Re: RARA-AVIS: Spade falling in love

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 03 Oct 2007

At 05:48 AM 03/10/2007, Juri wrote:

>I'm pretty much with William here: Sam Spade doesn't really fall in love
>with the broad. Maybe the film gives a wrong impression about the whole

Though Brigid says Spade knows he loves her, he equivocates, considers the fleeting qualities of the emotion:
"Well, if I send you over I'll be sorry as hell--I'll have some rotten nights--but that'll pass. Listen," and then: "If that doesn't mean anything to you forget it and we'll make it this: I won't
(protect her) because all of me wants to--wants to say to hell with the consequences and do it--and because--God damn you--you've counted on that with me the same as you counted on that with the others."

He loves her, and he wants her, but he cannot bring himself to trust her. He goes on to address the money issue, suggesting he may not be as crooked as his reputation (good for business, again) then shortly later he settles it saying he won't play the sap for her. She kisses him, he lets her, then he opens the door to the cops. Cold bastard all right. I think it's pretty clear he's giving something up, and knows it.

What he "wins" at most is survival. And that we know with absolute certainty is fleeting. This IS the main point where I part with Jack's "screwed" (I think it works in most cases) as defining noir. Ultimately, in the largest sense we're all screwed in that our time here is brief. Jack said way, way back that this wasn't what he meant by "screwed" in the noir sense, but other literary forms try, one way or another, to transcend this certainty where noir does not.

In Spade's case, look what he sacrifices to survive a little longer. Choosing the lesser of evils doesn't make anyone a winner in my book, but it is the essence of noir. Sure, others may be screwed in other ways, to greater or lesser degrees, sooner or later, but in noir, tragically flawed or morally and intellectually perfect, we're all bent over in the public toilet, waiting our turn.

And if that splits hairs then I think they're pretty important hairs, Kerry

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

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