Encyclopedia of Film Noir
by Geoff Mayer, Brian McDonnell
June 2007, 496pp, 7x10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-33306-4
$103, £80, 90€, A142
eBook Available: 978-0-313-03866-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Film noir, its directors, actors, histories, and themes, are presented for the student, scholar, and film fan.

When viewers think of film noir, they often picture actors like Humphrey Bogart playing characters like Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, the film based on the book by Dashiell Hammett. Yet film noir is a genre much richer. The authors first examine the debate surrounding the parameters of the genre and the many different ways it is defined. They discuss the Noir City, its setting and backdrop, and also the cultural (WWII) and institutional (the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and the Production Code Administration) influences on the subgenres. An analysis of the low budget and series film noirs provides information on those cult classics. With over 200 entries on films, directors, and actors, the Encyclopedia of Film Noir is the most complete resource for film fans, students, and scholars.


Outstanding Academic Title 2009—CHOICE, January 1, 2007


"Film authorities Mayer and McDonnell deliver a well-researched, comprehensive guide to film noir history. The first part of the encyclopedia provides five excellent essays on the genre, complete with references, and the second part has entries on films, actors, and directors. Covering both the classical film noir cycle (1939-59) and the modern neo-noir period (1959-present), this work assesses many old standards (High Sierra, Treasure of the Sierra Madre) and modern films (Body Heat, Chinatown). In addition, it covers low-budget films, black films, and representative British films. Big name actors and directors (Bogart, Stanwyck, Hitchcock) are profiled, as are some unlikely minor ones like Hugh Beaumont. Most entries vary in length from one to three pages, but the genre essays are much longer.... this one is hard to beat because of its broad focus, scholarly but readable style, and good organization. The essays on the film noir genre will appeal to academic libraries with film studies programs and public libraries with film aficionados. Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers."—Choice, February 1, 2008

"This is one of those rich resource books that's fun to have around, because you can open it to just about any page and find lively musings on a particular film or artist associated with noir....The writing is accessible, concise, and never pretentious, unlike other film-noir encyclopedias I've come across. Ultimately, the authors make a good point: you can't simplify noir."—The Santa Fe New Mexican, September 25, 2008

"This work is highly recommended for academic and public libraries supporting film studies collections."—American Reference Books Annual, January 1, 2008

"This is an essential book on any courses devoted to film studies and the cinema and, indeed, the essays will be excellent material for study in literary studies that include detective novels. The encyclopedia will be of interest in the public library for general readers, who will find details of their favourite 1940's films, even if some general readers may find the essays rather too academically inclined. Another marvellous film book!"—Reference Reviews, August 1, 2008

"New Zealand-based film studies scholars Mayer and McDonnell list and describe approximately 130 films, actors, and directors of the film noir genre in alphabetically arranged entries. Along with classics such as Hitchcock's works, Chinatown, and Sunset Boulevard, this highly cross- referential text discusses newer noir such as Shallow Grave and Memento. Five essays open the book and expound on themes including noir's reflection on the McCarthy era and the influence of hard boiled detective fiction on the films of Bogart and his ilk."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2007
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