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cinemaspeak59

Life Magazine Listing of Noir

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Here is a listing from a Life Magazine Special from November 2016, titled Film Noir: 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films

The Classics 1941 - 1958:

The Maltese Falcon 1941

Shadow of a Doubt 1943

Double Indemnity 1944

Laura 1944

Mildred Pierce 1945

Out of the Past 1947

The Third Man 1949

In a Lonely Place 1950

Niagara 1953

The Night of the Hunter 1955

Touch of Evil 1958

Neo Noir 1967 - 1997:

Bonnie and Clyde 1967

Dirty Harry 1971

Chinatown 1974

Taxi Driver 1976

Body Heat 1981

Blood Simple 1984

Blue Velvet 1986

Pulp Fiction 1994

L.A. Confidential 1997

The authors admit many worthy films were not included, and for everyone listed 10 others could have been picked. I have no problem with the selection, except  I would have taken Leave Her to Heaven (1945) over Niagara. Other films worthy of inclusion are Murder, My Sweet (1944), The Killers (1946) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955).

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Yes, these lists are subjective.

I would look at something more scientific, like scores on Rotten Tomatoes. And also look at how the titles are rated on the IMDb.

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The magazine article is a listing of crime films. This thread is labeled 'Life Magazine Listing of Noir'. Not quite the same thing.

Crime films are not necessarily noir films; especially titles like 'Maltese Falcon' or 'Chinatown'.

(These are not even crime films, mind you-- they're detective films!) :wacko:

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I'd accept that on faith. But I'd like to hear some titles sometime, when you get a chance. Because I kinda feel that if you take away crime from noir you might wind up with straight drama; or "Neo-something" or "Proto-something" or plenty of other somethings. Do you have any titles in mind which you feel are exemplary noir without any crime involved? No rush.

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Noirs without major crime.

Lost Weekend (1945) one of the first films considered "Noir" along with (The Maltese Falcon, Laura, Murder, My SweetDouble IndemnityThe Woman in the Window)  mentioned in Nino Frank and Jean-Pierre Chartier's two film articles that described Hollywood crime dramas from the 1940s as “film noir."  Though it was already an existing term coined originally in the 1930s.

The Set-Up (1949), The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), In a Lonely Place (1950), The Pickup (1951), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Glass Wall (1953), The Wrong Man (1956), Sweet Smell Of Success (1957), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962),  Mister Buddwing (1966)  . 

Another possible one that I have not seen Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947), there are probably others. 

 

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I look at Noir as a style of film making, that's why we have: 

Period Noirs, The Black Book, The Lodger, The House By The River, The Spiral Staircase, Gaslight, The Tall Target 

Western Noirs, Pursued, Blood On The Moon, 

Bio Noirs, Dillinger (1945), Young Man with a Horn (1950), I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), The Wrong Man (1956), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), The Bonnie Parker Story (1958), I Want To live (1958), Baby Face Nelson (1957), In Cold Blood (1967), The Honeymoon Killers (1970), Lenny (1974), Raging Bull (1980).

Drama Noirs, Something WildAll Fall Down. 

Exprimental Noirs, The Savage Eye, Seconds. 

Exploitation Noirs, Strange Compulsion, Aroused. 

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Fun lists! Lots of old faves. I salute your familiarity with these titles.

But it's pretty much as I suspected: there's either some kind of crime in every one of these; or else they can be taken simply as a 'suspenseful dramas'.

Y'know, something is slightly odd about this whole line of reasoning: it's almost like its relying on inductive reasoning; basing the argument on 'examples' this way. I'll have to give this some thought. Its like one of those things that Aristotle talked about; whether an orange is simply a set of attributes or is there 'orangeness' that can be found anywhere else but...an orange? 'A equals B' but 'B does not equal A'? H'mmm.

Anyway. If I can find the point I want to make here.. perhaps its that 'dark camerawork' and 'desperate characters' are not specific to noir. To my way of thinking film noir is a combination of almost a dozen precise ingredients all happening at once; and this makes it not a style that can be applied to much else.

Although the term 'noir' may have been bandied about in the 30s; (after all its not that cryptic or obscure a concept) 'film noir' is a phrase which emanated from French critics of post WWII American films. That's the dope I always heard. I'm not claiming to have absolute knowledge on this point but I feel it's worth bearing in mind.

