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Introduction: The Case of the Missing Films

  • Nathaniel DeyoEmail author
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Part of the Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television book series (CRFT)

Abstract

This introductory chapter surveys the current status of film noir in both popular and academic discourses in order to situate the book’s critical intervention. It begins by showing how popular culture/media have flattened the varied and variegated body of films that make up the noir canon into a single and unified aesthetic, one marked by a small handful of stereotypical signifiers (chiaroscuro lighting, venetian blinds, hard-boiled men, femme fatale figures, etc.). I then argue that a similar flattening can be seen in much of the scholarly and critical discourse on noir, which has been dominated by a tendency toward generalization and totalization, a quest to identify the defining characteristics of noir. Reviewing the history of noir criticism and theory, including revisionist takes that argue that noir did not actually exist, I suggest that much of the existing criticism illustrates a pattern of thinking that Ludwig Wittgenstein has called “a craving for generality.”

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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