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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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The Subversive Shade of Black in Film Noir

The Subversive Shade of Black in Film Noir

(p.164) 8. The Subversive Shade of Black in Film Noir
Film Noir

Charles Scruggs

Edinburgh University Press

James Baldwin's observation about Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once gives us another perspective. It reminds us that although directors like Lang and others were hamstrung by the Hollywood system and the Hays Code, they found a way of speaking in ‘code’, confiding secrets to those in the audience willing to listen and observe. One revelation would be their use of the doppelganger. Consider, for instance, the image of the fugitive in film noir in which a white character can mirror a black condition such as the consequences of the Fugitive Slave Law (1793, repeated in 1850). That historical moment would find its appropriate cinematic metaphor in the outsider or the man on the run.

Keywords:   Noir, African-American, Tourneur, Cain, Mildred Pierce, Robert Wise, James Baldwin

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