The Baroque Night
Spencer Golub Northwestern University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN1995.9.F54G65 2018 | Dewey Decimal 791.43655
In The Baroque Night, authorial idiosyncrasy hybridizes the concepts of "baroque" and "noir" across the fields of film, theater, literature, and philosophy, arguing for mental function as form, as an impossible object, a container in which the container itself is the thing contained. The book is an experiment in thinking difference and thinking differently, an ethics of otherness and the abstract. Spencer Golub inverts the unreality of the real and the reality of fiction, exposing the tropes of memory, identity, and authenticity as a scenic route through life that ultimately blocks the view.
The Baroque Night draws upon materials that have not previously been included in studies of either the baroque or film noir, while offering new perspectives on other, more familiar sources. Leibniz's concepts of the monad and compossibility provide organizing thought models, and death, fear, and mental illness cast their anamorphic images across surfaces that are deeper and closer than they at first appear. Key characters and situations in the book derive from the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Henri-Georges Clozot, Jean-Pierre Melville, Oscar Wilde, Georges Perec, Patricia Highsmith, William Shakespeare, Jean Racine, Pierre Corneille, and Arthur Conan Doyle, among many others.
This is virtuality and reality for the phobic, making it a fascinating and viable document of and episteme for the anxious age in which we (always) find ourselves living, though not yet fully alive. This performance of suspect evidence speaks to and in the ways we are organically inauthentic, the cause of our own causality and our own worst eyewitnesses to all that appears and disappears in space and time.
With its focus on dangerous, determined femmes fatales, hardboiled detectives, and crimes that almost-but-never-quite succeed, film noir has long been popular with moviegoers and film critics alike. Film noir was a staple of classical Hollywood filmmaking during the years 1941-1958 and has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since the 1990s. Dames in the Driver's Seat offers new views of both classical-era and contemporary noirs through the lenses of gender, class, and race. Jans Wager analyzes how changes in film noir's representation of women's and men's roles, class status, and racial identities mirror changes in a culture that is now often referred to as postmodern and postfeminist. Following introductory chapters that establish the theoretical basis of her arguments, Wager engages in close readings of the classic noirs The Killers, Out of the Past, and Kiss Me Deadly and the contemporary noirs L. A. Confidential, Mulholland Falls, Fight Club, Twilight, Fargo, and Jackie Brown. Wager divides recent films into retro-noirs (made in the present, but set in the 1940s and 1950s) and neo-noirs (made and set in the present but referring to classic noir narratively or stylistically). Going beyond previous studies of noir, her perceptive readings of these films reveal that retro-noirs fulfill a reactionary social function, looking back nostalgically to outdated gender roles and racial relations, while neo-noirs often offer more revisionary representations of women, though not necessarily of people of color.
Both film noir and the Weimar street film hold a continuing fascination for film spectators and film theorists alike. The female characters, especially the alluring femmes fatales, remain a focus for critical and popular attention. In the tradition of such attention, Dangerous Dames focuses on the femme fatale and her antithesis, the femme attrapée.
Unlike most theorists, Jans Wager examines these archetypes from the perspective of the female spectator and rejects the persistence of vision that allows a reading of these female characters only as representations of unstable postwar masculinity. Professor Wager suggests that the woman in the audience has always seen and understood these characters as representations of a complex aspect of her existence.
Dangerous Dames looks at the Weimar street films The Street, Variety, Asphalt, and M and the film noir movies The Maltese Falcon, Gun Crazy, and The Big Heat. This book opens the doors to spectators and theorists alike, suggesting cinematic pleasures outside the bounds of accepted readings and beyond the narrow categorization of film noir and the Weimar street film as masculine forms.
