People are bad at recognizing liars. Data culled from several psychological experiments demonstrates that even the most well trained individuals – government agents, police officers, and so on – can barely succeed at a 50 percent rate. Lying and deception, however, are fundamental narrative elements in several film genres – particularly the detective film and the female gothic, genres that peaked in popularity in 1940s Hollywood. Considering their real-life lack of proficiency, how do viewers successfully spot deception in such films? Drawing on findings from a handful of experiments, this article brings cognitive psychological concepts to bear on two 1940s films: Out of the Past (1947) and Secret Beyond the Door (1948). The article claims that filmmakers, particularly actors, exaggerate, simplify, and emphasize deception cues to selectively achieve narrative clarification or revelation. This process reveals not only how viewers recognize deception, but how actors stylize real-life behavior in service of narrative and aesthetic priorities.
J. Brandon Colvin
Adams , 144 – 153 . New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich . Elster , Jon . 1986 . “Deception and Self-Deception in Stendhal: Some Sartrian Themes.” In The Multiple Self , 93 – 114 . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press . Iseminger , Gary
Clues to Deception .” Psychiatry 32 ( 1 ): 88 – 105 . 10.1080/00332747.1969.11023575 Ekman , Paul , Wallace V. Friesen , Maureen O’Sullivan , Anthony Chan , Irene Diacoyanni-Tarlatzis , Karl Heider , Rainer Kraus , et al. 1987
Episodic Memory and Mnemonic Aids in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival
Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski
fragmented spatiotemporal reality. These films blur the boundaries between different levels of reality, are riddled with gaps, deception, labyrinthine structures, ambiguity, and overt coincidences. They are populated with characters who are schizophrenic
Sermin Ildirar and Louise Ewing
have since found that maintaining eye contact with an interviewer facilitates deception detection ( Vrij et al. 2010 ). It follows, then, that looking directly into the camera might have an effect (positive or negative) Figure 2 Example of sequence
Andreas Baranowski and Heiko Hecht
. London : Wallflower Press . Faraday , Michael . 1831 . “ On a Peculiar Class of Optical Deceptions .” Journal of the Royal Institute of Great Britain 1 : 205 – 223 . Finlay , David J. , and Peter Dodwell . 1987 . “ Speed of Apparent Motion and
If people generally do a poor job of recognizing liars, it is interesting that so many movies employ deceptive characters. Duplicity and prevarication are common plot devices whereby scheming characters maneuver to get their way. Such movies often rely on viewers’ abilities to recognize the deception at hand. Does this represent a disconnect between movies and life, with viewers tasked in one arena with a skill set that doesn’t seem to function well in the other?
” or “masquerading” as boys when committing their alleged crimes. The problematic collapse of “nondisclosure” and “active deception” reiterates common misrepresentations of transgender identity, yet has formed the core of the legal interpretations that
Memento and Mētis
Odysseus who he is and allows him to spin a fictitious background tale. She sheds her disguise and applauds Odysseus's mētis , noting that deception has become his primary mode of interacting with the world. Athena then applies a new disguise to Odysseus
intention to perpetuate Wakanda's isolationism and deception. However, he is challenged by his cousin, a powerful and ruthless warrior named Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who believes vibranium should be sent all over the world to arm Black people to fight