You don’t see the term "hardboiled" much any more. "Noir" has supplanted it, co-opted from the French film critics who intended it for the American crime films made during and shortly after World War II. Those critics had co-opted the term from Serie Noire, the black-covered paperbacks from publisher Gallimard that reprinted the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and Mickey Spillane.Read the whole thing. Collins deftly digs to the root of hardboiled’s family tree, pulling up not only familiar names such as Hammett and Chandler, but lesser known authors and some of the periodicals that spawned the subgenre. Unfortunately, he only devotes a small space to the differences between hardboiled and noir, writing, "Many noir writers, in a trend beginning in the ’80s and ’90s, do depart from what I would view as hardboiled. An emotional aspect dismissed as sentimental has been banished for a more paranoid, harsher world view." I would argue that’s only half the story. Sure, lots of noir is bleakly nihilistic, but some imbue it with a moral sense more akin to classical tragedy. Consider The Square, for example. Quibbles aside, though, this article is well worth your time if you’re the least interested in crime fiction.
Hardboiled, as early as twenty years ago, became a dirty word in publishing. Cozy mysteries were outselling hardboiled, and likely still are. So the appropriation of "noir" was a hipper, more elegant-sounding way to rebrand the tough stuff.
(Picture: CC 2009 by practicalowl)