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 <email@example.com>
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 . . . "
KEY LARGO and ON DANGEROUS GROUND are rural.
". . . and malign fate, . . . "
Marlowe in MURDER, MY SWEET and Hammer in I THE JURY are master of their own
" . . . 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,
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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