Signs you’re a character in a Classic Hollywood film noir

I’ve been binge-watching 1940s and 1950s Hollywood film noir with Howard, who just handed in a big end-of-term assignment that he doesn’t want to talk about. He was happy to have me join his celebratory binge-watch; he apologized in advance for the fact that he would be saying little and staring lots at the TV. He’s watched all of these before, and one of the few things he told me was that he’s dreamt sometimes of being a film noir detective. So then I thought, if you did wake up in a film noir, how would you know? Here are a bunch of signs you’re a character in a Classic Hollywood film noir:

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Kilter Street Profiles: Dora

Dora is intimidating without seeming to try. She steps into a room, and you get nervous, just a little. She doesn’t even have to say or do anything. She’s a private detective, so if you know this about her, that’s probably part of the reason you’re more on guard around her.

As I’ve gotten to know her a little better, I’ve found that she’s more easygoing than expected. She likes to laugh and enjoy good food and watch dumb shows to relax after a long day. Though she has a cynical streak and sometimes expresses a bleak outlook on people, she isn’t embittered.

She also doesn’t place much stock on convention or public opinion. Thoughts and feelings need to make sense to her on her own terms; she doesn’t accept them only because other people do.

Origins and Appearance

Dora is tall, big-hipped, and blonde. In her mid-thirties, or thereabouts. Her hair is thick and looks like it has the strength of Rapunzel’s. She’s’ got a strong bone structure and delicate, papery skin around her eyes. They’re a brilliant blue.

From what I’ve heard, she was born in Chicago.

Kilter Street Profiles: Anjelica Lopez

Anjelica Lopez, of Apt. 1a, is a CPA.

There are also rumors that she can open portals to other worlds. (I overheard a conversation between Zeb and Dora outside the mailroom, but it’s possible I misunderstood them. Maybe they meant it metaphorically – like, she opens doors to new financial worlds for her clients.)

Origins and Appearance

Anjelica, who appears to be in her late 20s or early 30s, was born in Salinas, CA.

She usually wears her long hair parted into two braids. It’s dark with some reddish tints.

She uses a wheelchair. Hanging from the back of the chair is a small key. It isn’t the key to her front door.

Kilter Street Profiles: Hugh Silver

Hugh Silver, of apartment 3b, is the “Neuro Guru.” Or at least he was, years ago.

Origins and Appearance

He’s middle-aged and has a pale, tired look to him, though he’s in good shape overall. He wears a mustard yellow sweatband on his head, and his salt-and-pepper hair sticks out over it. His eyes are blue-gray and watery; sometimes they are bloodshot.

Why is he nicknamed the “Neuro Guru?” Years ago, he had worked as a motivational speaker or a life coach, using the secrets of the brain to give people tips about happiness and success.

That isn’t his job anymore. I know that he works at least part time at the Museum of Mental Maladies as a tour guide.

His Character

He struggles with futility
His 8 good reasons for living

Kilter Street Profiles: Zeb

Zeb makes me think of a sea captain whose crew will keep serving her after they die.

She’s the landlady of Kilter Street Manor Apartments, but in many ways she makes the place feel less like an ordinary apartment house and more like a boat we’re all in together. Maybe we’re headed into the far reaches of space or the depths of the Earth. We’re a community, a crew, a family to her.

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A History of Kilter Street Manor



Kilter Street Manor is a Victorian mansion of the kind that Edgar Allan Poe would have loved. He would have buried people alive in there left and right.

The mansion initially belonged to a family of wealthy deviants. The last of the bunch was a psychiatrist who had kept an assortment of unwilling patients under his roof. When he was finally killed by a mob, the house was abandoned until World War II. Then it was used to store dummy tank parts and serve as a rest home for wounded carrier pigeons.

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Kilter Street Profiles: Esther Ariel

I have a talent for killing time.

For years, I murdered it. I didn’t believe I could do anything worthwhile, or I was afraid to do anything worthwhile, so I did very little. Stagnating and stricken, there’s so much I could have gone on not doing. I could have kept going through life with a million ideas screaming in me, in voices getting fainter and fainter.

Eventually the fear of doing nothing outweighed other fears and considerations, and so I moved to Kilter Street as a questing spirit.

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