Revisionist Noir 12/03/2007
Can a noir film or book even be revisionist? When we talk about a revisionist western, we talk about a western that still has the same images as a traditional western—landscape, horses, gunplay—but their meaning is reversed, so that the flamboyantly heroic Custer played by Errol Flynn, say, in They Died With Their Boots On becomes the raving genocidal maniac of Arthur Penn's Little Big Man, or Henry Fonda's stoic and decent Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine becomes Kurt Russell's sexier but more murderously vengeful Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. The main thrust of the revisionist western is to reject the triumphal tone of the 30s and 40s and show the traditional heroes as flawed or worse, and to show Manifest Destiny as a bloody racial war.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
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