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The Film Noir Encyclopedia Hardcover – May 13, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; 4th edition (May 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590201442
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590201442
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Film Noir: The Encyclopedia

"It's what you always want in a film reference book, but rarely find: comprehensive, intelligently organized, voluminously illustrated, and possessed of its own distinctive voice." -Lawrence Kasdan, writer of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Big Chill

"A top-flight piece of work." -Walter Hill, director of 48 Hours

"An extraordinarily well done book about a neglected subject ... This is likely to become the book on film noir." -Robert Benton, writer of Bonnie and Clyde

"This is certainly an important book to have on your shelf." -- Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy Blog

"Thank heaven for the ecumenical definition of film noir used by the editors the fourth and fattest edition of The Film Noir Encyclopedia. The compendium is venerable-30 years and counting-but the overall acuity of the opinions expressed are still very much alive." -- Directors Guild of America Quarterly

"These four [editors Silver, Ward, Porfirio, and Ursini] have cornered the market on shadows and fog. And they're undoubtedly the most informed film noir historians working today. Film Noir: The Encyclopedia fills you in on what came before and after, be it back in noir's heyday or in its more recent neo-noir incarnations. And the book does so with wily eye for detail." -- Sun Post Weekly

"[T]he publication of an updated Film Noir: The Encyclopedia...is a rewarding reminder of the nitty-gritty reality of that film style's golden day" -- The Morning News

"One of the first and best books in English about film noir was 1979's Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style from The Overlook Press...Now, 31 years later comes a substantially rewritten version of the book...Both the individual entries and the thematic essays in the new Film Noir: The Encyclopedia are engrossing reading for those interested in the world of noir" -- Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant

"For those of you who are newly interested in film noir, Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward's Encyclopedia is a superb starting place...The new volume is not just a cleaned-up reprinting - the Encyclopedia has been overhauled and improved in almost every fashion" -- Where Danger Lives Blog

"The authors' opening essay lays out the history and parameters of noir in a succinct but undogmatic way, offering an intro for the new viewer as well as food for thought for the hardboiled fan--It's a fascinating ride, full of shadowy dames and fedora-topped detectives...This new edition of the definitive text on film noir is a perfect companion for a foray into the dreamlike world of some of the most dark and mesmerizing movies ever made" -- PopMatters.com

"The parameters of film noir, as well as our knowledge of this most sinister movie genre, are greatly expanded with the recent release of Film Noir: The Encyclopedia a revised and redesigned fourth edition of the classic pioneering text that movie lovers consider the final word on the cinematic world of fog and shadows...Film Noir: The Encyclopedia is an essential reference work for students of film and for movie fans who love plying cinema's mean streets. It is indeed a beacon of light in an artful landscape of darkness." -- Projections Blog

"This issue has been revised, updated and redesigned, and will provide lovers of the genre with even more ammunition in the ongoing debate over the cinematic world filled with shadowy characters and femme fatales...The book is a concise compendium of films noir, actors and directors and filmmakers who helped create this unique and beloved genre...This wonderfully exhaustive text tallying more than three hundred thousand words with hundreds of film stills and photos new to the work distills everything about the genre into one volume from movies to stars to themes and motifs, and brings us up to date with contemporary contributions to the genre. This is the final word on a dark subject." -- Film Monthly Magazine

About the Author

Together Robert Porfirio, Alain Silver, Elizabeth Ward and James Ursini have written, edited, or contributed to more than a dozen books about film noir, from its key films to its literary and visual modus operandi, including "The Noir Style", "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles", "L.A. Noir: the City as Character", "Femme Fatale", and four volumes of the "Film Noir Reader" series. They have also provided audio and video commentary on all four DVD collections from Warner Bros., a dozen titles in the Fox noir series, and other releases including "Double Indemnity" and "Laura". --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Sidney on May 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my copy of the FNE 4th Edition last week. I was anxious to see what had been changed since the 1993 publication of the 3rd edition. They do seem to have addressed the plot synopses errors from previous edtions.

