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Femme Noir: Bad Girls of Film Library Binding – 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0786404292 ISBN-10: 0786404299

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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 643 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company (1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786404299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786404292
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Film historian Hannsberry pays welcome tribute to 49 female stars of film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. Each entry runs ten to 15 pages and provides, in addition to a fine glamour shot, an excellent film biography of each star, concentrating on her roles within this genre. The entries conclude with additional secondary references. Coverage ranges from major performers, such as Lauren Bacall and Ava Gardner, through the excellent Nina Foch and Gloria Grahame, to the almost-forgotten Audrey Totter and Helen Walker. This is an essential purchase for all film collections to complement Alain Silver's seminal Film Noir (Overlook, 1992. 3d ed.) and the British Film Institute's early Women in Film Noir (1980. rev. ed.).?Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Houston, TX
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The film noir, according to Hannsberry, is recognized by its somber mood and tone; cynical heroes and villains; and visual elements like looming shadows, foggy nights, and rain-swept streets. Most of these films were produced during the 1940s and 1950s. The "femmes" of film noir are the actresses featured in these movies, and this book recounts the personal and professional stories of 49 of them.

Each entry begins with a striking black-and-white studio portrait set off by a black border and captioned with the entrant's name in large print. An essay ranging in length from 7 to 15 pages follows, providing a biography and an account of film roles. One, and sometimes two, publicity stills often accompany the text. Entries are finished off with a "Film Noir Filmography," in which the director, producer, cast, month/year of release, and running time of each film are listed. The references that follow are usually citations of magazines and newspaper articles, and, in a few cases, books.

Who are the femmes of film noir? Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gene Tierney are among the quintessential types. Less familiar are Peggy Cummins, Hope Emerson, Coleen Gray, Ella Raines, and Helen Walker. A few actresses better known for other kinds of film roles--Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Lana Turner--are included because each appeared in at least a few noir films. A bibliography of several pages and an index by personal name and film titles completes a work suitable for reference and performing-arts collections in academic and large public libraries.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 1999
Format: Library Binding
This reader has mixed feelings about Karen Burroughs Hansberry's "Femme Noir." On one hand, the author resurrects undeservedly forgotten actresses such as Peggy Cummins, Sally Forrest, Dolores Hart, Virginia Huston, Dorothy Patrick, and the wonderful Marie Windsor. On the other hand, one is tempted to question the inclusion in a book sub-titled "Bad Girls of Film" the likes of goody-two-shoes Jeanne Crain and even the aforementioned Dorothy Hart. In her necessary selection, Miss Hansberry included actresses who, granted, appeared in film noir but but whose roles were not noir at all. Instead of Dorothy Hart, for example, who usually played the nice wife, one might have chosen Ann Savage, the femme fatale of the quintessential B-noir, Detour. With that said, "Femme Noir" obviously belongs on the shelf of most film buffs.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Library Binding
Almost all of the big (and not-so-big) "dames" who populated that extraordinary decade when film noir flourished make up this reference-volume of thumbnail sketches. The profiles tend to be rather assembly-line, though; after a colorful introductory paragraph, the first sentence of the next invariably reads, "Born February 7, 1919 in Goldfield, Nevada..." or some such. And whole careers are sketched, though emphasis is given to noir roles, including plot summaries and a selection of reviews; not to be morbid, but the details of their deaths -- too many of them painful and premature -- are welcome, reminding us that these vital woman, often underrated and badly used, continued to live after their careers had flickered out. Still, this big, thick, academic-looking book is welcome in immortalizing in print such black sapphires as Claire Trevor, Hope Emerson and (my favorite) Marie Windsor. (Others such as Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford are more satisfyingly covered in books of their own.) One could quibble with the inclusion of some actresses or, more seriously, the exclusion of others (where is the Mary Astor of The Maltese Falcon and, especially, Act of Violence?). The book's major disappointment, however, is the lack of a unifying theme, of a meditation on how these actresses came to portray the indelible femmes fatales, or even good gals, in film noir, and on what film noir tells us about the yin and yang of the sexes in postwar America. A solid (if pricey) reference work, it's just a little stolid.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 1999
Format: Library Binding
I loved this book! It was great to read about some of the stars that I've loved for years, like Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, and Joan Crawford, and still learn something new about their lives. Even more interesting was reading about actresses like Coleen Gray and Helen Walker, whose faces (but not names) I knew, and Peggie Castle and Dorothy Hart, whom I'd never heard of before. Also, reading the book made me want to see these movies. The author did a great job with providing facts in an entertaining, easy-to-read, engaging style. In addition to the entertaining text, the photos in the book were beautiful. Highly recommended!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leo Vincey on September 10, 2007
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
This book is a terrific, must-have for any film noir aficionado. Ms. Burroghs has a first class style of writing, and the uniformity of the biographies is pleasing. This is one to buy.
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