Dark Borders connects anxieties about citizenship and national belonging in midcentury America to the sense of alienation conveyed by American film noir. Jonathan Auerbach provides in-depth interpretations of more than a dozen of these dark crime thrillers, considering them in relation to U.S. national security measures enacted from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. The growth of a domestic intelligence-gathering apparatus before, during, and after the Second World War raised unsettling questions about who was American and who was not, and how to tell the difference. Auerbach shows how politics and aesthetics merge in these noirs, whose oft-noted uncanniness betrays the fear that “un-American” foes lurk within the homeland. This tone of dispossession was reflected in well-known films, including Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, and Pickup on South Street, and less familiar noirs such as Stranger on the Third Floor, The Chase, and Ride the Pink Horse. Whether tracing the consequences of the Gestapo in America, or the uncertain borderlines that separate the United States from Cuba and Mexico, these movies blur boundaries; inside and outside become confused as (presumed) foreigners take over domestic space. To feel like a stranger in your own home: this is the peculiar affective condition of citizenship intensified by wartime and Cold War security measures, as well as a primary mood driving many midcentury noir films.
Stanley Orr’s Darkly Perfect World offers a large-scale historical narrative about the way American crime fiction and film have changed throughout the twentieth century. Orr argues that films noirs and noir fictions dramatize Raymond Chandler’s pronouncement that “Even in death, a man has a right to his own identity.” Orr illuminates a noir ethos committed to “authenticating alienation”: subjectivity managed through radical polarization of Self and Other. Distinguishing a heretofore unrecognized context for American noir, Orr demonstrates that Chandler and Dashiell Hammett arrive at this subject within and against the colonial adventure genre. While the renegades of Joseph Conrad and Louis Becke project a figure vulnerable to shifts in cultural context, the noir protagonist exemplifies alienated selfhood and often performs a “continental operation” against the slippages of the colonial adventurer. But even as Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, and other noir virtuosi persist with this revision of late Victorian adventure, Chester Himes, Dorothy Hughes, and John Okada experiment with hard-boiled alienation for a subversion of noir that resonates throughout literary postmodernism. In their respective avant-garde novels, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, and Paul Auster expose what K.W. Jeter terms the “darkly perfect world” of noir, thus giving rise to and enabling the con men and “connected guys” of contemporary films noirs such as Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects, David Fincher’s Seven, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
From its earliest days, the American film industry has attracted European artists. With the rise of Hitler, filmmakers of conscience in Germany and other countries, particularly those of Jewish origin, found it difficult to survive and fledùfor their work and their livesùto the United States. Some had trouble adapting to Hollywood, but many were celebrated for their cinematic contributions, especially to the dark shadows of film noir.
Driven to Darkness explores the influence of Jewish TmigrT directors and the development of this genre. While filmmakers such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, and Edward G. Ulmer have been acknowledged as crucial to the noir canon, the impact of their Jewishness on their work has remained largely unexamined until now. Through lively and original analyses of key films, Vincent Brook penetrates the darkness, shedding new light on this popular film form and the artists who helped create it.
Noir. A shadow looms. The blow, a sharp surprise. Waking and sleeping, the fear is with us and cannot be contained. Paranoia.
Wheeler Winston Dixon's comprehensive work engages readers in an overview of noir and fatalist film from the mid-twentieth century to the present, ending with a discussion of television, the Internet, and dominant commercial cinema. Beginning with the 1940s classics, Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia moves to the "Red Scare" and other ominous expressions of the 1950s that contradicted an American split-level dream of safety and security. The dark cinema of the 1960s hosted films that reflected the tensions of a society facing a new and, to some, menacing era of social expression. From smaller studio work to the vibrating pulse of today's "click and kill" video games, Dixon boldly addresses the noir artistry that keeps audiences in an ever-consumptive stupor.
Film noir remains one of the most enduring legacies of 1940s and '50s Hollywood. Populated by double-crossing, unsavory characters, this pioneering film style explored a shadow side of American life during a period of tremendous prosperity and optimism. Edward Dimendberg compellingly demonstrates how film noir is preoccupied with modernity--particularly the urban landscape.
The originality of Dimendberg's approach lies in his examining these films in tandem with historical developments in architecture, city planning, and modern communications systems. He confirms that noir is not simply a reflection of modernity but a virtual continuation of the spaces of the metropolis. He convincingly shows that Hollywood's dark thrillers of the postwar decades were determined by the same forces that shaped the city itself.
