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Great Noir Lives and Dies On Dialogue (crimereads.com)
41 points by lermontov 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments





Noir film, the same deal.

“I know you like a book, ya little tramp. You’d sell your own mother for a piece of fudge. But you’re smart with it. Smart enough to know when to sell and when to sit tight. You’ve got a great big dollar sign there where most women have a heart.” –The Killing (1956; Dir: Stanley Kubrick)


I think it's pretty hard to write a hardboiled style noir now days without it feeling derivative. The tropes are now cliches and the dialogue can be cumbersome and hokey.

A lot of time it feels like someone imitating noir rather than innovating with the genre and that's sad.

You can undoubtedly do it and I'd love to see some examples of a great modern noir to read.


I just read a noir-ish novel, a French novel, The Lady in the Car with the Glasses and a Gun by Japrisot. There's another French writer, Jean-Patrick Manchette, who has written a few great crime novels.

But, really, noir-tinged stuff is everywhere. I liked The City & The City (China Mieville, a police procedural with a fantasy twist) and I loved The Thief (Fuminori Nakamura).

None of these are strictly speaking noir but they've descended from it. Noir from the 30s-50s has really held up, though. I was shocked when I read stuff like Pick-Up, They Shoot Horses Don't They? and so on. It has aged extremely well.


It's not books, but I think both Veronica Mars and Bosch have done are good modern noir. Veronica Mars is particularly notable for having the protagonist starts as a high schooler, and it ends up as something like noir meets 90210, but much better than 90210.

I'd wholeheartedly second the Veronica Mars rec. Start with the first series, not the movie. Aside from the dialog and characterization, it has probably the most deft plotting and pacing I've ever seen in a TV show.

For SF noir, the series of books by Frank Chadwick starting with How Dark the World Becomes isn't half bad.


Is Ellroy modern enough? The Coen brothers have done at least two noirs as well, though not in prose.

Patanoir deserves an honorary mention.


Yeah, there's definitely good Noir work in films and TV. It's a bit easier there because you can invoke the mood easier in a visual medium even if the dialogue or characters don't reflect the genre as much.

Ellroy's noir feels derivative for half a heartbeat.

Then it stops.

Then your heart stops and your realize it's art. And your only three pages in, pal.


Claire deWitt and the city of the dead, by Sara Gran is a good example. Very colorful language.

Also the first volumes of the Berlin Noir "trilogy".


Thanks for that, I haven't read the Berlin Noir "trilogy" will put it on my reading list.

Isn't True Detective noir? Or perhaps it's more Southern Gothic. How about John Wick?

Kind of a mixture I suppose.

I dont really share that negative sentiment. Not quite the same genre but the latest Murder on The Orient Express with Malcovich was nothing short of refreshing.

I wonder what you think of Brick (2005)

I liked it at the time, but haven't seen it for a while. It's more of a homage and consciously embraces the tropes and cliches which is a subtle difference to a work that's just in the genre.

Great dialog makes any movie, even ones you wouldn't expect.

For example, people love to quote lines from Star Trek TOS.

From TNG, or the movies? Nope. The dialog is pedestrian and forgettable, and the shows are boring.


I don't know, I quote this[1] all the time, and it's a great scene.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3RNsZvdYZQ


Ironically, Stewart played Ahab in a version of Moby Dick.



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