ISBN-10:
0674013468
ISBN-13:
9780674013469
Pub. Date:
06/15/2004
Publisher:
Harvard
Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity / Edition 1

Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity / Edition 1

by Edward DimendbergEdward Dimendberg

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Overview

Film noir remains one of the most enduring legacies of 1940s and '50s Hollywood. Populated by double-crossing, unsavory characters, this pioneering film style explored a shadow side of American life during a period of tremendous prosperity and optimism. Edward Dimendberg compellingly demonstrates how film noir is preoccupied with modernity—particularly the urban landscape.

The originality of Dimendberg's approach lies in his examining these films in tandem with historical developments in architecture, city planning, and modern communications systems. He confirms that noir is not simply a reflection of modernity but a virtual continuation of the spaces of the metropolis. He convincingly shows that Hollywood's dark thrillers of the postwar decades were determined by the same forces that shaped the city itself.

Exploring classic examples of film noir such as The Asphalt Jungle, Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Naked City alongside many lesser-known works, Dimendberg masterfully interweaves film history and urban history while perceptively analyzing works by Raymond Chandler, Edward Hopper, Siegfried Kracauer, and Henri Lefebvre. A bold intervention in cultural studies and a major contribution to film history, Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity will provoke debate by cinema scholars, urban historians, and students of modern culture—and will captivate admirers of a vital period in American cinema.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674013469
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/15/2004
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Edward Dimendberg is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Naked Cities

2. Centripetal Space

3. Walking Cures

4. Centrifugal Space

5. Simultaneity, the Media Environment, and the End of Film Noir

Notes

Index

What People are Saying About This

For the first time, Ed Dimendberg's lucid and erudite study demonstrates that film noir (with movies such as Killer's Kiss, M or Naked City) not only responded to America's evolving urban landscape, but contributed to a broad and complex discourse that ended up profoundly changing the meaning of urban life in America. The strength of Dimendberg's book lies in the sophistication with which it applies the analytical tools of urban history and theory to key films of the noir genre. By revealing the contemporary meaning of particular movie locations (often sites that were destined to change profoundly in the near future, or buildings that would vanish shortly afterwards) Dimendberg offers a deeper layer of understanding of both these urban environments and the films that reflected them.

Tom Gunning

This is an important and boldly original work, not only one of the strongest critical and historical treatments of film noir, but a work which offers an entirely new approach to the relation between this series of films and urban space. As such, it constitutes a major contribution not only to the discussion of film noir, but also to the interrelation of cinema studies with urban studies. This is a ferociously original book, bristling with new ideas and insights.
Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity

Atom Egoyan

A detailed and carefully considered reading of film noir and its relationship to civic space and architecture. Dimendberg writes with great clarity about the radical changes of the post-war metropolis and its repercussions on filmmakers, artists, and intellectuals. The book evokes the anxiety and eroticism of this fascinating movement.
Atom Egoyan, director of "Ararat" and "The Sweet Hereafter"

Anthony Vidler

In this unique study of film noir, Dimendberg goes beyond the bounds of the film-studies genre to provide us with a brilliant mapping of the spatial discourses of modernity, in theory, philosophy, architecture, and urbanism, activating the spaces of film as critical interpretations of, and contributors to, debates over the pathology and form of the modern city.
Anthony Vidler, author of Warped Space

Dietrich Neumann

For the first time, Ed Dimendberg's lucid and erudite study demonstrates that film noir (with movies such as Killer's Kiss, M or Naked City) not only responded to America's evolving urban landscape, but contributed to a broad and complex discourse that ended up profoundly changing the meaning of urban life in America. The strength of Dimendberg's book lies in the sophistication with which it applies the analytical tools of urban history and theory to key films of the noir genre. By revealing the contemporary meaning of particular movie locations (often sites that were destined to change profoundly in the near future, or buildings that would vanish shortly afterwards) Dimendberg offers a deeper layer of understanding of both these urban environments and the films that reflected them.
Dietrich Neumann, author of Film Architecture

James Naremore

This is a remarkable book. American film noir during the 1940s and 50s has been much discussed by critics, but Dimendberg enables us to see these fascinating films in a new and important way. He begins by pointing out the obvious fact that film noir often deals with urban life, but the originality of his approach lies in his reading and understanding of the films in tandem with historical developments in architecture, city planning, and modern communications systems. Dimendberg convincingly demonstrates that Hollywood's dark thrillers of the post-war decades were determined by exactly the same forces that shaped and were beginning to reshape the city itself.
James Naremore, author of More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts

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