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« A Poem for Paul Violi, born today, 20 July | Main | "Glad to be Unhappy (with Hart Crane and Lorenz Hart)" [by David Lehman] »

July 21, 2019


Interesting discussion. At the risk of blowing my own flugelhorn, just thought I'd draw your attention to some poems from my collection On Dangerous Ground of the books you've covered.
Double Indemnity-
The Asphalt Jungle-
The Maltese Falcon-
Night & the City-

Woody Haut

Thank you. We're grateful for the comment and suggestions, Woody.

Perhaps this is a case of a retroactive assessment of the film as noir, or its genesis? As noted above, the cast and especially Bogart give such a flavor to what we later recognize as definitive in noir, its attitudes, language, conversational tones as David notes re arousing expectations. I think Bogart's protagonist is so much of a template for similar roles played both by him and others that it set the tone we expect from such protagonists in the more definitive noir films (world weary/sarcastic/street wise). Thus it gets lumped in or identified as seminal because of what it influenced. Certainly Huston's role here is key as the tone and qualities here are maintained across the noirs in his career. Great discussion.

Thank you again for weighing in, Jeffrey. I hope you'll make it a weekly habit! DL

Jeffrey, yes I agree, Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade introduced into the movies a unique interpretation of the Private Eye, the "Lone Wolf Detective, one with a particular kind of humor. I don't know if the movies had seen that before. The humor comes from his refusal to take this life among the cops and the crooks, the innocent and the people pretending to be innocent, Too seriously. And, of course, that begins with Dashiell Hammett's book, which so influenced Chandler and enabled him to shape his own version of the private eye, Philip Marlowe. And Marlowe also had that devil-may-care attitude.

Agree. I finally got The Long Goodbye under my belt during my recovery from surgery, and as I read it I thought of how details Chandler works into Marlowe's typical day really make for good noir poetry inspiration, things that are too time-consuming for any movie. He'll linger on a morning cigarette and coffee and mundane decisions about breakfast and other things that serve to thicken the atmosphere, especially as the wheels in his head are turning about plot events. The really good movies provide so much, but buried in the text are some minutiae that can trigger some ideas.

And Bogart's humor and a kind of seasoned exterior nonchalance definitely have rubbed off on so many other actors trafficking in the noir male protagonist territory. I'm a big fan of Dick Powell's Marlowe even if he does seem to be borrowing a lot from Bogart's playbook. But he's good at it and it shows too in other films like Pitfall and Cornered.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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