Re: RARA-AVIS: Memento and PI's

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 22 Aug 2001

Juri wrote:

"I didnt' think of "Memento" as a private eye film, even though the Guy Pearce guy (sic) acts like a private eye most of the time. But as for the insurance investigators - does "Double Indemnity" count as a PI movie? Edward Robinson plays an insurance investigator and yet I don't feel it's a PI movie."

While I have come to agree that insurance investigators are PIs, I have to agree with Juri. I didn't think of Memento as a PI film, either. To me, it had more in common with Goodis than Chandler. I feel it fits within the "blackout" subgenre of noir, where a hero tries to figure out what he did during a lost period of time. In fact, it had a lot in common with Nightfall, with its amnesiac hero trying to figure out if he was a killer. While he may not have been a suspected killer, Leonard was trying to piece together what had happened during his sequential
"blackouts" He was lucky to have the PI skills to help in his search.

Similarly, Mitchum is a PI in Out of the Past, but I'm not sure I would call it a PI film, either. Well, half of it is a PI film, while he is searching for Jane Greer. However, the film changes to something else when he goes against his professional obligation and refuses to return her to Kirk Douglas.


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