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Kiss the Blood Off My HandsOn Classic Film Noir$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038594

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038594.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Independence Unpunished

Independence Unpunished

The Female Detective in Classic Film Noir

(p.17) 1 Independence Unpunished
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

Philippa Gates

University of Illinois Press

This chapter investigates how the 1940s female “private eye” complicates the conventional, dualistic representation of women in classic noir as either homemaker or femme fatale, “redeemer” or “destroyer.” Women in classic noir are never detectives by profession, whether working for the police or as private investigators, but a number of them serve as amateur investigators, seeking out the truth about a crime most often to clear the name of a man they love. The sex of the female detective complicates the traditionally male noir detective narrative as the narrative is driven forward as much by the female protagonist's personal desires as by her investigation, and the heroine's independence as a detective and exploration of her sexuality pose undesirable challenges to the masculinity of her husband—just like the femme fatale. Unlike the femme fatale, however, the female detective is allowed to enjoy her foray into masculinity and conclude the film unpunished.

Keywords:   female detective, classic noir, femme fatale, sexuality, masculinity

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