Hypothetical question: can you take something like 'graphic horror' and characterize that as a style which can be lent to any other genre or sub-genre of film? No, right?

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Nobody ever started out to make a noir. It kind of happens mix the right director,with  story, cinematographer, the right actors and music.

It's subjective, it either happens for you or not. The trigger for me is usually the style and then the story either holds up to it or it doesn't. Most Noirs (second coming after WWII) developed out of Crime Genre films. But the pre War noirs of the 1930s did not. Noir is a sort of pan-genre phenomena.

Above I didn't mention the Fantasy Noirs, Alias Nick Beal (1949), Repeat Performance (1947), The Amazing Mr. X (1948), Fear in the Night (1947), The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Nightmare (1956).

If you are going to make a Western you pretty much have a check list you need six shooters, horses, cattle,  wagons, Indians, cavalry, false front towns, steam engines, gunfighters, saloon girls, sheriffs, etc., etc. Noir didn't have a genre check list.

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Hypothetical question: can you take something like 'graphic horror' and characterize that as a style which can be lent to any other genre or sub-genre of film? No, right?

Not sure I understand your question. You can take a graphic horror ingredient, say a graphic disembowelment etc., and add it to a Crime film and get Silence of the Lambs, (which IMDb lists as a  Crime, Drama, Thriller) so I guess yes.

Just from watching lots of Film Noir you can see quite a bit of variation. Of the original seven films Lost WeekendThe Maltese Falcon, Laura, Murder, My SweetDouble IndemnityThe Woman in the Window. I consider The Maltese Falcon the least stylistically Noir. It's pretty much a Private Eye Flick with a great cast but with comparatively uninteresting sets and visually bland, until the very end when Miss Wonderly is going down in the elevator.

In the fifties with the weakening of the Hayes Code you can see the Noirs beginning to spread out and drift over into subject matter that was verboten prior and only alluded to in subtext. By the sixties the new freedom was exploited nothing was taboo.   

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Nobody ever started out to make a noir.

True but only in the sense that the directors given the assignments to direct these gloomy, low-budget flicks, weren't self-consciously aware of the term 'noir' at the time. They didn't know that's what it would wind up being called.

But the working methods they used, certainly yielded noir as a result. The prevalence of the resulting films all bearing the stamp of this specific aesthetic, was what caused the French critics to apply the label.

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It kind of happens mix the right director,with  story, cinematographer, the right actors and music. It's subjective, it either happens for you or not.

I would demur too, on this point. It wasn't random or subjective as this; wasn't based on serendipity, happenstance, or coincidence. It happened because all the functional parts which we (now) know were essential to noir were in place and stayed in place; were repeated on each production.

The wheel wasn't reinvented every time a new noir movie was embarked upon. As individuals, all the players and performers might have made any kind of movie; after all they were salaried studio contractors.

What happened was more akin to medieval era atelier-style production or factory-floor production. The atelier or the factory gets a call for a certain kind of product and there's a set of constraints involved with the making of that product. Every single noir director didnt come up with his own individual solution; they all faced common hindrances like low-budget or the Hays Code or lack-of-equipment ....and howsoever directors solved problems on any individual movie the overall output subsumed it all together as 'directorial cleverness' which is a common feature of noir. 

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The trigger for me is usually the style and then the story either holds up to it or it doesn't. Noir is a sort of pan-genre phenomena.

(Not to digress, but the only thing which is really 'pan-genre' or rather, 'supra-genre'  is comedy and tragedy. Everything else is debatable.)

Back to point. The reason your remark here about 'style' doesn't make sense to me is that were noir 'a style  'applicable to other types of film' --this doesn't however, even make it apply to itself.

This is because the internal components of noir are not ornamental; they're structural-functional. For example: "low budget" in the 1940s is not a 'style'; it wasn't 'chosen'--it was forced upon  noir directors. It was a working constraint. The ingenious results came about in spite of it, not because of it.

What you're rather saying is that I could narrate a noir story; casually or whimsically leave out one of the noir stylistic elements and that might render it something completely else. But 'stripping away' is not the true litmus test here. The logic should flow the other way, something like, "any film which doesn't have noir inherently can't have it added on". Because the production method itself structures noir into what it is.

For instance. Noir being low-budget between '45 and '58 (bracket dates just for convenience) meant they had minimal lights and minimal camera set-ups. Minimal lights and set-ups meant the directors came up with certain kinds of camera angles to narrate the story. This working method then typified those productions.

