Monday, April 04, 2016

30 Days of The Fade Out: One Possible Glitch in Continuity.

After our fourth or fifth read-through of the comic, we've stumbled across what may be a continuity error in The Fade Out -- a minor glitch in the backstory, fortunately nothing central to the main story's murder and cover-up.

It's hardly worth mentioning, but in our wrap-up of our lengthy look at the series, we do want to take a moment to document what we've discovered.

In Charlie's encounter with Drake Miller -- both the apparently imagined talk in the Formosa bathroom in issue #7 and their actual conversation in Val's kitchen, recalled in issue #11 -- the produce and FBI plant tells Charlie that At the End remains one of his favorite pictures, and that it would have had a best-writing Oscar "in the bag" if he hadn't gone up against Citizen Kane.

The chronology that's established in issue #9 doesn't quite add up: in an extended flashback explaining their "shared spiral down the booze-hole," we find out that Charlie and Gil got in trouble with the mob on the night of Charlie's Oscar nomination.

"They barely spoke the rest of that year... until Pearl Harbor.

"Holding a grudge felt petty in the face of war..."

Orson Welles' Citizen Kane was released in 1941, and it was awarded Best Writing (Original Screenplay) at the 1941 Academy Awards.

The problem is, the 1941 Academy Award nominations were announced on February 9, 1942 (see footnotes), with the awards given out on February 26, 1942 -- both more than two months AFTER the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

Somewhat famously, Stephen King's first Hard Case Crime book, The Colorado Kid, had a seeming continuity error that was surprising for a carefully plotted and confounding murder mystery:  Starbucks Coffee was mentioned as present in Denver in 1980, which was historically inaccurate.  Responding to a review in USA Today, King wrote that Dark Tower readers might find that the detail was a clue rather than an error, and the comment seems to point to parallel universes.

Perhaps this dilemma could be explained the same way, that we're reading a story set in a universe that's not quite our own.  Beyond the existence of Victory Street Pictures, the people who worked with the studio, and the films they produced, the universe of The Fade Out differs in that the 1941 Oscar nominations were announced prior to Pearl Harbor.

...or, perhaps more simply, Charlie Parish was nominated for two consecutive Best Writing Oscars, first for an unnamed film released in 1940, then for At the End, released in 1941.

The problem could be addressed in subsequent printings of the book -- maybe the big news could be changed to some important reviewer's declaration that Charlie's film was the movie of the year, published upon the film's release and prior to Pearl Harbor -- but it wouldn't bother us if this hiccup remained.

After all, plenty of great works have their tiny flaws, including Citizen Kane.

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