Historical Dictionary of Film Noir (Historical Dictionaries by Andrew Spicer

By Andrew Spicer

Movie noir—literally "black cinema"—is the label often given to a gaggle of black and white American movies, typically crime thrillers, made among 1940 and 1959. this day there's massive dispute approximately what are the shared beneficial properties that classify a noir movie, and hence which motion pictures could be incorporated during this type. those difficulties are partially brought on simply because movie noir is a retrospective label that used to be now not utilized in the Nineteen Forties or Nineteen Fifties through the movie as a construction type and consequently its life and contours can't be proven via connection with alternate documents.

The Historical Dictionary of movie Noir is a finished consultant that levels from 1940 to offer day neo-noir. It comprises a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, a filmography, and over four hundred cross-referenced dictionary entries on each element of movie noir and neo-noir, together with key movies, group of workers (actors, cinematographers, composers, administrators, manufacturers, set designers, and writers), subject matters, matters, affects, visible kind, cycles of movies (e.g. amnesiac noirs), the illustration of the town and gender, other kinds (comics/graphic novels, tv, and videogames), and noir's presence in international cinema. it truly is an important reference paintings for all these drawn to this crucial cultural phenomenon.

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By Andrew Spicer

Movie noir—literally "black cinema"—is the label often given to a gaggle of black and white American movies, typically crime thrillers, made among 1940 and 1959. this day there's massive dispute approximately what are the shared beneficial properties that classify a noir movie, and hence which motion pictures could be incorporated during this type. those difficulties are partially brought on simply because movie noir is a retrospective label that used to be now not utilized in the Nineteen Forties or Nineteen Fifties through the movie as a construction type and consequently its life and contours can't be proven via connection with alternate documents.

The Historical Dictionary of movie Noir is a finished consultant that levels from 1940 to offer day neo-noir. It comprises a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, a filmography, and over four hundred cross-referenced dictionary entries on each element of movie noir and neo-noir, together with key movies, group of workers (actors, cinematographers, composers, administrators, manufacturers, set designers, and writers), subject matters, matters, affects, visible kind, cycles of movies (e.g. amnesiac noirs), the illustration of the town and gender, other kinds (comics/graphic novels, tv, and videogames), and noir's presence in international cinema. it truly is an important reference paintings for all these drawn to this crucial cultural phenomenon.

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Extra resources for Historical Dictionary of Film Noir (Historical Dictionaries Of Literature And The Arts)

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Shaft (1971) launched a cycle of “blaxploitation” films that also used the noir crime thriller to open up a space in which the black experience, suppressed in the overwhelmingly white orientation of classical noir, could find an expressive voice and explore the deep-seated racism in American society. The release of Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat in 1981 marked a new phase of neo-noir in which noir conventions were embraced rather than critiqued. Kasdan’s film, a loose remake of Double Indemnity, evoked the mood and atmosphere of classical noir through its use of chiaroscuro lighting, a jazz score, and the archetypal story of the victim-hero seduced by a femme fatale, who, unlike her predecessors, is successful.

Of almost equal importance, though less well-known, was the influence of poetic realism (Réalisme Poétique), a cycle of dark films that flourished in France during the 1930s. Poetic realism drew on an indigenous tradition of crime fiction, chiefly Georges Simenon, but also adapted from hard-boiled American crime writers: Pierre Chenal’s Le Dernier Tournant (The Last Turn, 1939) was the first version of Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. Poetic realism was indebted to expressionism, but the lighting was less extreme and more atmospheric, its depiction of an urban milieu more realistic and specific.

The release of Double Indemnity, Laura, and Murder, My Sweet in 1944 inaugurated the second phase of noir’s development, a major burst of energy and sustained production that stretched through to 1952. In contrast to the earlier phase in which most films noir were second features, the majority were now intermediate productions that fell somewhere between first and second features. They commanded reasonable budgets but had far less market hype on their launch than a full “A” production. Visually, this period may be divided between a studio-bound “expressionist” period, 1944–1947, which focused on individual pathologies, and a “location” period, 1947–1952, dominated by semidocumentaries and social-problem films.

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