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Film Noir Guide: 745 Films of the Classic Era, 1940-1959 [Paperback]

Michael F. Keaney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 49.37 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 22 2011 078646366X 978-0786463664
Over 700 film noirs from the classic period of the genre (1940-1959) are presented in this reference book. For each film, the following information is provided - the title, release date, the performers, the screenwriter, the director, the type of noir, the film's thematic content and a rating.

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delight for fans of noir May 16 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars NOIR HEADS DELIGHT Jan. 13 2004
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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4.0 out of 5 stars If you like film noir, then this book's for you! June 16 2003
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., "...it'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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4.0 out of 5 stars birthday gift June 14 2003
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More than Movie Reviews
Mr. Keaney's Guide is much more than movie reviews. His Memorable Noir Moments alone are worth the price of the book. His insights into the actors and directors are fascinating. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004 by Len Ogborn
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of focus - and too expensive!
I was all excited for this book being a more comprehensive guide to Noir. I am one of those film geeks who has little check marks in all my books next to films I've seen and I was... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a dark night in the city...
It was a dark night in the city. The rain had washed away most of the dregs off the street, and I settled in under a lamp post with my latest find, Mike Keaney's FILM NOIR GUIDE. Read more
Published on May 27 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars COMPREHENSIVE FILM NOIR GUIDE, BUT NOT THRILLING
McFarland has brought out another book on Film Noir (viz. Michael Stephens work)---it has wonderful stills and is beautifully bound... Read more
Published on May 21 2003 by Ronald Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Film Guide I've Ever Read
As a veteran of dozens of film guides, I must say that Mr. Keaney's book is a refreshing change from the ordinary. Read more
Published on May 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Film Noir guide for the uninitiated
Though I didn't know what to expect, this compendium of Film Noir from the Classic Era was the perfect book to introduce me to a genre that I am only beginning to learn. Read more
Published on April 25 2003
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