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I Am Not Ashamed Either

Ever since the cinéaste Nino Frank first used the term in France in 1946 (he never said he invented it), there has been considerable controversy about the meaning of "film noir" and various attempts to define it, some more or less authoritative. The essential arguments have been usefully collected in Silver and Ursini's Film Noir Reader (1996).

Because of the collaborative nature of film, there have been varied emphases: graphic, obviously; sociological and political, having to do with World War II, the return of the GIs, crime and corruption, and even the McCarthy episode; literary definitions, acknowledging such writers as Hemingway, Hammett, Chandler, McCoy, Woolrich, Goodis, and so on; even an immigrationist perspective, having to do with German and other artists who brought certain stylistic preoccupations with them. These arguments are concerned with the period of 1941-58—or 1939-59, as has been argued—and leave open subsequent developments such as "neo-noir" in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Are these last (such as Chinatown, Farewell, My Lovely, Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects, and Twilight) homages, pastiches, recreations, or what? If noir is a cycle confined to an identifiable period, how can there be "neo-noir"?

Arthur Lyons, in his interesting and flawed...

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