Conversely, a lavish historical costume drama *could* be shot in any random style (see Buz Luhrman) but not being a production forced to observe the same constraints (which noir did), the mere 'look' of the film won't clinch the point that it does. Lots of films can look similar to each other. They're still made differently.

 

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If you are going to make a Western you pretty much have a check list you need six shooters, horses, cattle,  wagons, cavalry, false front towns, steam engines, gunfighters, saloon girls, sheriffs, etc., etc. Noir didn't have a genre check list.

This is the same argument I have heard at length from science-fiction fans. SF addicts love to insist that some SF stories not necessarily possessing robots, aliens, time travel, (etc) ought better be called 'literary fiction'.

The rebuttal of course is that SF is not classified as the genre which it is, based on any such a checklist. SF is SF based on its internal arrangement, its components; its internal structure. Above all it is how the story is told.

Thus, I can make the same argument for noir. Noir is noir because of the production methodology; not because of 'what the noir story contains'. Other types of films differ in 'what they contain' but the way they were made, is what determines what kind of film they are; rather than style/appearance.

:)

Fine exchange-of-views here; enjoying hearing your side. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

True but only in the sense that the directors given the assignments to direct these gloomy, low-budget flicks, weren't self-consciously aware of the term 'noir' at the time. They didn't know that's what it would wind up being called.

But the working methods they used, certainly yielded noir as a result. The prevalence of the resulting films all bearing the stamp of this specific aesthetic, was what caused the French critics to apply the label.

I would demur too, on this point. It wasn't random or subjective as this; wasn't based on serendipity, happenstance, or coincidence. It happened because all the functional parts which we (now) know were essential to noir were in place and stayed in place; were repeated on each production.

The wheel wasn't reinvented every time a new noir movie was embarked upon. As individuals, all the players and performers might have made any kind of movie; after all they were salaried studio contractors.

What happened was more akin to medieval era atelier-style production or factory-floor production. The atelier or the factory gets a call for a certain kind of product and there's a set of constraints involved with the making of that product. Every single noir director didnt come up with his own individual solution; they all faced common hindrances like low-budget or the Hays Code or lack-of-equipment ....and howsoever directors solved problems on any individual movie the overall output subsumed it all together as 'directorial cleverness' which is a common feature of noir. 

(Not to digress, but the only thing which is really 'pan-genre' or rather, 'supra-genre'  is comedy and tragedy. Everything else is debatable.)

Back to point. The reason your remark here about 'style' doesn't make sense to me is that were noir 'a style  'applicable to other types of film' --this doesn't however, even make it apply to itself.

This is because the internal components of noir are not ornamental; they're structural-functional. For example: "low budget" in the 1940s is not a 'style'; it wasn't 'chosen'--it was forced upon  noir directors. It was a working constraint. The ingenious results came about in spite of it, not because of it.

What you're rather saying is that I could narrate a noir story; casually or whimsically leave out one of the noir stylistic elements and that might render it something completely else. But 'stripping away' is not the true litmus test here. The logic should flow the other way, something like, "any film which doesn't have noir inherently can't have it added on". Because the production method itself structures noir into what it is.

For instance. Noir being low-budget between '45 and '58 (bracket dates just for convenience) meant they had minimal lights and minimal camera set-ups. Minimal lights and set-ups meant the directors came up with certain kinds of camera angles to narrate the story. This working method then typified those productions.

Conversely, a lavish historical costume drama *could* be shot in any random style (see Buz Luhrman) but not being a production forced to observe the same constraints (which noir did), the mere 'look' of the film won't clinch the point that it does. Lots of films can look similar to each other. They're still made differently.

 

This is the same argument I have heard at length from science-fiction fans. SF addicts love to insist that some SF stories not necessarily possessing robots, aliens, time travel, (etc) ought better be called 'literary fiction'.

The rebuttal of course is that SF is not classified as the genre which it is, based on any such a checklist. SF is SF based on its internal arrangement, its components; its internal structure. Above all it is how the story is told.

Thus, I can make the same argument for noir. Noir is noir because of the production methodology; not because of 'what the noir story contains'. Other types of films differ in 'what they contain' but the way they were made, is what determines what kind of film they are; rather than style/appearance.

