1st Edition

Film Noir and Los Angeles Urban History and the Dark Imaginary

By Sean W. Maher Copyright 2021
    218 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book combines film studies with urban theory in a spatial exploration of twentieth century Los Angeles. Configured through the dark lens of noir, the author examines an alternate urban history of Los Angeles forged by the fictional modes of detective fiction, film noir and neo noir.

    Dark portrayals of the city are analyzed in Raymond Chandler’s crime fiction through to key films like Double Indemnity (1944) and The End of Violence (1997). By employing these fictional elements as the basis for historicising the city’s unrivalled urban form, the analysis demonstrates an innovative approach to urban historiography.

    Revealing some of the earliest tendencies of postmodern expression in Hollywood cinema, this book will be of great relevance to students and researchers working in the fields of film, literature, cultural and urban studies. It will also be of interest to scholars researching histories of Los Angeles and the American noir imagination.

    Introduction  Part I: Approaching the Metropolis  1. From Modern Metropolis to Postmodern Urbanism  2. Hard-Boiled Boulevards  Part II: Los Angeles – Between the Screen and the Streets  3.City of Silhouettes 4. Noirscapes of Motion  5. The Neo Noirscape of Nostalgia  6. Through a Glass Darkly: Global Los Angeles and Postmodern Noirscapes at the End of the Twentieth Century


    Dr Sean Maher is Senior Lecturer in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. He has been a been Visiting Scholar at UCLA Film and Television Archives. He is an Australian representative on the Steering Committee for the Filmmakers Research Network (FRN), a British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant investigating filmmaking-based research. As a writer and director, he has produced essay films on Los Angeles and film noir as part of investigating creative practice-based research (Maher, S. and Kerrigan S, (2016) Noirscapes: Using the screen to write Los Angeles noir as urban historiography in the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice).


    “In order to move between film studies, urban geography and social theory, Maher develops an argument that shows considerable conceptual agility in its capacity to move across worlds to propose that the history of representing LA in film marks a transition in itself from the modern to the postmodern, and from the real to the hyperreal.”
    Professor Terry Flew, University of Sydney, Australia

    "Fans of Raymond Chandler and Los Angeles noirs will love this title." - Dr. A. Ebert, popcultureshelf.com