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Film Noir Reader Paperback – August 1, 2004
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FILM NOIR READER (1)
"Film Noir Reader" is a collection of 22 essays about film noir, written between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s by a diverse group of film theorists, including a few essays by the editors themselves, Alain Silver and James Ursini. Some of the essays are illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Mr. Silver takes the opportunity of the book's Introduction to deliver a scathing rebuttal of French critic Marc Vernet's views before commenting on the book's content.
"Film Noir Reader" has three parts: Part I is "Seminal Essays", which include 8 essays written 1955-1979. An excerpt from Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton's seminal 1955 book "A Panorama of American Film Noir" is included, as well as Paul Schrader's essential 1972 essay "Notes on Film Noir". Other essays discuss film noir's visual style, existential motifs, and there is a very interesting essay by Paul Kerr on the circumstances that caused B movies, including B-noirs, to flourish in the 1940s. Part II, "Case Studies", includes 8 essays about specific films and directors, all but one addressing films of the classic noir period. Essays are dedicated to directors John Farrow and Anthony Mann, while others discuss the films "Phantom Lady", "Angel Face", "The Killers", "Night and the City", "Kiss Me Deadly", "Hickey and Boggs", and "The Long Goodbye". Part III, "Noir Then and Now", includes 6 articles that seemed not to fit into Part I or Part II, including a few about neo-noir films. Karen Hollinger discusses the effects of first-person male voiceovers on the images of female characters in classic film noir.Read more ›
The rest of the essays/arcticles are mostly very interesting. There is one on John Farrow, who is usually overlooked, so it is good to see his films grouped together and examined. The essay on Anthony Mann's noirs is quite strong, and Ursini's article on noir TV, shows such as "Peter Gunn" and "The Fugitive" is very interesting and makes one wish that there were more written on this part of TV history.
I think this would be an essential part of any noir fan's library.
Here is how Todd Erikson describes the jelling of the genre.
"What made the noir films of the forties such as Double indemnity, The Killers, and Out of the Past so revolutionary in their day was that they distorted the viewer's psychological reference points by establishing a new set of generic codes. This new set of generic codes incorporated iconography from the detective and gangster genres, the distinctive narrative voice (or attitude) of the hard-boiled writers, and the first-person sensibility of the expressionistic subjective camera, through which the underworld could be experienced vicariously by the viewer."
Now, that's writing that both informed and informative. The prose is not for the casual viewer. It's not for tabloid fans. It's a little challenging. You have to think twice about "generic codes" and "iconography" and "expressionistic," but it condenses a good deal of data in a relatively small space.
I'm hardly an expert on the subject of film noir and I admit to not having read this book from cover to cover, page by page, all 327 of them, seriatim. But it's not that kind of a book anyway. It's more like an encyclopedia than a novel. You don't gobble it all down, you have to dabble in it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this product, I use it all the time and it works beautifully. Prompt service and I will order again. Thank youPublished 19 months ago by Leslie Anne Harnell
I needed this book for class. It was very helpful while I was in the film noir class. Has a lot of stories and examples of course material that will be covered in a Noir Film... Read morePublished 21 months ago by AmazonAuthor - @SHJ52111
This first of a series by Alain Silver and James Ursini brings together a diverse and informative collection of essays going back to early film noir scholarship. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Eric O. Allstrom
This is a book that has multiple articles about Film Noir. While a couple of the articles give a nice technical critique about Noir some of them are just exhausting. Read morePublished on October 6, 2013 by Rey
How to take a facinating subject and make it seem deadly dull. I suggest that you movies online, get 'em and watch 'em. Read morePublished on March 20, 2006 by BetsyM