:)

Fine exchange-of-views here; enjoying hearing your side. Thanks!

I read all of this with interest but I have to say I view 'what is noir' as fundamentally different.    What I see here is the creation of artificial constraints (e.g.  noir must be low budget),  and then using these constraints to define what is or is not part of the genre.

I still prefer style over genre with the main reason being the above (no artificial constraints).    Instead there are just certain specific elements associated with the style that a movie either has or not (and of course not all elements are 'ranked' equally).  

Joe and I have had this discussion many,  many times.   I believe we generally agree on the overall points but we do 'rank' the elements differently (e.g. as Joe has said his focus is more on the visual elements while mine leans more towards noir themes and associated character types).     

Note using noir-as-style and an element approach helps get away from the binary classification of 'is it noir or NOT',  but instead a discussion of the noir elements a film has (or not).    Take The Maltese Falcon (Huston\Bogie);   I agree the film is 'light' on noir visuals but it has noir themes and characters and enough of these for the film to belong in a book like Film Noir (Ward \ Silver) as an early example of the style.

   

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Below is some of the noir 'elements' that were discussed in the TCM programs \ Summer of Darkness threads. 

The one below relates to neo-noir but it contains many of the elements included in 'classic' noirs (American films from, say, 1940 to around 1959).

Note I believe some of the students covered most of the classic noirs like Out of the Past, Laura,  as well as The Maltese Falcon (but I couldn't find the actual 'worksheet' that was done for this film).

Borrowings from film noir to define neo-noir and modern neo-noir:

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.)

2. Flashbacks

3. Narration

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder)

5. Femme fatale

6. The instrument of fate

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, and so on)

8. Violence or the threat of violence

9. Urban and nighttime settings

10. Allusion to post–World War II themes (optional)

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia)

13. Greed

14. Betrayal

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on)

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

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That's all very well; and I do appreciate being treated to a fine summary like that. Thanks very much for posting it; as I was not around when this "online class" transpired.

However...? I note that the list above, oddly still deals primarily with 'story elements' (vague term sorry, I dislike even using it). Still, why is this?

  • Question: Is there a list of similar list of studio production characteristics?
  • Question: does 'instrument of fate' encompass 'fateful coincidence'? (Such as the scarf in "Killer's Kiss"?)
  • Question: why is ' doomed male lead' missing? Example: 'Night and the City', which I am always ready to consider the most exemplary noir possible, even over 'Detour')

Next comment: Several of these list items seem to tally with Will Wright's classic study of American Western paradigms ('Sixguns and Society').

For example, 'expertise triumphs' is one type of western (typified by Lancaster/Marvin in 'The Professionals' or Borgnine/Holden in 'The Wild Bunch'). Another western theme is 'man against community' (where the society itself is corrupt and the stranger-in-town is on the side of the angels).

I wonder if a close juxtaposition with Wright could be done? Does anyone want to try? There's only five. It's not been attempted successfully for any other genre, as far as I know. Probably because tallying up Wright's five-basic-western-modes doesn't come as easily to any other genre (as the one he chose to dissect).

On the other hoof, maybe noir only has one central narrative motif: 'the doomed man'. [All the more odd that it is not listed above, in the previous post].

And before anyone pounces on me, I regret to say I have not yet read Cawelti as I have enjoyed Wright; just haven't gotten around to Cawelti yet. [Cawelti analyzes all American movie genres, not just westerns, although he has not devised a 'model' as Wright has done.]

The detective genre is well covered by several critics; (but I don't personally see a reason to explore detective narrative structure. The only interesting motive would be to see if it can also align with Wright's model. I doubt it will, though).

As for sci-fi or horror, who cares? ha

cheers,

Markoff

p.s. "The Maltese Falcon" is not a noir!

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8 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

p.s. "The Maltese Falcon" is not a noir!

Tell that to Nino Franc and Jean-Pierre Chartier ?

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Written 1929 published 1930. USA officially enters WWII in 1941. If they can do math (huh!) they should know not to even try to argue its noir-ness. :lol:

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3 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Written 1929 published 1930. USA officially enters WWII in 1941. If they can do math (huh!) they should know not to even try to argue its noir-ness. :lol:

What the F are you on about? Nino Franc and Jean-Pierre Chartier wrote two articles in L'Ecrain Français, in 1946, they listed six films as being part of this new "Film Noir" revival from America. Lost WeekendThe Maltese Falcon, Laura, Murder, My SweetDouble Indemnity, and The Woman in the Window.