Exploring classic examples of film noir such as The Asphalt Jungle, Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Naked City alongside many lesser-known works, Dimendberg masterfully interweaves film history and urban history while perceptively analyzing works by Raymond Chandler, Edward Hopper, Siegfried Kracauer, and Henri Lefebvre. A bold intervention in cultural studies and a major contribution to film history, Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity will provoke debate by cinema scholars, urban historians, and students of modern culture--and will captivate admirers of a vital period in American cinema.
Challenging widely held assumptions about postwar gay male culture and politics, Homosexuality in Cold War America examines how gay men in the 1950s resisted pressures to remain in the closet. Robert J. Corber argues that a form of gay male identity emerged in the 1950s that simultaneously drew on and transcended left-wing opposition to the Cold War cultural and political consensus. Combining readings of novels, plays, and films of the period with historical research into the national security state, the growth of the suburbs, and postwar consumer culture, Corber examines how gay men resisted the "organization man" model of masculinity that rose to dominance in the wake of World War II. By exploring the representation of gay men in film noir, Corber suggests that even as this Hollywood genre reinforced homophobic stereotypes, it legitimized the gay male "gaze." He emphasizes how film noir’s introduction of homosexual characters countered the national "project" to render gay men invisible, and marked a deep subversion of the Cold War mentality. Corber then considers the work of gay male writers Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and James Baldwin, demonstrating how these authors declined to represent homosexuality as a discrete subculture and instead promoted a model of political solidarity rooted in the shared experience of oppression. Homosexuality in Cold War America reveals that the ideological critique of the dominant culture made by gay male authors of the 1950s laid the foundation for the gay liberation movement of the following decade.
In the 1950s, the gangster movie and film noir crisscrossed to create gangster noir. Robert Miklitsch takes readers into this fascinating subgenre of films focused on crime syndicates, crooked cops, and capers.
With the Senate's organized crime hearings and the brighter-than-bright myth of the American Dream as a backdrop, Miklitsch examines the style and history, and the production and cultural politics, of classic pictures from The Big Heat and The Asphalt Jungle to lesser-known gems like 711 Ocean Drive and post-Fifties movies like Ocean’s Eleven. Miklitsch pays particular attention to trademark leitmotifs including the individual versus the collective, the family as a locus of dissension and rapport, the real-world roots of the heist picture, and the syndicate as an octopus with its tentacles deep into law enforcement, corporate America, and government. If the memes of gangster noir remain prototypically dark, the look of the films becomes lighter and flatter, reflecting the influence of television and the realization that, under the cover of respectability, crime had moved from the underworld into the mainstream of contemporary everyday life.
Film noir showcased hard-boiled men and dangerous femmes fatales, rain-slicked city streets, pools of inky darkness cut by shards of light, and, occasionally, jazz. Jazz served as a shorthand for the seduction and risks of the mean streets in early film noir. As working jazz musicians began to compose the scores for and appear in noir films of the 1950s, black musicians found a unique way of asserting their right to participate fully in American life. Jazz and Cocktails explores the use of jazz in film noir, from its early function as a signifier of danger, sexuality, and otherness to the complex role it plays in film scores in which jazz invites the spectator into the narrative while simultaneously transcending the film and reminding viewers of the world outside the movie theater. Jans B. Wager looks at the work of jazz composers such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Chico Hamilton, and John Lewis as she analyzes films including Sweet Smell of Success, Elevator to the Gallows, Anatomy of a Murder, Odds Against Tomorrow, and considers the neonoir American Hustle. Wager demonstrates how the evolving role of jazz in film noir reflected cultural changes instigated by black social activism during and after World War II and altered Hollywood representations of race and music.
Consider the usual view of film noir: endless rainy nights populated by down-at-the-heel boxers, writers, and private eyes stumbling toward inescapable doom while stalked by crooked cops and cheating wives in a neon-lit urban jungle.
