Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia
Wheeler Winston Dixon
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Wheeler Winston Dixon's comprehensive work engages readers in an overview of noir and fatalist film from the mid-twentieth century to the present, ending with a discussion of television, the Internet, and dominant commercial cinema. Beginning with the 1940s classics, Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia moves to the "Red Scare" and other ominous expressions of the 1950s that contradicted an American split-level dream of safety and security. The dark cinema of the 1960s hosted films that reflected the tensions of a society facing a new and, to some, menacing era of social expression. From smaller studio work to the vibrating pulse of today's "click and kill" video games, Dixon boldly addresses the noir artistry that keeps audiences in an ever-consumptive stupor.
motion, rapid lap dissolves, wipes, and every dizzy camera angle he can devise to transform Ann Jellicoe’s stage play into a formalist ﬁlm exercise, which constantly aggressively strives to entertain. The interiors of the townhouse where most of The Knack . . . takes place are painted bright white by one of the tenants, the Bohemian painter Tom (Donal Donnelly), who comes to the house to bring in light and change. Turner, in Performance, is busy painting the walls of his bedroom blood-red; an
Corman told Bogdanovich that he could do anything he wanted with the material, just so long as the ﬁlm ran to ninety minutes, and that if it was any good he’d sell it to Paramount as a negative pick-up deal; if not, he’d unload it though AIP. Working with his then-wife Polly Platt, who also served as the ﬁlm’s production designer, Bogdanovich whipped up a script in eleven days, centering on aging horror star Byron Orlok (Karloﬀ) who wants to quit the business, tired of making one predicable ﬁlm
foredoomed from the ﬁlm’s outset, both because of her ambition and her desire to ‘class pass’ above her waitressing milieu, and because Cyril J. Mockridge’s extra-diegetic musical cues signal impending disaster. As with many noirs, lighting in I Wake Up Screaming is noticeable more by its absence than its presence. During Frankie’s initial interrogation by the police, we can see only Frankie’s face, and the harsh light that shines on it. The policemen, especially Ed Cornell, remain in darkness.
will we remember it ﬁve, ten, twenty years from now? Will we remember it at all? In the future, we won’t need televisions or even cell phones to experience alternative realities; images and experiences will be wired directly into our brains, as Montgomery Tully posited in 1957 with his ﬁlm Escapement. The paranoid visions of Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days (1995), from a story and screenplay by her then-husband, James Cameron, are injected directly into the brains of a group of willing subjects –
even this sanctuary eventually is unearthed by the police, who gun Jasper down in cold blood, even as he laughs in their faces. Unﬂinchingly depicting a world devoid of hope, pleasure, or the dream of a future, Children of Men is at once a damning political indictment of the Bush-era political system, dependent upon torture, greed, control of the media, and individual coercion to achieve its ends, and also a no-holds-barred science ﬁction noir. If Children of Men is less celebrated than Ridley