RARA-AVIS: Noir styles: Mario

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 25 Feb 2003

Dave Zeltserman wrote:
... while with noir the protagonist slips morally and then spirals downward from there. What makes "The Conversation" so interesting is that Gene Hackman's character slips into a noirish nightmare by trying to maintain his moral integrity.

*********** There have been some really nice variations on the elements of noir fiction through the years. Some of the protagonists are just rotten to the core, like Thompson's Lou Ford in THE KILLER INSIDE ME or Gresham's Stanley in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Then you find some protagonists who have hardly done anything wrong. They pay heavily for small sins. The poor guy in Homes's BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH kills in self-defense, but hides the body rather than face a sure murder rap. The detective in Willeford's WILD WIVES is framed for a murder he didn't commit. What is his sin, beyond screwing some guy's crazy wife? Those two variations that trivialize the act that started the down- ward spiral have allowed a manipulating femme fatale a much greater hand in the protagonist's doom.

Speaking of WILD WIVES, I have a question for Mario. I believe you called WILD WIVES the beginning of neo-noir, or something like that, and labelled it such because you alluded to some irony of style that was beyond simple plot irony. Could you expand a bit on this so that I might understand what you are talking about. From what you said last time, I can assume that the irony you are talking about is above and beyond the guy hanging for something he didn't do, and also beyond the irony that the real femme fatale who brings him down isn't the crazy wife but the seemingly harmless teenager.
     Thanks, miker

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