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Editor: Andrew Spicer

This book aims to provide an overview of the history and development of film noir and neo-noir in five major European cinemas, France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, written by leading authorities in their respective fields. It contains a bibliography and extensive filmography. The book describes the distinctiveness of film noir or neo-noir within its respective national cinema at particular moments, but also discusses its interaction with American film noir and neo-noir. It commences with a reflection on the significant similarities and differences that emerge in these accounts of the various European film noirs, and on the nature of this dialogue, which suggests the need to understand film noir as a transnational cultural phenomenon. The problems of defining film noir and the reasons why it has almost always been regarded solely as an American form are discussed. Because British film noir had never received critical recognition, Andrew Spicer argues that British neo-noir had to reinvent itself anew, with little, if any, explicit continuity with its predecessors. The book also explores the changes in the French polar after 1968: the paranoia of the political thriller and the violence of the postmodern and naturalistic thriller. That new noir sensibility is different enough, and dark enough, from what preceded it, for us to call it 'hyper-noir'. British neo-noirs are highly intertextual and allusive, both thematically and visually. The book also discusses German neo-noir, Spanish film noir and neo-noir, and the Italian film noir.

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Ginette Vincendeau

The ‘official’ story of film noir, enshrined in Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton’s seminal Panorama du film noir américain (1955), and subsequently endorsed by both French film history and accounts of American film noir, resolutely leaves French cinema out of the picture, dismissing any possible influence. The ‘dynamism of violent death’, the ‘strange, oneiric’ 1 atmosphere and

in European film noir
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Rob Stone

There is no such thing as Spanish film noir. At least there is none to speak of until after the death of General Franco in 1975. During the forty years of the fascist dictatorship film noir was a bête noire , unable to show its face for fear of reprisals on its perpetrators. How could there have been moral ambiguity in a society in which education and entertainment were dominated by rigid Catholic

in European film noir
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Mary P. Wood

Giallo or noir? Although Italy has hosted festivals of film noir for many years, there have been few critical attempts to define Italian film noir as a genre. The fundamental reason for the Italian difficulty with the concept of noir is undoubtedly the predominance of the word giallo which entered popular vocabulary to denote mystery stories from 1929 when the publisher

in European film noir
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Robert Murphy

Critical enthusiasm for realism in British cinema, from Grierson to Ken Loach, has obscured the fact that the majority of British films pay little regard to a realist ethos. Melodramas and crime films have traditionally made up a significant and substantial part of British cinema and a section of these films can be related to film noir. As film noir is a critical category constructed to deal with a

in European film noir
Tim Bergfelder

German cinema and film noir: influence and reception It has been suggested that the films made by German émigrés in 1940s Hollywood, including many noir classics, could be conceived of as a national cinema in exile, as the kind of German cinema ‘that might have been’ had Hitler not come to power. 1 More recently, however, Thomas Elsaesser has challenged this narrative of noir

in European film noir
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Sam Rohdie

Film noir Film noir derives essentially from popular noir literature: the writings of Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett and others. It is the reverse of the American dream whose promises of happiness, prosperity and security are confronted by a sordid reality conditioned by money and the amorality of it, weighed down at every level by cynicism, despair, violence, murder and hopelessness. Film noir is essentially a style, a night-time film where shadows and murky greys predominate. Dim reflections and shimmering electric lights create an unstable

in Film modernism
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Gesture under pressure
Cynthia Baron

Noting that film ‘genres circumscribe the form and position of performance’ in discrete ways, in the 1980s Richard de Cordova identified the need for ‘a general account of performance and its role within an economy of genres’ (1986: 129, 138). Before his untimely passing, de Cordova began that account by outlining examples of acting choices in ‘the western, film noir, and the melodrama’ that

in Genre and performance
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Andrew Spicer

European film noir aims to provide an overview of the history and development of film noir and neo-noir in five major European cinemas – France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy – written by leading authorities in their respective fields. Each chapter contains a bibliography and extensive filmography. Occasional brief considerations of various European film noirs have emerged – and one

in European film noir
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Paul Cooke

The relationship between film noir and German cinema has a long history. However, the influence of this American tradition in Germany has been particularly important in the post-war period during the two moments when Germany’s national cinema has gained a degree of international recognition. The first, and by far the most successful, period was that of the new German cinema. During this era, which

in European film noir