Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Another noir definition

From: Patrick Kennedy (
Date: 25 Jul 2010

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    I doubt that stating that there quite often is a cross-over in the two genres
    (okay, sub-genres -- ain't picky hereabouts!) could be interpreted as saying they were mutually exclusive, but I do stand by my opinion that the definition of Noir under discussion is a reasonably accurate and un-quibbleworthy one, at least including all of the elements from the archetypical mix.  Works for me, anyway, whatever the stuff I've been watching and reading should properly be called in snooty French. Right now I'm off to watch a Chevalier de Chanson movie - that's a Singing Cowboy sub genre Western to you, colloquially speaking...


    ________________________________ From: JIM DOHERTY <> To: Sent: Sun, 25 July, 2010 13:15:25 Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Another noir definition


    Re your comments below:

    "I think the problem is in confusing hard boiled with noir (although of course there may often be a crossover of genres)."

    No, the problem is in the misconception that "hard-boiled" and "noir," are mutually exclusive (and, by the way, they're not genres; strictly speaking they're sub-genres of the larger genre of mystery or crime fiction).

    I'm not confusing the two at all. They're not the same, but neither are they mutually exclusive. As the novels picked for the SERIE NOIRE line, and the films chosen by Nino Frank and Jean-Pierre Chartier as examplars of the form in film, noir is a broad concept, and it very often includes examples of hard-boiled.

    It's those who insist that the two are mutually exclusive who are confused.

    "So, all in all I wouldn't quibble too much with Kerr's definition as it applies to cinema noir."

    Then you'd be wrong, because Kerr's definition is wrong, and, consequently, should be quibbled about.

    "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."

    No, generally speaking, noir, whether in film or prose, has a dark, sinister atmosphere, and hard-boiled has a tough attitude and a colloquial style. And if a story, in any medium, has BOTH a dark, sinister atmoshphere, and a tough, colloquial style, it's both noir and hard-boiled.

    Being hard-boiled does not mean that the protagonist is a hero, or that s/he rights wrongs. Very often, in hard-boiled stories, the protagonist COMMITS wrongs that are never righted. Like Stark's Parker, to use the most obvious example.

    Hard-boiled is not necessarily moral or heroic and noir isn't necessarily nihilistic. They are both, and always have been, and always will be, much broader than that.


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