RARA-AVIS: Hard-Boiled vs Noir & Poodle Springs

Mon, 27 Jul 1998 14:13:15 EDT I don't think I have to clip Eddie at this point to chip in my 2 cents worth.

noir to me is somewhat akin to the concept of Original Sin. and that is-
whether one knows it or not, (usually not) one is doomed from the start. one
can struggle heroicly, but in the end, it ain't gonna change a thing.
certainly institutionalized corruption can be a part of a noirish story. cite
the film CHINATOWN as an example.

hardboiled seems to me to be a question of approach. a tough, unsentimental
attitude taken to the extreme. like an egg, a hardboiled story is chewy all
the way down to the yolk, ain't no runny goop nowhere to be found. a
hardboiled story doesn't necessarily have to be noir. for example, if Mike
Hammer blows away the bad guy at the end, it ain't noir. and I don't think
anyone is going to say Hammer isn't hardboiled.

conversely, one can take a hardboiled approach in telling a noir story, or
place hardboiled characters within it. that of course, equals nihilism.

using this criteria, I've never really considered Chandler to be hardboiled,
the tarnished knight Marlowe is far too sentimental to qualify. he maybe
jaded and cynical, live in a world of institutionalized corruption, but he's a
soft touch and he'll let it affect his decision making. Hammett's Sam Spade
on the other hand, is fucking his partner's wife and doesn't even care about
her, and lets Brigitte O'Shaunessy, who he admittedly digs, take the fall.
this is a hardboiled character.

while I'm touching on Marlowe, I'll say that I didn't care much for Parker's
completion of Poodle Springs, never felt that he came within miles of
capturing the character. thought a lot of other authors did a better job in
the short story compilation published by Knopf. as for the just aired HBO
version of same... well, loved the art direction. wondered if the entire
exercise was intended as a comedy. only cliche avoided in whole megillah was
poor use of first person narrative. musical score and real estate plotline
obviously ripped off from Chinatown. and notorious scumbag director Bob
Rafelson had to have cast the female roles with his couch, cuz acting that
wasn't. liked seeing Jimmy Caan and David Keith working tho. expected far
better from all others involved.

that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

John Lau
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