"I hope you realized that my tongue was at least partly in my cheek,
when I said that being in color and being made after 1964 automatically
disqualified THE DARK KNIGHT."
As was mine in my snotty reply.
"That said, I do recognize a real difference between what strikes me as
"real" film noir, B&W crime films made roughly from the '40's through the early '60's that shared certain visual elements, and the more self-conscious "neo-noirs" that started to appear in the '80's and
'90's. . . . some filmmakers set out deliberately to make film noirs
(something that none of the filmmakers during the classic noir cycle ever set out to do)."
I'll grant you that they did not set out to make film noir, as that term
had not yet been invented, or at least hadn't yet been imported to the
states. However, do you really think they were completely oblivious to
the tradition they were collectively developing? Just as Chandler was
very aware he was following Hammett (and it's hard to believe Hammett
himself didn't see himself as splitting off from the established mystery
model of his day, even while keeping certain conventions) by writing a
particular type of crime novel, don't you think many of those working on
this particular type of dark and sinister, mostly urban crime movies had
some awareness at least of similar movies that had come before, if just
by emulating aspects of successful films while chasing similar success?
Didn't certain writers and directors choose to work on or were assigned
to certain types of films to capitalize on earlier sucesses? Weren't
hardboiled writers hired by Hollywood to bring their worlds to the
screen? Didn't certain actors become recognized as better at certain
types of roles and repeat them? Whether or not there was an agreed upon
label, that all implies a certain growing self-consciousness about what
they were doing. I find it hard to believe Orson Welles wasn't aware of
and addressing certain cinematic tropes in Touch of Evil, for instance.
I will grant you that that is nowhere near the self-consciousness of
many of the neo-noirs. However, that does not mean I at all accept your
implication that all recent crime films are recreating crime films, not
just telling crime stories. For example, while Tarantino, Kiss Kiss
Bang Bang, Brick, etc, support your argument that they are (brilliantly,
in my mind) commenting on crime fiction, literary and cinematic, there
are plenty of recent crime films that just tell good, noir crime
stories, like Unknown or Eastern Promises.
"By contrast, there was no comparable interruption in the production of
noir fiction in prose, and, until fairly recently, no self-conscious
attempts to deliberately write noir novels or short stories."
Interruption or not (and it's not hard to argue that spy fiction's Cold
War popularity resulted in an interruption of at least PI fiction),
self-consciousness is nothing new in at least hardboiled fiction, if not
noir. I would argue that Howard Browne (as John Evans), Richard
Prather, Bellem, Michael Avallone, etc, were very self-conscious in
their treatment of the PI. And today, I'd say the self-conscious
co-exists with simply telling a story, sometimes in the same author,
like Ken Bruen, whose POV can vary widely from series to series to
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