But a new generation of writers is pushing aside the fog of cigarette smoke surrounding classic noir scholarship. In Kiss the Blood Off My Hands: On Classic Film Noir, Robert Miklitsch curates a bold collection of essays that reassesses the genre's iconic style, history, and themes. Contributors analyze the oft-overlooked female detective and little-examined aspects of filmmaking like love songs and radio aesthetics, discuss the significance of the producer and women's pulp fiction, and investigate topics as disparate as Disney noir and the Fifties heist film, B-movie back projection and blacklisted British directors. At the same time the writers' collective reconsideration shows the impact of race and gender, history and sexuality, technology and transnationality on the genre.
As bracing as a stiff drink, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands writes the future of noir scholarship in lipstick and chalk lines for film fans and scholars alike.
Contributors: Krin Gabbard, Philippa Gates, Julie Grossman, Robert Miklitsch, Robert Murphy, Mark Osteen, Vivian Sobchack, Andrew Spicer, J. P. Telotte, and Neil Verma.
L.A. Private Eyes
Dahlia Schweitzer Rutgers University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS374.D4S394 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.087209979494
L.A. Private Eyes examines the tradition of the private eye as it evolves in films, books, and television shows set in Los Angeles from the 1930’s through the present day. It takes a closer look at narratives—both on screen and on the printed page—in which detectives travel the streets of Los Angeles, uncovering corruption, moral ambiguity, and greed with the conviction of urban cowboys, while always ultimately finding truth and redemption. With a review of Los Angeles history, crime stories, and film noir, L.A. Private Eyes explores the metamorphosis of the solitary detective figure and the many facets of the genre itself, from noir to mystery, on the screen. While the conventions of the genre may have remained consistent and recognizable, the points where they evolve illuminate much about our changing gender and power roles.
Noir is among the most popular, acclaimed, and critically assessed film styles of all time. The unfortunate consequence is an ever-growing divergence between fans and scholars with regard to goals and methods for appreciating and studying noir. The Maltese Touch of Evil aims to bridge that gap. Based on a series of popular podcasts, this unique and inspired investigation of film noir sets out to examine the case of noir more closely, and in the process reconfigures the critical evidence on noir that has been presented to date. The Maltese Touch of Evil reproduces and re-sequences nearly 150 still images from 31 great films, laying them out with the authors’ informed and entertaining insights into the significance of each shot. The result is a de facto meta–film noir, a celebration of the genre that shows how these films are themselves “constrained” texts whose carefully calculated visual forms simultaneously generate narrative and critical commentary on that narrative. You will never look at film noir the same way again.
In the words of Richard Maltby . . . "Maximum Movies--Pulp Fictions describes two improbably imbricated worlds and the piece of cultural history their intersections provoked." One of these worlds comprises a clutch of noisy, garish pulp movies--Kiss Me Deadly, Shock Corridor, Fixed Bayonets!, I Walked with a Zombie, The Lineup, Terror in a Texas Town, Ride Lonesome--pumped out for the grind houses at the end of the urban exhibition chain by the studios' B-divisions and fly-by-night independents. The other is occupied by critics, intellectuals, cinephiles, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Manny Farber, and Lawrence Alloway, who championed the cause of these movies and incited the cultural guardians of the day by attacking a rigorously policed canon of tasteful, rarified, and ossified art objects. Against the legitimate, and in defense of the illegitimate, in an insolent and unruly manner, they agitated for the recognition of lurid sensational crime stories, war pictures, fast-paced Westerns, thrillers, and gangster melodramas were claimed as examples of the true, the real, and the authentic in contemporary culture--the foundation upon which modern film studies sits.
Kelly Oliver University of Minnesota Press, 2002 Library of Congress PN1995.9.F54O44 2003 | Dewey Decimal 791.43655
Investigates the fears and desires about sexuality and racial identity that shape film noir.
