Cover image for A panorama of American film noir, 1941-1953
Title:
A panorama of American film noir, 1941-1953
Author:
Borde, Raymond.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Panorama du film noir américain. English
Publication Information:
San Francisco : City Lights Books, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
xxv, 242 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780872864122
Format :
Book

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PN1995.9.F54 B67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

When it appeared in France in 1955, A Panorama of American Film Noir was the first book ever on the genre: this clairvoyant study of Hollywood film noir is at last available in English translation.

A Panorama of American Film Noir addresses the essential amorality of its subject from a decidedly Surrealist angle, focusing on noir's dreamlike, unwonted, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel atmosphere, and setting it in the social context of mid-century America.

Beginning with the first film noir, The Maltese Falcon , and continuing through the post war "glory days," which included such films as Gilda , The Big Sheep , Dark Passage , and The Lady from Shanghai , Borde and Chaumeton examine the dark sides of American society, film, and literature that made film noir possible, even necessary.

A Panorama of American Film Noir includes a film noir chronology, a voluminous filmography, a comprehensive index, and a selection of black-and-white production stills.

"Incredibly, this is the first English translation of the very influential 1955 French book that initially identified, described and assessed the Hollywood movies that we now term film noir . . . a seminal work of cinema description and analysis and therefore an essential purchase for most libraries." --From the Starred Review in Library Journal

Raymond Borde (1920 - 2004), founder of the Cinémathèque de Toulouse, wrote extensively on film history.; among his short films is a study of the artist Pierre Molinier.

Etienne Chaumeton was the film critic of the Toulouse newspaper La Dépêche until his death.



Author Notes

Raymond Borde (b. 1920), founder of the Cinematheque de Toulouse, has written extensively on film history; among his short films is a study of the artist Pierre Molinier
Etienne Chaumeton was the film critic of the Toulouse newspaper La Depeche until his recent death


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Incredibly, this is the first English translation of the very influential 1955 French book that initially identified, described, and assessed the Hollywood movies that we now term film noir-or dark cinema-films in which the "final stake is death." With terse, catching turns of phrase (e.g., "inevitably doomed this experiment to semifailure," regarding 1946's Lady in the Lake), esteemed film critics Borde and Chaumeton extract the essence of many film noirs and discuss the genre's influences on other film types. Included are a chapter on French film noirs, the authors' 1979 film Postface, and, in addition to a filmography, a chronological list of important titles within categories (e.g., "Film Noirs," "Criminal Psychology," "Crime Films in Period Costume," "Gangsters," "Police Documentaries," and "Social Tendencies"). Like such studies as Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By, David Pirie's A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema, 1946-1972, and Ethan Mordden's Medium Cool: The Movies of the 1960s, this is a seminal work of cinema description and analysis and therefore an essential purchase for most libraries.-Kim Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

James NaremoreMarcel Duhamel
A Season in Hell or the Snows of Yesteryear?p. vii
Prefacep. xxiii
1 Introductionp. 1
The "noir series"
The series idea
A preliminary convention
2 Toward a definition of film noirp. 5
The crime adventure story
Psychological ambiguity
Moral ambivalence
The theme of violence
The strange
The disappearance of psychological bearings and a specific sense of malaise
3 The sources of film noirp. 15
Literature
Psychoanalysis
The social context and the influence of the war
European sources
Gangster and horror films, and the cartoon
4 The war years and the formation of a style (1941-1945)p. 29
1941, a pivotal year in Hollywood
The Maltese Falcon
The Shanghai Gesture
This Gun for Hire
The contributions of Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Curtis Bernhardt, and Fritz Lang
The rallying of academicism
The "noirified" period film
5 The glory days (1946-1948)p. 53
The end of the war and its consequences
1946: Gilda, The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake
1947: The Lady from Shanghai, Dark Passage
1948: Sorry, Wrong Number, Ride the Pink Horse
Minor productions
Films about criminal psychology
Hitchcock's oeuvre
Police documentaries, and gangster and prison films
6 Decadence and transformation (1949-1950)p. 83
Film noir's integration in adjacent series: He Walked by Night, The Enforcer, White Heat
Three successful Elia Kazan, Jules Dassin, and John Huston films
A noir version of amour fou: Gun Crazy
7 The demise of a series (1951-1953)p. 97
New series: science-fiction, anti-Communist films, and the myth of the "thinking cop"
Macao and the return of Sternberg
Strangers on a Train
The neorealist detective film
A poetic transposition of the noir series: The Band Wagon
8 Influencesp. 113
Noir's influence on the feature-length social documentary: Crossfire, Thieves' Highway, The Set-Up
The psychoanalytical series
Parodies and cartoons
European film noirs
9 French film noirsp. 127
10 A balance sheetp. 139
The validity of cinema criticism and its methods
A technical assessment of the noir series
Eroticism of the thriller
Moral questions
The role of violence
A psychosocial balance sheet
Net assets and liabilities
A season in hell
Postfacep. 155
Chronological index of the main seriesp. 161
Filmographyp. 165
Indexp. 229