Noir

Noir (nwär)
adj.

1. Of or relating to the film noir genre.
2. Of or relating to a genre of crime literature featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings.
3. Suggestive of danger or violence.

I love movies and books in the noir genre. They are often gritty, dark in their settings, and have Imagehardboiled detectives in leading roles. A femme fatale is also a mainstay in the movies/books.

The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity are two classic movies that fit the genre. The more recent Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is a Steve Martin comedy-mystery that is both a parody of, and homage to, film noir and pulp detective movies of the forties.

I always love the part where the narrator tells us of the dame who walks into the gumshoe’s office. She has a tale to tell. There are cigarettes and alcohol involved. We see it in black and white, and the music sets the tone.

ImagePulp fiction magazines of the thirties and forties also fit the bill. Those writers sure knew how to turn a phrase, and some of them are classic (although many are now politically incorrect). I’ve recently read several of Robert Leslie Bellem’s stories. He was a master at using slang and impact words. Typical fare for him would be – “I spooned him a helping of knuckle tonic.” “She slapped me a stinger across the chops.” “Moon’s kisser sagged open and his optics bulged like oysters being squeezed.”

Isn’t that last line so much better than my standard, “Her mouth hung open, and her eyes went wide.”

Ahh, the joys of the genre.

So, all this is a lead up to that guy. You remember him. Adam Sendek. By losing a baseball bet, I must talk about him on my blog every day this week. And I’m happy to do so!

What you might not know is that Adam blogs interesting topics and humor, but he also writes stories. One of my favorites is one he wrote that fit the noir genre well. Here’s the beginning:

“…so I’m sitting in this cafe, slumped over a (bleep*)-warm cup of dark roast coffee, casually tossing ashes into the tray at the end of the table.  The lighting is inadequate where I’m seated, making it difficult to study the entrees on the menu.

I pick up on a one-sided conversation coming from the booth adjacent to me, involving a pig-headed suit and tieyammering into a phone about a stock deal gone sour.  The woman seated in front of the man appears emotionally detached, which is indicated by her body language.  She ignores the man and blankly stares off at a young female clearing the surrounding tables.

I’m overcome with remorse for the woman and her situation, finding myself privately analyzing the dysfunctional correlation between the two. Clearly, she’s numb inside; another wandering soul, financially bound to some corporate meat head

The murmur throughout the diner adds to the endless chatter taking place in my head, but the humming is abruptly halted when, without warning …” GO HERE to read the rest of the story. It’s short, and the comments are fun, too. Add yours to the list!

What about you? Do you like the noir genre, whether it be movies or books? What about pulp fiction? Did you ever read any? Tell me what you think!

(*bleep – It’s a Maddie bleep. My blog is rated PG-13, and even though I probably could have allowed the word to stand, I opted to apply the bleep. Hop on over to Adam’s blog for the more colorful phrasing.)

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36 thoughts on “Noir

  1. As a longtime fan of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (and others from that era), your post made me realize that a somewhat modern version of the stories can be had by reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.

    I had not thought about it quite that way until now, but I now realize why I like his books so much.

    Sure, there is magic, fantasy, etc. but all the other elements are there as well . . . and Dresden is a sucker for a dame in distress.

    I’m not clicking on the link since I’m in the middle of a bunch of stuff, but eventually will, especially if you keep hammering his name all week.

    Happy holidays.

    • Happy Holidays to you, too, Emilio. 🙂

      I took a quick peek at the Dresden books on Amazon. They definitely look interesting and appear to be popular. You are right on target with the gumshoe/noir appeal. Thanks for pointing the books out. I think I would enjoy them.

      As for Adam … he’ll be here all week. 😉

      • The dame had pointed him out, and the guy practically screamed for me to poke him a good one, but I was tired; sure, he bothered me, got in my face, and I could have just plugged him, but I had just cleaned my .357, and besides . . . was he really worth the two bits cost of the round?

