Essay on The Hard Boiled Detective, By Raymond Chandler

2341 Words Nov 22nd, 2016 10 Pages
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 that the stringency of his definition retained firm ground amongst the development of his surroundings. It would seem that this “rude wit” carries across the detective’s generational iterations, and that his wisecracks help emblematize the genre itself. In Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, Gordon Parks’ Shaft, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, and the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski, these wisecracks maintain their place as noir tropes, so much that in some cases, they aren’t exclusive to the detective alone, and that when he is challenged by verbal or psychological sparring, the superiority of his wit determines his overall authority.

The notion of wisecracking in film-noir can be traced back to Humphrey Bogart’s 1941 depiction of Sam…

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