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October 2005, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Oct 2005 10:37:07 -0400
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Sheri Chinen Biesen, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005

"This volume stands out as one of the best and perhaps the single most
essential book in English on film noir. Biesen reveals an untold part of the
movement with originality, sophistication, and vitality. Her work will
become a foundation for subsequent interpretation of film noir, as well as
an ideal text in film, history, and cultural studies courses."--Brian Taves,
film historian, author of The Romance of Adventure: The Genre of Historical
Adventure Movies

Challenging conventional scholarship, placing the origins of film noir in
postwar Hollywood, Sheri Chinen Biesen finds the genre's roots firmly
planted in the political, social, and material conditions of Hollywood
during the war. After Pearl Harbor, America and Hollywood experienced a
sharp cultural transformation that made horror, shock, and violence not only
palatable but preferable. Hard times necessitated cheaper sets, fewer
lights, and fresh talent; censors as well as the movie-going public showed a
new tolerance for sex and violence; and female producers experienced
newfound prominence in the industry.

Biesen brings prodigious archival research, accessible prose, and
imaginative insights to both well-known films noir of the wartime period—The
Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and Double Indemnity—and others often
overlooked or underrated—Scarlet Street, Ministry of Fear, Phantom Lady, and
Stranger on the Third Floor.

Sheri Chinen Biesen is a film historian and assistant professor of radio,
television, and film studies at Rowan University. Educated at the University
of Southern California School of Cinema-Television (B.A. 1987, M.A. 1995)
and University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. 1998), Professor Biesen is the
recipient of numerous research awards and teaching honors and has taught
cinema history at the University of Texas at Austin, University of
California, University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television,
and University of Leicester in England. She has contributed to Film Noir
Reader 4, Film and History, Literature/Film Quarterly, Popular Culture
Review, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, The Historian, Television and
Television History and edited The Velvet Light Trap.