Re: RARA-AVIS: Back into the definitional whirlpool

Date: 14 May 2004


Re your comments below:

> I was talking about how various other "implied"
> necessary conditions
> seem to appear -- crime, lack of self-consciousness
> -- when you are
> applying/enforcing your definition.

"Crime" is implicit in the very subject of this list. I always assumed it was clear that we were talking about crime (mystery, suspense, detective, call it what you will) fiction. I mean, what is Rara-Avis about, romance novels set in the Regency period? What book did the term "rara-avis" appear in, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS? Rara-Avis is about crime fiction, so all discussions, unless specifically qualified, can and should be safely assumed to be about crime fiction.

But if you really think you've scored a major debating point because I didn't (and don't intend to)consistently add the suffix "in crime fiction" every time I said "tough, colloquial" or "dark, sinister" then, by all means, go pop a cork and celebrate.

The point about self-consciousness specifically referred to filmmakers who set out to deliberately make a "film noir." It had nothing to do with my definition of "noir" as a way of describing a particular style of crime fiction.

And it was never implicit. I explicitly stated it several times, in several posts, through several discussions (that somebody else always brought up). You don't agree? Fine. We can talk about that. But, given the subject line on your post, I conclude that what you want to talk about is my proposed definition, not whether or not it applies to post 1964 crime films.
> So, exactly what year was it in which no dark and
> sinister crime film
> was produced?

Gee, I thought I said that, too. Roughly (and the operative word there is roughly) 1964. This doesn't mean, by the way, that if you find one or two produced or released on '65 or '66, that the point fails.

And I guess this means we're NOT talking about the definition, per se, like I though, but whether or not that definition applies to films made after the early to mid '60's.

And, so there's no misunderstanding, I'm talking about visual stylistics, not plot, character, etc. HARPER would have had a dark and sinister atmosphere had director Jack Smight chosen to use the proper visual stylistics, he didn't and it wasn't.

If you don't agree that visual stylistics are what define noir in a crime film, that's a different question. The question here is whether or not there were B&W crime films that are identifiable by the visual stylistics associated with film noir after roughly 1964.

If you want to start a new (though at this point it can hardly be new) discussion about what defines film noir, okay, but, right now, that's NOT the subject at hand.


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