Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9781780231020 Published July 2013 For sale in North and South America only

The Private Eye

Detectives in the Movies

Bran Nicol

Bran Nicol

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 100 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2013
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9781780231020 Published July 2013 For sale in North and South America only
From Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade to Jake Gittes, private eyes have made for some of the most memorable characters in cinema. We often view these detectives as lone wolves who confront and try to make sense of a violent and chaotic modern world. Bran Nicol challenges this stereotype in The Private Eye and offers a fresh take on this iconic character and the film noir genre.
 
Nicol traces the history of private eye movies from the influential film noirs of the 1940s to 1970s neonoir cinema, whose slow and brilliant decline gave way to the fading of detectives into movie mythology today. Analyzing a number of classic films—including The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and The Long Goodbye—he reveals that while these movies are ostensibly thrillers, they are actually occupied by issues of work and love. The private eye is not a romantic hero, Nicol argues, but a figure who investigates the concealments of others at the expense of his own private life. Combining a lucid introduction to an underexplored tradition in movie history with a new approach to the detective in film, this book casts new light on the private worlds of the private eye.
Elisabeth Bronfen, University of Zurich

“With a keen touch for cinematic detail, Bran Nicol focuses on the private in classic Hollywood’s conception of the private eye. Not the male heroism usually associated with this stock figure of film noir but rather his partial vision is exposed to our view; his subjective engagement in a world that has rendered him homeless. After reading this compelling chronicle our conception of the solitary detective, sacrificing his life for an idiosyncratic sense of moral right, has changed forever.”

The Guardian
“With his fedora and old overcoat, wisecracks, hard drinking, womanising and dislike of authority the private eye is an instantly recognisable figure in 20th-century cinema. Bran Nicol investigates the history of the private eye in film noir and more recent private eye movies, such as Robert Altman's 1973 ‘masterful’ movie The Long Goodbye, and argues his role is to unveil ‘private spaces, private lives, hidden selves.’ . . . An insightful survey of an iconic hero of the silver screen.”
Contents

Introduction

 

1. History: The Private Eye Film

2. Seeing: Literature, Film and the World of the Private Eye

3. Working: The Private Eye and the Spaces of Noir

4. Policing: Gender and Desire ‘in the Private Eye’

Conclusion

 

References

Select Bibliography

AcknowledgementsIndex

For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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