17 July 2012 1:49 PM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

James M. Cain was introduced to the concept of the "love rack" by his friend, screenwriter Vincent Lawrence (Hands Across the Table, Peter Ibbetson). Cain recalled, "I haven't the faintest idea whether this is a rack on which the lovers are tortured, or something with pegs to hold the shining cloak of romance, or how the word figures in it," but he learned from Lawrence that what makes the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet work is the balcony: the obstacle. The thing which separates the lovers and results in their being tormented with desire.

Cain had the idea of making the love story central to his narrative, rather than being "romantic interest," and to use it to tell a tale of murder. "Murder, I said, had always been written from its least interesting angle, which was whether the police catch the murderer." Cain instead wanted to show the development »

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