A History of Our Writing about Film Noir
In 1974 Alain Silver queried the Indiana University Press and was offered a contract to produce a volume on film noir for the Cinema One Series. When two collaborators dropped out of that project, the offer lost a lot of its lustre. Shortly thereafter, an excerpt from Alain's book-length study of the samurai film appeared in Film Comment. In retrospect, it should have been clear that such an undertaking at a time when very few of the titles of the classic period were available on demand--and then only via rentals of 16mm prints--would have to rely too heavily on the memories of the editors and contributors. When the deal was struck in the Santa Monica living room of Elizabeth Ward, who became the editor in charge of research, no one realized how monumental a task it would be. Before it was finished, the index cards that Elizabeth used to compile filmographic, bibliographic, and other details numbered 16,000. The typescript of the book's index alone was over 300 pages long. The main text was almost ten times as many pages, created by diverse hands, few of whom has access to IBM Selectrics, with a melange of Pica and Elite fonts and mostly triple-spaced to permit room for revisions and redactions that were so heavy in places, it was remarkable that a typesetter could decipher them.
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