|Film Noir Studies began with a course on detective films that I took while studying for a master’s degree at Northwestern University. I had always loved old black-and-white movies, and I especially enjoyed the dark, cynical films of the 1940s and ‘50s known as film noir. After writing a series of essays for that class, I decided to write my master’s thesis on film noir as well – which seemed like an odd choice for a degree in English literature. That essay, “No Place for a Woman: The Family in Film Noir,” combined my interest in classic Hollywood films with my study of women in the American family as an undergraduate history student.
It struck me that film noir’s view of women and the family had changed drastically from the 1940s to the 1950s. The fascinating, sexy, but dangerous femme fatale of ‘40s noir gave way to a more subtle but equally destructive female type in the 1950s: the marrying woman. As the Baby Boom began, our hard-boiled hero no longer feared the dark, desirable woman with a gun in her hand, but struggled to escape the fair, bland woman with a ring on her finger – or the determination to get one.
I created the original site, “No Place for a Woman: The Family in Film Noir,” soon after the World Wide Web first appeared, and the University of California-Berkeley generously offered to host it in their Media Resources Center. And there it remained, in all its 1994-HTML glory…until now.
“No Place” soon began appearing all over the place – in sites across the Internet and high up in the search results for “film noir.” Emails from as far away as Australia and Finland inquired about the essays; some asked permission to assign them in college-level courses. Inevitably, the essays were paid the ultimate compliment of being plagiarized – probably more times than I knew. They even led to a position teaching film noir for an online university.
Given the enduring interest in “No Place for a Woman” and my other essays, my wife and I decided to update, expand, and re-launch the site as Film Noir Studies to be a resource for college professors, students, film buffs, and even the occasional critic looking for a fresh perspective on this often-investigated topic. This new site features a film noir timeline, glossary, and links to other sites that we find both interesting and helpful. But perhaps the most exciting feature of the new website is that we are able to publish essays from other film buffs, allowing them to add their voices and ideas to this intriguing subject.
We hope you enjoy the site as much as we have enjoyed creating it.
John and Stephanie Blaser