Adapted from the Preface
Classic film noir was Hollywood’s dark cinema of crime and corruption. It was a genre underpinned by a tone of existential cynicism, which stripped bare the myth of the American Dream and offered a bleak nightmare vision of a fragmented society that rhymed with many of the social realities of post-war America. Mean Streets and Raging Bulls, initially published in hardback in 1997, was the first book-length study of the neo-noir phenomenon. It explores how, since its apparent demise in the late fifties, the noir genre was revitalised in the post-studio era, post-Vietnam context of US cinema.
The book is divided into two sections. In the first, the evolution of film noir is contextualised in relation to industrial transformation, as well as the political, social and cultural history of the United States from WWII to the mid-1990s. In the second, the evolution of neo-noir and its connection with classic film noir is illustrated by detailed reference to films representative of the era in which they were made: Chinatown, Night Moves and Taxi Driver in the seventies; After Hours, Blood Simple and Sea of Love in the eighties; and Reservoir Dogs, Romeo is Bleeding and One False Move in the nineties.
Not only do these films suggest noir’s continuing exploration of the collective anxieties of US society, but they also reflect a sustained tradition of artistic creativity and technical virtuosity nurtured within the confines of genre cinema. Such a tradition is epitomised by the work of Martin Scorsese whose influence on the post-sixties history of the genre is considered in some detail.
First published by Scarecrow Press in November 1997.
Where to buy
Mean Streets & Raging Bulls can be ordered from local bookstores. It is also available to purchase in hardback, paperback and ebook formats online.
About the author
Richard Martin is a freelance writer and editor.