Back to Black
Back to Black
“Crime Melodrama,” Docu-Melo-Noir, and the “Red Menace” Film
This introductory chapter provides an overview of film nor. This “genre without a name” tends to reflect the films themselves, which are often about seduction and mystery, Sphinx-like secrets and labyrinthine riddles. One response to this mystique has been a determined demystification on the part of certain super-skeptical critics, the doom-and-gloom school, as a way to counter the “seductive power of film noir.” The result has been a series of grim pronouncements about the nothingness of film noir: that is to say film noir is a “black hole” that “never existed” and can only be found in books. However, “definitions of film noir differ” and these “dark crime films have also been called ‘crime melodramas.’” The disadvantage of thinking of film noirs as “crime melodramas” is that the word “melodrama” has become almost completely pejorative for contemporary audiences, if not film scholars.
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