on April 4, 2009
I have long been a fan of Keaney's American version of this book, simply titled Film Noir Guide. Although many titles in that book are arguably "film noir," I appreciate its completeness, transcending a rigid definition of noir to include noir Westerns (such as Anthony Mann's 1950s dark westerns), horror films (the Val Lewton films mainly), espionage films, and more. Here he takes the same all-encompassing approach to an exploration of British noirs, and it's a commedable effort. Any film that could potentially fall under the noir blanket is here, from very British murder mysteries, to David Lean's two dark Dickens adaptations, to noir horror and science fiction (Dead of Night, Night of the Demon, 1984, etc.), to films that stick very close to what most of us understand as "noir" (femmes fatales, saps tripped up by fate, stark black & white photography, the criminal underworld, etc.), to the true classics of British noir (The Third Man, Brighton Rock, Odd Man Out, They Made Me a Fugitive, It Always Rains on Sunday, etc.) Understandably, Keaney hasn't seen every British noir - some are hopelessly rare and have never been possible to locate even as bootleg videos - but he includes the un-reviewed titles here for completeness. As to the films that do get a full synopsis and review here (at least 95% of them), Keaney has done an amazing amount of research and the reviews (and Preface) are well-written. The book includes over 350 films and I want to see them all (even the ones that get bad reviews)! As to the physical characteristics of the book, it's very user-friendly and well-designed, with a solid hardcover binding that will last, ample film stills, numerous cross-reference options (by rating, year, director, cinematographer), and all of the background info you really need (length, year, cast & crew). I can't see how anyone could do it better. I don't know if Keaney plans on doing so, but I would love to see him take a crack at a guide to international film noir, encompassing Japanese, Continental European (so many great French ones), Eastern European, and even Hong Kong and Bollywood takes on the genre (he does include a few of the most notable ones such as Ossessione and Stray Dog in the larger book). In any case, the British guide is an excellent resource all around and should be in the library of any serious fan of film noir, "dark" films that are in the general realm of film noir, and/or British film in general.
on May 3, 2015
Terrific little paperback because of Michael Keaney's acute plot outlines , dialogue quotes from all of the films and a terrific set of noir stills. Luckily, I have seen most of the major films and the paperback has an excellent Chronology, Films listed by director, Cinematographer and Bibliography. I miss the annotations in Keaney's FILM NOIR GUIDE but this is the perfect volume to supplement and complement his AMERICAN FILM NOIR GUIDE---1940-1959. Keaney also gives us three appendices--one, chronological (1937-1964), another by ratings (5 stars to 0 stars--for the hardened noir fans only) and one appendix of films by cinematographer and another guide by director. A very, very helpful book on
BRITISH FILM NOIR.
Dr, Ronald Schwartz, Prof. Emeritus, Columbia, New School, CUNY