From The Guardian

"French audiences were busy catching up on all the Hollywood pictures that they'd missed during the Occupation: in a few short weeks they saw Barbara Stanwyck seduce Fred MacMurray into killing her husband for cash (Double Indemnity), Dick Powell's Philip Marlowe taking punches and syringes and falling into a "crazy coked-up dream" (Farewell My Lovely) and Bogey snogging the face off a lying no-good two-faced Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon). A new genre was suddenly more visible in France than it had been to anyone on the other side of the Atlantic. Frank and Chartier took their inspiration from the roman noir - French detective fiction that was always published under sinister dark covers. It's appropriate that they did: if the Americans had named the genre for themselves then they would have been forced to call it Black Cinema, and there weren't many in 1940s Hollywood who wanted to go there."

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13 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

What the F are you on about? Nino Franc and Jean-Pierre Chartier wrote two articles in L'Ecrain Français, in 1946, they listed six films as being part of this new "Film Noir" revival from America. Lost WeekendThe Maltese Falcon, Laura, Murder, My SweetDouble Indemnity, and The Woman in the Window.

I assume he was joking but since he continues to make the same point I'm not so sure.

What he has is another of those artificial constraints I mentioned;  this one is that the noir protagonist has to be a WWII vet and therefore there can be no noir film by definition,  prior to the start of WWII and not during WWII unless the film features a WWII vet that was discharged before the end of the war.    

 

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I was just watching Bowery At Midnight (1942) with Bela Lugosi playing the part of a Bowery Mission head who is also a master criminal with secret doors to his private office which has a secret entrance to a gang room and another through a electrical box to the street.

He plans crimes with the help of ex cons who show up at the Mission. He's got a file cabinet of their criminal records. Anyway the first part is quite dark almost Noir-ish, the second half changes gears and becomes this love story with everything brighter lit. If it would have stayed dark throughout you could almost call it a Noir. It even has Tom Neal from Detour as one of the hoods. 

You can see how something like electrical rationing once WWII started starved these low budget "B" film and used the electric lighting for the A productions. This would force the director, the cinematographer and the art director etc., etc, basically entire artistic studio crew to be even more creative. 

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

You can see how something like electrical rationing once WWII started starved these low budget "B" film and used the electric lighting for the A productions. This would force the director, the cinematographer and the art director etc., etc, basically entire artistic studio crew to be even more creative. 

I never realized that electrical rationing had any impacted the amount of lighting a 'B' type film had.   (but I did know that 'standard' lighting used a lot (like really a lot),  of juice).

So after the war was over and electrical rationing ended (I assume),   what was the primary reason for use of shadows and darken scenes?    E.g. did directors and cinematographer just like the dark 'look' that was used by 'B' films during the rationing and decided to do something similar?

 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I never realized that electrical rationing had any impacted the amount of lighting a 'B' type film had.   (but I did know that 'standard' lighting used a lot (like really a lot),  of juice).

So after the war was over and electrical rationing ended (I assume),   what was the primary reason for use of shadows and darken scenes?    E.g. did directors and cinematographer just like the dark 'look' that was used by 'B' films during the rationing and decided to do something similar?

 

There is a good book about it.

 

 

51RHBTWYVQL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

After the war and the rationing stopped, three things were going on. First of course the style that came about by necessity sort of got adapted as signature for Noir. Second and third, two wartime developments also came into play. They developed a film that needed a lot less light and they constructed smaller lighter hand held war corespondent newsreel cameras. That opened up easier location shooting, traveling shots, all shot with available light. 

You can see the changes in the films. You go from almost all studio sets in The Big Sleep, and deep shadows to films shot on Bunker Hill, Angels Flight, Downtown Los Angeles, The L.A. River, New York City in The Naked City  San Francisco and L.A. in D.O.A., Hoover Dam in 711 Ocean Drive.   

 

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22 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

What the F are you on about? Nino Franc and Jean-Pierre Chartier wrote two articles in L'Ecrain Français, in 1946, they listed six films as being part of this new "Film Noir" revival from America. Lost WeekendThe Maltese Falcon, Laura, Murder, My SweetDouble Indemnity, and The Woman in the Window.

