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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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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Gender and Noir

Gender and Noir

(p.143) 7. Gender and Noir
Film Noir

Elisabeth Bronfen

Edinburgh University Press

What is surrendered along with the femme fatale is the willingness to entertain a desire which one knows to be bad. While the woman, whose tears no longer compel, disappears for ever, the man who proved capable of resisting her charm walks off the stage, about to re-emerge unequivocally valiant on a different set. Everything is again straight-forward. Yet if classic film noir continues to fascinate us today, then in part because it troubles this easy alignment of gender positions. Even while the femme fatale serves as a projection for the noir hero's emotional ambivalence she commands the screen as a subject in her own right. If she is not what she seems to be then because, in this world of crisscrossed desires, the hero is unable or unwilling to recognize any fantasy beyond his own. The distance he seeks by projecting his dangerous enjoyment onto another is a form of self-delusion which the femme fatale ultimately forces him to acknowledge, proving to be the more resilient of the two, even if she brings death to both.

Keywords:   Noir, Femme Fatale, Trauma, Sacrifice, Tragedy Force, Tragedy, Maltese Falcon, Billy Wilder

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