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Film Noir offers new perspectives on this highly popular and influential film genre, providing a useful overview of its historical evolution and the many critical debates over its stylistic elements.

  • Brings together a range of perspectives on a topic that has been much discussed but remains notoriously ill-defined
  • Traces the historical development of the genre, usefully exploring the relations between the films of the 1940s and 1950s that established the "noir" universe and the more recent films in which it has been frequently revived
  • Employs a clear and intelligent writing style that makes this the perfect introduction to the genre
  • Offers a thorough and engaging analysis of this popular area of film studies for students and scholars
  • Presents an in-depth analysis of six key films, each exemplifying  important trends of film noir: Murder, My Sweet; Out of the Past; Kiss Me Deadly; The Long Goodbye; Chinatown; and Seven
List of Plates ix

Acknowledgments xiii

1 Introduction 1

2 Historical Overview 20

3 Critical Overview 50

4 Murder, My Sweet 73

5 Out of the Past 100

6 Kiss Me Deadly 123

7 The Long Goodbye 146

8 Chinatown 171

9 Seven 191

Afterword 215

References 217

Further Reading 223

Index 225

“It is the most comprehensive and lucid study of the genre I have read … I was also impressed with Luhr's handling of the shift in Hollywood from the 1930s to 1940s. The morally compromised "heroes" of the 1940s were unthinkable in the 1930s. Like all good film critics, Luhr makes me want to see my favorite films again because he has shown me things I missed. And then there are all those films I didn't see that are now on my list because of William Luhr.”  (Carl Rollyson, 16 June 2012)