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Film noir: Plus Taschen's top 50 pick of noir classics from 1940-1960

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Whether it’s Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, or The Big Sleep, roam a screen world of dark and brooding elegance with this essential handbook to Film Noir. From private eyes and perfect crimes to corrupt cops and doomed affairs, editors Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller examine noir’s key themes and their most representative movies from 1940 to 1960. Copiously illustrated wit Whether it’s Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, or The Big Sleep, roam a screen world of dark and brooding elegance with this essential handbook to Film Noir. From private eyes and perfect crimes to corrupt cops and doomed affairs, editors Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller examine noir’s key themes and their most representative movies from 1940 to 1960. Copiously illustrated with film stills as well as original posters, this book offers page after page of noir’s masterful visual compositions while exploring the narrative paradigms of this cryptic, compelling, and evolving genre. If that weren’t enough to tickle your cinematic appetite, the volume concludes with TASCHEN’s top 50 pick of noir classics. Brimming with the enigmatic dames, desperate gangsters, and psycho killers that continue to cast a long and captivating shadow over cinema, this is a must-have handbook for noir aficionados and amateurs alike.


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Whether it’s Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, or The Big Sleep, roam a screen world of dark and brooding elegance with this essential handbook to Film Noir. From private eyes and perfect crimes to corrupt cops and doomed affairs, editors Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller examine noir’s key themes and their most representative movies from 1940 to 1960. Copiously illustrated wit Whether it’s Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, or The Big Sleep, roam a screen world of dark and brooding elegance with this essential handbook to Film Noir. From private eyes and perfect crimes to corrupt cops and doomed affairs, editors Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller examine noir’s key themes and their most representative movies from 1940 to 1960. Copiously illustrated with film stills as well as original posters, this book offers page after page of noir’s masterful visual compositions while exploring the narrative paradigms of this cryptic, compelling, and evolving genre. If that weren’t enough to tickle your cinematic appetite, the volume concludes with TASCHEN’s top 50 pick of noir classics. Brimming with the enigmatic dames, desperate gangsters, and psycho killers that continue to cast a long and captivating shadow over cinema, this is a must-have handbook for noir aficionados and amateurs alike.

30 review for Film noir: Plus Taschen's top 50 pick of noir classics from 1940-1960

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A tip to anyone moving to a new apartment with little furniture, most of their belongings in storage (including books), and a few hundred euros of purchase power. Go to your nearest well assorted bookstore, look for the section with Taschen books. There will likely be a display of their series of “Bibliotheca Universalis” budget publications. Each book costs roughly €15, and there are about a hundred different books in the series, hardbound, and thick as bricks. Anyway, that is what I did at the A tip to anyone moving to a new apartment with little furniture, most of their belongings in storage (including books), and a few hundred euros of purchase power. Go to your nearest well assorted bookstore, look for the section with Taschen books. There will likely be a display of their series of “Bibliotheca Universalis” budget publications. Each book costs roughly €15, and there are about a hundred different books in the series, hardbound, and thick as bricks. Anyway, that is what I did at the beginning of last summer to brighten up and fill some of the empty space of my new apartment. I bought about a dozen of these books, and have been adding a few since. The books are of course gorgeous, as all of Taschen’s great coffee table books, even if these cannot quite measure up to the splendor of the usual larger formats that this particular publisher is famous for. Film Noir is more than 600 pages long, and it seems to be a combination of two different books or projects: One being a kind of introduction to this particular style of filmmaking, and taking up the first 200 pages, the second being a “Taschen’s Top 50 Film Noirs.” The book was, as so often, curated by Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller. As would be expected from a Taschen book, Duncan and Müller have pulled out all the stops, when it comes to the literally thousands of film stills, production stills, publicity stills and reproductions of posters. The first rule of a book about films, in my humble opinion, is that it should be generously illustrated, and in this respect Film Noir is the poster child of all film books. I own a lot of books on film, and I love to slowly leave through them and study the stills, even if they are films I know well. And in this case, the editors have taken the high road of finding and securing a multitude of stills not normally seen. Even if the scenes depicted are familiar and often reproduced in stills, the captures here will be slightly different. And, of course, there are the many, many photographs of the directors at work on the set, and actors and actresses at ease between shots, and on and on. As mentioned, the first third of the book is quite a thorough introduction to “film noir,” and I believe a lot of it was culled from various writings by Alain Silver and James Ursini, although it is never clearly stated who authored the various parts of the book. Silver and Ursini have made careers out of researching, discussing, commenting and popularizing “film noir” over at least the last twenty years. They can be found contributing to scores of DVD and Blu-ray releases of these films over the years, often as running commentary on the films. They are highly knowledgeable and passionate about their topic, and a lot of ground is covered in this section of the book; a lot of titles are name dropped, while the main discussions zero in on some of the films that have become more familiar to general viewers in the last decades thanks to the wonders of home video – “Double Indemnity,” “Touch of Evil,” “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Criss Cross,” “Detour,” and “Out of the Past.” This section works well, even if too much space is expended on lengthy plot synopses (be aware that plots are given away wholesale here) that could have been put to better use in expanding the brief discussions of key directors. When all that is said, the book also has its shortcomings. The latter two thirds of the book is made up of a top 50. It is again richly illustrated with the original poster art fronting each entry in the list. However, it is a rather poor top 50 as far as “film noir” goes. No matter how good Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and “Psycho” are, I have never seen them referred to as films noir before. The list also includes a number of non-American releases like Clouzot’s “Diabolique,” Ladislao Vajda’s “Es geschah am hellichten Tag” and Michael Powell’s “Peeping Tom,” which I also object to including in a film noir list. A case could be made for Visconti’s “Ossessione” (unofficially based on Cain’s “Postman Always Rings Twice”), but all of these films, aside from their obvious merits as films just do not qualify as film noir in any strict definition of the term. “Film Noir” was a term coined by French critics back in the late forties referring to a change in style, mood and thematic content of specifically American films at the time. The term was later appropriated by young American critics of the film school generation in the late sixties and early seventies. The first part of the book does a fine job at pinning down the hallmarks of this style (not genre!) A real top 50 of Film Noir would have been a great asset and supplement to the initial discussion, what Taschen provides is just another few hundred pages of great stills and artwork (as well as extended synopses).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Zorana Mitrović

