The Film Noir Cake Stand – A One Shot Story

By Peter Roberts

In early December I spent a few hours over the course of a couple of days attempting to take shots inside Greenwich Market. As the result of a comment to my last post asking if it was still there I had a vague idea of putting together a Five Frames about it. The photographic muse was not with me on either occasion and I came away expecting to be disappointed with the results.

I got through the remainder of the film in January, in Soho, while we were there to visit the Chris Killip exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery. As soon as I had developed the film, contrary to my expectations, one of the Greenwich images jumped out at me even as it was removed from the spiral. This was the one I immediately entitled The Film Noir Cake Stand. In spite, or because, of its minimalism could it tell or serve to illustrate a story?

A Story Within A Story

Graham Greene had two classifcations for his works: firstly there were the serious Catholic novels, and then there were the “entertainments”. Entertainment is something of a misnomer as many of these supposedly lighter books have dark themes featuring tormented or downright unpleasant characters, romans noirs, if you like. Think Brighton Rock or The Third Man as instances of this, you may know the film adaptations if not the original books. Although lesser known perhaps, The Ministry of Fear falls into this category. I need only to quote from the blurb on the back of my 1964 Penguin copy to establish the connection with The Film Noir Cake Stand.

“Arthur Rowe’s was a mind Ham-strung by guilt… He was standing aside from the war until he happened to guess the weight of a cake at a charity fête. From that moment he was the quarry of malign and shadowy forces”

The stuff of films noirs if ever there was.

A Brief Afterword

Incidentally I was trying Tri-X for the first time in my fifty-five years of playing at being a photographer and with a yellow filter I was hoping for just this classic cinematographic effect.

Untouched apart form cropping to my favoured 4:3 ratio this one image made the whole roll worthwhile.

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About The Author

By Peter Roberts
Recently retired railwayman with a lifelong interest in all things photographic. A self-professed saddo: other interests include classic cars and model railways.
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Comments

Erik Brammer on The Film Noir Cake Stand – A One Shot Story

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Congratulations, Peter, this is a truly fantastic photograph with lots of things to discover despite its minimalism. I hope you have a print of it on the wall.
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Thanks for your comment Erik. Yes, I ought to have a print on the wall. I think it would make a good talking point.

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Erik Brammer replied:

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Absolutely! In my view, it wouldn’t even need to be a large print or put in the most prominent spot. A3 or even A4 size, put in a spot with traffic in your house. As my artist friend recently put it - and by no means this is meant in a sarcastic or disrespectful way: The washroom is always a very grateful place for art. I would say, the guest washroom. This photograph wants to be seen!

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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Thanks for coming back, Erik. As you say, there is nothing wrong with displaying prints in a washroom. Interestingly the current trend for the public washrooms in London railway stations seems to be murals of old photos of the particular station. Sometimes these are just blow ups a certain feature of the architecture. They would make a good project were it not that to hang around in a washroom with a camera is probably a very bad idea!

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Stefan Wilde on The Film Noir Cake Stand – A One Shot Story

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Dear Robert, what a shot! One really hears the music play... https://youtu.be/a-W5ktOR2ts. Thanks for posting!
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Dear Stefan. You're spot on with the music! I could say more but I won't spoil it for others by giving the game away. Thanks for including the clip. All the best.

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Richard Bain on The Film Noir Cake Stand – A One Shot Story

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Lovely shot and enjoyed the article
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 07/04/2023

Thanks Richard. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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