Dames in the Driver's Seat: Rereading Film Noir

By Jans B. Wager | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
MANNING THE POSTS: CLASSIC NOIR,
POSTCLASSIC NOIR, AND POSTMODERNISM

Film noir belongs to the history of ideas as much as to the history of cinema….
film noir is both an important cinematic legacy and an idea we have projected
on the past.

JAMES NAREMORE, More than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts

And about the post of modernism: It was conservative politics, it was subver-
sive politics, it was the return of tradition, it was the final revolt of tradition, it
was the unmooring of patriarchy, it was the reassertion of patriarchy … and
so on.

ANNE FRIEDBERG, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern

One of the characteristics that distinguishes the film noir scholar from the film noir devotee, in addition to the language each uses to talk about the movies, might be the scholar's ambivalence and the devotee's confidence about the definition of film noir. The scholar struggles under the weight of over forty years of accumulated academic discourse on the nature of noir as genre, cycle, style, series, or system.1 Meanwhile, the devotee can often reel off a definition, and film reviewers in the popular press regularly use film noir as a defining term in identifying the style and content of new movies. For the movie buff, films noirs are crime films, mostly black-and-white, made in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, often featuring a hard-boiled male and a beautiful, duplicitous female

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