Re: RARA-AVIS: Back into the definitional whirlpool

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 15 May 2004

Me: "So, exactly what year was it in which no dark and sinister crime film was produced?"
  Jim: "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. . .
. 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."

That was not my question, as you can see above. You rewrote my question to make it fit your definition. I did not ask when noir ended. I did not ask when B & W crime films stopped being made. I simply asked if there was a single year in which dark and sinister crime films were absent.

That said, I do recognize a difference between classic noir and later noir, just as there is a difference between the Golden Age Batman, the Silver Age Batman and whatever later period Batmans are called. That's why I like the idea of period. I'm perfectly willing to agree with you that that type of noir film ended around 1964 (even if I still argue the parameters that define it), but I'm not willing to say noir films ended then. As you have noted, though, this is more a matter of application than definition. In his book on Noir Film, Paul Duncan broke them down into noir, post-noir and neo-noir. That works for me.

However, I'd say much the same applies to written noir and hardboiled. And I'd say that it went through the same hibernation you claim for noir films. Although the old authors continued to write new books, very few new authors started tilling the land in the '60s and early '70s, as spy books flooded the genre market. For instance, Michael Collins's Dan Fortune was one of very few new PIs introduced in the '60s. Robert B Parker did much to revive the genre when he came along. And he was very self-conscious in his debt to Chandler. However, he made some very influential changes, too, and became a leading light of the new period of private eye fiction. The culture had changed, so its hardboiled fiction did, too. And that's why I like the idea of period in fiction, too.


# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 15 May 2004 EDT