Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled and Marxism

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 04 Sep 2006

Rob Preece wrote:

I'm straining my mind to come up with examples
(without much luck--where did I leave my memory), but there were dozens of B movies from the 40s and early 50s that were strongly hardboiled and carried profoundly socialistic messages. The McCarthy-driven purge of the movie industry was partly driven by these films. I'm not talking about Grapes of Wrath here
(although that was a great movie, it was hardly hardboiled).

*************** I would be willing to admit Grapes of Wrath into the hardboiled genre. Maybe noir? There's a whole class of screwed people in it.

But leaving that, Marxism was a popular theme in the thirties and the forties. Probably the most overt one I have read was Dos Passos's 42nd Parallel. There was passing reference to it in Gresham's Nightmare Alley, when Stanley talks with a communist riding the rails. Marxist thought is linked to the title of Anderson's Thieves Like Us. A Marxist comment represents Harry Morgan's last words in Hemingway's To Have and Have Not.


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