RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Hardboiled and delurk

Date: 27 Apr 2002


Re your comment below:

> I agree and actually I think a noir work is more
> likely not to have
> hardboiled characters in it.

I think I've got to disagree with this. Lots of hard-boiled writers are very noir. Certainly most of the films that were labled film noir featured hard-boiled characters. MURDER MY SWEET is almost the definitive noir movie, and it's certainly hard-boiled.
 On the other hand MARLOWE (the film version of THE LITTLE SISTER), though it features the same hard-boiled character, is not noir. It's all a question of atmosphere and approach.

In prose, the best examples I can think of, since their books are otherwise very similar, are Spillane's Mike Hammer series, and Prather's Shell Scott series.

Hammer exists in a very noir universe, where the concrete canyons of Manhattan are always in shadow, the streets are always ran-swept, and the dawn never seems to come. Shell Scott, just as tough, just as lethal, just as right-wing and anti-communist (it's interesting to compare the Scott novel PATTERN FOR PANIC with ONE LONELY NIGHT), lives in a perpetually sunny atmosphere, where it's rarely night-time, where even the worst crooks are good-humored, and where booze is taken to boost his already ebullient spirits rather than to drown his sorrows.

Noir just means a dark and sinister atmosphere, and it's as easy to fit a hard-boiled character into such an atmosphere (arguably, it's easier) than any other kind of character.


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