MSRP: $24.95
AUTHOR: Foster Hirsch
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Press
PAGES: 272 pages

The Pitch

Film Noir is often misunderstood, let’s try to give the cinematic secularists a touchstone.

The Words in The Bound Text Square

This isn’t the first time that I’ve come across this book. Originally published in 1981, it was one of the first film studies works to address Film Noir. The problem with the book has remained over the years. Foster Hirsch has a lot of opinions. They’re not really discernable as insight from careful study.

Film Noir – The Dark Side of the Screen was a look at where the movement began and how it became popularized. Hirsch will spend a lot of time trying to call Film Noir a genre or discuss its debt to German Expressionism. It’s an accessible point to start looking into the origins of these films. But, it’s not the final word by any means. If you know any new film fans, this is an essential component to opening up discussion.

rest of the book centers around highlighting the greats of Film Noir. Double Indemnity, Laura and many others get spotlighted, as Hirsch breaks down their importance. It’s a wonderful read, but it’s lightweight nature can draw serious fans out of the mix. But, it’s not for you. This is the learner’s permit for a much wider world.

The Things I Learned

Foster Hirsch remains one of my favorite film critics. He comes from the time when Paul Schrader and other Americans were giving the Cahiers du Cinema a run for their money. Hirsch excels at his ability to break down the minute detail to specific chapters. Hell, his focus on the urban environment as character is required reading. But, there’s something else to it all.

The Lacanian psychoanalysis of every film is a bit much at times. I don’t need to know what was going on in Fred MacMurray’s pants, so that I can understand a film. Hirsch plays so hard with the works, that the trivial rises to the surface a lot. If you can get past this, you’re going to enjoy the book. That is until some eighteen year old kid gets in your face, spouting verbatim riffs on Hirsch’s view of Panic in the Streets.

The Section for People That Don’t Read So Good

Crime doesn’t pay, neither do bitches.

The Last Word

typically enjoy these books. But, age and some distance has unveiled a lot of weird things about the work. Foster Hirsch is still solid as Hell. It’s just that he keeps coming across as a college professor that wants to force-feed interpretation to his students. Been there and done that, pal.

When I read these works, I want to have an open discussion. For as much as this book can help film students, it hurts them by bringing such a tight focus on only what Hirsch wants to cover. So, pick up a future other Film Noir studies to balance it out. A little extra help can go a long way. 

8.9 out of 10