Re: RARA-AVIS: Bouchercon article

From: Dave Zeltserman (
Date: 24 Sep 2005

To me noir is more a sense of doom than tragedy. More times than not the protagonist creates their own fate, either by being born broken, as in some of the great Jim Thompson novels (Killer Inside Me, A Swell-Looking Babe, Pop. 1280, etc) or by crossing a moral line, for committing murder for a woman, money, just to see if you can get away with it, etc., such as Double Indemnity, Postman Always Rings Twice, The name of the Game is Death. Great noir novels, such as Mr. Arkadin and How Like a God are outside the realm of the working- class. And then you've got Charles Willeford, who created some brillian tnoir novels based on artists refusing to compromise their artistic vision. Yeah, there are some examples of people who are screwed more by fate than their own actions, such as the film Detour, but in my opinion the best examples (and most prevalent) of noir involve the protagonist's bad decisions, moral weaknesses, or simply broken psyches than the whims of fate. Tragedy is one thing, noir is something completely different.

--- In, "Marc Seals" <mseals@t...> wrote:
> I think it does work for a great many films noirs.... Relatively
few films noirs feature a detective. (I'm speaking here of the films from the so-called classic era of noir, roughly 1941 to 1958.) The more common protagonists are the common losers being destroyed by the random whims of fate (and often aided by a femme fatale). I remember a theatre professor years ago telling me that classic tragedy is "a great soul suffering greatly" (or words to that effect); film noir is often the tale of a common schmo suffering greatly. In both kinds of stories, we witness a person's downfall....
> ~Marc
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Dave Zeltserman
> I'd have to say "working-class tragedy" doesn't make a hell of a
> of sense as a definition for noir. I also don't see the
connection for
> film noir either - how does that definition fit film noir
> like Body Heat, Angel Heart, Chinatown, Double Indemnity, Blade
> Runner, Godfather 2?
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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