L.A. Noir, the city as character

By Alain Silver and James Ursini

Los Angeles has always been as much a star in film noir as any actor, be it Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner or Jack Nicholson.  L.A. Noir, the city as character will feature dozens of noir and neo-noir landmark films from Double Indemnity, Criss Cross, Sunset Boulevard, Gun Crazy, The Big Heat, Kiss Me Deadly, Touch of Evil in the classic period (1940-1960) to neo-noir notables like Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, Mulholland Drive, and Pulp Fiction.

The book illustrates how these noir films used L.A.’s diverse cityscape and architecture to convey a unique vision of urban corruption and existential fatalism, not only in the ever-changing, chaotic downtown of Bunker Hill, Main Street, and Chinatown but in its affluent coastal communities (Santa Monica, Malibu) as well as its deceptively sunny suburbs (South Bay, San Fernando Valley). The authors deftly analyze the key films of noir while integrating them into the geography and history of this “dark city” which became such an important icon of noir literature and film.

The book’s illustrations include production stills from the movies discussed , archival photos of the locations from  the films and  new photographs of the locations today, chronicling the ever-changing cityscape of this noir character--Los Angeles.