    Razvukao se ovaj poduhvat jer sam nailazila na reditelje i glumce koji su mi se dopadali pa sam gledala neke njihove druge filmove i onda odstupala od liste. Uglavnom evo top 5 i još nekih filmova vrednih pomena (nisam ih rangirala po tome koji su mi se najviše svideli jer su bukvalno nijanse u pitanju) 1.Sunset Boulevard 2. In a lonely place 3. Diabolique 4. The Night of the hunter 5. Rear window - Hangover Square - Psycho - Vertigo - Gaslight - Rebecca - Nightmare alley - Double indemnity - Gilda - Leave her Razvukao se ovaj poduhvat jer sam nailazila na reditelje i glumce koji su mi se dopadali pa sam gledala neke njihove druge filmove i onda odstupala od liste. Uglavnom evo top 5 i još nekih filmova vrednih pomena (nisam ih rangirala po tome koji su mi se najviše svideli jer su bukvalno nijanse u pitanju) 1.Sunset Boulevard 2. In a lonely place 3. Diabolique 4. The Night of the hunter 5. Rear window - Hangover Square - Psycho - Vertigo - Gaslight - Rebecca - Nightmare alley - Double indemnity - Gilda - Leave her to heaven Jedno dvadesetak filmova koje su oni predložili bih 'ladno izbacila i ubacila 100x bolje, al' ajde.. ukusi se razlikuju.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nerita

    A great encyclopedia of noir movies, for someone like me, who likes noir movies - wonderful read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brian Palmer

    This is much more a coffee table book than most books I read; the photographs are just gorgeous (movie posters, publicity stills, and scenes taken from some of the best noir). The essays were interesting, although the book's size and binding made it somewhat awkward to read in depth. When I did start reading, I had a hard time not getting distracted just flipping from photograph to photograph. I think this is a volume I will want to peruse at liesure, perhaps after picking up a few more films for This is much more a coffee table book than most books I read; the photographs are just gorgeous (movie posters, publicity stills, and scenes taken from some of the best noir). The essays were interesting, although the book's size and binding made it somewhat awkward to read in depth. When I did start reading, I had a hard time not getting distracted just flipping from photograph to photograph. I think this is a volume I will want to peruse at liesure, perhaps after picking up a few more films for my library.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lili

    Very in-depth and informative, and not to mention presented in both an easy to understand and highly aesthetic manner. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to gain an understanding of film noir and the classic noir movies of the 40s-60s.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Carter

    Tachsen's Film Noir is a silly book with super boring, highly skippable essays that are full of constant film references yet has a lot of nice-looking photos. I gave up poring through it by the time I got to the top 50 picks. The list isn't valid if Casablanca and The 39 Steps aren't among them. All in all, if you know film noir, you'll only laugh before being bored. Tachsen's Film Noir is a silly book with super boring, highly skippable essays that are full of constant film references yet has a lot of nice-looking photos. I gave up poring through it by the time I got to the top 50 picks. The list isn't valid if Casablanca and The 39 Steps aren't among them. All in all, if you know film noir, you'll only laugh before being bored.

  7. 4 out of 5

    IKhsan Risfandi

    ini buku keren baget dah ...bahas lengkap tentang film itemmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm noir dibaca noar kate orang betawi .... wajib buat para sinema fatalis

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A great introduction to film noir, looking into it’s various themes and tropes. And has reviews on 50 noir classics (according to the editors) from 1940-1960. A book to wet your appetite to watch more noir and seek out other books on this most fascinating of movie genres.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cool

    This book is encyclopedic. You're not going to read it cover-to-cover. It's for reading here-and-there as it sits on your coffee table. It's not so easy to find a particular movie in this tome, but it has nice pictures, and if you have a magnifying glass, you can even read a bit. This book is encyclopedic. You're not going to read it cover-to-cover. It's for reading here-and-there as it sits on your coffee table. It's not so easy to find a particular movie in this tome, but it has nice pictures, and if you have a magnifying glass, you can even read a bit.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Freire

    Muy interesante. Un libro a detalle del cine noir. Si bien es cierto ya conocía de algunos de estos filmes, la mayoría fueron nuevos para mí. Super recomendado

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Another excellent volume from Taschen, Full of stills and plot synopsis, bios of some stars and crew, and background into the writing and filming. A worthy add to any film lover's library. Another excellent volume from Taschen, Full of stills and plot synopsis, bios of some stars and crew, and background into the writing and filming. A worthy add to any film lover's library.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin T

    Great list for reference, short concise essays on each topic tackled in noir and great stills and artwork

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    I falsely assumed a 640 page book of film history on film Noir would have an index that I could use as a reference. I am unable to look up movies, directors, actors or anything else which makes this book pretty useless!!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    S R Blair

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rickster Locuson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pat

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sean Wicks

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  19. 4 out of 5

    David McLean

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  21. 4 out of 5

    Larry

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Johnson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ella

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna Rossi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mehran

  27. 4 out of 5

    Randy Kliment

  28. 4 out of 5

    Юля Медвідь-Гнепа

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Adair

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert

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