So there comes another strike by professional collaborators team Alain Silver and James Ursini, two critics, collectors and authors of books and journals on movie directors, film industry, and Film-Noir in particular. By their mere output, the two authors today form part of the canon of modern Film-Noir appreciation.
The reader then is confronted with the appeal of some 300 movie posters and cinema display cards dating back to the earliest noir movies and their forerunners, the covers of pulp magazines, and publications like “Black Mask,” all collected in this beautiful edition.
Instead of merely reproducing the posters and memorabilia the authors clearly subdivide their book by recurring themes, certain styles of painting and mayor themes of representation. This includes poster analysis, like foreground/background division, side action, appeal for male/female spectators and the like.
In this way, they identify many similarities between magazine covers and motion picture advertisements; both reacting to the expectations of the consumers. Hence the combination of both movie title and their respective poster art emphasized in a few words what was to be expected; highlighted catchwords like “action,” “lust,” “desire,” “murder,” and “shock” hardly left any doubts what to experience once the lights went out.
Needless to mention that many movies that today go by “noir” back then were rather cheaply produced so-called “B-movies” by now legendary companies like RKO and the like. However, the poster art in this book is associated with productions from Allied Artists, Columbia, MGM, Monogram, Paramount, Republic, 20th Century-Fox, United Artists, Universal, and others.
So choosing their book’s title by alluding to another great noir, “Where Danger Lives,” a 1950 John Farrow thriller, Silver and Ursini cleverly come full circle; relocating desire, expectation and representation into one brilliant coffee-table book. And much of that artwork is presented in a book for the first time ever.
What else can be said about this time capsule?
Maybe just this: If you don’t mind being schooled, informed and taught by two heavyweights of Film-Noir criticism and are easily enchanted by the high-quality reproductions of posters of many of your favorite movies you will enjoy their latest “big bang.”
Review by Dr. A. Ebert (C) 2012
Alain Silver and James Ursini. Film Noir Graphics: Where Danger Lives. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Pendragon Books, 2012, 208 p.
(This review was previously published on www.jive-talk.com – Musing on JAZZ and Related Topics).