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'In a lonely street' : 1940's Hollywood, film noir and the 'tough' thriller

Krutnik, Frank S (1989) 'In a lonely street' : 1940's Hollywood, film noir and the 'tough' thriller. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86006) (KAR id:86006)

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the debates and the problems bound within the concept of 'film noir', one of the most persistently 'mythologised' areas of Hollywood cinema. As I shall show 1 'film noir' was a tern generated within film criticism in order to identify and to account for a complex series of transformations within the Hollywood cinema of the 1940's, particularly around the area of the crime thriller. As I shall suggest, because it functioned as a blanket categorisation, the term has suffered from a mystification which has problematised many of the attempts to come to terms with the historical processes it initially described a problem only exacerbated by its extension to films produced since the early l9O's). This thesis will seek here to re-locate the phenomenon described by the term 'film noir' within Its cinematic and historical contexts. After a general introduction to the debates surrounding 'classical' Hollywood cinema, the genre system of production and the problems represented by the 'film noir', Section Two comprises an examination of the complex determination of the 'noir. phenomenon', suggesting how this resulted from a confluence of intermeshing 'aesthetic', social-cultural, institutional and industrial transformt1ons, Following this explication of the diversity of the determination of film noir, Section Three proposes that a large proportion of the crime thrillers so termed - j . the 'tough' thriller, a cinematic development of the recent 'hard-boiled' trend in American crime fiction - manifests a particularly obsessional representation of problems besetting masculine psychic and sexual identity, and masculine cultural/social authority. Working through the narrative logic of both some of the more famous and some of the more obscure of the 1940's 'film noir' thrillers - such films as 'THE STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR, AMONG THE LIVING, THE MALTESE FALCON, THE WOMAN LN THE WINDOW, WHEN STRANGERS 1ARRY, DOUBLE INDE'UTITY, BLACK ANGEL, MILDRED PIERCE, DETOUR, THE KILLERS, THE BLUE DAHLIA, DEAD RECKONING, OUT OF THE PAST, LADY FROT SHANGHAI, and PITFALL - I will suggest that, despite the confusion which has accreted to the term in the past forty-five years, film noir can prove a valuable means of exploring both (a) the relationships between films and the multiple contexts for which and in which they are produced; and (b) the problems which beset any project of 'masculine consolidation' (with the 'tough' thrillers representing an extreme and much problematised form of hero-centred fiction). By bringing together debates on film history, industry, 'ideology', genre, and gender, it is hoped that this study may offer some suggestions for a much-- needed reorientation of this vital but perplexing 'genre'/period.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86006
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Uncontrolled keywords: Hollywood cinema in the 1940's
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:24 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/86006 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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