Dark Cinema: American Film Noir in Cultural Perspective

By Jon Tuska | Go to book overview

3
German Expressionist Cinema

The Weimar Republic was proclaimed on 9 November 1918 by Philipp Scheidemann, a Social Democrat. German troops were still on foreign soil, but the German General Staff was frantic for peace. Kaiser Wilhelm II had been reluctant to abdicate without reassurance that the Prussian throne would be retained, but Chancellor Friedrich Ebert, also a Social Democrat, announced the kaiser's abdication without his consent. That night the kaiser fled to Holland. As it happened, Scheidemann's proclamation was fortuitous; the Spartacists were themselves ready to proclaim a Soviet republic. The day before 11 November, when the war was declared over, Ebert concluded an agreement with General Groener, commander of the German army, that in return for putting the army at the disposal of the government the government would support the army in maintaining internal discipline and in its fight against Bolshevism.

National general elections were held on 19 January 1919 and a parliamentary government was elected. On 11 February 1919, the Assembly elected Ebert president and Ebert appointed Scheidemann to form a cabinet. Notwithstanding this apparent display of order, the nation was plagued by the severest civil strife. The Freikorps, a fanatic paramilitary group of ex-officers, unemployed drifters, and young adventurers set out to help restore order but their eagerness to kill tended to have the opposite effect.

Scheidemann's cabinet did not survive the signing of the peace treaty of Versailles. The treaty returned Alsace-Lorraine to France, split off East Prussia from the heartland by ceding West Prussia, Upper Silesia, and Posen to Poland. Danzig (now Gdansk) was made a free city. Belgium was given some small districts while the border areas were to sponsor plebiscites. Germany was deprived of all overseas colonies and forbidden union with Austria. The left bank of the Rhine was to be militarily occupied and the German army was to be reduced to 100,000 men. Further, Germany was to turn over all "war criminals," including the former kaiser, so they could stand trial for "atrocities"; Germany

-105-

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Dark Cinema: American Film Noir in Cultural Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Author's Note xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Part I - Literary Antecedents 1
  • 1 - Tragedy 3
  • 2 - Hostages of Fate 43
  • Part II - Cinematic Antecedents 103
  • 3 - German Expressionist Cinema 105
  • 4 - American Cinema between the Wars 125
  • Part III - American Film Noir 147
  • 5 - The Film Noir Canon 149
  • 6 - Noir Women 199
  • 7 - Noir Men 215
  • 8 - Noir Directors 233
  • Notes 241
  • Chronology and Filmography of Films Noirs 263
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 283
  • About the Author *
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