9780879517229 / 0879517220

The Noir Style


Publisher:Overlook Hardcover



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About the book:

Standard histories of film noir commence the coining of the term (which means "black film") by French writers in the years after the war when they saw a new mingling of grit, wit, and swooning Thanatos in movies like The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity. Alain Silver's and James Ursini's nearly libidinous collection of "duo-tone" (i.e., black and white) movie stills reaches far afield, finding noir's style radiating from the Brucke painters in the 1920s, Edward Hopper's wee-small-hours townscapes of the 1940s, and Weegee's bloody, beautiful photos. In page after oversized page, the authors park perceptive readings beside images of classic rainy streets (Underworld, USA, The Money Trap), doomy women in lipstick (Laura, Gilda), disturbed interiors (Sunset Boulevard), and wrenching ironies (DOA). The commentary reveals how light, frame, composition, body language, and a few other irreducibles charge individual scenes and contribute to the look of noir as a whole, beginning with gangster and horror films in the 1930s and closing with Silence of the Lambs in 1992. The texts lapse occasionally into heavy breathing about Meaning, but the authors invite us to get what we want from this most stylish of American movie genres by just flipping the pages. With hardly a cliché image in the bunch, we can eagerly fall afresh into Jane Russell's outstretched arms (in Macao), zoom down the black sidewalk stretching behind a dying John Garfield (in He Ran All the Way), and contemplate once more the tissue of lies between Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon. --Lyall Bush

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