Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen

by Foster Hirsch

Since The Dark Side of the Screen first appeared two decades ago, when film noir was still a little-known group of dark, brooding postwar B-movies, it has become the essential take on what has become one of today’s most pervasive screen influences and popular genres. Covering over a hundred outstanding films and offering nearly two hundred carefully chosen stills, this is by far the most thorough and entertaining study available of noir themes, visual motifs, character types, actors, and directors.

Hirsch examines the features that make Burt Lancaster, Joan Crawford, Robert Mitchum, and Humphrey Bogart into noir icons; as well as the camera angles, lighting effects, and story lines that characterize the work of such major noir directors as Fritz Lag, Billy Wilder, and Orson Welles. With a complete list of credits to 112 films and a new introduction, Hirsch’s work remains the classic analysis of the most original genre of American cinema.

”Wonderfully readable: Hirsch is clear, knowledgeable, and concise. He covers a lot of ground, from the European antecedents of noir in German expressionism to the noir-derived work of Scorsese and Schrader in Taxi Driver. . . . Hirsch and his editors have rightly understood that well-chosen and well-printed stills are vital to a book of this kind, and the product justifies their concern. The Dark Side of the Screen puts illustrations where they belong and where they advance the argument—it’s a visual as well as literary pleasure.” — Martin Jackson, Cineaste

”There has been no extended work as good as Foster Hirsch’s The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir, a well-written, imaginatively illustrated book that sees the brief, true heyday as between Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and his Sunset Boulevard (1950), but looks at the prelude and the aftermath, and sets the genre in its larger social and cultural context.” — Philip French, Observer (London)

Price: $20.95

Format: Paperback
230 Pages
First Published: 1981

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