Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's "Noir Feel" for LA (was Denise Hamilton)

Date: 13 May 2004


Re your question below:

> . . . do Chandler's novels - as opposed to the
> movies made from his
> novels - have a "noir feel" for L.A.?

I certainly think so (and I am, after all, a paid, professional expert on Chandler).

Presuming that you agree with my notion that "noir" means a "dark, sinister atmosphere," then certainly giving his fiction a "noir" feel was Chandler's stated intention. His phrase for that kid of atmosphere was
"the smell of fear."

How successful was he at giving his fiction "the smell of fear?" I don't think you need to look any farther than his most famous short story, "Red Wind," which has opens with the most quoted passage in all of Chandler and goes on to sustain a noir-ish atmoshpere throughout the piece.

Other examples: the scene at Florian's, the bar in the predominantly black, LA neighborhood at the beginning of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, the shootout at the suburban garage in THE BIG SLEEP, the long, "you're not human tonight, Marlowe" interior monologue as Marlowe drives through the dark streets of LA in THE LITTLE SISTER, etc.

Yeah, I think Chandler gave his stuff a hell of an effective noir feel for LA.


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