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Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, Third Edition Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0879514792 ISBN-10: 0879514795 Edition: 3 Rev Exp

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 479 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP; 3 Rev Exp edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879514795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879514792
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S, R.D., is a freelance writer and nutrition consultant in the Boston area. She is the author or co-author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids; Pregnancy Nutrition: Good Health for You and Your Baby, and the forthcoming The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. Ward writes for several publications, including Prevention, Men’s Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, American Baby, Boston Globe, Parents, and Parenting.

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Customer Reviews

So "Film Noir" is a reference of "pure noir" of the classic period.
mirasreviews
I don't regard anything buy Hitchcock as noir, but Notorious and Shadow of a Doubt are included.
tierny
This book is a reference book and not the type of book you just sit down and read for fun.
John Hedgecock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Tribe on May 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The casual film fan will be overwhelmed with this...academic jargon, much discussion of film theory, sensory overload of details. But, the obsessive film fan, who is a student (professional or amateur) of this genre will revel in the scope of what has become one of the standard texts on the genre (assuming there is any standard....whatever). A basically complete rundown on the Hollywood output of noir in the 30s through the early 60s...with all the detail on the films that it never occurred to you to ask in the first place.
It also has rather thourough essays on themes, threads, influences, settings...more than enough to explore other sources of noir citicism. It can be dry, it is sorely lacking in coverage of film noir outside the USA, the selection of neo-noir can be quibbled with (perhaps because the post-noir style still isn't settled..."Mullholland Drive", "Novocaine", and "Memento" are examples of how the genre is still evolving).
But all in all, an essential volume for the noir aficionado.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This 3rd edition of "Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style" provides descriptions and analysis for nearly 300 film noirs that were produced from 1927 to 1976, concentrating on the classic period, 1940-1958. The authors are strict in defining film noir as a movement and a style -not a genre- molded specifically by the social, economic, technical, and aesthetic circumstances in post-WWII America, and therefore confined to that era. They exclude genre and foreign films produced in the post-war era that other critics might include. So "Film Noir" is a reference of "pure noir" of the classic period. It may be just as well that it doesn't explore impure noir in much depth, as this book is quite large as it is.

The authors introduce the book by defining the uniquely American classic noir style and discussing some of its common characteristics. The Encyclopedia, itself, is 314 pages long and organized alphabetically by film title. The entry for each of the nearly 300 classic noir films included provides, wherever applicable: the film's title (including working and alternate titles), it's year of release, director, producer, screenwriter(s), director of photography, music director, persons responsible for special effects, sound, score, set decoration, costumes, make-up, the production designer and/or art director, assistant director, and editor. This is followed by a cast list -divided into main and "bit" cast, the date filming was completed, the date the film was released, running time, a plot summary, and a critical analysis by one of the book's 18 contributors. The plot and analysis do often contain spoilers, including endings and surprise twists, which is probably necessary to provide analysis and to define the film as "noir".
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By D. Hartley on March 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For the Noir Geek, this is THE Sacred Book. Over 300 titles from the genre's "classic" postwar period are given the synopsis/analysis treatment. Reviews can be a bit "scholarly" (depending on the particular contributing writer) but overall very enlightening for fans who want to "go deep". As a collector who obsessively videotapes and archives obscure noir, I have reached for this book again and again and found it to be a valuable reference tool. One warning to those who wish to use it like a standard "movie guide"- the synopsis capsules are clinically outlined to the point of effectively becoming "spoilers", so you may want to see the film first, then read about it. Some reviewers have taken umbrage with the book's U.S.-centric focus. To them I would point out that while this volume excludes European-PRODUCED cinema, if one takes a closer look, a number of the films included were DIRECTED by people like Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Roman Polanski, all in fact native Europeans, so referring to them as "American" noirs may be a matter of semantics. Highly recommended for genre fans.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By S. McCallister on September 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Have others noted, this is both a great reference and a good way to discover these films -- a real gem. One of the reviewers here mentioned that the reviews are so clinical in laying out the plot as to constitute spoilers. I agree, but I would also point out that the reviews are very structured, making it easy to avoid "spoilers."

The first paragraph of each review is the complete plot summary, usually right to the last scene of the film. After the plot summary paragraph, the second and all subsequent paragraphs discuss the non-plot elements of the film, such as the production history, cinematography, etc. Thus you can read a sentence or two of the first paragraph to get the flavor of the story and skip to the second paragraph to learn more about the film without spoiling the typical noir twists and revealing the ending.

The structure of the reviews is so consistent that it has to be by design, and is just one more little touch that makes this an enjoyable, as well as authoritative, read.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This encyclopedia is a valuable addition to any Film Noir library. It contains production credits, plot summmaries, and brief analyses of hundreds of films noirs, as well as excellent appendices which include summaries of the Film Noir genre and a chronology. The analyses are in general quite good, if brief, with those by Robert Porfirio the most perceptive and well written. I question the book's stance that period films should be excluded based on the concept that "the action of film noir must be grounded in a contemporary setting." This not only eliminates many worthy films noirs, like Robert Siodmak's The Suspect (1945) from the book, but neglects those like The Suspect whose roots are clearly based in French Naturalism, itself a literary antecedent of Film Noir. However, the book's overall value supercedes their omission.
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