fish noir

September 8, 2011


This week’s Illustration Friday theme is mysterious and what comes to my mind first is “red herring”. So I thought I’d repost this from a couple of years ago.

Most film buffs know that a red herring is a plot device used in film noir, murder mysteries and suspense films, to distract the audience away from the more important aspect of the plot. The red herring can sometimes be a character, believed by the audience to be the killer, only to discover later in the film that they are innocent and another character, never even considered is, in fact, the murderer.

Now that you have your twist ending, do you know where the term red herring originated?

Wikipedia tells us:

A tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a “red” (salted and smoked) herring. This pungent fish would be dragged across a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal’s trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.

I’ve also heard that British fugitives in the 1800s would rub a herring across their trail, in order to divert the bloodhounds pursuing them.

All this talk is whetting my appetite for a bit of kipperes and toast (not) and a Hitchcock film or two (yes).


10 Responses to “fish noir”

  1. artseafartsea Says:

    This is so cute. And great for the mysterious Illo. Fri. theme this week.

  2. I like your take on mysterious! Original. Thanks for the background on red herring too – fascinating!

  3. Janet Says:

    Wow. I do love a good red herring in an old mystery movie and found the background to the term really interesting. i didnt know that. 🙂

  4. alex Says:

    That’s super-fun! Love it 🙂

  5. Judy Says:

    I love it!

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