Influences: James M. Cain

James Mallahan Cain (1892-1977) hated labeling, but he is known as one of the creators of the hard-boiled school of crime fiction.  He spent a good part of his early life as a journalist before turning to novels and screenplays.

Unlike other hard-boiled writers, Cain never set out to write grim, or tough novels.  As he said, “I merely try to write as the character would write…”.  Cain inhabited his main characters to a stronger degree than his contemporaries.  He populated his novels and stories with the ‘everyman’.  His characters find themselves in situations out of their control, but usually of their own creation.

Like many writers from the 1920’s-1940’s, Cain made extra money ‘punching up’ Hollywood scripts.  He did this for many years, and like most writers working in this field, he rarely received onscreen credit for his work.  He was paid well, though.

Must Reads:

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)

Double Indemnity (1935)

The Embezzler (Money and the Woman)(1938)

Mildred Pierce (1941)


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