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 American Angeles audience Bacall Big Sleep Billy Wilder Blue Dahlia Bogart budget Cain Cain's Casablanca censors censorship cinema combat creative crime films dark detective director documentary Double Indemnity female femme fatale film industry film noir film's filmmaking Fritz gangster gender Gilda gothic Gun for Hire hard-boiled Hawks Hayworth Hitchcock Hollywood home front images Jack Warner Joan Joseph Breen Ladd Lang's Laura Lorre male Maltese Falcon melodrama Mildred Pierce military Ministry of Fear Moontide motion picture movie MPAA-PCA file murder mystery narrative Nazi newsreel noir crime noir films noir style novel Paramount Phantom Lady Postman Always Rings postwar press book Production Code publicity realism red-meat released Rings Twice RKO's role Scarlet Street screen script sexual shadow shooting shot Siodmak star story Stranger Street of Chance studio Third Floor thriller tion tough trend violence war-related Warner Bros wartime woman women World York Zanuck
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...