Essay Film Noir

Essay Film Noir-37
And then there’s the war, with its terrors and disruptions.

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Weaving together clips from relevant films, the video essay looks at the topic in relation to two different qualities of human experience which the ‘haunting melody’ tends to address in noir: the psychological on the one hand; the affective on the other.

(Of course, psychology and affect are mutually informative elements of human experience, and certainly not so distinct as to prohibit the operations of one and the other at the same time.) Significantly, the essay draws inspiration from the work of Theodor Reik and his study, .

Welles (who was also a director of film-noir classics, including “The Lady from Shanghai”) gave directors, including his venerable elders, a sense that anything was possible, even in Hollywood.

The sudden weakening of studio control over production (the result of court battles) gave independent producers, many of whom were very sympathetic to artistically original directors, a much freer hand.

Ulmer—by Peter Bogdanovich in his great collection “Who the Devil Made It.” The first appearance of the term “film noir” in this magazine is from 1971; the first in the New York is from 1973.

For that matter, the term wasn’t even endemic in French cinephilic circles.

There are two terrific film-noir series taking place in New York right now, one at Film Forum, “Femmes Noir,” the other, at the Museum of Modern Art, “Lady in the Dark: Crime Films from Columbia Pictures, 1932-1957.” But only the Film Forum series uses the word “noir,” and ’s avoidance of the term makes perfect sense. A Western is identifiable by people on horseback in the West; a musical involves singing and dancing; a war movie shows war.

Even the so-called women’s picture was a movie that featured women prominently.

That’s why it’s strange to think of film noir as a genre—at least, as an open-ended one.

A Western is a Western is a Western, whether it’s filmed by Thomas H.


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