of Bullets!” Okay, guys, we all count the shots and know what’s coming. How come you never seem to?
Those are my favorite don’t-let-this-happen-to-you movie clichés. How about you?
“High Noon is a pretty corny movie.”