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The Philosophy of Film Noir (The Philosophy of Popular Culture) Paperback – August 17, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: The Philosophy of Popular Culture
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (August 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813191815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813191812
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,008,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Nietzsche declared "God is dead," little did he know he was helping to launch a new cinematic genre characterized by shady characters and seamy plotlines involving fallen women, murder and betrayal. But noir is inevitably more than just stylish filmmaking or the marriage between American hard-boiled fiction and German expressionism, according to the philosophers, film historians and English professors who contributed to this book: film noir "challenged widespread assumptions about material and moral progress" and represents a "systematic deconstruction of the American Dream." Examining classic noir films and books by writers such as Albert Camus, Dashiell Hammett and James Cain, contributors discuss essence of film noir as reflecting a sense of disenchantment, "inversion of traditional values" and the "spiritual defeat of modernity." In her essay on The Maltese Falcon, Deborah Knight draws the distinction between the emotionally conflicted detective Sam Spade and his more detached predecessor, Sherlock Holmes. Philosophy professor Steven Sanders sifts through existentialist texts and classic noir films to find the meaning of life, while several contributors weigh in on themes of morality and Pulp Fiction gets a deep scholarly massage from Conard. Dense and intriguing, the book suggests noir is best perceived as a slightly warped mirror held up to contemporary society.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A satisfying book, as each of the authors brings a unique perspective to the discussion and they are able to isolate, identify, and explain some of the more subtle aspects of a genre which, on the surface, seems all about gangsters and pretty girls who done somebody wrong." -- Blogcritics

"Explores the philosophical underpinnings of movies from the classical noir period and... suggests that films aren't noir merely because they share a consistent tone, or certain visual conventions, with the likes of The Maltese Falcon, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Double Indemnity." -- Boston Globe

"The essays work both as solid primers into philosophy, stretching from Aristotle to Schopenhauer, and as lucid excursions into the genre's dark, mean streets.... A fascinating, readable, and provocative book.... Highly recommended." -- Choice

"An intellectually seductive, hard-boiled romp through a world of moral murkiness, femme fatales, and desperately lonely protagonist." -- Eric Bronson, editor of Baseball and Philosophy

"The collection aims to achieve two goals: to introduce genuine philosophical problems and film noir characteristics, while providing sufficiently in-depth discussion that those familiar with either philosophical methods or film noir will not find the material too elementary. Although facing a difficult task, Conard has put together a collection that succeeds in both respects." -- Intertexts

"Dense and intriguing, the book suggests noir is best perceived as a slightly warped mirror held up to contemporary society." -- Publishers Weekly

"An excellent book, giving readers a very good sense of the rich philosophical resources in film noir." -- Thomas Hibbs, author of Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from t

"This collection of essays, delving into the films and elucidating their philosophical depths, is challenging and engaging. Read it and prepare to be provoked." -- Les Reid, Philosophy Now

More About the Author

Mark T. Conard is Chair of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. He's the co-editor of The Simpsons and Philosophy, and Woody Allen and Philosophy, both published by Open Court Press, and is editor of The Philosophy of Film Noir, The Philosophy of Neo-Noir, The Philosophy of Martin Scorsese, The Philosophy of The Coen Brothers, and The Philosophy of Spike Lee, all published by The University Press of Kentucky. His latest thrillers, Dark as Night and Killer's Coda, were published by the Rogue Reader in March 2013.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on January 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I love film noir, so I was thrilled to find this book on my doorstep for review. The Philosophy of Film Noir, is part of the "Philosophy of Popular Culture" series from the University Press of Kentucky. Edited by Mark T. Conard, it is a collection of essays from noted scholars representing a wide range of viewpoints on the art form known as film noir.

The book discusses both the "classical" period of film noir, using movies such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Maltese Falcon to illuminate the ideology behind the dark and seedy road that is pure noir. More recent incarnations of noir, the neo-noir, are also dismantled for assimilation. An entire chapter is dedicated to the neo-noir masterpiece, Pulp Fiction.

Of special interest for fans of film noir is the section entitled, From Sherlock Holmes to The Hard Boiled Detective by Jerold J. Abrams, in which he compares the detective model created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and re-envisioned by Raymond Chandler.

While The Philosophy of Film Noir may seem dry and challenging at times, it does give readers a glimpse beyond the celluloid to the dark soul and meaning behind these popular films.

Armchair Interviews says: A book for lovers of film, especially film noir.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. R. Knuffke on January 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
. . .you like film noir and also philosophy, this is the book for you. Well reasoned, interesting, and recommended. Highly recommended!
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