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My apologies if this subject has been mentioned already, but I didn't see it, and thought that, since we're involved in a course as well, that some mention of books might be helpful.  Of course, when I first went looking for something, I thought initially about reference books.  Later, after I'd replied to a few posts, I realized that I was also mentioning the novels upon which so many great noirs are based, and that's so big that maybe we just end up with too many lists?

 

My aim in starting this post is to get recommendations and reviews, and learning something from this Noir Community.  I'm just trying to kick-off a discussion with some titles below which I've used.  I haven't added general film references to avoid wearing out my welcome, but those are of course, also of interest:

 

Reference Books

 

Film Noir, Micheal L. Stephens

 

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of FIlm Noir, John Grant

 

Film Noir - An Encyclopedic Reference . . , Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward

 

 

 

 

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Not much interest in this subject, huh?  Well I'll throw in;

 

Kings of the Bs, edited by Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn.

 

There's interviews with Karlson and Ulmer, and some other interesting noir writing, although that's not the book's only subject.

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Not much interest in this subject, huh?  Well I'll throw in;

 

Kings of the Bs, edited by Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn.

 

There's interviews with Karlson and Ulmer, and some other interesting noir writing, although that's not the book's only subject.

 

This is an interesting subject.   Surprised no one has chimed in since there are many noir lovers 'regulars'  at this forum. 

 

I only have one noir book:  Film Noir - An Encyclopedic Reference . . , Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward.

 

As you know this is a very useful book but it doesn't have a lot of material related to 'what make a film a noir' or specific info about iconic noir actors or directors,  instead it is mostly just about each noir film listed in the book.    No 'linking' of these films into sub-categories etc...

 

But in some ways I like that.    While I love discussing films it can get a little 'out there' when the discussion gets too academic  e.g.  is film XYZ a 'true' noir.      To me noir is a film style and I like movies that utilize aspects of said style.   Thus no film is 'true' to the style.

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The Film Noir Reader (four volumes, I believe) is a good source.  Edited by James Ursini and Alain Silver.  Each volume contains a number of articles by different writers about different noir themes.  A very good series that takes the reader well past the introductory point of noir.

 

- Mark

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This is an interesting subject.   Surprised no one has chimed in since there are many noir lovers 'regulars'  at this forum. 

 

I only have one noir book:  Film Noir - An Encyclopedic Reference . . , Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward.

 

As you know this is a very useful book but it doesn't have a lot of material related to 'what make a film a noir' or specific info about iconic noir actors or directors,  instead it is mostly just about each noir film listed in the book.    No 'linking' of these films into sub-categories etc...

 

But in some ways I like that.    While I love discussing films it can get a little 'out there' when the discussion gets too academic  e.g.  is film XYZ a 'true' noir.      To me noir is a film style and I like movies that utilize aspects of said style.   Thus no film is 'true' to the style.

Thanks.  I share your enthusiasm for Silver and Ward, and this was my first Noir reference.  You might like the Stephens Film Noir  book, since it has monograms on the actors, directors, screenwriters, cinematographers and other artists, as well as interesting short monographs on many of the films.   

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The Film Noir Reader (four volumes, I believe) is a good source.  Edited by James Ursini and Alain Silver.  Each volume contains a number of articles by different writers about different noir themes.  A very good series that takes the reader well past the introductory point of noir.

 

- Mark

Thanks for the recommendation.  I've ordered Volume 1 as a start.

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It sounds as though all the books you mention are reference books. Any suggested novels or short stories for someone new to the genre? I read Dashiell Hammett's Arson Plus that was linked in this week's module and really enjoyed it.

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It sounds as though all the books you mention are reference books. Any suggested novels or short stories for someone new to the genre? I read Dashiell Hammett's Arson Plus that was linked in this week's module and really enjoyed it.

Chandler...his collection of short stories,and Lady in The Lake,Farewell My Lovley,The Big Sleep.
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I would highly, highly recommend Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest. I reread it about once a year. It is so good. Every chapter is just . . . amazing. Really fun word play and fantastically outlandish, enjoyable characters. It has great classic lines like "I was going to go back to the hotel, but then my attention was grabbed by a man wearing three shades of brown." It's hard to quantify how much I love this book.

