Edward Willett

A defense of "hokey" endings

I’ve been enjoying Andrew Breitbart’s new BigHollywood group blog very much, and liked this quote, from John Nolte’s commentary on the Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious, in which he takes issue with those who think its ending is “hokey”:

“Hokey” isn’t the result of a story point, “hokey” is the result of the execution of the story point, something “Notorious” proves definitively.

Why have we allowed ourselves to buy into the idea that uplifting endings are old-fashioned and “hokey?” Nihilism may never be hokey, but it sure can be lazy. Ending a film on a downer and calling it complicated and nuanced requires almost no work compared to crafting a climax that lifts the human spirit.

“Notorious” ends on an emotional triumph that requires a genius for mature filmmaking that’s all but vanished. Irony and nihilism have their place but too often they’re a refuge for mediocrity.

I think his points apply equally well to fiction. High school students trying to be deep write ironic stories with nihilistic endings. Mature writers should be capable of more.

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