Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled SF

Etienne Borgers (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 22:22:50 -0700 (PDT)

Like I said in my previous message, there are other SF films beside what I cited as SF under Noir influence in it.
  On my web page there is an extension to the HB/Noir film lists giving the recommended SF films, and there you will find Alphaville and Zardoz listed as well
(plus others).

The references of Alphaville to Noir are obvious and part of Godard filming is even done with Noir aesthetic. Zardoz is HB by some sides of its plot and Noir in its general intentions. Even if this film is not reaching fully its goal, it is IMO a very interesting work by John Boorman.

On the contrary, 'Kiss Me Deadly' is a Noir film. A crime film by Robert Aldrich, with Spillane's PI. It is not a SF film, even if it carries some surreal settings. It's a pivotal film for the evolution of Noir on screen... and the film value is way above the book.

The Last Man on Earth (1964) is not a very good film.
'Omega Man' (1971) is better but not on par with the novel. Matheson scripted many serials for TV and also films. He was very good with spooky tales, this explaining maybe why this is the aspect of his talent that some critics, readers, viewers and even some film makers remember the most. This is probably why for some people Romero's film seems to be based on 'I am a Legend', but this is very superficial and only by a coincidence of part of the plot (group of "vampires" assaulting entrenched humans...)Nothing from the deeper layer of matheson's novel. FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) is an excellent SF film, one of the bests of this period, but definitely not Noir... even if it carries some pessimistic traits. It was said at the time that the storyline was taken from Shakespeare's "Tempest".

Influence of Noir films on other genres is not limited to SF, and Western film is a domain with a larger number of films under that influence. Some of these films were discussed in the past here on Rara Avis. Other genres influenced by Noir: war films and in a lesser way action/adventure movies. The latter being often closer to HB for obvious reasons.

I listed films for each category "under influence" on my web pages.

To be noted, as already said, that many interesting film makers did genre-crossing, which explain partially the Noir influences.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

---Juri Nummelin <> wrote:>
(based on a previous posting from E.Borgers >>)

> > I also consider 'I am a Legend' by the great
> > not only a masterpiece of American SF, but
> > a novel of Noir inspiration. But Matheson was> >
crossing genres, as you know.
> > The film based on it: Omega Man, is totally
> > different, kept only some Noir traits.
> > But still OK (but not great) ...if you ignore the
> > novel.
> Filmographies claim that George Romero's "Night of
the Living Dead" was
> loosely based on "I Am Legend". I haven't read the
book or seen "Omega
> Man", do they really relate?
> In the fifties there were a couple of film noirs
that told about the
> nuclear disasters: "Kiss Me Deadly", "The City of
Fear" and "Panic in the
> Streets". Could they be classified as SF? What
about "The Forbidden
> Planet"?

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