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Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir Paperback – August 1, 2004
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The book begins very well, with a discussion of "Odds Against Tomorrow," a film noir that came out after "Touch of Evil," the last "official" noir. This leads Hirsch, after a discussion of noir in French cinema, into looking at neo-noir. Hirsch organizes his material by subgenre or archetype, such as private eye films.
My serious problem with the book was that it covers so much, from 1959 to the late 90s. That is much longer than the original noir era (1941-59). Thus it seems odd to have films like "Shock Corridor" and "The Long Goodbye" discussed with "Reservoir Dogs" and "Basic Instinct," as if they were part of the same era. I think Spicer in his new book on film noir treats neo-noir better by splitting it in two (Sixties and Seventies vs. Eighties and Nineties).
However, Hirsch discusses a large number of films in detail and it is always interesting to see what he has to say, even when you disagree.
Hirsch's book is right up my alley. I'm a big fan of noir and am always curious about how films change going from their original concepts to the screen and to their subsequent remakes and/or influences. Detours and Lost Highways is an exhaustive work whose only fault may lie in its curious omission of key noirs and neo-noirs such as WHITE SANDS, PALMETTO, and DETOUR (and its remake). Likewise, while Hirsch provides a terrific history of noir in pre- and post-war France, he unfortunately misses out on discussing the great noirs of Japan. These points notwithstanding, Detours and Lost Highways is necessary reading for noir fans and students of film history. (ISBN: 0879102888)
By way of introduction, Foster Hirsch explains where he's coming from and where he intends to take us before embarking on the tour of neo-noir. Chapters 2-4 explore neo remakes of classic noir films, the French influence on early noir and noir's influence on French auteurs, and neo films based on the hardboiled crime novelists of the 1930s and 1940s, with particular attention to Jim Thompson's books. Chapters 5-9 organize the discussion of neo-noir films by motif: detective films, femmes fatales, dramas of misfortune, hard-core criminals, and Black noir, from blaxploitation to the "cautionary fables" more common today. Chapter 10 comments on hybrid noirs: horror-noir, science fiction-noir, and comedy-noir. There is a bibliography, filmography, and index in the back of the book. Note that the filmography includes all films to which Hirsch alluded, not just noir films.Read more ›