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The Book of Film Noir by Ian Cameron
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The Book of Film Noir

by Ian Cameron

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Film noir is a term coined by postwar French film critics to describe an area of Hollywood film-making that they particularly relished. Concentrated in the ten years following World War II and characterized above all by its atmosphere and its urban settings, film noir gave a broadly pessimistic treatment to melodrama and to crime movies. In a world that should have felt liberated by victory, failure - or the threat of it - haunted the petty criminal, the potential fall-guy, the tired gumshoe, and the two-bit femme fatale. Although the concept of film noir remains nebulousnobody, until the nostalgia boom of the 'seventies and 'eighties, actually set out to make one - it covers a distinguished collection of films that bring together an unrivaled assembly of talent: directors such as Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Robert Siodmak, and Billy Wilder, writers including William Faulkner, Daniel Mainwaring, and Raymond Chandler, stars like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, and Ava Gardner. This book, aimed at the informed filmgoer as well as the film student, looks at film noir in general, with articles on, for example, the political background, the importance of psychoanalysis, and the techniques of suppressive narrative. Detailed analyses are given of many of the most notable movies, among them The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, and Kiss Me, Deadly, as well as of the film noir revival of the 'seventies and 'eighties. The text, written by a group of film critics and teachers mainly associated with Movie magazine, is illustrated throughout with highly evocative stills and frame enlargements. Movie magazine, with which most of the contributors to this book are associated, was founded in 1962 by Ian Cameron, Mark Shivas, V. F. Perkins, and Paul Mayersberg. It quickly attracted attention both for the quality of its contents and for its insistence on the virtues of American film, which had been neglected by the critical establishment of the time. It also promoted what has since become known as auteur criticism, which acknowledged the preeminence of the director as creator of a film.… (more)

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