Re: RARA-AVIS: Definitions

Date: 21 Jan 2002

Mike and Manuel,

Re your comments below:
> > manuel ramos said:
> >
> > > IMO, Vea is a great writer, but I can't see that
> his books are noir.
> The
> > > endings are too upbeat, although the characters
> go through hell to get
> > there.
> > > Michael, I know you want a "definitive" list of
> hard-boiled and noir
> > > writers, and a clear definition. If you look at
> the archives you will
> see
> > > that these are regular topics here. There have
> been some very good
> > attempts
> > > at defining the genre. I'm still learning.
> > >
> >
> i'm in the same boat, manuel. i'm just now getting
> a feel for the
> "hardboiled"
> and "noir". i don't really know how to search the
> archives. i imagine i go
> to
> the web site and type in a word or phrase, same as
> if i was looking for a
> book at amazon. like you noted, i'm sure the
> discussion of "what is hard-
> boiled?" is not a new one. near as i can tell,
> upbeat endings are
> definitely not
> hardboiled. haha. thedetective might get his man
> (or woman) but too much
> mud, blood, and beer went into the gutter to be real
> happy about it.

(For those of you who've read this before, my apoligies). It's really very simple. "Hardboiled" is about attitude. "Noir" is about atmosphere. They're not the same thing, but neither are they mutually exclusive. To use examples from film (since "noir," in the US anyway, originally was a film term). THE WINDOW (from a Cornell Woolrich story) is noir but not hard-boiled. The 1969 film MARLOWE (from THE LITTLE SISTER) is hardboiled but not noir. The 1945 film MURDER, MY SWEET (from FAREWELL, MY LOVELY) is both.

That which is both tough and colloquial is hardboiled.
 That's really all there is to it.

That which is both dark and sinister is noir. That, too, is really all there is to it.


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