In GAD We Trust – Episode 17: The Hardboiled Golden Age on Page and Screen [w’ Sergio @ Tipping My Fedora]

After watching detective fiction play out in the drawing rooms of ivory towers for too long, I’m heading into the mean streets to get some grease under my nails, a shiv waved in my face, and probably a cosh to the back of my head. Thankfully, Sergio, who oversaw a great deal of this stuff in books and on film at Tipping My Fedora has consented to accompany me and keep me as safe as he can.

Yup, today In GAD We Trust takes a glimpse across the fence into the establishment and progression of the hardbitten, Hardboiled subgenre of crime fiction which — as recent experience on this very blog will attest — in no way guarantees a reduction in plot complexity. Yes, we start with Dashiell Hammett and Black Mask, and, yes, we talk about Raymond Chandler, but there is much more than just those two points on this line. And so, because Sergio knows this stuff inside and out — seriously, the guy’s a walking encyclopedia, this was about as close as a conversation can get to jazz with all the riffs and improvisations he threw at me — we’ll take in some pre-code Hollywood movies, the psycho-sexuality of the femme fatale, the influence of Citizen Kane (1941), and other stuff that I won’t mention here because I’ve spent six hours editing this and can no longer remember what bits I cut out.

The last ten minutes are us geeking out over Jim Thompson, however, for which I refuse to apologise. One day, an entire episode will be me geeking out about Jim Thompson. Also, see if you can spot the exact moment at which Sergio dons his fedora…

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes here, on Spotify here, or on Stitcher here, or by using the player below. 

Thanks to Sergio for taking part — head over to Fedora and see just how damn great it was, then pester him with emails until he starts it up again — to Jonny Berliner for the music, and to you all for listening. I hope you’re managing to find little joys to make life more bearable in these frankly unbearable times.

Two weeks from now: spoiler-heavy The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) chat with Brad and Moira! Get excited, get reading, get involved.

In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and look out for each other.


All extant episodes of In GAD We Trust can be found on the blog by clicking here.

10 thoughts on “In GAD We Trust – Episode 17: The Hardboiled Golden Age on Page and Screen [w’ Sergio @ Tipping My Fedora]

  1. Well that was, as expected, hugely enjoyable and a great overview of the birth, development and gradual demise of classic hard-boiled fiction, and the way it spilled over into the movies. Well done guys.


    • Thanks, Colin, glad you enjoyed it. Sergio gets full credit, of course — it was great fun watching him go all geeky and veer into tangents like stories about Robert Altman (which I had to cut out) entirely unprompted. Next time he and I talk, I’ll be sure to revise ahead of time… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was thoroughly enjoyable. I echo the sentiment that Fedora is much missed.
    You cover an awful lot in just an hour and I think you both did a great job of laying out how the style evolved and connected it to the development of noir cinema. Very enjoyable to listen to and I feel I learned a lot.


  3. Dear lord, I just want to sit in leather chairs before a fire, ensconced in our non-smoking jackets, munching on fine chocolate cigars, and talking about Hitchcock, film noir, and anything else that strikes our fancy.

    First of all, having just referenced Absolom, Absolom! in my last post, I was thrilled to hear Sergio’s casual drop of Yoknapatawpha County. There is something very noir-like about certain elements of Faulkner’s writing; he fit in beautifully as a character in the Coen Bros.’ Barton Fink, one of my favorite films of theirs.

    I’m not a hard-boiled fan, but I am a Hammett fan, expecially Red Harvest and – yes, JJ! – Maltese Falcon. I have seen all three film versions, and while I think Bogie’s film edges out the others, the first one is well worth seeing. I’m a big Bebe Daniels fan, ever since 42nd Street (I think you can trace certain noir elements to those Busby Berkeley musicals, too) and Ricardo Cortez makes a fine (if more light-hearted than Bogie) Spade. The second version, with Bette Davis, is terrible but fascinating in every way. Surprisingly, and a bit embarrassingly, I haven’t read The Glass Key, so I can’t comment. Nor have I seen Miller’s Crossing, which I guess I should see if it’s that deeply related to Red Harvest.

    When I taught film class, I always showed Citizen Kane, but I remembered my own first viewing in high school and understood that this film needs to be watched multiple times and grasped in layers. And so we approached it more as a noir mystery: “Who is Rosebud?” which made the kids enjoy it more. Ultimately, yes, Rosebud is the Maguffin that gets Thompson on a journey. In fact, it’s so MUCH of a Maguffin that Thompson never even learns the solution to the mystery and still manages to have an important and satisfying journey.

    Sergio, I loved your distinction between “hard-boiled” and “noir”! It helped me understand why I can enjoy one more than the other, why a movie like The Maltese Falcon feels more noir-like the third time around (and adds to my enjoyment), even though “real” film noir started several years later. I would do a noir unit in film class: I always showed Double Indemnity, which I think is sort of a perfect movie, and when I took more time, I would show films like D.O.A. and Out of the Past. And Hitchcock – LOTS of Hitchcock. Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo – what Hitchcock does with his visuals so brilliantly is to put us right in the shoes of the helpless protagonist. Having just read The Red Right Hand, I realize how much I love when an artist can do that.

    Seriously, someday I’d love to sit down and talk about all these movies with you. I will bring the chocolate cigars, (or San Francisco french bread, whichever you prefer), Sergio can whip up some Torrone, and JJ can brew pots and pots of tea!!

    Liked by 1 person

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