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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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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