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The Dark Side Of The Screen: Film Noir

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  221 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Foster Hirsch's Dark Side of the Screen is by far the most thorough and entertaining study of the themes, visual motifs, character types, actors, directors, and films in this genre ever published. From Billy Wilder, Douglas Sirk, Robert Aldrich, and Howard Hawkes to Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, and Paul Schrader, the noir themes of dread, paranoia, steamy sex, double-c ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 21st 1983 by Da Capo Press (first published 1981)
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Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Film noir will always be misundestood and always imperfectly duplicated, like every time I see a Sesame Street character act like a detective just because he wears a fedora. When no two movie reviewers can agree on when the era started or ended, because it consists of movies being made by 50 different directors, hundreds of actors and writers, all with cuts being made for morality's sake as well as budgetary concerns, it's a miracle we have more than two movies that fit the category at all.

Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema, film-noir
Noiry, Noiry Nights

… erwarten denjenigen, der, neugierig gemacht von der Lektüre des Buches Film Noir. The Dark Side of the Screen von Foster Hirsch, es sich vornimmt, mal wieder einige der dort erwähnten Filme neu zu entdecken oder sie überhaupt zum ersten Male zu sehen. Anfang der 80er Jahre zum ersten Mal erschienen, liegt Hirschs Einführung in den Film noir in einer Neuauflage vor, die um ein Nachwort des Autors, in dem es um weniger bekannte Genrebeiträge geht, ergänzt wurde.

Das Buch ist in
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. Being a lover of film noir, I at least expected that the facts presented would be accurate. Alas, that was not to be. I found at least 6 glaring errors in the text and player identification........and the author is (or was) a professor of film at Brooklyn College!! Additionally, much of the content was repetitve from chapter to chapter and I found myself skipping through the book searching for new facts. I don't feel that this is a book that the film noir buff wo ...more
Tim Schneider
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice overview of Noir Films, with a look at where they came from, characteristics and where they went. I can certainly take umbrage with a number of the authors points of view (his absolute disdain for Spillane for example) but it is generally well researched and well thought out. By no means exhaustive, it is a good starting point for people looking to read about film noir.
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, movies, film, 2012
Good, solid introduction to film noir, although I don't agree with all of Hirsch's comments or film choices. Lots of good info, though. Now I'm looking for something that's a little more detailed.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film-noir-theory
First published in 1981 before the tsunami of dissertation books on film noir began appearing, so it is well-researched and scholarly without being weighed down with footnotes and references and counter-arguments to a bunch of other published books, which makes this one of the most readable books on the topic. Early chapters cover the roots of noir in literature as well as film precursors, but I think the best chapters are the ones on stylistics because the still photographs are used exceptional ...more
Informative but dry. I disagree with some of his points, particularly an overlap he doesn't discuss--hardboiled. What's the difference? He doesn't deal with that at all. I don't think private eye films, like THE MALTESE FALCON, are noir but rather hardboiled. There's a huge overlap and a great area for debate. Also, he says some dotty things, like the widespread use of jazz in the noir films. No. Jazz came to noir in the late 50s--like SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (Elmer Bernstein), TOUCH OF EVIL (Hen ...more
Rebecca Stevenson
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no prior knowledge of the topic, so this book may have gaping holes, but I found it an enjoyable read and an interesting introduction to noir. I hope to spend a lot of time with the filmography in the course of this year. The author's style is occasionally a bit overwrought, not at all shy about expressing firmly held opinions, but I did not find those impediments to enjoyment.

The Kindle edition has a ton of formatting errors, but that's not the author's fault.
Randy Ray
I liked this book very much, but it probably wouldn't be of much interest to someone who's not interested in the genre. In fact, a little bit too much of the book is spent in thumbnail descriptions of the highlights of movies' plots. On the other hand, if you're interested in noir, and if you've seen a lot of noir films, you'll find much to enjoy here.
Jason Coffman
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, intelligent and accessible introduction to film noir. Hirsch traces the style's literary roots and discusses the films of noir's heyday in the 1940s as well as its influence on films since in a brisk, engaging style. Highly recommended if you have any interest in the subject at all.
Dave Mortensen
So much of learning about film noir is looking at images from those movies (or watching them) and then asking they "why" behind them. This book was full of wonderfully informative photos and descriptions of the principles and persons behind them.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book that highlights all the key characteristcs of film noir. Inspired me to want to see many of the films that he mentions. Nice film bibliography. I hope that these films are on Netxflix.
David McCormick
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the first book written in English on film noir. It gives a definition of film noir that has stood the test of time and touches on all the bases of noir technique. In other places, though, I feel the scholarship begins to look a little ragged.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Free of theory and jargon, this book continues to be the best introduction to Film Noir. It is also lavishly illustrated with stills which is great.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some of the most interesting films from Hollywood are addressed for you here. Take a look. ...and then actually see the movies featured. A nice read.
Jan 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, art
Simple writing, but informative.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
My initial introduction to film noir, years ago.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent resource on noir aesthetic.
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