 

There's a Hammett short story collection called Woman in the Dark which I enjoyed, but I have to warn you that there's a little more racism in some of the stories than I find comfortable, even with the "that was then" mentality.

 

I quite enjoy the Chandler novels I've read, with a special nod to Farewell, My Lovely. The 70s movie version does some really fun things with the story and it's neat to read the book and compare it to that film treatment.

 

Similarly, The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are both good reads.

 

For a reference book, there's a book called Creatures of Darkness, which is all about Raymond Chandler's fiction and the different adaptations of his works. I didn't love it, but it was fun to read about the different adaptations and their critical reception.

 

And while she's slightly out of the realm of hardboiled detective fiction, I'd also highly recommend the work of Patricia Highsmith. She wrote Strangers on a Train, and she also wrote the Ripley books (like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Ripley Underground). These are great thrillers and the way she writes the character of Ripley (a pure sociopath), is pretty amazing.

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I would highly, highly recommend Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest. I reread it about once a year. It is so good. Every chapter is just . . . amazing. Really fun word play and fantastically outlandish, enjoyable characters. It has great classic lines like "I was going to go back to the hotel, but then my attention was grabbed by a man wearing three shades of brown." It's hard to quantify how much I love this book.

 

There's a Hammett short story collection called Woman in the Dark which I enjoyed, but I have to warn you that there's a little more racism in some of the stories than I find comfortable, even with the "that was then" mentality.

 

I quite enjoy the Chandler novels I've read, with a special nod to Farewell, My Lovely. The 70s movie version does some really fun things with the story and it's neat to read the book and compare it to that film treatment.

 

Similarly, The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are both good reads.

 

For a reference book, there's a book called Creatures of Darkness, which is all about Raymond Chandler's fiction and the different adaptations of his works. I didn't love it, but it was fun to read about the different adaptations and their critical reception.

 

And while she's slightly out of the realm of hardboiled detective fiction, I'd also highly recommend the work of Patricia Highsmith. She wrote Strangers on a Train, and she also wrote the Ripley books (like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Ripley Underground). These are great thrillers and the way she writes the character of Ripley (a pure sociopath), is pretty amazing.

 

Nice to see Patricia Highsmith mentioned.   She is someone I have just recently discovered.   While I had seen the two movies based on her books I didn't know much about her.    The character of Ripley is an interesting one.   

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Nice to see Patricia Highsmith mentioned.   She is someone I have just recently discovered.   While I had seen the two movies based on her books I didn't know much about her.    The character of Ripley is an interesting one.   

 

Patricia Highsmith is--there's no way around it--a horrible, horrible human being.

 

But she is also a very talented writer. She has a good eye for plotting and she knows how to work within the trappings of the genre. One of her stories I really enjoy is called A Suspension of Mercy. It's about a writer who hates his wife. She goes away on a vacation and he begins plotting her murder as a writing exercise. As part of his method, he acts out certain parts of it, like putting a rolled up rug into his car and burying it in the woods. The only problem is . . . his wife doesn't come back from her trip, and the writer's nosy neighbor saw him with the rug.

 

The story starts out sort of darkly comic (it has the nosy old lady neighbor, the keen detective, etc), but then turns into something really dark in its final third. It's a great example of someone very cleverly manipulating and reworking the usual trappings of a murder mystery.

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Cornell Woolrich and his various pseudonyms, I believe he has the most stories that were turned into Classic Noirs:

 

Deadline At Dawn

The Phantom Lady

Black Angel

The Chase

Fall Guy 

Fear In The Night

The Guilty

I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes

The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

Nightmare

No Man Of Her Own

Street Of Chance

The Window

 

Add [post Noirs, Rear Window & The Bride Wore Black

 

 

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Patricia Highsmith is--there's no way around it--a horrible, horrible human being.

 

But she is also a very talented writer. She has a good eye for plotting and she knows how to work within the trappings of the genre. One of her stories I really enjoy is called A Suspension of Mercy. It's about a writer who hates his wife. She goes away on a vacation and he begins plotting her murder as a writing exercise. As part of his method, he acts out certain parts of it, like putting a rolled up rug into his car and burying it in the woods. The only problem is . . . his wife doesn't come back from her trip, and the writer's nosy neighbor saw him with the rug.

