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Hardboiled Fiction. Associated with detective stories Characteristic of unsentimental portrayal of crime, violence, and sex Depiction is brutal and direct, with no reservations Portrays harsh realities of life Detectives come to realize the truth that life is morally chaotic

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hardboiled fiction
Hardboiled Fiction
  • Associated with detective stories
  • Characteristic of unsentimental portrayal of crime, violence, and sex
  • Depiction is brutal and direct, with no reservations
  • Portrays harsh realities of life
  • Detectives come to realize the truth that life is morally chaotic
  • Often includes a murder mystery
  • Edgar Allen Poe defined the detective story in the 1840’s, the basics of which undermine much hardboiled fiction
  • Hardboiled fiction was developed in the early 1920’s by Carroll John Daly
  • Popularized throughout 1920’s by Dashiell Hammett
  • Popularized throughout 1920’s by Dashiell Hammett
  • Refined in late 1930’s by Raymond Chandler
  • Although still popular today, hardboiled fiction saw its height from 1920-1950
development upbringings
  • The economic boom following the First World War combined with the introduction of Prohibition in 1920 to encourage the rise of the gangster and organized crime, which in some respects was the upbringing of the hardboiled detective
  • City streets were ridden with crime, violence, poverty, drinking, and death. Out of these streets, the hardboiled detective was born
typical hardboiled detective
Typical Hardboiled detective
  • Defined by their tough personality and attitude
  • Independent of others, often having no family and few friends
  • Cynical city-dwellers
  • Willing to break the law to ensure justice
typical hardboiled detective1
Typical Hardboiled Detective
  • Not afraid to shoot when necessary
  • Don’t live by strict ethical codes
  • Sometimes characters are WWI veterans. Their exposure to death and hardship makes them rather tough, pessimistic protagonists
  • Ambivalent attitude towards police: understand they are working against same thing, but want to rid America of crime on their own
  • Stereotypical diet of black coffee, fried eggs, and cigarettes
typical hardboiled detective2
Typical Hardboiled Detective
  • Often have beautiful women as their clients
hardboiled vs mystery detective
Hardboiled vs. Mystery/Detective
  • Hardboiled fiction changed the face of mystery and detective writing
  • Protagonists with the tough attitude are unique to hardboiled
  • Rather than just solving the mysteries, hardboiled detectives confront danger and partake in violence
  • Depicts real situations on the streets, which are very different from British murder mysteries solved by implausible methods
why hardboiled
Why “hardboiled”?

The term hardboiled was derived as a comparison between a hardboiled egg and the detectives of the fiction, both of which are relatively tough

Hardboiled fiction was originally published in pulp magazines, most famously Black Mask

Between 1920 and 1950, over 175 different magazines were published with hardboiled fiction

