My favourite book on Film Noir!

For today’s #Noirvember blog post, I thought it would be interesting to discuss a book instead of a film. Writings on the subject can be quite fascinating since there is a lot to talk about in connexion to this cinematic movement. Films noir contain both relevant narrative and aesthetic elements. It’s no wonder why I often used film noir has a subject of study at school. There’s just so much to say! Obviously, not everything comes from my head… I do research and read books written by experts.

I believe many good books have been written, but if I had to choose ONE as a favourite, it would be The Noir Style by film noir authorities Alain Silver and James Ursini. Robert Porfirio and Linda Brookover also participated in the writing of this book. This relevant read helped me for many school essays.

 

The book was a Christmas gift from my mother. I surely was amazed when I unwrapped the paper to discover a beautiful photo of Rita Hayworth as Gilda! I remember reading it in the car during my Christmas vacations that year. It was also on these vacations that I visited Glenn Ford’s hometown in Ste-Christine d’Auvergne, Quebec, Canada. And we know that Ford was in some pretty important noirs such as Gilda or The Big Heat. For one of my various film history classes, I wrote on the representation of the women in film noir for my final paper, and I think that’s how I came to talk about the subject with my mother who guessed I liked the subject.

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Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford in The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1955)

Alain Silver and James Ursini have written more than one book on film noir. I also own Film Noir Reader which was edited by them as well. I actually had to buy this book for my film noir class at university. However, I did not find it as interesting as The Noir Style. Maybe because it was too academic.

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And that’s what I like about The Noir Style. It’s well-written, relevant, interesting, full of information, but remains an entertaining read. You know, I was reading it in the car, so… Studying films is fascinating, but what the teachers make you read sometimes… ouf, it can be boring sometimes. The various chapters and texts of the book are also accompanied by beautiful pictures. After all, film noir is very visual!

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The Noir Style explores various subjects of film noir. Don’t be fooled by the title. It’s not a book ONLY about the visual style, the aesthetic of noir. No, the authors tell us about the subjects of the city and the night in film noir, the femme fatale, the psychology of the noir characters, the film noir mise en scène, various elements of the film noir visual aesthetic, etc. Interestingly, the book also informs us about film noir precursors, such as the gangster film of the 30s, as well as what came after, more precisely the neo-noir. So, as you can see, it’s a very complete book.

If you like film noir and if you like to read, I highly suggest you find a copy of The Noir Style. It would be a perfect read for #Noirvember!

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