Heads and Tales

Heads and Tales - Double Indemnity, James Cain, and Billy Wilder

Episode Summary

Double Indemnity, the book by James Cain and the movie directed by Billy Wilder, defines the genre that we call noir.

Episode Notes

Double Indemnity – the book by James Cain and the movie directed by Billy Wilder – defines, as well as anything, the elusive genré that we call noir.

Noir is generally associated with violence, usually murder, and sex, with conflicting motives and motivations, and with tragically flawed characters whose lives are never the happily contented ones they seek. In general, all of these aspects are played out in an urban setting, and much of the action occurs at night. Corruption, official or unofficial, is as inevitable as the darkness that pervades the characters and their environs. 

Heads and Tales

text and drawings by Jim Stovall

In his forward to this book, Ed Caudill says:

"Jim Stovall writes in the introduction that he is “trying to caricature people.”  He succeeds, perhaps ironically in light of the fact that writers themselves are inevitably – sometimes tragically, sometimes commendably, usually unintentionally – caricaturing culture. This collection careens along the gamut from rich and famous to downtrodden and obscure.  Some of them, the readers will know. Others, I would take long odds, are unheard of among the perusers of this volume. There any number of lesser knowns whose names are fleeting but whose work is durable, whether in politics, 

letters, sciences, or elsewhere. Some are masters of other media, such radio or cinema or illustration."

Jim Stovall is a former journalism professor who writes and draws obsessively and occasionally inflicts his work onto an unsuspecting and largely undeserving public.