Category Archives: film genre

More on Noir

I recently found a great website that has some wonderful interviews and a few good film reviews. Those of you interested in FN could profit from these readings.

An interview with Samuel Fuller

An interview with Billy Wilder

An Intro to Film Noir 

Three Anthony Mann pics 

A compilation of reviews on some of noir’s most influential films 

….among other things….

Enjoy!

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Towards a definition of Film Noir

French film critics concussed the term “Film Noir” in 1946. Due to the war and the German occupation not much cinema could be imported or screened in France during those years and the sudden release of all the movies left critics and audiences in awe and amazement. I dare say that it was the sudden release of these films that allowed French film viewers and critics to recognize certain common traits and moods between the movies. As Billy Wilder recognizes in an interview, filmmakers were not aware of the term “Film Noir” while they made the movies.

The French noticed a certain similarity between the gangster film, the police genre and the detective fiction. Authors like Raymond Chandler, James Cain, and Dashiell Hammett among others were already well know writers and film viewers were already familiar with some of the novels that served as inspiration to the movies, such as The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Farewell, My Lovely and The Maltese Falcon.

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It is no coincidence that when you look up the definition of detective fiction you find that it resembles the definition(s) that critics tend to give of film noir. However, a closer reading of the attempts to define noir as a genre reveals that scholars have found it impossible to capture and define its essence in any absolute sense. In her article on Film Noir and Women, Elizabeth Cowie (in Copjec’s Shades of Noir) discusses the public’s fascination with film noir and how this plays a crucial role in the construction of the category as such. Continue reading

The Western Myth – Approaching genre theory from the western.

Westerns have occupied a very important place in the discussion on genre theory. Despite the fact that westerns are not as popular as they used to be in the 40’s and 50’s, the western is still central to the theoretical approaches to genre.

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Some great articles on The Searchers ::

The Searchers, is one of the most influential, and, I dare say, important films in (American) film history.

Here are some great links that will give you different insights on the movie.

A.O Scott, of NY Times

Images Journal

A review by Tim Dirks.

Roger Ebert’s blog

Jim Emerson – Scanners blog


The Rhetoric of Stagecoach

Nick Browne’s text on the rhetoric of Stagecoach (The Spectator in the Text: The Rhetoric of Stagecoach, in Braudy and Cohen) examines how the narrative unfolds in one of the films most telling sequences while analyzing the role that the spectator plays in the act of storytelling.

In his text Brown explores the connection between the act of narration and the imagery. The way the image is presented, the framing of shots and their sequencing, the repetition of setups, the position of characters, the direction of their glance, all take part in the act of telling a story.

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In other words, Brown wants to explore the narrative agencies that take part in the action, who is involved in the act of storytelling while exploring the (not so passive) role of the spectator.
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The Western & the Westerner

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** Notes on Robert Warshow’sMovie Chronicle : The Westerner

Title indicates that Warshow is more concerned about the westerner – the western hero-, than the genre itself. However, the western is pretty much defined by its hero and the hero, particularly in the western and in action movies, is the driving force of the film.

Warshow compares the hero of the gangster movie to that of the western in order to:
– Show the differences in both
– Discuss the parallel between both men’s use of guns
– Compare their positions as outsiders
– Contrast their melancholy and loneliness

The outcome shows that “the westerner” – the hero at the center of The western is:

1. A figure of repose
2. Sort of a zen character who understands the world and its code (comes as no surprise to us that Seven Samurai inspired The Magnificent Seven – where the samurai code is equivalent to the code of honor of the western hero)
3. His melancholy comes from the simple recognition that life is hard and serious.
4. Although we never see him working we recognize that there are no luxuries in his lifestyle, – that he has a hard life.
5. Love is not on his side in the sense that he is bound to be doomed and cannot settle for love – there tends to be something of a higher power that calls him
6. Usually the territory is lawless and the westerner is due to set precedent with his actions
7. He will protect those who are weak from the perils of the evil that surrounds the landscape and from the harshness of the landscape itself.

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The musical and it’s narrative

According to Dyer there are three kinds of musicals:

1. Those that keep the narrative and the musical numbers clearly separated: (mostly where the numbers appear to be part of a show like Cabaret)
2. Those that retain the division between narrative as problems and musical numbers as escape (where one more or less can tell when the musical number will appear as it tends to be cued – The Wizard of Oz)
3. Those which try to dissolve the distinction between narrative and numbers, thus implying that the world in which the narrative takes place is also utopian. (Moulin Rouge – utopic world of artists and performers being more sensitive – yet one can argue that MR combines all three!!)

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