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More than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts Paperback – October 16, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"Naremore's program is to insistently complicate the long-standing debate over the boundaries and characteristics of Hollywood's most infiltrative and self-conscious genre. His book works. . . . "More than Nights is structured like Kurosawa's Rashomon, as a series of views onto aspects of an impossible elusive story."--"Bookforum

From the Inside Flap

"One of the very best film books in recent years. . . . There are any number of books on noir, but none as comprehensive, as rigorous, as far-reaching as Naremore's. . . . It will be the essential work for the field."—Dana Polan, University of Southern California
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (October 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520212940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520212947
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,647,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
In his Introduction, author James Naremore proposes an alternative title for his book: "Seven Ways of Looking at Film Noir". That's an accurate description of this book's contents, as each chapter explores a different angle on film noir. But to leave it at that would be misleading. "More Than Night" is a scholarly analysis of "film noir" as an idea formed ex post facto that continues to resonate through contemporary media. In other words, it is less about a particular group of films than it is about a "discourse", to use Mr. Naremore's word. Some chapters do contain discussions of particular films, themes, and styles. Naremore takes the view that films that are considered noir do not really have traits in common, so cannot be categorized in terms of style or genre-style hybrid as most film theorists do. One consequence of this approach is that Naremore considers more films to be noir than most people would. Whether one agrees with the author's premise or not, the breadth of scholarship in "More Than Night" is impressive, and even longtime noir aficionados are likely to learn something.

Chapter 1 gives us an account of "The History of an Idea", starting with a history of the intellectual and cinematic climate in France from which the idea of film noir emerged in the mid-1940s. How the new crop of American crime films were interpreted by surrealist and existentialist schools of thought. This chapter continues through Paul Schrader's 1972 essay, "Notes on Film Noir". Notice that Naremore considers the "First Age of Film Noir" to be 1946-1959, as the idea was born in 1946, although many noir films were made before then.
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Format: Paperback
As James Naremore notes in the introductory chapters to this book, the term "noir" has become, for film crticism and academia in general, as amorphic, uncertain and dangerous a term as the films themselves; like Jane Greer in "Out of the Past," moving in and out of the shadows as she strolls into that Mexican barroom, noir seems to occupy several levels of meaning at once (as stylistic movement, historical marker, theoretical battleground and space of nostalgic recuperation), and every new piece of data and analysis added to the voluminous corpus of work that exists seems to simultaneously cast light and shadow onto its form. How wonderful, then, that we have a critic as graceful, piercing, and generous as James Naremore writing on the genre. One of the best American writers on film-- and certainly one of the best academics writing on any subject-- Naremore brings to noir the qualities anyone familiar with such previous works as The Films of Vincente Minnelli or The Magic World of Orson Welles will recognize-- intelligence, accessibility, thoroughness and an abiding love of the subject matter. He does a good job of sharing with the reader the insights and breakthroughs of psychoanalytic and feminist readings of the films, while offering his own (often different) readings and new historical connections (quick quiz to anyone who thinks they know everything about noir-- who is Boris Vian? And why does Naremore think he's the key figure in noir's history?), as well as updating and expanding the boundaries of the form to include such works as L.A. Confidential and John Woo's The Killer. And as always, he writes in a voice that wraps around the reader like a cloud of cigarette smoke, as stylish, rich and alluring as the films under discussion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The text with chapters by various authors writing in different styles can be a bit difficult to navigate, but the information is always detailed, interesting, and informative, with insights I have not found in other writings about film noir. Recommended for the serious student of the genre (that is or isn't a genre).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Naremore's book is a an excellent text describing the context and major themes of film noir, a distinctly American and original art form with strong European roots. His writing is engaging, his scholarship peerless, and the insights are fantastic! Highly recommended. This is the book to start off with. Don't look back baby, don't ever look back.
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Format: Paperback
Academic writing in my mind means poor to bad writing. James Naremore is a professor and a scholar, but also a prose specialist. He has a warm, approachable, transparent style, but one that is also dense with information and insight. If you write, you will recognize a writer who writes and rewrites and polishes his work to a high gloss, and one who is constantly thinking about his topic and how it relates to the wider constellation of related historical factors within which it is situated. Highly recommended for those who really want to learn something about this topic.
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