People are bad at recognizing liars. Data culled from several psychological experiments demonstrates that even the most well trained individuals – government agents, police officers, and so on – can barely succeed at a 50 percent rate. Lying and deception, however, are fundamental narrative elements in several film genres – particularly the detective film and the female gothic, genres that peaked in popularity in 1940s Hollywood. Considering their real-life lack of proficiency, how do viewers successfully spot deception in such films? Drawing on findings from a handful of experiments, this article brings cognitive psychological concepts to bear on two 1940s films: Out of the Past (1947) and Secret Beyond the Door (1948). The article claims that filmmakers, particularly actors, exaggerate, simplify, and emphasize deception cues to selectively achieve narrative clarification or revelation. This process reveals not only how viewers recognize deception, but how actors stylize real-life behavior in service of narrative and aesthetic priorities.
J. Brandon Colvin
Jans B. Wager, Dangerous Dames. Women and Representation in the Weimar Street Film and Film Noir (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1999)
Katharina von Ankum, ed., Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)
Every film has its moment. Be it an unforeseen glance, an unmotivated gesture, or a startling sequence unnecessary for narrative progression, such a "moment" reveals in a flash what's at stake—then and now. In the following, I analyze such a moment in Karl Grune's Die Strasse (The Street), a film that Siegfried Kracauer considered one of the defining documents of German modernity. Produced and shown in fall of 1923, the film inaugurated the so-called Strassenfilm genre, which combined the visual language of expressionist cinema (oblique angles, harsh lighting, heavy shadows, painted backdrops, distorted spaces, stylized gestures) with an urban setting. In its gritty exploration of sex, crime, morality, and madness, the street film became the prototype for American film noir of the 1940s. The Street has its "moment" in a brief sequence that discloses the film's underlying theoretical project—the nexus between urban modernity and the disciplining power of vision.
an entire body of crime films of the 1940s and 1950s, now commonly known as “film noir.” The ideological restrictions of regional censorship and the Production Code Administration posed creative problems that noir filmmakers solved through visual and
Christopher Blake Evernden, Cynthia A. Freeland, Thomas Schatz, and Frank P. Tomasulo
the perspective that Bordwell does here, and no one has charted the extent to which Hollywood storytelling fundamentally changed—not even Bordwell himself in his extensive earlier work on classical Hollywood narration and on film noir and the 1940s
Francis Ford Coppola’s Vision of Boyhood
dismantling of “the culturally significant teen film narrative” in favor of creating an “ethereal, ahistorical space, frantically allusory of Expressionism and film noir” (1995: 144) that bears no reference to the novel’s setting, or to Tulsa 1982 when it was
Ronald de Rooy
from the hard-boiled detective and film noir genres by inserting characteristic urban elements from the American Prohibition period: Dante ‘passes through speakeasies, burlesque theatres, and carnivals, encounters dapper dons, pug-nosed thugs, and
criticism and a book of film scholarship— Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu , Bresson, Dreyer (1972)—as well as several essays on cinema including the persistent “Notes on Film Noir” (1972). I want to thank Paul Schrader for being here. TB: As I was
. The tension is sustained as the man leans in against a door, with the sound repeated: ‘KNOCK KNOCK’. The framing of the action is reminiscent of film noir, reduced to still images. 11 This couple are the parents of two girls, shown cowering in bed as
Brendan Rooney, Hanna Kubicka, Carl Plantinga, James Kendrick, and Johannes Riis
ethics is Visions of Virtue in Popular Film (1999). Other representative examples of work by philosophers include Ward E. Jones and Samantha Vice’s collection Ethics at the Cinema (2011), Dan Flory’s Philosophy, Black Film, Film Noir (2008), and