Cover image for More than night : film noir in its contexts
Title:
More than night : film noir in its contexts
Author:
Naremore, James.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xiv, 345 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
The history of an idea -- Modernism and blood melodrama: three case studies -- From dark films to black lists: censorship and politics -- Low is high: budgets and critical discrimination -- Old is new: styles of noir -- The other side of the street -- The noir mediascape.
ISBN:
9780520212930

9780520212947
Format :
Book

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PN1995.9.F54 N37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

"Film noir" evokes memories of stylish, cynical, black-and-white movies from the 1940s and 1950s--melodramas about private eyes, femmes fatales, criminal gangs, and lovers on the run. In More Than Night , James Naremore discusses these pictures, but he also shows that the central term is more complex and paradoxical than we realize. Film noir refers both to an important cinematic legacy and to an idea we have projected onto the past.

This lively, wide-ranging cultural history offers an original approach to the subject, as well as new production information and fresh commentary on scores of films, including such classics as Double Indemnity , The Third Man , and Out of the Past , and such "neo noirs" as Chinatown , Pulp Fiction , and Devil in a Blue Dress . Naremore discusses film noir as a term in criticism; as an expression of artistic modernism; as a symptom of Hollywood censorship and politics in the 1940s; as a market strategy; as an evolving style; as a cinema about races and nationalities; and as an idea that circulates across all the information technologies. Interdisciplinary in approach, this book has valuable things to say not only about film and television, but also about modern literature, the fine arts, and popular culture in general. In a field where much of what has been published is superficial and derivative, Naremore's work is certain to be received as a definitive treatment.


Summary

"Film noir" evokes memories of stylish, cynical, black-and-white movies from the 1940s and 1950s--melodramas about private eyes, femmes fatales, criminal gangs, and lovers on the run. In More Than Night , James Naremore discusses these pictures, but he also shows that the central term is more complex and paradoxical than we realize. Film noir refers both to an important cinematic legacy and to an idea we have projected onto the past.

This lively, wide-ranging cultural history offers an original approach to the subject, as well as new production information and fresh commentary on scores of films, including such classics as Double Indemnity , The Third Man , and Out of the Past , and such "neo noirs" as Chinatown , Pulp Fiction , and Devil in a Blue Dress . Naremore discusses film noir as a term in criticism; as an expression of artistic modernism; as a symptom of Hollywood censorship and politics in the 1940s; as a market strategy; as an evolving style; as a cinema about races and nationalities; and as an idea that circulates across all the information technologies. Interdisciplinary in approach, this book has valuable things to say not only about film and television, but also about modern literature, the fine arts, and popular culture in general. In a field where much of what has been published is superficial and derivative, Naremore's work is certain to be received as a definitive treatment.


Author Notes

James Naremore is Chancellors' Professor of English, Communication and Culture, and Film Studies at Indiana University. His books include Acting in the Cinema (California, 1988), The Films of Vincente Minnelli (1994), and The Magic World of Orson Welles (1990).


James Naremore is Chancellors' Professor of English, Communication and Culture, and Film Studies at Indiana University. His books include Acting in the Cinema (California, 1988), The Films of Vincente Minnelli (1994), and The Magic World of Orson Welles (1990).


Reviews 2

Choice Review

"Film noir" has always been difficult to define. Naremore refuses to try, contending instead that noir has no essential characteristics and is in fact a discursive invention of French critics seeking to talk about American film in a way that mediated between Hollywood and the French cinema of the 1930s. Instead, he talks about and around noir in seven chapters that he suggests might just as well have been subtitled "Seven Ways of Looking at American Film Noir." What unites this multidimensional approach is his relaxed and contemplative effort to write social history--the history of the concept, noir and high modernism, noir's relationship to majority politics, noir and the "S" tradition, the affinity between noir and certain cinematic conventions, noir and racial consciousness, noir as a broader media phenomenon. Though never exhaustive, each chapter is richly informed about the films and their various cultural intersections, so the reader has the sense of participating in a fascinating discussion that refuses the temptation of closure and eventually stops without concluding. If Naremore's book is, like the concept it describes, a bit of a baggy monster, it is well worth the encounter; the chapter on noir and modernism alone is worth the purchase. Strongly recommended for all collections. K. S. Nolley; Willamette University


Choice Review

"Film noir" has always been difficult to define. Naremore refuses to try, contending instead that noir has no essential characteristics and is in fact a discursive invention of French critics seeking to talk about American film in a way that mediated between Hollywood and the French cinema of the 1930s. Instead, he talks about and around noir in seven chapters that he suggests might just as well have been subtitled "Seven Ways of Looking at American Film Noir." What unites this multidimensional approach is his relaxed and contemplative effort to write social history--the history of the concept, noir and high modernism, noir's relationship to majority politics, noir and the "S" tradition, the affinity between noir and certain cinematic conventions, noir and racial consciousness, noir as a broader media phenomenon. Though never exhaustive, each chapter is richly informed about the films and their various cultural intersections, so the reader has the sense of participating in a fascinating discussion that refuses the temptation of closure and eventually stops without concluding. If Naremore's book is, like the concept it describes, a bit of a baggy monster, it is well worth the encounter; the chapter on noir and modernism alone is worth the purchase. Strongly recommended for all collections. K. S. Nolley; Willamette University