Cover image for Film noir guide : 745 films of the classic era, 1940-1959
Film noir guide : 745 films of the classic era, 1940-1959
Keaney, Michael F., 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 541 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.F54 K43 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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The term film noir was first applied by French critics to a number of American films that made their way to France over a period of six weeks at the end of World War II. These films, such as The Maltese Falcon, Murder, My Sweet, This Gun for Hire and The Big Sleep, fascinated French moviegoers with their new breed of criminals - love-starved husbands and wives, local business owners, writers, gamblers, small-time hoods, private eyes, mental patients, war veterans, rebellious teenagers and corrupt lawyers, politicians, judges and cops.

Author Notes

Michael F. Keaney is a desktop publishing and graphics consultant. He lives in Springfield, Virginia

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Over a six-week period at the end of World War II, French cinema audiences saw a flood of American films. All were crime movies, mostly involving murder. French critics applied the term film noir to these, and it stuck. Examples include The Maltese Falcon and Murder, My Sweet. Since then, of course, the academic definition of this term has been in much dispute, including, but not limited to, when the first and last film was produced. Keaney, a film noir fan, briefly addresses these controversies, but as a true fan he would rather leave the arguments to professors and collect and enjoy the movies even if they fall outside somebody's definition. The result is this work, a filmography of more than 700 movies released from 1940 to 1959. Each entry includes a cast and crew list; film noir type (for example, "Blackmail," "Femme Fatale") and themes ("greed, lust, guilt, fatalism"); a one- to five-star rating; and a synopsis and brief examination written in an easy, familiar style that serves to inform and entertain. Keaney is not a blind fan, as he does recognize the faults and problems with the films he includes. The features he appends to most entries add interest. One feature highlights "Memorable Noir Moment(s)." For example, for The Maltese Falcon (1941) he notes: "Psychotic gunman Elisha Cook, fed up with Bogey's Humphrey Bogart lack of respect, warns him, 'Keep on ridin' me, they're gonna be picking lead out of your liver.'" He also identifies "Familiar Faces from Television," cluing viewers into early appearances of Star Trek's Dr. McCoy or F Troop's Sgt. O'Rourke. The work is completed by lists of films by director, type, and year of release; a collector's guide; and a very useful annotated bibliography. As a popular film reference resource, this is a worthy addition to public libraries, and even specialized or research libraries might be interested in it for the filmography alone. -- RBB Copyright 2003 Booklist

Choice Review

Ultimate film noir fan Keaney debuts with this engaging survey of the genre, suitable for both scholars and fans. A concise preface sets the tone--casual, informative, completely lacking in pretension. Keaney traces common film noir elements, discussing definition and chronology, and concludes by briefly stating goals, methodology, sources, and organization. Cross-referenced entries for 745 films follow, each including title, release date, main performers, screenwriters, directors, type of noir, rating (based on a five-point system), plot description (minus ending), and brief commentary. Many entries include two additional features, "Familiar Faces from Television" and "Memorable Noir Moment." Four appendixes list films by director, type (64 categories, "Adventure" to "Wrong Woman"), and date, and offer advice on building a video library. Michael L. Stephens' Film Noir: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference to Movies, Terms, and Persons (CH, May'95) offers similar coverage, but treats fewer films and has a narrower focus. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Academic libraries supporting film studies programs, larger public libraries, and smaller public libraries that do not hold Stephens. M. C. Duhig Library Center of Point Park College and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. 1
The Filmsp. 9
Appendix A Films Noirs Listed by Directorp. 481
Appendix B Films Noirs Listed by Typep. 487
Appendix C Films Noirs Listed by Year of Releasep. 492
Appendix D How to Build an Affordable Film Noir Libraryp. 500
Annotated Bibliographyp. 503
Indexp. 509