James M. Cain
Goodmorning/afternoon Mrs Turnbull and Extension 1 English
The author I have chosen to present to you today is James Mallahan Cain. Cain is one of the most famous of the hard-boiled crime fiction writers who came to prominence in the United States during the 1930s and 40s. His contribution to the genre is further assured by the film adaptations of three of his novels, which quickly became classics in film noir, these include Double Indemnity, produced in 1944, Mildred Pierce 1945, and The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946.
Cain was born in Annapolis, Maryland on the 1st of July 1892, the son of James W. Cain, a renowned professor, and Rose Cain, an opera ...view middle of the document...
In 1924 he became the editorial writer for the New York World under Walter Lippmann.
In 1928 H.L. Mencken, Cain's mentor and friend, whom he met while working for the Baltimore American, published Cains story ‘Pastorale’ in the American Mercury. Mencken called Cain "the most competent writer the country ever produced". Following the end of the New York World, where Cain wrote acclaimed editorials, he joined the New Yorker staff in 1931. However, he found the environment uncongenial and moved to Hollywood after Paramount Studios offered him $400 a week, compared to the $200 he made at the New Yorker. It was from this point that Cain wrote his famous crime novels, three which were adapted into blockbuster films. Cain continued writing up to his death. However, the many novels he published from the late 1940s onward never rivalled his earlier successes. He died an alcoholic, aged 85.
Cain was referred to by most as one of the crucial founders and developers of hard-boiled crime fiction, a tough, unsentimental style of American crime writing that brought a new tone of earthy realism or naturalism to the field of detective fiction. Hard-boiled fiction uses graphic sex and violence, vivid but often sordid urban backgrounds, and fast-paced, slangy dialogue.
Three pillars of the early hardboiled scene are often seen in Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler. Where Hammet is said to have originated the consummate hardboiled detective of the hardboiled novel, Chandler is said to have refined him. James M. Cain’s seminal contribution is thought by many to have helped distinguish the genre’s literary merit; his contribution is so earthy, he is sometimes called “the twenty-minute egg of the hardboiled school.”
With the wars and great depression a mere fading memory to today’s society, many are questioning why the works of so many authors from this period and genre remain listed among the classics. Through the study of these three writers, pillars of the Hardboiled Crime fiction, it is possible to begin to understand the intrinsic strengths of this genre, strengths which are now sometimes found buried beneath layers of cliché.
A critic wrote “Cain and other hard-boiled writers, wrote not only about but mainly to the masses, giving violent impetus to their forbidden dreams, dramatizing their darkest temptations and their basic physical drives.” In other words, Cain was one of the first to do what none before had dared, he risked to write about the dirty, promiscuous, twisted fantasies readers craved to experience from the safety of their own lounge rooms. People had experienced the war and depression, and had no desire to ever live through it again, they wanted thrills that they didn’t have to undergo firsthand...