 

The story starts out sort of darkly comic (it has the nosy old lady neighbor, the keen detective, etc), but then turns into something really dark in its final third. It's a great example of someone very cleverly manipulating and reworking the usual trappings of a murder mystery.

 

I admit I didn't know anything about her personal life, just her books.   I guess in some ways she channeled her inter Ripley.

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I would highly, highly recommend Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest. I reread it about once a year. It is so good. Every chapter is just . . . amazing. Really fun word play and fantastically outlandish, enjoyable characters. It has great classic lines like "I was going to go back to the hotel, but then my attention was grabbed by a man wearing three shades of brown." It's hard to quantify how much I love this book.

 

There's a Hammett short story collection called Woman in the Dark which I enjoyed, but I have to warn you that there's a little more racism in some of the stories than I find comfortable, even with the "that was then" mentality.

 

I quite enjoy the Chandler novels I've read, with a special nod to Farewell, My Lovely. The 70s movie version does some really fun things with the story and it's neat to read the book and compare it to that film treatment.

 

Similarly, The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are both good reads.

 

For a reference book, there's a book called Creatures of Darkness, which is all about Raymond Chandler's fiction and the different adaptations of his works. I didn't love it, but it was fun to read about the different adaptations and their critical reception.

 

And while she's slightly out of the realm of hardboiled detective fiction, I'd also highly recommend the work of Patricia Highsmith. She wrote Strangers on a Train, and she also wrote the Ripley books (like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Ripley Underground). These are great thrillers and the way she writes the character of Ripley (a pure sociopath), is pretty amazing.

Patricia Highsmith also does the "first person" view of the disturbed mind very well.  I'm sure someone could make a good melodrama noir out of Edith's Diary.

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Cornell Woolrich and his various pseudonyms, I believe he has the most stories that were turned into Classic Noirs:

 

Deadline At Dawn

The Phantom Lady

Black Angel

The Chase

Fall Guy 

Fear In The Night

The Guilty

I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes

The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

Nightmare

No Man Of Her Own

Street Of Chance

The Window

 

Add [post Noirs, Rear Window & The Bride Wore Black

 

Yes - read Woolrich!   His fiction brought me into Noir from Horror fiction. 

 

The universe Woolrich paints is bigger and darker than most of those I have read in other hard boiled fiction.  Often it feels more akin to HP Lovecraft than crime fiction.  Things happen out of the blue (literally dropping from the sky as I remember one story) that changes people permanently and not for the good.  Cause and effect do not balance here.  Forces act on people with no malice or intent - and personal intent or actions are meaningless.  As with Lovecraft stories, it's almost better not to glimpse the sheer incomprehensiveness of this universe as it can drive you mad.

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anyone mention David Goodis? His book "Dark Passage" (which the Bogie & Bacall movie of the same name is based on) is awesome. The movie is true to the book (in most aspects), but the book provides a lot of depth and background on the characters and their relationships, which I really enjoyed, since some of those subtle nuances can be lost in a movie adaptation. Apparently, Goodis was famous for writing extremely bleak depressing stories, so I haven't tried too much of his other works except for a few short stories. I think "Dark Passage" is actually considered one of his more optimistic works. :)

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anyone mention David Goodis? His book "Dark Passage" (which the Bogie & Bacall movie of the same name is based on) is awesome. The movie is true to the book (in most aspects), but the book provides a lot of depth and background on the characters and their relationships, which I really enjoyed, since some of those subtle nuances can be lost in a movie adaptation. Apparently, Goodis was famous for writing extremely bleak depressing stories, so I haven't tried too much of his other works except for a few short stories. I think "Dark Passage" is actually considered one of his more optimistic works. :)

 

I always wondered if in the book the escaped con in DP got away or not.   Of course he had to in the movie since this was a movie designed to feature Bogie and Bacall,  and therefore it had to have a happy,  romantic ending  (Jack Warner wouldn't have it any other way).     But a bleak ending were the cops catch the guy leaving Madge's apartment after she jumps out the window just as Bacall's character comes to confront Madge would have been more 'true'.    Just image a shot of Bacall's face as she looks at his dead body.   