From The Guardian

"French audiences were busy catching up on all the Hollywood pictures that they'd missed during the Occupation: in a few short weeks they saw Barbara Stanwyck seduce Fred MacMurray into killing her husband for cash (Double Indemnity), Dick Powell's Philip Marlowe taking punches and syringes and falling into a "crazy coked-up dream" (Farewell My Lovely) and Bogey snogging the face off a lying no-good two-faced Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon). A new genre was suddenly more visible in France than it had been to anyone on the other side of the Atlantic. Frank and Chartier took their inspiration from the roman noir - French detective fiction that was always published under sinister dark covers. It's appropriate that they did: if the Americans had named the genre for themselves then they would have been forced to call it Black Cinema, and there weren't many in 1940s Hollywood who wanted to go there."

I think he's talking about the original 1931 version of Maltese Falcon which arguably isn't a noir. 

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The point is it that a detective story conceived long before noir had even arrived and which is structurally opposite from noir--its inclusion in any musing on 'dark' filmmaking is inappropriate to take as part of the 'founding' of the definition of noir. Its false and mistaken no matter who wrote it or when. This is the problem with being enslaved to dogma.

No, I'm not taking on any airs--that period in France was rife with cinema-theory and not all of it has been engraved in gold, or used as a means to stifle analysis. There was a blizzard of words going on at the time. So,  question what needs to be questioned; (especially when you can perform the analysis yourself and see that its wrong).

Digressing. With regard to the 1930s, even Horace McCoy or James M. Cain would make a better argument than Dash Hammett. Yea, even from those two (much heavier-hitters than Hammett who has no noir at all in him, you can see the trace of noir in their actual words, no relying on photographed elevator-grate shadows) ...as I say, even evidence from those two only make a case for 'proto-noir'.

The authors' ruminations are simply not definitive. Kicked off discussion but did not end it.

Its not a question of 'style' or 'hard-boiledness' or 'dark photography'. Those are all red-herrings. Barely two of the six titles cited in the article might be considered noir. They're crime, mystery, detective, or drama. Put them alongside an actual noir and the difference would be starkly revealed.

I say again: Maltese Falcon is about as far from noir as you can get and still play in the same ballpark. Its frankly ludicrous; its an embarrassing discussion.

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Think of it like this: here I have a detective novel published in 1930; first filmed with very 'bright photography' in '31 and for ten years no one at all, regarded it as the arrival of a new means of storytelling. It was just hard-boiled pulp crime. Then in '41 its filmed with 'darker photography' (Huston), and now the exact same story is called 'noir'? Same story, just darker sets? That makes it a new form of narrative? No. Doesn't make any sense at all. Nope. That's just a visual, stylistic, photographic difference which puts it on someone's noir list. :huh:

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Sorry, disagree. I see the visual Noir stylistics, the Dutch angles, low key lighting, depth of field, etc, etc. as the DNA of Noir.

And what does a film being a detective story have to do with Noir. There are hardly any detective stories compared to the bulk of Film Noir. I don't get your focusing on this one small aspect of Film Noir.

There is a difference between a detective story and a hard boiled detective story. In the the regular detective story a murder is committed and the detective goes meticulously about discovering/detecting clues and logically figures out who done it. This is Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Peter Whimsy. 

In the hard boiled detective story a client comes to the detective with a need or a concern and the detective in taking the case on begins to ask questions, these questions may rub things the wrong way, and in turn shakes things up and people start ending up dead, and the case which was about one thing to begin with ends up in an entirely different place. This is Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Mike Hammer.

In the Maltese Falcon nobody cares who killed Archer, the reader is kept constantly thinking about something else.

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A world without contradictory opinions would be mighty dull. This is just healthy, spirited debate; no rancor at all.

^_^

Next proposition: you could also re-frame the entire thing this way: ask, would any researcher who has written about the history of the detective novel (such as T.J. Binyon  or Charles Brownson) agree that the great pulp detective authors were writing noir--15 yrs before film noir appeared?

Should we assume that the detective tradition has no pride or integrity of its own, and its practitioners are fine allowing themselves to just be absorbed across a genre-boundary like this? It has no sanctity of its own?

Maybe I'll contact Brownson and put this to him sometime, he's a crony of mine. I never have done do before, because it always seemed rather obvious what he'd say. Detective authors were writing detective fiction and it was a noble calling all its own.

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