When I study the FNE 4th titles, they have now included some sci-fi titles - not sure how noir they really are: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951), INVADERS FROM MARS (1953), THEM! (1954) + INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) which was listed by Keaney (Film Noir Guide, 2003) & Selby (Dark City: The Film Noir, 2004). They have also added a number of westerns which had previously only been listed by Keaney: THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943), JOHNNY GUITAR (19540, RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952), BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) [also listed by Selby], DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) [also listed by Selby], NAKED SPUR (1954) [also listed by Duncan] (Film Noir: Films of Trust & Betrayal, 2003), RAMROD (1947) [also listed by Duncan]. Westerns not previously listed by the referenced sources are: DUEL IN THE SUN (1946) & I SHOT JESSE JAMES 1949). They also added the Ida Lupino directed film THE BIGAMIST (1953) to their list.

I don't have any real problem with these new titles, but I was very surprised at some that they dropped, such as MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944), THE TATTOOED STRANGER (1950), BLACK TUESDAY (1954) & THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962). Well - maybe I do have a problem - don't understand dropping a film like MINISTRY OF FEAR and then adding some very marginal titles instead.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Silla on June 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was exhilarated to discover that The Film Noir Encyclopedia had been revised and updated because this classic work is among the best reference books in the field of noir. Its offerings were plenty including a new section called "neo-noir." I eagerly cracked open the book seeking scintillating essays upon my favorite films written by those far more knowledgeable than myself. Instead, I found several factually incorrect essays marred by sloppy writing.

It is evident that the proofreaders and editors of this book were asleep at the wheel by failing to catch the multitude of factual errors contained in the essays. A far superior reference to film noir is The Film Noir Guide by Michael F. Keaney. Keaney's articles are smartly written and include a rating for each film. The Film Noir Encyclopedia's editors are undeniably the experts in the field thus my expectations were high but were quickly dashed by the bland essays written by lesser known talents who contributed essays to this book. Eddie Muller needs to write a reference book on this subject.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richie Primo on January 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't add much to Mark R. Silla's review, other than I agree wholeheartedly, specifically his pointing out the factual errors and overall disappointment with the writing in this book. I too, was very anxious to dive right in, hoping to find a fresh perspective on the films I've already seen, along with a helpful resource for pointing me toward the worthwhile obscure titles that I haven't. What I got was many vanilla, mistake-laden reviews, which obviously were hastily written and edited. Regardless, I've reluctantly given it a 3-star rating, mainly geared to readers who may be new to the world of Film Noir. For a fresh, highly entertaining take, I strongly suggest "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir" by Eddie Muller. It scoops you up and takes you through every dark shadow of Noir culture in such a unique way, you'll feel like you've lived through one of these films.

On the other hand, "The Film Noir Encyclopedia" ably serves its purpose as a reference point in regard to Director, Cast, etc., but if you're a hard-boiled Noir fan, you'll be hard pressed to find anything new here. That is, unless you don't mind inaccurate descriptions and "unintentional" alternate endings. I do say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but I WILL point out a glaring example. While perusing the essay of one of the finest and well-known of all Films Noir - "The Asphalt Jungle" - I was astonished to find an entirely incorrect ending. I'm not sure if this is a product of indifference or lack of knowledge, but it's entirely inexcusable and unprofessional. Here's the authors' description of the epilogue - verbatim...

"Dix gallantly persuades Doc to accept some of the money before insisting they separate into the nearby Kentucky farmland. But it is futile.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
'Film Noir' is a French phrase used to describe a particular genre of movies -- dark explorations of the human condition, a cinematic world largely populated by hard-boiled detectives, ruthless gangsters, and deadly but beautiful women. Knowledgeably compiled and expertly edited by the team of Alain Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini, and Robert Porfirio, "Film Noir: The Encyclopedia" is a comprehensive, nicely illustrated, 464-page compilation that organizes the film into 'The Classic Period' and the 'Neo-Noir' productions. In addition to listing the films in each section alphabetically, "Film Noir" includes numerous sidebars, an extensive bibliography, and a comprehensive index. With its thoroughly 'user friendly' format and all inclusive content, "Film Noir" is strongly recommended for personal, professional, academic, and community library Theatre/Cinema reference collections.
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