 

(oh and in the book how does Madge die?).

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anyone mention David Goodis? His book "Dark Passage" (which the Bogie & Bacall movie of the same name is based on) is awesome. The movie is true to the book (in most aspects), but the book provides a lot of depth and background on the characters and their relationships, which I really enjoyed, since some of those subtle nuances can be lost in a movie adaptation. Apparently, Goodis was famous for writing extremely bleak depressing stories, so I haven't tried too much of his other works except for a few short stories. I think "Dark Passage" is actually considered one of his more optimistic works. :)

Terrific film.  Thanks for the Goodis tip.  I'll have a look and add him to the James M Cain and Cornell Woolrich reading list.  Now, I'm interested in how Madge dies, too !!  Agnes Moorehead is just so terrific in Dark Passage.  One of Orson Welles' great discoveries. The Mercury Theater group also did radio, as well as stage.  Are there aspects of radio that could have had an influence on noir?   

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Yes - read Woolrich!   His fiction brought me into Noir from Horror fiction. 

 

The universe Woolrich paints is bigger and darker than most of those I have read in other hard boiled fiction.  Often it feels more akin to HP Lovecraft than crime fiction.  Things happen out of the blue (literally dropping from the sky as I remember one story) that changes people permanently and not for the good.  Cause and effect do not balance here.  Forces act on people with no malice or intent - and personal intent or actions are meaningless.  As with Lovecraft stories, it's almost better not to glimpse the sheer incomprehensiveness of this universe as it can drive you mad.

Forgot to add Union City (1980) to Woolrich Neo Noirs

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Thanks to CJ for reminding us about  all the films noir based on Cornell Woolrich.  There's still a lot of Woolrich has written that has never been made into films (yet), but my guess is that readers of this board would create the film in their heads when they read him.

 

The whole subject of authors and their work being turned into film noir is an interesting one.  There's always a lot of discussion of Chandler and Hammett, and rightly so, but Cain, Woolrich, McCoy and the others also deserve our attention.  Their fiction does not depend on the "detective" novel, but goes further in taking these noir stories into many other dark corners.

 

Some of the James M. Cain novels that have been turned into film include:

 

Mildred Pierce (TV Mini-Series) (novel - 5 episodes) 

Girl in the Cadillac (novel "The Enchanted Isle") 

Butterfly (novel) 

Serenade (novel) 

Slightly Scarlet (novel "Love's Lovely Counterfeit") 

Everybody Does It (story "Two Can Sing") 

The Postman Always Rings Twice (based on the novel by) 

Mildred Pierce (novel "Mildred Pierce") 

Double Indemnity (from the novel by) 

Money and the Woman (story "The Embezzler") 

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Terrific film.  Thanks for the Goodis tip.  I'll have a look and add him to the James M Cain and Cornell Woolrich reading list.  Now, I'm interested in how Madge dies, too !!  Agnes Moorehead is just so terrific in Dark Passage.  One of Orson Welles' great discoveries. The Mercury Theater group also did radio, as well as stage.  Are there aspects of radio that could have had an influence on noir?   

 

 

If you like Dark Passage then you'll like another Goodis novel, Street of No Return, which he wrote in 1954, about a skid-row once-famous crooner who's been scarred in more ways than one by his obsession with a femme fatale.     

 

Another personal favorite noir of mine is Solomon's Vineyard, by Jonathon Latimer (who wrote the screenplay for Nocturne, The Glass Key and The Big Clock, BTW).   I think it's one of the all-time great noir novels, and shares a lot of the sordid, taboo themes and subject matter that Chandler touches on in The Big Sleep (though you'd never know it from the film version)...and then some.  It was banned in the U.S. for about a decade because of it's subject matter.  

 

Think Sam Fuller filmed a version of Street of No Return in the late eighties.   I don't believe a film version of Solomon's Vineyard has been attempted.  Given it's explosive subject matter...****, religious cults, grave-robbing, kinky sex, and whorehouse violence, etc...that's probably understandable.

