Melodrama . . . must reek with gore.

'Christopher Strong, writing in 1912, declared: “The paranoic who wrote the plays did so because he didn’t know Art from Hank; he did know that people like action, so he gave them more action(and of the same sort) than you would find in an asylum full of delirium tremens fiends and St. Vitus’s dance artists.” Melodrama’s classic iconography, as described by an essayist in 1908, included: “Trap-doors, bridges to be blown up, walls to be scaled, instruments of torture for the persecuted heroines, freight elevators to crush out the lives of the deserving characters, elevated trains to rush upon the prostrate forms of gagged and insensible girls.” A Harper’s Weekly essayist put it concisely in 1890: “Melodrama . . . must reek with gore.”'


while villains are strapped to switchboards and
light through the bodies the great white ways of cities

(That is, they become cinema.)

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