Analysis Of Raymond Chandler's 'The Simple Art Of Murder'

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The hard-boiled detective, in noir tradition, is typically depicted as a lone wolf figure, one that upholds morality while balancing the corruption inherent in his line of work. He could be defined by his sexual potency, just as much as by his denial of pleasure. Raymond Chandler, in his 1950 essay, The Simple Art of Murder, outlines this archetype, with an authority appropriate to his foundational authorship. Chandler writes, “He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.” (Chandler “The Simple Art of Murder”). As the genre of noir expanded through generations of film, the hardboiled detective evolved ever so subtly, yet it could be said …show more content…
Recalling Chandler’s hardboiled definition, the detective, “must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.” (Chandler “The Simple Art of Murder”). When Jake suggests he did “as little as possible” in Chinatown, his restrained efforts paint him as either a lazy or incompetent man, and unlikely to be what Chandler would consider the best (Polanski). It seems that after his opening line, “All right, Curly. Enough 's enough. You can 't eat the Venetian blinds,” his attempts at verbal superiority don’t quite land (Polanski). Curly may have been an unfair match, as a financially insecure and distraught client, but when Lou Escobar’s partner asks Jake how he injured his nose, he responds, “Your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick.” (Polanski). While this line may be provocative, it doesn’t quite satisfy or deflect the tension of the question. How can a professional detective justify the consequences of such an injury without appearing absurd? This physical buffoonery may be what divides Jake from previous detectives. The wisecracks are there, and delivered as if by rote, but the character that produces them lacks the substance of his dominating antecedents. In Language, Oedipus, and Chinatown, John Belton describes a successful detective in the noir genre, as having, “a talent for handling dialogue” and …show more content…
Although The Dude’s character is written to crack wise throughout the film, his wit seems to parody the genre rather than emblematize it. Perhaps this makes Lebowski the most defiant detective yet, as he not only scoffs at several characters within the film, but also would likely scoff at the film itself. When one of Treehorn’s thugs stuffs his face into a toilet and asks, “Where 's the money, Lebowski,” he responds with an almost bored attitude, “it 's down there somewhere, let me take another look.” (Coen). A moment of violence meant to instill fear is met with disinterested complacency. Another line in this sequence, “You’re obviously not a golfer,” similarly communicates a vague irritation, rather than authentic torment (Coen). The Dude’s carefree style could be compared to Gould’s Marlowe, although the stoned culture that made the latter appear uptight, seems to define the former. When two police come to investigate Marlowe at his house, he sidetracks them with a similarly disinterested improvisation, joking, “my name is Sydney, uh, Jenkins,” as if lazily composing an alibi (Altman). In This Aggression Will Not Stand": Myth, War, and Ethics in "The Big Lebowski, Todd A. Comer draw attention to a curious moment in the film, when The Dude and Walter

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