Charlie Williams wrote: Regarding shadows and darkness and
unlit doorways, I've always been dubious about this because
it shares so much with gothic horror. Since you take movies
as your example here, have you seen The Crow? Shadows and
darkness galore, night all the time, and a lot of bad
feeling. But to me it's not noir. It ends with redemption and
a righting of wrongs. To me, that's anti-noir. If it's noir
it's got to be noir all the way through. Not mostly noir but
with some blanc at the end.
*********** Gothic horror, if it isn't noir, is the daddy of noir. Paul Duncan: "The French coined the phrase Roman Noir (Black Novel) to describe the Gothic or Terror novels which first appeared in the second half of the 18th century in England. These were novels about the dark side of life."
So one of your criteria for noir is a depressing or unhappy
ending? That's not an unusual demand on noir. Certainly most
noir does have an unhappy ending. I'd say that more than 90%
of the strict noir I've read has the main protagonist either
dead or cruelly defeated in the end. But Jim has stated that
a "happy" ending does not rule out noir, and I'm with him on
this. The Dead Calm movie had a fairly happy ending, and I
would still call it noir.
What do I mean by strict noir? A lot of hardboiled detective
novels have been labelled with the noir tag, like THE MALTESE
FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP. Paul Duncan smirks and gives a big
thumbs down to this. Duncan's definition of noir concentrates
on protagonists who are swimming in the abyss, not merely
teetering on the brink. Duncan refuses Hammett and Chandler
entry to the noir club because of this. The protagonists
exhibit too much control. Duncan's noir definition is
Mario also recently took away Hammett's noir tag, and after I
got over the shock of such a bold statement, I had to agree.
Why? Like he says, Hammett's novels are simply too tough.
Most of the dark and sinister atmosphere in noir is generated
by the sweat, fear, and desperation of the characters. The
body count can rival WWII, but if they don't sweat enough, it
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