Late 1920’s, Hollywood began hiring writers in the genre to write movie scripts

1930, detective radio shows went on air

1931, Newspapers began printing

detective comic strips, followed

by comic books

carroll john daly
Carroll John Daly
  • Born in Yonkers, New York in 1889.
  • Widely considered to be one of the fathers of Hardboiled Fiction with his piece The Snarl of the Beast in 1927.
  • The Snarl of the Beast is considered to be the first ever private eye novel.
  • First, Daly made a name for himself in the Nickel and Dime “Pulps” in the 1920s.
    • Black Mask was a very popular “Pulp” where many of Daly’s first ideas were published. Most notable are the introduction of characters Terry Mack and Race Williams.
  • Daly left the Black Mask magazine after many disputes with its editor “Cap” Shaw, who thought Daly’s writing style was porous.
  • Many of Daly’s stories and characters were fan favorites because of their quick-wit and penchants for action.
  • Notable Works:
    • The White Circle (1926)
    • The Snarl of the Beast (1927)
    • The Man in the Shadows (1928)
    • The Hidden Hand (1929)
    • The Tag Murders (1930)
dashiell hammett
Dashiell Hammett
  • Born in 1894 in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
  • Hammett was once a private detective for the Pinkerton Detective Agency until he gave it up for writing in 1928.
  • His first character was a nameless detective known as “The Continental Op”. The “Continental Op” first appeared in Black Mask. The first novel the Continental Op appeared in was Red Harvest and the second – and last – was in The Dain Curse.
  • The Maltese Falcon is considered to be Hammett’s masterpiece. It introduced the private eye Sam Spade. Spade was different from Op because he did not narrate the story, it was told in third-person. Spade is considered to be the archetype for many classic fictional detectives.
  • Hammett did not write many novels because he lived a flamboyant lifestyle more interested in the social scene. He penned many screenplays for Hollywood.
  • He was involved in a relationship with Lillian Hellman who often took their relationship into her own writing which Hammett would revise.
  • Notable Works:
    • Red Harvest (1928)
    • The Dain Curse (1929)
    • The Maltese Falcon (1930)
    • The Glass Key (1931)
    • The Thin Man (1934)
raymond chandler
Raymond Chandler
  • Born July 23, 1888, in Chicago, Illinois.
  • His parents divorced when he was young and his mother moved herself and him to England to live with relatives.
  • In 1907 he was naturalized as a British citizen. He free-lanced as a journalist for a bit.
  • He returned the U.S. in 1912 by way of curiosity about the U.S. He wound up in Los Angeles were subsequently his stories take place.
  • Through economic hardship, Chandler began writing once again at the age of 44. He became a hard-boiled author through the influence of many Dashiell Hammett pieces.
  • Chandler’s style was opposite of many hard-boiled authors. He thought that many authors would deliberately throw the reader off. His style offered a story to the common folk that they could understand and articulate.
  • His first book, The Big Sleep, introduce Philip Marlowe, a wise-cracking, cynical private eye told from the first-person perspective. Marlowe appears in multiple pieces from Chandler.
  • Notable Works:
    • The Big Sleep (1939)
    • Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
    • The High Window (1942)
    • The Lady in the Lake (1943)
agatha christie
Agatha Christie
  • Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa, Lady Mallowan, also known as the “Queen of Crime”, has sold more books collectively than any other author in history save William Shakespeare. Only the Bible is known to have outsold Agatha Christie.
  • She was born into a wealthy family with an American father and English mother. She was married twice. In her first marriage she disappeared for ten days after her husband admitted to cheating on her. Many thought it was a publicity stunt and it is argued to this day.
  • Her pseudonym was Mary Westmacott.
  • Her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920 and it introduced Hercule Poirot who appeared in 30 novels and many short stories.
  • Another famous character was Miss Marple who was introduced first in The Murder at the Vicarage. This character was based on her grandmother.
  • Notable Works:
    • Too many to list.
noir fiction
Noir Fiction
  • 1930s
  • victim, suspect, criminal
  • sex
  • self-destructive
  • direct, gritty realism
  • more variety in plots
noir authors
Noir Authors
  • Cornell Woolrich
  • Dashiell Hammett
  • James Cain
  • Dorothy B. Hughes
  • Jim Thompson
  • David Goodis
  • Charles Williams
film noir
Film Noir
  • 40s/50s
  • low lighting
  • black and white
  • German expressionism
  • hardboiled/noir
  • Nino Frank 1946
  • retrospective
film noir titles
Film Noir Titles
  • The Maltese Falcon – Hammett (1941)‏
  • Shadow of a Doubt – Hitchcock (1943)‏
  • http://youtube.com/watch?v=krOqZS9Cxu4
  • Double Indemnity – Cain (1944)‏
  • Mildred Pierce – Cain (1945)‏
  • The Big Sleep – Chandler (1946)‏
  • http://youtube.com/watch?v=B2BU8-7kQLI
  • In a Lonely Place – Hughes (1950)‏
  • The Night of the Hunter – Davis Grubb (1955)‏
  • Touch of Evil – Whit Masterson (1958)‏
femme fatale

Femme Fatale

Ellen Klein

typical femme fatale
Typical Femme Fatale
  • Femme fatale is French for deadly woman
  • An incredibly attractive woman who leads men into danger
  • Also called “vamps” because they are associated with vampires. The logic is that they leave their lovers mere shells of their former selves.

In hard-boiled fiction the protagonist is usually romantically interested/obsessed in the femme fatale

  • She typically scorns marriage and familial relationships because they are too restraining.
  • In the event that the femme fatale is married, the relationship is associated with boredom, unhappiness, and a sense of being caged by their husbands.

"He keeps me on a leash so tight I can't breathe." Double Indemnity (1944)

the role of the femme fatale
The Role of the Femme Fatale
  • The femme fatale is incredibly strong willed and endlessly pursues her own means.
  • In hard boiled fiction the femme fatale is associated with the purpetrator of the crime.
  • Provides a stark contrast to the mysoginistic attitudes of the other characters.

The strong woman who defies the typical role of women and refuses to be blindly lead by men may be a result of the changing social status after World War II.

  • The femme fatale usually dies at the end of the story. However she still exudes some control over men from her grave. The men are unable to forget her and in film noir the audience can’t forget her either.
  • In the 1944 film Laura the femme fatale is murdered and the detective hired to solve the crime falls in love with her picture.

In the event that the femme fatale doesn’t die, she has a complete role reversal. She usually ends up marrying the protagonist and becoming a doting house-wife.

  • In either case male dominance is established by the end of the book/film.
historical femme fatales
Historical Femme Fatales
  • Helen of Troy who ran away from her husband with Paris (or was kidnapped by Paris) and caused the nine-year Trojan War.
  • Circe from The Odyssey who turned Odyssey’s men into swine.
  • The Sirens from The Odyssey who enchant men with their song and make them jump into the sea where they drown.

Lillith who has a long history but was a goddess or demon and most notably the first wife of Adam. It is also suspected that she was the serpent that tempted Eve.

  • Elektra from Marvel Comics
  • Catwoman from Batman
double indemnity
Double Indemnity