RARA-AVIS: Still on French origin of noir

From: Juri Nummelin ( juri.nummelin@pp.inet.fi)
Date: 03 Oct 2005


I took James Naremore's MORE THAN NIGHT off the shelf (and recommend it once again) to check what he really has to say about the French usage of film noir. He writes (and I quote):

"The French were also predisposed to invent American noir because it evoked the golden age of their own cinema. They were quick to observe that the new Hollywood thrillers resembled such Popular Front films as P鰩 le Moko (1936), H du Nord (1938), and Le jour se l趥 (1939) - a group of shadowy melodramas, set in an urban criminal milieu and featuring doomed protagonists who behaved with sangfroid under pressure. The term _film noir_ had in fact been employed by French writers of the late 1930s in discussions of these films. Film historian Charles O'Brien points out that in the years immediately before the war, the word _noir_ often had pejorative connotations and was frequently used by the right-wing French press in their attacks on the 'immorality and scandal' of left-wing culture. _Noir_ was nevertheless embraced as a descriptive adjective by several writers on the Left
(particularly after the war), and the style favoured by the Popular Front, whether it was called 'noir' or not, constituted a respectable and quite recognizable type of filmmaking for most critics throughout the world. Thus, when Double Indemnity was released in the United States in 1944, a reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter noted that it was 'more than a little reminiscent of the late lamented, excellent French technique.'"

There's also a lot of stuff about the Surrealists (Georges Duhamel was a part of the group) and Sartre. Check it out.

Juri http://pulpetti.blogspot.com

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