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

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748691104

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691104.001.0001

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French Neo-Noir:

French Neo-Noir:

An Aesthetic for the Policier

(p.61) 3. French Neo-Noir
International Noir

Maureen Turim

Edinburgh University Press

The doubleness of the historical emergence of genres will be crucial to the investigation of French neo-noir, for it is hard to demarcate neo-noir as a historical successor to French classical film noir, as those lines blur. Yet, beginning with Jean-Pierre Melville’s films, the French policier and gangster genres turn to a self-conscious reworking of US film noir, this self-conscious reworking serves as our very definition of neo-noir. Melville’s films might be read as neo-noir productively, even before the term had currency. As the police procedural was one of the threads of film noir in the US, it is easy to see how film noir might be a category applied to these films; yet, those police films without noir stylization would not merit the noir etiquette, and many French, as well as US cop or gangster films have little or none. Also the two genres, gangster and police procedural, may overlap, while a subset of the gangster film, the heist film, is sometimes distinctly named as a genre. In addition, the thriller (including its psychological subset), the spy film, the black comedy, and the mystery story are other genres with clear overlaps with what many call French film noir, classical or neo. And yet, without noir stylization, there can be no classification as noir.

Keywords:   French noir, Neo-Noir, Jean-Pierre Melville, Bob le Flambeur, Jacques Becker, Jean-Luc Godard, La Balance

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