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Film Noir Guide: 745 Films of the Classic Era, 1940-1959 Paperback – Nov 22 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 541 pages
  • Publisher: Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub (Nov. 22 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078646366X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786463664
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 3.3 x 25.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 907 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #390,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

Over a six-week period at the end of World War II, French cinema audiences saw a flood of American films. All were crime movies, mostly involving murder. French critics applied the term film noir to these, and it stuck. Examples include The Maltese Falcon and Murder, My Sweet. Since then, of course, the academic definition of this term has been in much dispute, including, but not limited to, when the first and last film was produced. Keaney, a film noir fan, briefly addresses these controversies, but as a true fan he would rather leave the arguments to professors and collect and enjoy the movies even if they fall outside somebody's definition.

The result is this work, a filmography of more than 700 movies released from 1940 to 1959. Each entry includes a cast and crew list; film noir type (for example, "Blackmail," "Femme Fatale") and themes ("greed, lust, guilt, fatalism"); a one- to five-star rating; and a synopsis and brief examination written in an easy, familiar style that serves to inform and entertain. Keaney is not a blind fan, as he does recognize the faults and problems with the films he includes. The features he appends to most entries add interest. One feature highlights "Memorable Noir Moment(s)." For example, for The Maltese Falcon (1941) he notes: "Psychotic gunman [Elisha] Cook, fed up with Bogey's [Humphrey Bogart] lack of respect, warns him, 'Keep on ridin' me, they're gonna be picking lead out of your liver.'" He also identifies "Familiar Faces from Television," cluing viewers into early appearances of Star Trek's Dr. McCoy or F Troop's Sgt. O'Rourke. The work is completed by lists of films by director, type, and year of release; a collector's guide; and a very useful annotated bibliography.

As a popular film reference resource, this is a worthy addition to public libraries, and even specialized or research libraries might be interested in it for the filmography alone. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are a lover of film noir, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is chock full of wonderful comments,as well as a number of films you probably have never heard about elsewhere. Michael Keaney casts the widest possible net in compiling his compendium of over 700 noirs (ALL FROM THE CLASSIC ERA OF THE 1940S & 1950s), and while he himself admits many may not be true noirs, each and every one displays a genuine noir influence. Keaney writes in an approachable light and breezey style. He does not go in for deep analysis, but has a large number of wry, amusing and downright clever observations about most of these efforts. His ratings might annoy some (Hey, he gave a low rating to one of my all time favorite noirs, Bogie's DARK JOURNEY!) but then this is part of the fun of the book, seeing where you agree or disagree with his critiques. He provides an extensive bibliography as well as a fine breakdown in an appendix of classification of films according to type. One important note: Keaney limits himself to films he actually viewed, so a number of excellent noirs that are currently out of circulation are not included, such as I WOULDN'T BE IN YOUR SHOES, STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT and WITHOUT WARNING. Let's hope these rarities may turn up in the future. Then maybe Keaney can add them to his book in an update in five years or so. In the meantime, Keaney's book is a "must have" for anyone interested in film noir. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Keaney has done a great service to us self-proclaimed "noir heads" with his comprehensive book "The Film Noir Guide" Unlike other books of the canon, it is truly a "guide" or rather an primer to the complete noir theme. Other authors, in fact all that I've read, have analyzed film noir to death. The Keaney book minimizes this frequently trodden path and instead provides an extensive filmography of noir with a refreshing look at many obscure and borderline noirs as well as all the old favorites. Most important, it explains a simple and inexpensive way to locate and own these films. This in itself will save a significant amount of money and countless hours trying to track down these movies (Hint: They're not at Blockbuster); and it certain justifies the cost of the book. (I only wish I had a reference book like this when I started collecting). Also impressive is the fact that he actually watched all of these movies, something other authors have neglected, often relying on third party sources.
An earlier reviewer argued over several of the inclusions (BLOOD ON THE MOON, i.e.), but he clearly is not very knowledgeable about film noir (Or relies only on select authors). There are western noirs (YELLOW SKY, STATION WEST) as well as costumer noirs (BLUEBEARD, HANGOVER SQUARE), horror noirs (The Val Lewton films) and serials noirs (The SHADOW series). Noir is not just defined by THE BIG SLEEP, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and TOUCH OF EVIL. It has a look, feel and tone that cuts across genres. Frankly limiting noir to only pulp detective films is not only wrong and arbitrary but deprives the noir fanatic of many rewarding dark films. Thankfully, Mr. Keaney has bypassed this pitfall and breathed new life into an often written about subject.
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Format: Hardcover
Film Noir Guide brings forth a compelling compilation of movies from a bygone yet memorable era. This book will serve those of us struggling to reassemble fragments of films viewed long ago as well as those preparing to view them for the first time. At first glance I expected this book to be a bit dry, after all, there are indeed 745 films covered! I was pleasantly surprised to find the book written in the spirit of the subject films, in that it provides not only abundant but amusing appraisals. Each film is presented in the context of a series of factoids (title, date, whodunit), useful categorizations (i.e., greed, wrong man, ambition), a review, familiar faces (i.e., if the actors worked in television), and a memorable noir moment (e.g., "'s just a flesh wound"). The organization of the book makes it easy to sort through the huge volume of films contained within. It's natural to wonder what could drive someone to sit and watch such a large number of films in a systematic manner, but Keaney's fun-loving cinematic portrayals mirror the fascination shared by so many film-goers, both in their day and to this day.
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Format: Hardcover
Being somewhat of a movie buff since working for 20th Century Fox from 1954 through 1964 during the so-called years of the "Giants" of the movie industry like Spyros Skouras and Darryl F. Zanuck I received the Film Noir Guide by Michael F. Keaney as a gift from my wife. She said it was a handsome book that would look good with the rest of my collection of movie memorabilia.
I thumbed through it looking at all the photos and then read the preface. This was enjoyable since I had grown up in Brooklyn, NY and could identify with the time period the author wrote about. I found the book to be easy reading as I would look forward to each "movies memorable quotes" and the fun poked at the politically correct "sensitivity training required".
There were of course many films I did not see but even the tidbits of the TV personalities connected with these old films were interesting. Many of the films that I remembered and loved had uncannily the memorable quoted that were still fresh in my mind.
I never had given Film Noir much thought but this book opened a new source of enjoyment for me.
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