Re: RARA-AVIS: Cain and Hammett

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 02 Oct 2007

At 09:41 AM 02/10/2007, Bludis wrote:

>The work of Cain defines Noir, all of his lead characters
>are screwed.
>Hammett's leads are all tough, even in THE THIN MAN.

I don't think it's quite so cut and dried, Jack.

Sam Spade has become a mythological figure, admired for his cool, tough cynicism. He's the guy who has the right comeback when it's needed, not ten or fifteen minutes later like the rest of us. He's the guy who smacks down guys who only think they're tough, sees through the phoniness of others and sticks to his own business. Definitely a hard boiled egg, and heroically so.

So much so that we want to forget that list of reasons he has for throwing Brigid over. The list is a repudiation of all the human qualities required for romantic and Christian love to flourish, but Spade relies on logic and represses his romantic inclinations. He has no faith that love and passion can transcend the problems of the world as he experiences them. Spade survives in a noir world, as long as he remains tough. We know that is for a limited time, but Spade could not be perceived as heroic in any other world. He's screwed like the rest of us.

Best, Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ The evil men do lives after them

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