Among the elements that define the classic film noir-chiaroscuro lighting, voice-over narration, and such archetypal characters as the world-weary private eye and the femme fatale-perhaps no element is more responsible for the genre's continued popularity among movie buffs, filmmakers, and critics than the palpable sense of anxiety that emanates from the screen. Because the genre emerged in the shadow of the Second World War, this profound psychological and philosophical unease is usually ascribed either to postwar fears about the atomic bomb or to the reactions of returning soldiers to a new social landscape. In Noir Anxiety, however, Kelly Oliver and Benigno Trigo interpret what has been called the "free-floating anxiety" of film noir as concrete apprehensions about race and sexuality.
Applying feminist and postcolonial psychoanalytic theory to traditional noir films (Murder, My Sweet; The Lady from Shanghai; Vertigo; and Touch of Evil) and the "neo-noirs" of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s (Chinatown, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Bound), the authors uncover a rich array of unconscious worries and desires about ambiguous sexual, racial, and national identities, often displaced onto these films' narrative and stylistic components. In particular, Oliver and Trigo focus on the looming absence of the mother figure within the genre and fears about maternal sexuality and miscegenation. Drawing on the work of Freud and Julia Kristeva, Noir Anxiety locates film noir's studied ambivalence toward these critical themes within the genre's social, historical, and cinematic context.
Kelly Oliver is professor of philosophy and women's studies and Benigno Trigo is associate professor of Hispanic languages and literature, both at Stony Brook University. Oliver is the author of five books, including Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (2001) and The Colonization of Psychic Space: A Psychoanalytic Social Theory of Oppression (2004). Trigo is author of Subjects of Crisis: Race and Gender as Disease in Latin America (1999).
Critical wisdom has it that we said a long goodbye to film noir in the 1950s. Robert Miklitsch begs to differ. Pursuing leads down the back streets and alleyways of cultural history, The Red and the Black proposes that the received rise-and-fall narrative about the genre radically undervalues the formal and thematic complexity of '50s noir and the dynamic segue it effected between the spectacular expressionism of '40s noir and early, modernist neo-noir.
Mixing scholarship with a fan's devotion to the crooked roads of critique, Miklitsch autopsies marquee films like D.O.A., Niagara, and Kiss Me Deadly plus a number of lesser-known classics. Throughout, he addresses the social and technological factors that dealt deuce after deuce to the genre--its celebrated style threatened by new media and technologies such as TV and 3-D, color and widescreen, its born losers replaced like zombies by All-American heroes, the nation rocked by the red menace and nightmares of nuclear annihilation. But against all odds, the author argues, inventive filmmakers continued to make formally daring and socially compelling pictures that remain surprisingly, startlingly alive.
Cutting-edge and entertaining, The Red and the Black reconsiders a lost period in the history of American movies.
Hailed for its dramatic expressionist visuals, film noir is one of the most prominent genres in Hollywood cinema. Yet, despite the "boom" in sound studies, the role of sonic effects and source music in classic American noir has not received the attention it deserves. Siren City engagingly illustrates how sound tracks in 1940s film noir are often just as compelling as the genre's vaunted graphics.
Focusing on a wide range of celebrated and less well known films and offering an introductory discussion of film sound, Robert Miklitsch mobilizes the notion of audiovisuality to investigate period sound technologies such as the radio and jukebox, phonograph and Dictaphone, popular American music such as "hot" black jazz, and "big numbers" featuring iconic performers such as Lauren Bacall, Veronica Lake, and Rita Hayworth. Siren City resonates with the sounds and source music of classic American noir-gunshots and sirens, swing riffs and canaries. Along with the proverbial private eye and femme fatale, these audiovisuals are central to the noir aesthetic and one important reason the genre reverberates with audiences around the world.
The American film noir, the popular genre that focused on urban crime and corruption in the 1940s and 1950s, exhibits the greatest amount of narrative experimentation in the modern American cinema. Spurred by postwar disillusionment, cold war anxieties, and changing social circumstances, these films revealed the dark side of American life and , in doing so, created unique narrative structures in order to speak of that darkness. J.P. Telotte's in-depth discussion of classic films noir--including The Lady from Shanghai, The Lady in the Lake, Dark Passage, Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and Murder, My Sweet--draws on the work of Michel Foucault to examine four dominant noir narrative strategies.