Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir

Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir

by Gene D. Phillips


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Film noir was a cycle in American cinema that first became prominent during World War II, peaked in the 1950s, and then tapered off as a definable trend by 1960. Over the years, a group of films from the period emerged as noir standards, beginning with Stranger on the Third Floor in 1940. However, because film noir is too wide ranging, it cannot be kept within the narrow limits of the official canon that has been established by film historians. Consequently, several neglected movies need to be re-evaluated as noir films.

In Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir, Gene D. Phillips provides an in-depth examination of several key noir films, including acknowledged masterpieces like Laura, The Maltese Falcon, Sunset Boulevard, and Touch of Evil, as well as films not often associated with film noir, like Spellbound. A Double Life, and Anatomy of a Murder. Phillips examines such overlooked or underappreciated films as Song of the Thin Man, The Glass Key, Ministry of Fear, and Act of Violence. Also considered in this reevaluation are significant neo-noir films, among them Hammett, The Dain Curse, and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

In his analyses, Phillips draws upon a number of sources, including personal interviews with directors and others connected with their productions, screenplays, and evaluations of other commentators. Out of the Shadows not only explores the most celebrated noir films but also offers new insight into underrated films that deserve reconsideration. Of interest to film historians and scholars, this volume will appeal to anyone who wants a better understanding of the works that represent this unique cycle in American filmmaking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810881891
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/03/2011
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Gene D. Phillips, S.J. is the author of several works on film and literature, including David Lean: Beyond the Epic (2006) and Some Like It Wilder: The Life and Controversial Films of Billy Wilder (2010). He is the coauthor of The Francis Ford Coppola Encyclopedia (Scarecrow, 2010).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Prologue: Overlooked Noir ix

Part 1 City of Night: The Advent of Film Noir

Chapter 1 Black Mask Brigade: Dashiell Hammett, Hard-Boiled Fiction, and Film Noir 3

Chapter 2 Exploring Film Noir: Stranger on the Third Floor and Other Films 13

Part 2 Nightmare Town: Dashiell Hammett's Fiction as Film Noir

Chapter 3 John Huston: The Maltese Falcon 29

Chapter 4 Stuart Heisler: The Glass Key Edward Buzzell: Song of the Thin Man 45

Part 3 Darkness at Noon: Representative Noir Films

Chapter 5 Fritz Lang: Ministry of Fear and Scarlet Street 69

Chapter 6 Alfred Hitchcock: Spellbound and Strangers on a Train 87

Chapter 7 George Cukor: A Double Life Billy Wilder: Sunset Boulevard 111

Chapter 8 Robert Siodmak: The Killers (1946) Don Siegel: The Killers (1964) 131

Chapter 9 Otto Preminger: Laura and Anatomy of a Murder 151

Chapter 10 Fred Zinnemann: Act of Violence Stanley Kubrick: The Killing 177

Chapter 11 Orson Welles: The Stranger and Touch of Evil 197

Part 4 The Lower Depths: The Rise of Neo-Noir

Chapter 12 Dashiell Hammett and Neo-Noir: The Dain Curse and Hammett 225

Chapter 13 Anthony Minghella: The Talented Mr. Ripley Liliana Cavani: Ripley's Game 247

Afterword Jim Welsh 265

Filmography 275

Selected Bibliography 287

Index 295

About the Author 307

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