Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nightmare Alley by Mark Osteen, Johns Hopkins University Press

Mr. Osteen deconstructs the film noir era (1944-1959) by examining its plots, “to locate noir within its more immediate social, cultural, and political context: the United States in the wake of World War II…we should instead look to the period’s hit movies to discern the real mood of the times.” Osteen uses more than one film under each of the eight chapter titles.

 He describes what each chapter contain: “’Someone Else’s Nightmare’- analyzed the films’ dream sequences…’Missing Persons’-investigates amnesia and switched identities…’Vet Noir’- [using] disability to explore shifting attitudes about masculinity, achievement, and power…’Framed’- focuses on art forgery and portraiture films..questions about representation, identity, and replication…’Noir’s Cars’- how automobiles…function as amoral spaces…’Nocturnes in Black and Blue’- proposes that jazz in noir signifies shifts in racial attitudes and notions of masculinity…Femmes Vital’- women caught between two forms of labor: motherhood and nondomestic work…’Left-Handed Endeavor’- analyze an important group of noirs made by committed leftists.

” Some of the films mentioned, I recognized immediately as movies I had watched previously: Spellbound, Dark Passage, No Man of Her Own, Detour and Road House, just to name a few. After the deconstruction of these films and others, I have vowed to re-view them and make comparison notes. I want to see if I still feel the same way, receive the same message as before.

 If you are a film noir movie buff, this book is definitely for you. It assists you in defining the real motive and message behind the movie. To Mark Osteen, thanks for the analysis.
(I received this book for free from John Hopkins University Press for this review)

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