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.
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.