Re: RARA-AVIS: re: Chandler radio show

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 02 Jul 2002

Carrie wrote:

> it was kind of a stupid article because the author missed the point
that the
> Bogey and Bacall "racehorse" scene is the least noir thing about
> film. I guess the reasoning is that "The Big Sleep" is a classic noir
> flick, so everything about it must be quintessentially noir. I
> think that Bacall's beefed-up part in the newer version, while
> entertaining in its own right, detracts from the noir-ness of the
I noticed at least a couple of myths being propagated by these folks.
(By the way, I've heard of Lethem but who are the other dudes when they're at home?) The only one I can still recall is the notion that James M Cain was a "pulp" author. These guys were surprised at how well Cain wrote, for a "pulp writer". The fact is that Cain was never published in the pulps. To the best of my knowledge, his stuff came out in hardback (novels) & the "slick" magazines (short stories). Right at the end of his career he had a couple of shorts published in Manhunt magazine in the 1950's, presumably because he couldn't place them elsewhere. Manhunt was a digest format magazine, arguably the successor to hardboiled pulps such as Black Mask & Dime Detective but not a pulp magazine.I think those may be the only occasions that Cain was published in a genre magazine. It's becoming a more & more common error these days, as terms such as "pulp fiction" & "noir" replace older broad categories such as "mystery" & "thriller" & begin to become as meaningless as the terms that they are replacing. On the subject of noir & Spielberg. A few times in recent months I've mentioned my belief that noir/hardboiled style of crime thrillers could become the next big explosion in genre fiction, the way SF exploded in the wake of STAR WARS. The people I mentioned it to very politely refrained from total guffaws but I'm sure they thought I'd been smoking wacky weed but I still think it's possible & if someone with a proven track record of making mountains of money out of anticipating what people want to watch on movie screens starts talking about noir I think it's time to sit up & take notice. Do I think it'll be a good thing? Probably not but maybe it'll create enough interest to unearth some old classics for reprint (maybe with covers that scream out "in the tradition of Tarantino!" or the greatest noir since Spielberg (yeesh!). The hardboiled equivalent of interminable elf-molesting 12-part epics? Howsabout Ellroy churning - perhaps I should have said, "shagging" - out an endless "American History" epic (THE COLD SIX THOUSAND being the prototype) full of crooked cops, enforcers, bagmen & organised crime figures shagging their way through guts, gore & unlikely sexual peccadilloes, while a supporting cast of ethnic minorities boogie, caper, cavort, jitterbug & jive in the background, providing musical/comedy relief as well as most of the viscera used as decoration. In the meantime, the King of Noir himself could dispense largesse amongst the new aristocracy of noir in the form of heartfelt endorsements such as: "the czar of Russian noir", "the king of refugee post-punk noir", "the top banana of Costa Rican noir" & so forth.
(On the topic of Ellroy's "recommendations" I recently read list-guy Terrill Lankford's ANGRY MOON. I also liked it but I did read it, something I'm not at all sure Ellroy could say. Nice work, Terrill. It's funny, I saw a photo of Terrill & miker together but I had them confused. Seeing the pic on the dustcover I realise Terrill is the one with the beard. (miker's caption said that he was the "fat one" but I couldn't work out which one that was meant to be. Not that they both looked fat, they both look pretty average).


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