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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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Split Screen: Sound/Music in The Stranger/Criss Cross

Split Screen: Sound/Music in The Stranger/Criss Cross

(p.122) 6. Split Screen: Sound/Music in The Stranger/Criss Cross
Film Noir

Robert Miklitsch

Edinburgh University Press

Robert Siodmak and Orson Welles are both central figures in the history of sound film. Siodmak and Welles are also central to the history of film noir. Although Welles’ contribution as a director to the genre is not nearly as voluminous as Siodmak’s, his film noirs encompass almost the entire history of the genre, from Citizen Kane (1941), the ur American film noir as well as the prototype of the modern sound film, to Touch of Evil (1958). At the same time, if it's true that Siodmak is more closely associated with film noir than Welles, none of Siodmak's films has received the sort of critical attention, especially with regard to their sound tracks, that The Lady from Shanghai (1948) or Touch of Evil has. Hence the split in “Split Screen” between subject (Welles/Siodmak) and topic (sound/music). To wit, whereas part one concentrates on the play of silence and ambient sound in what has traditionally been considered both a minor Welles film and marginal film noir, The Stranger (1946), part two, reversing track, rack-focuses on what is arguably Siodmak's most accomplished film noir, Criss Cross (1949), as a way to engage a more inclusive notion of ‘music’. Here, instead of bracketing the score to map the sonic landscape as I do in part one, I bracket the use of ambient sound or acoustic effects in order to explore the notion of musicality understood not simply as ‘background’ or ‘source’ music but as voice-over narration.

Keywords:   Film Sound, Orson Welles, Split Screen, Siodmak, Voice-Over

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