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Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir Paperback – August 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; [1st Limelight ed.] edition (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879102888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879102883
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on December 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
I liked this book, although it seemed that half the time I disagreed with Hirsch on the film he was discussing. For example, he found a lot more to like the the Lumet-Fonda "The Morning After" than I did. Curiously enough, even when Hirsch criticized a film I liked, I didn't find him annoying.
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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sheckie Green on February 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
With roots reaching deep into film history, the stylistic conventions of film noir have been present throughout the history of cinema. Moreover, the hardboiled tales that lent themselves to noir's stylistics that reached their heyday in the 1940s have never fully disappeared from the silver screen. In Detours and Lost Highways, Foster Hirsch examines classic noir films and their influence on later films. Primarily focusing on original works and their later remakes, Hirsch places the films into cultural and historical perspective, noting the necessity for change in the films according to their era and how they work (or, more often, don't).
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)
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Format: Paperback
Foster Hirsch wrote one of the first American books about classic film noir, "The Dark Side of the Screen", in 1981. In "Detours and Lost Highways" (1999), he takes us on a tour of neo-noir from its sporadic appearances in the 1960s and 1970s to its emergence as a "mainstay of commercial narrative filmmaking" in the 1980s and 1990s. Hirsh asserts that film noir has "a claim to genre status" at this point, in particular because of the style's persistence, and we tour of 4 decades of neo-noir, with an eye out for themes and style in common with the classic period as well as those characteristics that distinguish neo-noir films from their classic predecessors. Hirsh sometimes labels films with distinctly contemporary approaches as "nouveau noir", in contrast to the parody, pastiche, and retro themes so common to neo-noir, which I found interesting and accurate.

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.
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