Re: RARA-AVIS: Theme of the month - Los Angeles

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 05 Sep 2001

I've got a question for those of you who are more familiar with older PIs. How ubiquitous was California as location in the early days of PIs? Was it always a preferrred setting of hardboiled or does Chander's shadow just loom so large it now feels that way?

And if California, and LA in particular, is the preferred setting for noir (along with NY), why? Is it simply because the movie industry drew so many writers? (If so, were they writing about LA or their native cities before they moved out there?) Or is there something about California that made/makes it a good setting? The transient, no one is a native, population? The anyone can reinvent themselves, just like they do in the moving pictures mindset? The wide-open, wild west nature of the city? The corruption, as seen in the water and public transportation manipulations? Or is it the physical aspect?

I think of California as sunny, noir as dark, but I still think of LA as the natural city for a PI. California is also stereotyped as full of wackos; could the PI be the last sane man in an unraveling, crazy state?


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