Behold: The Noir Shelf!
I love my growing mini library of noir scholarship and reference volumes. I’ve read some in their entirety, skipped around in others, and just got the Lyons and Palmer books. (I also have Muller’s Dark City but forgot to add it to the shelf before taking the pic, and I own Brook’s Driven to Darkness: Jewish Emigre Directors and the Rise of Film Noir as an eBook.)
Rather than skimming filmographies and encyclopedias, I’m drawn to specific (scholarly) arguments that give me new angles from which to consider noir. The Silver and Ursini original Film Noir Reader contains some of the first articles on defining noir, getting into the genre vs. style debate and what is and isn’t noir. I love the Women in Film Noir volume edited by E. Ann Kaplan for its depth and breadth of coverage, particularly the pieces on the absence of (nuclear) family in noir and Richard Dyer’s awesome queer readings. Brook’s Driven to Darkness (the one I own as an eBook) begins with provocative analysis of the impact on noir of emigres fleeing Nazism, bringing German Expressionism and Jewish perspectives. Biesen’s Blackout, by contrast, grounds the origins of noir in the approach and onslaught of WWII. And Oliver and Trigo’s Noir Anxiety offers a compelling study of the real anxieties over gender, race, and nation that underpin the general mood of anxiety in film noir. A bit more psychoanalysis than I like in historical study, but it’s a compelling book.
From diverse historical and critical approaches to the style/genre to specific case studies of individual films, I am learning so much on my voyage through film noir.