Welcome to February, the Valentine’s month, full of hearts and roses. Yeah, I’ve never understood that because in Ohio, February is the month of the dead, so we’re doing film noir, the genre that says life is grim and hopeless and women are evil betrayers, but thank god there are some men who go down those mean streets who are not themselves mean . . .
Hardboiled mystery was popularized by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich and a host of other cynical, sardonic, hard-drinking, mostly male authors (Craig Rice is one female standout). Noir is technically a subset of the hardboiled mystery, its main difference being that the detective is not a professional but an ordinary man thrust into dangerous and violent circumstances. The terms have blurred now, probably because when hardboiled fiction is brought to the screen, it’s usually called “film noir.” The four noir mystery films we’ll be watching include two adaptations of hardboiled novels, a modern noir film, and a darkly comic homage to genre:
Feb. 6: THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett
Feb. 13: THE BIG SLEEP (1946) (streaming free on Amazon Prime) based on the novel of the same name by Raymond Chandler
Feb. 20: LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997) (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy
Feb. 27: KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005) (streaming on Amazon) based in part on the novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday
So we won’t play the sap for you, sweethearts, but we’ll be podcasting every Monday, still trying to figure out what makes a good mystery story.
[Note: I promised a chat at the end of every month, but this month I’ve been blindsided by some big stuff and I just didn’t get my act together. Those of you who want to chat, please discuss in the comments and pick a good day and time and I’ll try to set it up for this month and the months to come.]