Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Existential Code: Let's Start with Film Noir

The detective's "code"from

 When the protagonist is a detective, she or he is presumed to have a set of ethics or moral values. These are called "the detective code," or simply "the code," when discussing the genre. The basics of the code are best summarized by Richard Layman in his discussion of what James Wright of the Pinkerton Detective Agency taught Dashiell Hammett (see Hammett section) To summarize, the detective should be anonymous, eschew publicity, be close-mouthed, and secretive. He or she protects good people from bad people, who do not live by the rules; thus, one may break the rules in dealing with them. The detective ignores rules and conventions of behavior, because the client pays for this. Loyalty to the client is very important, but may be superceded by a personal sense of justice or the rule of law. The detective must keep an emotional distance from the people in the case, retain an objective point of view, and consider all pertinent clues.

Robertson says: All right. Who else does this sound like? A reporter or a reporter's image of herself/himself in the "movie" he/she plays in hir mind.("Hir" is an attempt from some years ago to create a non-gendered third-person singular pronoun.) I do think many of us are characters in our own movie.


Susan White said...

Poor film noir detective, always doomed to lead a sad and lonely life.

I love that final scene of The Maltese Falcon where she goes down the elevator.

Susan White said...

“He or she?” Wasn’t the detective always a man during this era? I thought women only served as femme fatales. (Regardless, I do appreciate the gender inclusion.)