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Palgrave Macmillan

Class, Crime and International Film Noir

Globalizing America's Dark Art

ISBN 9781137290137
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Class, Crime and International Film Noir argues that this dark, seedy variant of the crime film was a global phenomenon from its inception. Broe locates noir's beginnings not in the Hollywood post-war B film, but rather in the late poetic realist works in France while the Foreword by Kees van der Pijl, author of The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class, supplies a context for the wider political economic background of the films studied. With judicious comparisons to the rise of noir in Hollywood, Broe details the development of parallel noir strands in France, Britain, Italy, and Japan: he describes how a global political and social situation, similarities in studio mode of production, and genre commonalties gave rise to a form artists employed to express discontent at the failure of a new world to materialize in the wake of the Second World War. Besides being a detailed analysis of global noir, the book is also an auteur study of more neglected works by directors such as Renoir, Antonioni, Rosi, Kurosawa, and Mizoguchi.

Dennis Broe is Professor of Media Arts at Long Island University, USA. His Film Noir, American Workers and Postwar Hollywood was a Choice Outstanding Academic Book. He has written widely on political economy, studio history, and the Western in Cinema Journal, Jump Cut, Film and History, Framework, Social Justice, Situations, and Newsday. He is also a film critic on Pacifica Radio.

List of Figures
Preface: On Symbolic Misery and Its Attenuation (And the Crime Film)
Introduction: Global Fugitives: Outside the Law and the Cold War 'Consensus'
1. Un greve, sanglant et poetic (A Strike, Bloody and Poetic): French Film Noir and the Defeat of the Popular Front
2. The Revolution That Wasn't: Black Markets, Ressentiment, and Survival in Postwar British Film Noir
3. The Wintering of the Italian Spring: From Neorealism to Film Noir via Verdi
4. Occupy the Zaibatsu: Postwar Japanese Film Noir: From Democracy to the (Re)Appearance of the (Old) New Order
Conclusion: Mediterranean Noir: Sunlight Gleaming Off a Battered .45


'Broe's American Workers and Postwar Hollywood argued that American film noir expressed the plight of American workers between WW II and the Cold War, under the persecution of corporate capitalism. For Broe, the dark stylistics and plots of American film noir express the despair of defeated American workers in unionized struggles against corporate power. The present book extends that argument to France, Britain, Italy, and Japan. Broe argues that the postwar noir films produced in these countries are even more clearly a feature of the class struggle and American corporate power in these foreign economies. Le Quai des Brumes and Le Jour se Lève (French poetic realism), Bitter Rice (Italian neorealism), Night and the City (British social realism), and The Bad Sleep Well (Japanese noir) all critique international capitalism and its triumph over workers' interests. The argument is coherent, and the research gathered to support this thesis is extensive. Broe's argument is that film noir is a form of protest against socioeconomic conditions rooted in historical factors. For a different analysis of film noir, see Robert Pippin's Fatalism in American Film Noir (2012), which argues that noir is surrounded by social conditions but rooted in the human condition.' - R. Ducharme, Mount Saint Mary's University
  • Ray Starman 8th July 2015

    There are many distinguished differences in this author's interpretation of film noir, class and their relation to crime. The author divides class into two warring factions, the proletarian or working class versus the upper bourgeois. In England he profiles authors like Graham Greene whose entertainments are really examples of class warfare. In This Gun For Hire the hired assassin has more integrity than the wealthy industrialist who hired him to kill an enemy. In Brighton Rock, youthful rebels turn to crime to fight a corrupt society. He stresses that these crime films are really the only response to political systems that are out of control. He mentions other English films like Night & The City, Hell Drivers and Room At The Top as examples of working class drudgery and danger. The French director Jean Renoir is profiled as an example of the French Popular Front in A Day In The Country and Rules Of The Game and how these films were censored by a repressive govt until after WW2. Mr Broe says that these French films of the 30s brought film art houses to America so serious film watchers could delve further into the symbolism of these movies. German expressionism and Poetic Realism are discussed as further examples of rebellion against a corrupt system. This book is a revelation in terms of the scope, depth and breadth of its treatment of international noir and class conflicts. For any serious student of film noir history this is a must read regardless of your political persuasion.

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