Serendipity and Research
Michael Walker's essay on film noir in The Book of Film Noir (ed. Ian Cameron) mentions John Cawelti's book, Adventure, mystery, and romance, in the first paragraph of the section on Dashiell Hammett (9). Thinking it might be a good source for thinking about Holly's attempt to be a "hard boiled detective," I looked him up in the Library catalog. This is what I found.
Cawelti John G
1 Adventure, mystery, and romance : formula stories 808.3 C383a
2 Focus on Bonnie and Clyde, 791.437 B718c
3 The six-gun mystique 791.435 C383s
4 The six-gun mystique, 791.435 C383s 1971
What other work by Cawelti relates to The Third Man's construction of Holly Martin's character? You may not know about Irving Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, which depicted two Depression era bank robbers in a sympathetic light, much like Reed's and Greene's Harry Lime, but certainly Holly's occupation as a writer of pulp Western novels might become the topic of a very good paper that applied some of Cawelti's analysis of the "Western" in American novels and film in The Six-Gun Mystique. For instance, you could look for ways in which Greene and Reed may have been intentionally drawing upon the plot conventions of "Westerns," or even the traditional film techniques used for creating them. (E.g., "white hats" = "good guys" and "black hats" = "bad guys"--look at Calloway's costume when Holly first meets him, and Harry's when Holly first sees him)
This is another instance of "mining veins of information," to use the metaphor I introduced in an earlier assignment. If Cawelti's work has been useful in one genre analysis, perhaps he's thinking along the same lines as I am and might have written something else useful to me. What other ways can you think of to pursue this "vein" of information?
For another instance of a research opportunity produced by a previous scholar's categorization of films, click here.