I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t accept an insurance claim from this company.
Posts tagged Double Indemnity
Anonymous asked: what is "noir novels?"
I have addressed this point here and here. Nonetheless, it is a good time to reiterate my view of what noir is, given that I was just questioning the noir bona fides of Stieg Larsson.
Noir is, to some degree, a matter of “I know it when I see it.” If you read the previous posts, you’ll see that noir developed out of the hardboiled tradition. Authors like James M. Cain and Cornell Woolrich wrote stories that were as bleak and hard as anything hardboiled (if not more so!), but did not center on the hardboiled detective.
There is no Philip Marlowe or Continental Op to set things right in Cain’s writing. The protagonists are undone by their own desires, just like everyone else. James M. Cain was an early pioneer of noir, and other notable noir authors include Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy B. Hughes, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith and George V. Higgins. More recently, Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane and James Sallis have all written excellent noir.
In a nutshell, this is what noir fiction is. It is not film noir, which can be based on a work of literary noir (Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train), but may also be derived from hardboiled fiction (The Maltese Falcon).
As always, I invite readers to offer alternate views or clarifications to my own opinion.
a-sweet-unrest asked: Hey there, could you perhaps give me some good examples of the classic noir femme fatale? Film ones would be best, as I'm thinking about costumes for a heroes vs. villains party.
I am putting this out there as others may have ideas for you. I think James M. Cain furnishes a couple of the most recognizable femmes fatale: Barbara Stanwyck’ character in Double Indemnity and Lana Turner’s in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Mary Astor was perhaps the original femme fatale in The Maltese Falcon. And of course, we can’t leave Lauren Bacall or The Big Sleep off the list. There’s Rita Hayworth (though not a blonde) in Gilda. Gloria Grahame is great as femme fatale in either The Big Heat or In a Lonely Place.
If you’re amenable to neo-noir, that opens up a whole host of other possibilities. I also invite other readers to share recommendations (note that the poster prefers blonde characters).
Anonymous asked: What are some aspects of Chandler's writing that you are and aren't particular fond of, if any? Also, is there any pulp/noir fiction you could recommend?
I think Chandler’s biggest defect was plot. He was consciously reacting to the Agatha Christie/locked room mystery, which he felt was unrealistic. Apparently, he felt that loose ends in the plot were more realistic. He freely admitted that whenever he was stuck in the plot, he would have a man come charging the door with a gun. Compare Chandler’s plots to James M. Cain’s. Cain’s cohere much, much better than Chandler’s. If you want see the complete noir package, watch Double Indemnity and see how the razor-sharp dialogue (from the screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder) enhances Cain’s plot.
This is what Chandler did well: atmosphere. The dialogue, Marlowe’s monologues, and Chandler’s trademark similes took tough guy dialogue beyond pulp gratification, and made it an art form. To this day, that is why people read Chandler.
I could recommend scads of pulp/noir fiction. The best place to start might be by perusing the Currently Reading tag.
thelamplightersserenade asked: A noir storyline is characterized by normal people committing extraordinary crimes (Double Indemnity, The Letter). But there are mysteries all over "Best of noir" lists that are characterized by their whodunit storylines, like "The Maltese Falcon", "Laura", and "In a Lonely Place". Then there are the noir story lines that make no connection with the standard noirs; White Heat, Notorious. What is the difference?
This is one I should have answered long, long ago, so I apologize. But here’s the best answer I’ve been able to formulate in the interim:
Part of the problem is that film noir refers to both noir and hardboiled fiction (I cursorily sketch the differences between the two here). Noir is, of course, an offshoot of hardboiled crime fiction. But The Maltese Falcon (hardboiled classic) is called a film noir, just like Double Indemnity (noir classic). This explains some of the differences you note. (In a Lonely Place is noir, but the original novel by Dorothy B. Hughes has quite a bit of hardboiled dialogue.)
A further distinction is that film noir became a reference not only to the origin of the script, but also a visual style. Notorious is filmed in this style. I know relatively little about Vera Caspary, but what little I know indicates that she wrote neither hardboiled nor noir. Richard Condon wrote thrillers and satires, but not hardboiled/noir stories. But the film adaptions of Laura and The Manchurian Candidate used the film-making techniques associated with film noir (The Manchurian Candidate, made in 1962, is better termed a neo-noir—but that’s another can of worms entirely).
As a result, there is a great diversity of what could properly be noir. It depends whether one is talking of films or books, and chronology also plays a part (film noir proper is regarded as ending around 1958).
shorely-noir asked: Dear my Noir expert. I have been enjoying your noir page and I would like to ask you a question. I’m writer, even though it sounds pretentious to say it. Right now, I am lacking substance in my blacken well of inspiration at the moment. Could you suggest something to get my juices flowing? I rather enjoyed the little video that you posted. It gave me more than a few hours of keyboard abuse. I think though I need more, something a bit raw, but romantic. Sorry to ask such a plain question
I’m hardly an expert. I’m just interested enough to learn about it, and to share what I’ve learned and what I learn from my continued explorations. I wish I could claim expert status, but I don’t think I’ve seen or read nearly enough to justify that.
I’m going to post this here and let anyone make suggestions. I’m assuming you want a recommendation of some film noir to inspire your writing. There are scads of raw noirs, but I’m not sure how romantic you want it to be (in my humble opinion, Dark Passage loses it noir bearings by being overly romantic).
Here are my initial suggestions, and I encourage readers to reply and add their suggestions, also:
How do you make Double Indemnity even more classic? Have Raymond Chandler co-write the screenplay…