This may seem like an odd topic for me, so I’ll explain. My parents instilled in me a love of classic movies, including film noir. I grew up watching Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. It’s not too surprising film noir would eventually work its way into my writing.
My manuscripts about World War II in Alaska weren’t attracting agents and editors. I’m sure there were several reasons, but my conclusion is that some of it was bad timing; two of my main characters were not of my heritage, and while that would have been okay years ago, it is problematic now. In light of the #ownvoices movement, I decided I wasn’t the right person to write those stories. So I moved on, looking for a new project. I ended up with a teen sleuth living in Anchorage, Alaska in 1941. And I discovered The Maltese Falcon was released that October! I am now immersed in film noir as I write this book.
Film noir originated in Europe. The American style of film noir started in the 1940s. It is defined by its dark themes and cinematic look dominated by shadows. Many film noir movies have hard-boiled detectives or disillusioned anti-heroes paired with femme fatales. Director John Huston created The Maltese Falcon from a Dashiell Hammett novel, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. (I think Lee Patrick, who played Effie the resourceful secretary, should get more credit than she usually does!) Film noir lists usually include Laura, Double Indemnity, Key Largo, To Have and Have Not, The Third Man, Sunset Boulevard, and D.O.A. Some include Citizen Kane, which has a film noir tone in its cinematography.
One of my favorite quotes is Lauren Bacall’s lines to Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not: “If you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." I had a ceramic box and whistle referring to this in my study. Unfortunately, it fell off the shelf and broke during our recent earthquake. I couldn’t find all the pieces afterwards, but glued it back as well as I could. Life goes on, and film noir endures in our hearts and minds.
Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.