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Film Noir$
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Homer B. Pettey and R. Barton Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748691074

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691074.001.0001

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Noiring The Pitch: The Conflicted Soundtracks of Out of the Past, The Blue Gardenia and The Long Goodbye

Noiring The Pitch: The Conflicted Soundtracks of Out of the Past, The Blue Gardenia and The Long Goodbye

Chapter:
(p.103) 5. Noiring The Pitch: The Conflicted Soundtracks of Out of the Past, The Blue Gardenia and The Long Goodbye
Source:
Film Noir
Author(s):

Krin Gabbard

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691074.003.0006

In classical Hollywood practice a musical theme often plays over the opening credits and reoccurs periodically until the end of the film. But because film noir so often centers corrupt, endangered, or weak characters, the opening song can become closely associated with failed love and betrayal. By the end of the film, the song must disappear lest it contaminate the upbeat endings of Hollywood films. In Out of the Past (1947) and The Blue Gardenia (1953), love songs are associated with lovers until the affairs turn sour, at which time the songs effectively vanish. Robert Altman has fun with this tradition in The Long Goodbye (1973) by presenting a song that could conceivably be associated with lovers if only the film featured a real love affair. Altman is especially perverse in making sure that the song is never heard in its entirety. In all three films, the song is heard both diegetically and non-diegetically in a variety of treatments, everything from swing bands to mariachi bands to doorbell chimes to Muzak in a convenience store.

Keywords:   Noir, Musical theme, Film Music, Love songs, Altman

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