In Lonely Places

Film Noir Beyond the City


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About the Book

Although film noir is traditionally associated with the mean streets of the Dark City, this volume explores the genre from a new angle, focusing on non-urban settings. Through detailed readings of more than 100 films set in suburbs, small towns, on the road, in the desert, borderlands and the vast, empty West, the author investigates the alienation expressed by film noir, pinpointing its motivation in the conflict between desires for escape, autonomy and freedom—and fears of loneliness, exile and dissolution. Through such films as Out of the Past, They Live by Night and A Touch of Evil, this critical study examines how film noir reflected radical changes in the physical and social landscapes of postwar America, defining the genre’s contribution to the eternal debate between the values of individualism and community.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Imogen Sara Smith has written on topics ranging from photography and painting to the films of Buster Keaton. She is a performing arts librarian and lives in Forest Hills, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Imogen Sara Smith

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 255
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6305-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8908-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1

1. Imaginary Prisons: Noir and the City      19
2. In Exile at Home: Noir Between Two Worlds      34
3. Maximum Security: Domestic Noir      57
4. The Tyranny of Neighbors: Small- Town Noir      83
5. Blind Highways: Noir on the Road      105
6. Mirage of Safety: Noir on the Mexican Border      135
7. Lone and Level Sands: Desert Noir      159
8. Past Sunset: Noir Westerns      178
9. Private Traps: Noir in the Mind      214

Notes      237
Selected Bibliography      241
Index      243

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The author masterfully sheds light on the ‘dark passages’ that lead away from the city into the woods, the wilderness and the unconscious of a changing American landscape of the community and of the mind.”—PopCultureShelf
  • “A useful guide”—Reference & Research Book News