        No; better to wait, clear my head, and figure things out. I mean, the whole thing smelled fishy to me. Dame loses a bet about baseball! No dame I’ve known would have the bal . . . jewels to bet about stuff they don’t know! . . . ‘mother told me’ . . .

        Right! The oldest trick in the book! But, just in case, I’m adding him to my list. If what the dame said was right, he’ll get a poke, alright; he might even come to regret it!

  2. Oh now I love me some noir classics! I love those old black and white gumshoe movies too. They were so colorful even if they were in black and white. 🙂 And shouldn’t you be editing young lady??? haha!

    • A bet is a bet! I haven’t posted this much in ages. I feel guilty though – I haven’t been able to get around to other blogs. I will between Christmas and New Year’s. 🙂

      I just finished a hard copy edit. Excessive words have been chased down, book has been read twice on paper, once online, and once on an eReader. The last step is to read it backwards. Barring unforseen circumstances, I’m publishing Christmas day!

      • You can only do so much Maddie. Don’t be hard on yourself. Besides with the holidays everyone understands. I know I do. I know you’re super busy. Have a wonderful fun filled Christmas my dear friend! I will be emailing you soon! Big hugs!

  3. I love noir film. A show on TNT just wrapped up for the season called “Mob City” based on some true events but told/shown in a noir style. I loved every single episode.
    It’s neat because you don’t usually see that genre much on TV. The show has a real cinematic quality to it too.

    • Merry Christmas, DD! I can’t believe I missed Mob City. It was on my list of shows to watch. I’ve just been too busy for television these past couple of months. I’m glad you liked it and recommend it. I’ll definitely look for it to stream. Thanks! 🙂

      • If you have any kind of On Demand service with your cable subscription they should have it on there. Also, the TNT website has the full episodes. You just have to log in with your cable provider’s info.

        & Merry Christmas to you & the hubs!

  4. This isn’t a genre I typically read, though I’d love to use words like ‘kisser’ and ‘knuckle tonic,’ at least until the editor makes me get rid of them. 😉

    Merry Christmas Eve Day!

    • In my newest book (the messy NaNo book), the main character works with an aging private investigator. I get to have him say fun things, and they rub off on her. At the morgue, she says, ” She was alive the last time I saw her. If she’s defunct now, that’s news to me.” 🙂

      Merry Christmas Eve Day to you, too, Carrie!

    • Hello, El Guapo!! I’m taking a wee break this evening to visit with my mother, but plan to work through the night like a good elf to bring Susan to you tomorrow!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, too, Guap! 🙂

    • Hi Mary! It’s been a crazy week here with having to give Adam all that attention. I’m looking back through for comments I missed. 🙂

      You like Steve Martin! I’ve always enjoyed him. I saw him live in Vegas, and I truly laughed so hard, I cried. I recently watched Bringing Down the House with him and Queen Latifah again. I enjoy him in everything he does. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was quiet this year, but nice with our son here. Happy New Year to you, Mary!

      • Our son lives nearby, It’s nice. I feel sorry for parents whose children move overseas.. We’re all going to watch the fireworks tonight. Happy fresh new year to you, Maddie. xx

  5. Big Sleep, book and movie are among my all time favourites. I also lke James Ellroy for modern noir and Elmore Leonard for modern pulp.

    I keep a link to Archive.org’s Film Noir library for those days when I am in the mood for classic noir.

  6. I’m a hard-boiled egg– er, I mean, guy– and I’ve never met a noir film I didn’t like. Ditto pulps, especially the covers. I wanted to buy some gumshoes, but darned if I can ever find them in any stores. I also like tough, sassy, wise-crackin’ babes like Maddie Cochere. I dig the way she ain’t afraid to bleep what ain’t cool, see?

    My favorite noir line? Almost impossible to say, ’cause there’s about a million of ’em– but it might be:

    “Maybe she was all right. And maybe Christmas comes in July.”

    Bogie, I think. Just doesn’t sound like Charlie Chan… : )

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