Thursday 19 September 2013

Book Review: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir by John Grant

Title: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir
Author: John Grant
Publisher: Limelight Editions
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 512
Format: E-Book-PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: ACR via NetGalley

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Featuring rumpled PIs, shyster lawyers, corrupt politicians, double-crossers, femmes fatales, and, of course, losers who find themselves down on their luck yet again, film noir is a perennially popular cinematic genre. This extensive encyclopedia describes movies from noir's earliest days and even before, looking at some of noir's ancestors in US and European cinema as well as noir's more recent offshoots, from neonoirs to erotic thrillers. Entries are arranged alphabetically, covering movies from all over the world from every continent save Antarctica with briefer details provided for several hundred additional movies within those entries. A copious appendix contains filmographies of prominent directors, actors, and writers. With coverage of blockbusters and program fillers from Going Straight (US 1916) to Broken City (US 2013) via Nora Inu (Japan 1949), O Anthropos tou Trainou (Greece 1958), El Less Wal Kilab (Egypt 1962), Reportaje a la Muerte (Peru 1993), Zift (Bulgaria 2008), and thousands more, A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir is an engrossing and essential reference work that should be on the shelves of every cinephile. (Goodreads Synopsis)

First off, I should say that this is not the sort of book you're likely to read cover to cover. As the title suggests it is an encyclopaedia - a reference work - more than a history of film noir etc.

If you are looking to learn more about film noir as a genre and its place in cinema history, then this is not the book for you. However, if you are already a fan and want to quick reference to look up old favourites or find some new films to enjoy, then this is a wonderful resource that will work well on any film buff's book shelf. Considering it includes a mention of TV series Hannibal which only came out six months ago, it is very up to date.

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