RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir without End

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 03 Apr 2005

Now we get into definitions again, always a perilous business on this list.

Some of these TV shows you've cited (or there are others you could have cited), I've never actually seen, so maybe they've actually managed to pull it off. But the episodes I've seen, I think of more as noirish, or boasting noirish elements, as opposed to true, 100 per cent noir, which I still feel requires some sort of definite, finite ending -- even if that ending may be as ambivalent as hell.

Individuals in some of these TV shows go through a story arc, meet their noir end, and are never seen again. But others are only damned until eternity until next week, when they're re-introduced having a cup of coffee with the boys. It becomes just soap opera aimed at the professionally cynical.

I'm not claiming any of the cited shows are not worth watching or aren't great fun, just that I'm not sure how truly noir some of them are, in the end. Mostly because for the main characters they don't have an end. Unless they serve more as observers to the nastiness. Like Chandler's Marlowe, increasingly part of the nastiness, but never quite succumbing totally (well, at least until Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE).

And I still sorta think of all the great classic film and romans noirs as having definite ends, not damnation on the installment plan. How much bleak damnation do you pile on after the original before it starts to cheapen the impact of the original?

Maybe there's a reason nobody wrote or made THE POSTMAN RINGS THRICE or BODY HEAT IV or WHITER HEAT.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Convince me.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site 75 Years of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon http://www.thrillingdetective.com

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Apr 2005 EDT