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San Francisco Noir Paperback – March 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Little Bookroom (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892145308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892145307
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A smart, highly readable critical overview of some of the most interesting movies in the noir tradition." -- Richard Schickel

"As guidebook (it) is highly, refreshingly literary . . . (and) gets its job done gallantly." -- Jonathan Kiefer, San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 2005

"Nathaniel Rich has written a fascinating work of criticism disguised as a guided tour around a great city." -- Martin Scorsese

"[N]icely double-barreled: use it to unearth buried film noir treasures . . . [and] some of San Francisco's most intriguing mystery spots. " -- Eddie Muller, author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir

About the Author

Nathaniel Rich is the author of two novels: Odds Against Tomorrow and The Mayor's Tongue. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the New York Times MagazineHarper's, The Paris ReviewVanity FairVice, and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ty Seeley on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is far more valuable than any travel guide I've read -- and most movie guides, for that matter. We all read novels or see movies set in particular cities and then find our hopes dashed when we go visit them. For instance: ever read The Fortress of Solitude and then book a hotel room in Times Square? Doesn't match up.

Luckily, the author has collected all the bits and pieces of the film noir canon so that when you go to San Francisco you won't be running around confused. More than any other major American city, SF seems to have one dominant mood, one overarching spirit. These films embody that spirit, and by knowing them, you'll know the city. (Trust me, I grew up there.)

On top of this, the book is well-written and entertaining, even if you have no immediate travel plans. Highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chei Mi Lane on November 3, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very handy, but the author shows his disdain for movies he does not like, which causes him to miss the boat on a few. I feel obliged to say (beforehand) that his writing on the two movies I list has enlightened me on things I did not know, though I have studied these movies for years. I am not from SF, so I can only remark on what I have seen, and what I know.

The movie "Hammett" may have been shot (mostly) on sound stage, but it does make use of a few real buildings that are still in existence today. He criticizes the stars acting abilities, though the actor was chosen to play Hammett in two different films - a rarity.

In "Impact" there are a lot more bits of San Francisco that he fails to mention. There was Anna May Wong's running down the alley in Chinatown, views of the Ferry Building that were taken before the Embarcadero hid the view. Street corners and views of bridges abound.

All of that said, I look at the book a lot. I consider it more valuable to my collection than "Footsteps in the Fog." which is about Hitchcock's SF and N. Cal.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on September 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Rich works any number of variations on a theme, and at first what seemed like a liability (the designer's rigid graphic scheme followed by what feels like an exact word count for every entry, no matter if the film is a great one or a lousy one) and makes it into a virtue. He is a skillful and persuasive prose writer, and his knowledge of these films is profound. Ok, there may be incidental errors here and there, as the other reviewers have indicated, but when you're reading his book you don't feel it.

What's amazing is the strength of his central argument, that San Francisco is such a haunted place that right away it became one of the chief noir sites--early on, in 1940, during the so-called "gateway period," and even more astonishing, that despite the general death of noir when color took over general release in the late 1950s, noir has never really died in San Francisco, and the movies keep getting made on a regular basis. Noir experts may scoff at the idea of Schlesinger's PACIFIC HEIGHTS as a noir, but Rich shows us how it fits into the old "real estate noir" category of THE HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL. Or David Fincher's THE GAME, or that crazy Richard Gere-Kim Basinger thriller FINAL ANALYSIS. Who knew? Yet somehow Nathanial Rich, with his quiet, insistent exegesis, makes you believe.

I haven't seen all of the films listed here, nor even seen all the locations, though I plan to take this book on my fist and make a tour soon of the ones I've missed. There are buildings we go by here in San Francisco, like that huge Art Deco pink marble slab up by Buena Vista Terrace, and we tell each other they were in this or that movie, VERTIGO or DARK PASSAGE, and yet is this a way of reassuring each other, or unsettling each other? Can't find that building in this book by the way. Maybe it was just an "urban" legend. If ever I meet Nathaniel Rich, I'll tug at his sleeve till he's by my side on top of that hill and I'll point to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laura Ann Scaife on April 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent little guide not only to some great film noirs, but a very interesting guide to one of my favourite cities. San Francisco is one of the cleanest cities I have ever visited, but this book shows a grimy, gritty side that I'm sure exists somewhere out of sight of the tourist. If She does have a nasty side, I like to think it's hidden in the world of film noir. And yes, I've stood at the corner of Bush and Stockton and wondered why Sam Spade didn't go down to take a look at Miles Archers' body. And I've got the pictures to prove it! A very interesting little book that should interest both the film buff and the tourist. Give it a try.
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More About the Author

Nathaniel Rich is the author of two novels: ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW and THE MAYOR'S TONGUE. His essays and short fiction have appeared in: Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and The Paris Review. In 2005 he published a work of film criticism, SAN FRANCISCO NOIR: THE CITY IN FILM NOIR FROM 1940 TO THE PRESENT, which Martin Scorsese called "a fascinating work of criticism disguised as a guided tour around a great city." Rich lives in New Orleans.

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