Hard Boiled: Great Lines from Classic Noir Films by Peggy Thompson & Saeko Usukawa

“You’re getting a big kick out of making me feel cheap.”

Hard-Boiled: Great Lines from Classic Noir Films is a splendid resource book for the film noir aficionado. It contains 300 memorable lines from almost 150 films. Film noir fans know that one of the best things about noir is its snappy dialogue–we drool over lines such as “you’re like a leaf that the wind blows from one gutter to another” (Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past) and “If I’d been a ranch, they would have named me Bar Nothing” (Rita Hayworth in Gilda).

The book begins with a chapter written by Lee Server. This introduction serves as a nice overview of noir–its origins, the great noir directors, and the genre’s salient features. Then the book leads into the quotes that are alphabetized by film listing. Each quote credits the actor who delivered the line and the name of the character played. There are a generous number of spectacular black & white and colour photos and film ads accompanying the text. At the back of the book, there’s an index of actors, directors, and writers with the page number that references to the quote. In addition there’s also another index of the first lines. I like the book’s organization.

The book is co-authored by Peggy Thompson and Saeko Usukawa, and there’s a statement that “now you, too, can sound like you just stepped off the set of a film noir classic.” Actually I bought the book for my smut-beaked parrot, Dirty Harry, who has learned several film noir quotes, and I want him to learn more. This book will serve as a resource for Dirty Harry and me, and I am anticipating the fun we will have. He already says “We’re sisters under the mink” (Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat) and “You cheap canary” (Robert Ryan in The Racket). If you don’t have a parrot to teach some of these quotes too, don’t despair; the book will still give you leads on films you never heard of–plus you can always toss some of these great lines around whenever you’re given an opening. My only complaint about the book is that there are a lot more quotes that never made it into this collection. For example, the line “You couldn’t plant enough flowers to hide the smell” (Glenn Ford in The Big Heat) didn’t make it into the book while other quotes from the film did, but for a collection of 300 great lines, I can’t complain.

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Filed under Books about film, Film Noir

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