While every film genre strikes a chord, Film Noir is one that can strike very distinct images in one’s mind. To those familiar with it, it calls upon images of dark alleys, shadows, sexy femme fatales that give the Film Noir genre its flair. Film Noir: The Directors is a compilation of essays, biographies and analysis of various director’s that have worked within the genre that existed from 1941 to 1957. Edited by two of the worlds prominent Film Noir Historians, Alain Silver and James Ursini, we are able to dive into the genre by way of its authors and how they’ve contributed to one of the most memorable genres of film history.
At 400 pages, Film Noir: The Directors is a massive tome of information on every one of these directors. Not only does it focus on luminaries like Jules Dassan and Orson Welles, but even people like Ida Lupino, Joseph Losey and many others that have contributed to the genre. Even though many of the major contents of the book are written by film scholars, the book never feels stuffy. Even in the analysis portions, the writing is very accessible for casual fans and well enough for a scholar to examine key concepts brought forth by the contributors. There are also complete filmographies for every single filmmaker within the book, including their other works outside of the Film Noir genre.
The book is filled with some really great photos from behind the scenes and great images from some of the films themselves. There’s also a few portions that illustrate scene breakdowns through analysis, where a scene is deconstructed, frame by frame, in screen captures. Even though many of these films have taken place many years ago, all of the images contained in Film Noir: The Directors is of extremely high quality and crystal clear. Since most of the genre’s stylings are visual, it helps to have a guide like the images in the book to give absolute clarity to the contributors writings, as well as great references.
Limelight Editions have put together a wonderful compilation book in Film Noir: The Directors. With Silver and Ursini as the overseers of this book, it’s very much authoritative and key to the studies of Film Noir, but very much enjoyable and engaging. Any person remotely interested in the genre, studying it or even slightly interested in one of America’s oldest genres, will be able to find something of value in Film Noir: The Directors. Highly Recommended!