Skip to main content

Hollywood Film Noir in Leavey Library (DVDs): Books About Hollywood Film Noir

Books About Hollywood Film Noir (Selected Titles)

Dark Borders: Film Noir and American Citizenship
"...c
onnects 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."

Film Noir: The Encyclopedia
"Enter the world of film noir, a world of darkness, ambiguity, and moral corruption. Meet the cynical and obsessive heroes of film noir portrayed by actors like Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, James Cagney, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis. You may encounter a gun-toting gangster, a femme fatale wrapped in fur, a detective with the brim of his hat turned down, or a desperate murderer lurking in the shadows of a doorway. It's a world we all know - the seedy underbelly of the American Dream, and every bit as much a part of our culture. This wonderfully exhaustive text - tallying more than three hundred thousand words with hundreds of film stills and photos new to the work - distills everything about the movement into one volume from movies to stars to themes and motifs, and brings us up to date with contemporary contributions to the movement. Now completely revised, expanded, and redesigned, this classic pioneering work is the final word on a dark subject."

L.A. Noir: Nine Dark Visions of the City of Angels
"Los Angeles is an ideal city for film noir for both economic and aesthetic reasons. The largest metropolitan area in the country, home to an ever-changing population of the disillusioned and in close proximity to city, mountains, ocean, and desert, the City of Angels became a center of American film noir. This detailed discussion of nine films explores such topics as why certain settings are appropriate for film noir, why L.A. has been a favorite of authors such as Raymond Chandler, and relevant political developments in the area. The films are also examined in terms of story content as well as how they developed in the project stage. Utilizing a number of quotes from interviews, the work examines actors, directors, and others involved with the films, touching on their careers and details of their time in L.A. The major films covered are The Big Sleep, Criss Cross, D.O.A., In A Lonely Place, The Blue Gardenia, Kiss Me Deadly, The Killing, Chinatown, and L.A. Confidential."

Street with No Name: A History of the Classic American Film Noir
"Flourishing in the United States during the 1940s and 50s, the bleak, violent genre of filmmaking known as film noir reflected the attitudes of writers and auteur directors influenced by the events of the turbulent mid-twentieth century. Films such as Force of Evil, Night and the City, Double Indemnity, Laura, The Big Heat, The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly and, more recently, Chinatown and The Grifters are indelibly American. Yet the sources of this genre were found in Germany and France and imported to Hollywood by emigré filmmakers, who developed them and allowed a vibrant genre to flourish. Andrew Dickos's Street with No Name traces the film noir genre back to its roots in German Expressionist cinema and the French cinema of the interwar years. Dickos describes the development of the film noir in America from 1941 through the 1970s and examines how this development expresses a modern cinema. Dickos examines notable directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, John Huston, Nicholas Ray, Robert Aldrich, Samuel Fuller, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmak, Abraham Polonsky, Jules Dassin, Anthony Mann and others. He also charts the genre's influence on such celebrated postwar French filmmakers as Jean-Pierre Melville, François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard. Addressing the aesthetic, cultural, political, and social concerns depicted in the genre, Street with No Name demonstrates how the film noir generates a highly expressive, raw, and violent mood as it exposes the ambiguities of modern postwar society.