Re: RARA-AVIS: Pros and cons

Mark Sullivan (
Thu, 28 Jan 1999 21:30:29 -0500 (EST) I don't see any reason why con games and hardboiled are mutually
exclusive. While agree that The Sting is not hardboiled, I would
definitely say The Grifters (already brought up by Bill), Lawrence
Block's Girl With The Long Green Heart and Iceberg Slim's Trick Baby and
Long White Con most certainly are. The threat of violence often looms
over the con man, the threat that the mark will catch on and retaliate
(as happens early in Grifters). For instance, in Dan J. Marlowe's Four
For the Money, the con man Slick is well aware that the most important
part of his conning some other con men in a card game is getting out the
door in a plausible manner, before they catch on that he has taken them.

However, I don't think it is violence that defines the hardboiled. I
think it's the professionalism held up against all odds, while the world
goes to hell and loses all standards around the protagonist. And this
professionalism can apply equally to private eye or criminal. Both the
recent Parkers and Wyatts have the older career criminal mourning the
decline of professionalism as standards have fallen now that any junkie
can walk into a bank with a sawed-off.


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