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

Date: 14 May 2004


Re your comments below:
> I'm not trying to be argumentative, but a definition
> of noir that
> categorizes things by time of day or
> interior/exterior doesn't serve me very
> well. There are scenes in the 1969 MARLOWE film
> that are very dark and
> sinister, yet most of the film has a brightly-lit
> daytime quality. Even the
> oft-proclaimed "quintessential" noir film OUT OF THE
> PAST has plenty of
> bright, sunshine-y scenes. Semi-noir, perhaps?

I don't think I've ever actually said that a film noir has no daytime scenes. If I did I was being too emphatic. I may have said (or should have said) that film noir tends to have a nocturnal quality that contributes to a dark and sinister atmosphere.

There are, after all, daytime scenes in such signature noir films as MURDER, MY SWEET; CROSSFIRE; DOUBLE IMDEMNITY; HE WALKED BY NIGHT; THE NAKED CITY; THE ASPHALT JUNGLE; and, as you point out, OUT OF THE PAST, so I don't regard a daytime scene as an absolute disqualifier.

That said, based on my own internal compass, neither MARLOWE nor NIGHT MOVES qualifies as noir, but that's a judgment call. Doesn't mean they aren't good films, just not noir. Anyway, agreeing on a definition doesn't mean one can count on agreeing about what FITS in that definition. Mileage may vary with user.


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