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Anatomy of a metaphor
John M. Ganim

The argument of this chapter is that certain films with medieval themes and settings, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s, demonstrate a surprising affinity with the themes and techniques associated with film noir . The apocalyptic landscapes of these films are often bleak mirrors of the empty streets of film noir and sometimes allude to the sense of impending doom that haunted the

in Medieval film
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Editor:

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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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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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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Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me and the Crooked Game of Post-World War II America
Jamie Brummer

Though presenting itself as pulpy example of hardboiled American fiction, Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me opens up in important and unexpected ways when read as a subversive Gothic novel. Such a reading sheds light on a range of marginalized characters (especially women and rural peoples) who often remain shadowed by more conventional readings. Reading the novel as Gothic also highlights thematic concerns which counter the halcyon image of post-World War II America as a golden age and reveal instead a contemporary landscape fraught with violence, alienation, and mental instability.

Gothic Studies
Phil Powrie

On the face of it, French noir since the 1970s is very different from Hollywood ‘neo-noir’ with its reworking of familiar 1940s themes and careful colour recreations of expressionistic noir lighting, such as we find in Body Heat (1981), for example. This is mainly because the French form of noir is less the detective film than the police thriller, or polar , as explained in the previous chapter

in European 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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Ann Davies

Many reviewers and critics argue that Spain lacks not only a noir tradition but also a convincing body of neo-noir films, and disparage many of the films that have attempted to fill the gap. Carlos F. Heredero, for example, has commented that if anything, filmmakers have been even less interested in the noir and the thriller – a major gap in the national filmography after the restrictions of the Franco era

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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Andrew Spicer

Because of the powerful and well-established tradition of crime films in British cinema, the vast majority of British neo-noirs are variations of the crime thriller, differentiated from more conventional films by their highly wrought visual style, an emphasis on moral ambiguity and psychological complexity, and an often deliberate blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, subjectivity

in European film noir