If you’re a regular visitor of Criminal Element, then you’re probably more than a little bit familiar with film noir. But if not, then let’s give you the basic rundown. From the French term meaning “black cinema,” film noir was coined to describe a specific type of Hollywood film that portrayed a level of darkness and cynicism that had never been seen before. A few of the early classics include The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, and Laura.
Now, obviously these stories did not originate with their film depictions. Before Hollywood got their hands on these stories, the words were pouring out of the minds of novelists such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler.
In stark contrast to detective fiction’s earlier heroes—Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, etc.—these hardboiled protagonists were tough and cynical. These stories were set in grim, dirty cities and told in a narrative form, with slang, violence, and sex saturating the pages.
So today, join Criminal Element as we pay tribute to noir fiction by testing you to see just what sort of character Dashiell Hammett would turn you into. Be warned: it’s not always pretty.