Film Noir has always stood with one foot firmly entrenched in literature. Early films noir based on novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and W.R. Burnett were the shining beacons of a new kind of crime film, while the term itself suggests ties to gothic Roman noir novels of the early 20th century and was inspired by the French Série noire reprints of hard-boiled novels in the 1940s.
Film noir’s style and content not only reflected the malaise of post-war letdown, it also insprired filmmakers to tell their stories in new ways, bringing about a classic period of filmmaking and providing the starting point for several offshoots into neo-noir.
Bogie and the famous bird from John Huston’s film noir masterpiece THE MALTESE FALCON (1941).
But it also inspired writers in the way they told their stories. The transformative mixture of hard-boiled content and filmic style created an atmosphere that authors have been striving to capture for decades. It is with this in mind that in January and February, the Dryden Theatre is presenting four contemporary authors (Shamus-winning author Sean Chercover, Turner Classic Movies’ scholar Shannon Chute, Edgar-winner Megan Abbott, and Edgar-nominated author Charles Benoit) inspired by the same films that inspire all of us. It is also a great reason to screen the well-known greats (The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, Gilda, The Asphalt Jungle) alongside little-seen films from the classic period (including a Don Siegel double feature: The Lineup and The Big Steal)— and talk about all things noir.
Jared Case is the Head of Collection Information and Access for the Motion Picture Department and one of the most popular instructors at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. He graduated from the school himself in 2002 and has been with George Eastman House ever since. He is a film noir aficionado and can be found at film festivals, mystery conventions and noir conferences around the country.