Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir
Challenging conventional scholarship, which places the origins of film noir in postwar Hollywood, Sheri Chinen Biesen finds the genre's roots firmly planted in the political, social, and historical conditions of Hollywood during the war. After Pearl Harbor, America and Hollywood experienced a sharp cultural transformation that made horror, shock, and violence not only palatable but preferable. Hard times necessitated cheaper sets, fewer lights, and fresh talent; censors as well as the movie-going public showed a new tolerance for sex and violence; and female producers experienced newfound prominence in the industry. Biesen brings prodigious archival research, accessible prose, and imaginative insights to both the well-known films noir of the wartime period - The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and Double Indemnity - and films often overlooked or underrated - Scarlet Street, Ministry of Fear, Phantom Lady, and Stranger on the Third Floor.
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adaptation added American Angeles audience Big Sleep Bogart Breen budget Cain Cain's called Casablanca censors censorship Chandler changed characters combat creative crime cultural dark detective directed director Double Indemnity early effort executive fatale Fear female femme film noir film's filmmaking front gangster Gilda Gun for Hire hard-boiled Hays Hitchcock Hollywood images included independent industry James John killed late later lighting male March material Mildred Pierce military motion picture murder mystery narrative newsreel night noted novel Office Paramount Phantom Lady picture political Postman Always Rings postwar press book production Production Code promoted publicity realism released Reporter returning Rings Twice role scenes screen script sexual shadow shooting shot showing star story Stranger Street studio style success suggested Third Floor thriller tion tough trend United Universal violence visual wanted Warner Bros wartime Wilder woman women World writer York
Page 9 - ... had crept into the American cinema. The darkening stain was most evident in routine crime thrillers, but was also apparent in prestigious melodramas. The French cineastes soon realized they had seen only the tip of the iceberg: as the years went by, Hollywood lighting grew darker, characters more corrupt, themes more fatalistic and the tone more hopeless.
Page 3 - Twenties) and, were it not for the War, film noir would have been at full steam by the early Forties. The need to produce Allied propaganda abroad and promote patriotism at home blunted the fledgling moves toward a dark cinema, and the film noir thrashed about in the studio system, not quite able to come into full prominence. During the War the first uniquely film noir appeared...