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        Mike Frank's comments on *Red Harvest*, the noir and the western are
very well taken.  People who work on one genre often don't work on the
others, and so the margins between them often aren't examined.  It seems to
me that one way of saying the same thing (I think) Mr. Frank is saying is
that the hard-boiled detective is a development of the western, a
development which puts the same meanings into play in a contemporary rather
than historically-remote narrative universe.
        This hooks up in a way with another thread on this list, which
involves masculinity and race, but it's mostly masculinity that's salient
here.  Could we not put certain *noirs* and a large number of westerns
side-by-side and say that they're both exploring masculinity and the law?
Stephen Neale has made some excellent comments on the topic on his book on
genre.  Also, Richard Dyer's remarkable essay on homosexuality and film noir
makes a number of good points about the way the genre constructs the hero's
unkempt masculinity in contrast to the femme fatale's glossy pretense of
"casualness."  (He has some great comments on Veronica Lake's hair!)
        It seems to me that these meanings operate on the level Barthes
identified as connotation--"masculinity," "roughness," "casualness"--and
could provide an interesting matrix by which to compare a number of genres.
Sincerely,
Edward R. O'Neill
UCLA
 
At 11:26 AM 11/25/96 -0400, you wrote:
>in a conversation with a colleague prompted by the RED HARVEST exchange it
>was pointed out to me that the hard boiled detective (that we associate
>with--among other names--d hammett) is clearly a descendent of
>   the lonesome cowboy:
>         the [definitively?] masculinist hero/protagonist who operates
>pretty much alone, observes a moral code that may well require the breaking
>of legal codes, whose life intesects with that of some woman but who remains
>alone and lonely, and whose success at [re]solving the specific problem posed
>by the plot nevertheless does not end up as a comic [that is, redeemed]
>character but insists on holding on to a more tragic or ironic posture and
>destiny
>
>        now all of this seemed so obvious when pointed out  that i could
>hardly believe that it had never occurred to me before . . . indeed it was
>one of those ideas that, within minutes, i was convinced i had ALWAYS known .
>. . so i have a couple of questions for the list
>
>        1.  is this idea as obvious and compelling as i for the moment
>think, or is there something i'm missing that might throw a monkey wrench
>into what is a too facile equation?
>
>        2.   is this idea conventionally a part of the scholarship and
>criticism on the western, hard-boiled detective story, and noir modes and
>mythologies  that i somehow have managed to miss [or forget]? . . . are thre
>any "standard" or important explorations of this connection? (has leslie
>fielder wirtten about this--he must have, no???)
>
>        3 (or 2a)--are there any recommended works on the political (regular
>politics/cultural politics/sexual politics) of this package of meanings??
>
>mike frank
>implications (both conventional politics,
>
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>
 
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