Re-examining the maladjusted text: post-war America, the Hollywood Left and the problem with Film Noir

Manning, Robert (2015) Re-examining the maladjusted text: post-war America, the Hollywood Left and the problem with Film Noir. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Film noir is a term created after fact and applied back to films from a previous period
and studies have often conflated very different films and privileged some facets over
others in an endeavour to structure a definition. Some scholars have identified that a
relatively small group of films came to be seen by the Hollywood Left as highly
significant; and that their discussions of these films were the products of deeper
anxieties faced by this group in the immediate post-war period. Subsequent
conclusions were made that the Hollywood Left was opposed to this generalised
categorisation similar to contemporary understandings of film noir.
The thesis examines those films now considered as film noir in their original contexts.
Studying the reception of films generally considered to be representative of
contemporary understandings of film noir, such as Boomerang (Elia Kazan, 1947)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946) and Crossfire (Edward Dmytryk, 1947) shows
how they were parts of very different cycles at the time and not seen critically as a
homogeneous group. The thesis also examines the work of key filmmakers who
were making films with pertinent social messages, before concluding with an
examination of an incredibly divisive political film, The Iron Curtain (William A.
Wellman, 1948).
This study investigates the debates of the post-war period relating to the films
currently seen as film noir to highlight the distinctions between the films and how their
positionings were understood. Analysing key writings from journals, the trade press
and newspapers, this research shows how and why specific films caused concern for
certain leftist personnel and how particular genres of films are seen now as similar to
one another, yet were once understood as starkly opposed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 11:24
Last Modified: 04 May 2016 11:24

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