Noir fiction is returning. The uniquely American art form reached its paranoid zenith in the 1940s and '50s, taking its bleak existentialist cue from such masters as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, among others.
Todd Haynes has spent his filmmaking career working far outside the mainstream -- yet he seems surprised when a reporter refers to his new miniseries, HBO's Mildred Pierce, as surprisingly conventional for him.
I'd be serving you poorly if I just alerted you to to mark that date. Go back to the originals -- the James M. Cain novel and the film that won an Oscar for Joan Crawford in her first starring role -- and experience the real greatness of this story.
There are plenty of films out there that make us hopeful about life and living. Film noir is a guilty pleasure where we witness the denizens of society's bottom rungs stamping on each other's feet for a higher, safer position.
Salinger might be better off taking the view of James M. Cain, the author of several hot 1940s chart items. Cain, asked once how he felt about what Hollywood had done to his books, said, "Hollywood hasn't done anything to my books. There they all are, up on the shelf."