Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From Touch of Evil to Dark City: A Grand Appreciation Of Film Noir

Kevin Olson’s Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies is one of the blogosphere’s best kept secrets. It is insightful, witty and always a pleasure to read – one of my daily stops. Well, Kevin has just published a monster of a piece on film noir as an evolving genre, and it’s an utter joy. Here is an excerpt from Neo, Cyber, and Postmodern Noir: A Look at Film Noir as an Evolving Genre :
Loneliness is at the heart of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. At one point Detective J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is asked “Are you alone?” by a voice on the phone; “aren’t we all?” he replies. Chinatown is a film noir in the traditional sense (the nostalgic opening credit sequence reminds you of that fact) with its private eye, femme fatale, hidden truths, and shadow lands; however Polanski takes these classic noir tropes and plays with them. The shadows of alleyways and seedy locations have been replaced by stark, glossy 1940 Los Angeles business buildings -- seedlings for what would grow into the metropolis we recognize today. Polanski also removes the traditional femme fatale role from his film, as Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) is the victim, not the seductive siren. Gittes is a private detective, but Polanski has some fun with this particular trope as he has his Tec’s nose sliced in half. Gittes even says at one point that he is a snoop, and what good is a snoop with only half a nose.
Now, head on over to Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies to read the rest of this excellent essay.