Film noir pulls us close to brutal cops and scheming dames, desperate heist men and hardboiled private eyes, and the unlucky innocent citizens that get in their way. These are exciting movies with tough guys in trench coats and hot tomatoes in form-fitting gowns. The moon is a streetlamp, and the narrow streets are prowled by squad cars and long black limousines. Lives are often small but people's plans are big—sometimes too big. Robbery, murder, gambling; the gun and the fist; the grift and the con game; the hard kiss and the brutal brush-off. It’s a genre where we are plunged into a disorienting place where everything we thought we knew is wrong.
Film Noir FAQ (Applause Books, $22.99) David J. Hogan celebrates and reappraises more than 200 noir thrillers, representing 20 years of Hollywood’s golden age. In detailing who made the films and who starred in them, as well as how each movie came to be, Film Noir FAQ brings lively attention to story, mood, themes, and technical detail, plus behind-the-scenes stories of the production of individual films. Hogan breaks the book down by theme and case files of key players like Alfred Hitchcock, Raymond Burr, Peter Lorre, Robert Wise, Fritz Lang, Raymond Chandler, Humphrey Bogart, and many others. Film noir icon (yes, the butch number is still alive!) Lizabeth Scott even contributes a brief message for readers of this book.
Featuring approximately 75 stills and posters—many never before published in book form—highlighting key moments of great noir movies, Film Noir FAQ serves up insights into many of the most popular and revered names in Hollywood history, including noir’s greatest stars, supporting players, directors, writers, and cinematographers. Pour a Scotch, light up a smoke and lean back with your private guide to film noir.
With rumpled PIs, shyster lawyers, corrupt politicians, double-crossers, and femme fatales, film noir is a genre that emerged from the cinema’s shadowy wainscots. It flourished because so often the movies that collectively built it went unobserved by the shapers of opinion. Angela Lansbury once remarked that The Manchurian Candidate “went from failure to classic without ever passing through success.” Still, hardly a week goes by without a neo-noir being released, and although there may be debate whether some of these noir offshoots should be included in the genre, it’s pleasing that there’s still much scurrying going on in those dark corners of cinema artistry.
A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir (Limelight Editions, $49.99) could double as a murder weapon. it's (too) heavy, (too) big. John Grant features more than 3,500 movie entries, including not only classic U.S. film noirs from the '40s through '60s, but also modern manifestations like neo-noirs and erotic thrillers. Films from every continent (except Antarctica) are represented here. Each entry is listed alphabetically and includes the main cast and core crew, and outlines the plot, without spoiling the ending. But you cannot cross-reference casts or directors. At $50 it's cheaper to buy a few good noirs.