Monday, August 10, 2009

Guthrie and Weegee

(Cop Killer (left) Weegee; negative, January 16, 1941, print, about 1950, © International Center of Photography)

The cover of Allan Guthrie's Two-Way Split is taken from one of the great crime photographs, Weegee's Cop Killer, though the borrowing from Weegee is unacknowledged, as far as I can tell.

The designers hired by Point Blank Press colorized the photo in hot reds and yellows, flipped it, cropped it, and jacked the contrast up to emphasize splashes and ominous blotches on and around the cop killer and the arresting officer.

It's an evocative photograph, eliciting pity for the beaten suspect even as one thinks of the horror of his deed, his desolation highlighted by the facelessness of his custodians. And that makes it a pretty good cover for an Allan Guthrie novel.

(For more on Weegee, click here. For more on Allan Guthrie, click here.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Kate S. said...

I love Weegee's photographs. Thanks for bringing them back to mind. Very interesting, what the cover designer did with the Cop Killer photo and necessary, I guess, for that purpose to anonymise it somewhat and punch up the colour, but I still find the original more evocative.

August 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I went on a Weegee kick about year ago. I'd come across Cop Killer when looking for something to illustrate a post about crime songs, of all things. I went on to make a few posts about the photo (You can find those posts if you click on "Weegee" where it says "Labels" at the bottom of this post) -- their humo(u)r, the way they retain the noir ambience without the hard edge dwindling into nostalgia.

August 10, 2009  
Blogger Paul D Brazill said...

I love Weege too and I've just read Savage Night, which is great.

August 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Savage Night must be the most violent screwball comedy ever. it's great stuff, all right.

August 15, 2009  

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