 

**** Looks like some of the subject matter is still explosive, seeing that the site just censored one of those listed.        

 

 

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Mickey Spillane has contributed a few novel's that were made into Noirs

 

I, The Jury

Kiss Me Deadly

The Long Wait

 

My Gun Is Quick quasi noir

 

 and

 

The Girl Hunters not noir, also some Neo's & TV series

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*SPOILER ALERT FOR "DARK PASSAGE"*

*ENDING OF THE BOOK/MOVIE*

B)

when you say escaped con, do you mean Bogie's character? or the guy who drove the car with the circus tent cover? If you're talking about Bogie's character Vincent Parry, then yes, he does get away. Well, we think.  Both the book and the movie have the showdown with Madge--in the book, it's clear that she jumps out the window, just to ruin him permanently and make sure no one can ever have him. He manages to run away, and all he can think about is Irene. Then he's at the bus station, and overhears the woman with the children (her sister's children) talking to the man and they sort of hit it off, just like they do in the movie. Vincent Parry hears them talking about how important it is to have something in life to look forward to, and he calls Irene (their phone conversation is pretty much word for word in the movie). The book ends with him getting on the bus, with the man and woman sitting together and Parry sitting in the back. So it's a bit open ended, but I felt like the two people on the bus were a parallel couple for Vincent Parry and Irene, and a sign that they would eventually be together. The movie (understandably) extended the ending with Lauren Bacall walking into the club in Peru and having the orchestra play "their song", and I felt like the movie needed that extra ending just to tie everything up.

 

I always wondered if in the book the escaped con in DP got away or not.   Of course he had to in the movie since this was a movie designed to feature Bogie and Bacall,  and therefore it had to have a happy,  romantic ending  (Jack Warner wouldn't have it any other way).     But a bleak ending were the cops catch the guy leaving Madge's apartment after she jumps out the window just as Bacall's character comes to confront Madge would have been more 'true'.    Just image a shot of Bacall's face as she looks at his dead body.   

 

(oh and in the book how does Madge die?).

 

 

And wow, there are so many great recommendations on here! I'm writing them down--Dashiel Hammett's "Red Harvest" sounds really good! Also curious about Woolrich and James M. Cain. And thanks VanHazard for the recommendation on the other Goodis novel, I'll have to check it out.

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*SPOILER ALERT FOR "DARK PASSAGE"*

*ENDING OF THE BOOK/MOVIE*

B)

when you say escaped con, do you mean Bogie's character? or the guy who drove the car with the circus tent cover? If you're talking about Bogie's character Vincent Parry, then yes, he does get away. Well, we think.  Both the book and the movie have the showdown with Madge--in the book, it's clear that she jumps out the window, just to ruin him permanently and make sure no one can ever have him. He manages to run away, and all he can think about is Irene. Then he's at the bus station, and overhears the woman with the children (her sister's children) talking to the man and they sort of hit it off, just like they do in the movie. Vincent Parry hears them talking about how important it is to have something in life to look forward to, and he calls Irene (their phone conversation is pretty much word for word in the movie). The book ends with him getting on the bus, with the man and woman sitting together and Parry sitting in the back. So it's a bit open ended, but I felt like the two people on the bus were a parallel couple for Vincent Parry and Irene, and a sign that they would eventually be together. The movie (understandably) extended the ending with Lauren Bacall walking into the club in Peru and having the orchestra play "their song", and I felt like the movie needed that extra ending just to tie everything up.

 

 

 

And wow, there are so many great recommendations on here! I'm writing them down--Dashiel Hammett's "Red Harvest" sounds really good! Also curious about Woolrich and James M. Cain. And thanks VanHazard for the recommendation on the other Goodis novel, I'll have to check it out.

 

Yes,  I meant Bogie as the escaped con (the blackmailer wasn't an escaped con, as far as I know, but instead an Ex-con).    Ok,  I see that the book ends with Parry appearing to get away.     So in this way the movie ending was true to the book,  but just more romantic to play up what at the time was the couple of the decade.      

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