SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT

FILM NOIR AND THE AMERICAN CITY

Tough-talking 'tecs, femme fatales, hard-bitten loners, mystery, eros, danger: With rich ingredients like this, it's hard to go wrong, and Christopher certainly doesn't disappoint in this intelligent, thoroughgoing study of film noir. Like that other uniquely American film genre, the western, film noir provides almost illimitable metaphorical and metaphysical illuminations of the national psyche (as a French critic once observed, film noir is America's stylization of itself). From 1945 to 1955 Hollywood produced more than 300 of these hard-edged, cynical, even nihilistic dramas, classic films such as Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and Sunset Boulevard. Novelist (Veronica, 1996, etc.) and poet Christopher (though he also includes here such modern noirish films as Taxi Driver, The Usual Suspects, and the groundbreaking sci-fi noir, Blade Runner) agrees with the prevailing critical view that noir was largely a response to WW II. The old screwball comedies of the '30s just didn't seem to work after such massive death and destruction. And the atomic bomb and the Cold War meant that the world could easily and quickly be annihilated. Mechanization and urbanization had created sprawling, depersonalized cities as convoluted as mazes. In fact, Christopher identifies the labyrinth as one of the noir's key figurations. Part Borges, part Freud, it is every confusion modern life labors us with. It is also the classic noir plot: The hero (usually a man) finds himself trapped in increasingly perilous circumstances (usually involving a ``dangerous dame'') from which he can't escape. Despite a number of minor factual mistakes, Christopher's analysis of various films is shrewd and revealing. He manages to tease out a number of subtle connections and similarities among films, everything from the role of dreams to gender issues to noir's attitude toward capitalism. An encyclopedic and very readable appreciation that will probably send many readers hurrying to the video store.

Pub Date: March 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82803-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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