French and American Noir: Dark Crossings by Alistair Rolls

By Alistair Rolls

A longstanding false impression surrounding the time period French noir means that the post-war French mystery and picture noir have been a improvement of, or reaction to, a pre-existing American culture. This publication demanding situations this false impression, analyzing the complexity of this trans-Atlantic alternate and refocusing debate to incorporate a Franco-French lineage.

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By Alistair Rolls

A longstanding false impression surrounding the time period French noir means that the post-war French mystery and picture noir have been a improvement of, or reaction to, a pre-existing American culture. This publication demanding situations this false impression, analyzing the complexity of this trans-Atlantic alternate and refocusing debate to incorporate a Franco-French lineage.

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This is, again, a crucial element of film noir: ‘[O]blique and vertical lines are preferred to horizontal. Obliquity adheres to the choreography of the city . . No character can speak authoritatively from a space which is being continually cut into ribbons of light’ (Schrader 1996: 57). 38 French and American Noir In Colin’s case, the erosion of his authority and the fragmenting of his light constitute a chicken-and-egg conundrum; whichever the reader deems to have come first, it is certain that the novel takes on the architecture of noir space in order for mood to occlude the protagonist’s failure to take responsibility for his actions.

For, as Handley’s description shows, nylon stockings represent less American beauty than American dynamism, highlighting, by contrast, the antiquated ways of a France so recently liberated from Nazi occupation: Although the traditions of cloth-making were thousands of years old and the industrial revolution in Europe mechanized the textile industry beyond recognition, there was essentially something missing which gave European fabric innovation its stop-start character. Technology, in the textile context, was historically a dangerous and destabilizing beast and there was a certain wariness about breaking with tradition .

In this light, the nostalgia seen by Naremore at the core of noir becomes a way of dealing with an unpalatably real present by fetishizing the past, of looking between two untenable myths rather than confronting the truth. That is not to say that noir hides the truth from its readers; rather, it exposes the mythological underpinnings of modernity, revealing that truth itself does not so much lie behind as within the interaction of opposing narratives. Fetishistic Noir 21 Baudelaire’s fetishism, his poetic response to the trauma of the modern present, is the basis of the noir attitude of post-Liberation Paris.

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