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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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The Vanishing Love Song in Film Noir

The Vanishing Love Song in Film Noir

(p.62) 3 The Vanishing Love Song in Film Noir
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

Krin Gabbard

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the racial contradictions engendered by the presence of African American musicians in Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past (1947) and Fritz Lang's The Blue Gardenia (1953). The title song in The Blue Gardenia sheds light on a problem common to Tourneur's and Lang's film: the subtextual association of black musical performance with the dark side of the human psyche. In other words, if the Harlem jazz scene in Out of the Past presages the materialization of the “black widow,” Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), Nat King Cole's rendition of “Blue Gardenia” musically implicates the “wrong woman,” Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), and, by extension, the real culprit, Rose Miller (Ruth Storey). Thus, diegetic black music in both films acts as the clue to the “mystery,” a stereotypical one that speaks volumes about the intimate, fraught connection between classic noir and black popular-musical performance.

Keywords:   African American musicians, Jacques Tourneur, Fritz Lang, black popular music, musical performance, black music, classic noir

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