Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Another noir definition

From: Patrick Kennedy (
Date: 24 Jul 2010

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    I think the problem is in confusing hard boiled with noir (although of course there may often be a crossover of genres).  So all in all I wouldn't quibble too much with Kerr's definition as it applies to cinema noir.  Generally speaking noir has a flawed protagonist at its centre rather than a hero, whereas the hard boiled of Chandler, Spillane, (Jeeze, if Chander were alive he'd kill me with vituperation for putting those two names side by side!) and the MacDonalds generally require that the well-intentioned hero manages not only to survive but to right the story's wrong in the end.


    ________________________________ From: JIM DOHERTY <> To: Sent: Sat, 24 July, 2010 11:27:49 Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Another noir definition


    Re Kehr's suggested definition:

    "a pervasive sense of urban menace . . . "


    ". . . and malign fate, . . . "

    Marlowe in MURDER, MY SWEET and Hammer in I THE JURY are master of their own fate.

    " . . . conveyed by a Germanic visual style full of threatening shadows and forced perspectives . . . "

    In other words, "a dark and sinister atmosphere."

    " . . . a fall-guy hero wrenched out of a comfortable existence by an arbitrary twist of fate or a moment of moral weakness; a femme fatale who leads the hero on with her sexuality but ultimately only wants to use him and toss him away; a downbeat ending that finds the protagonist defeated or dead - or, preferably, both."

    In any number of cop noirs, private eye noirs, and other noirs, the hero (not merely a protagonist) emerges triumphant.

    So, as always, he's wrong, wrong, wrong, except in the one essential, ("German visual style") and I am right.


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