Sunday, January 1, 2012

Special Sunday--Birth of a Character

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that we have those shenanigans out of the way, down to business.

Crime fiction, what most people call detective stories, has a long and somewhat crazy history. In the course of a hundred and seventy years, the genre has embraced everyone from Edgar Allen Poe to the Marquis de Sade to Raymond Chandler to Charlaine Harris and Patricia Cornwell.

Clearly, crime fiction is a little confused on who or what it wants to be. With sub-genres ranging from historical to locked room, whodunit to howcatchem, cozy to hard-boiled, there's a story out there for everyone.

Almost.

Film noir, that vast, sweeping term for movies of the forties and fifties, suffers from the same multiple personality disorder. From French art films to American classics like The Maltese Falcon, noir encompasses so may plots and chracteristics as to be almost undefinable in any absolute sense. Indeed, the cinematic community as essentially labeled noir as an "elusive phenomenon". (Mark Bould)

Most people are familiar with noir in reference to movies and actors such as Out of the Past, Double Indemity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, To Have and Have Not, Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Humphry Bogart, and Lauren Bacall. These films and their stars are classics for good reason. They provide riveting plots, serious suspence, and sly, witty dialogue (seriously, Bacall asking Bogart if he knows how to whistle? Fantastic). Just like crime fiction, something for everyone.

Again--almost.

Where's the wisecracking, hard-nosed, cynical, unapologetically sexy female private detective? The one with the troubled past, the deep, dark secrets? Who has a steady relationship, but isn't afraid to experiment? Who has the ambiguous moral code of the femme fatale, but when she's crossed, the drive and determination of Sam Spade?

Let me introduce you to Frances--Frankie--Post...

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