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Watch: Film Noir as a Subversion of Melodrama

Noir is a “challenge to dominant values,” according to critic Peter Labuza in this concise visual essay on one of cinephiles’ favorite “modes.” Bridging The Classical Hollywood Cinema with the writings of Linda Williams, Labuza considers film noir as a method of subverting the building blocks of melodrama, thus imbuing its viewers with a “feeling of displacement.” Perhaps most disorienting is that in everything from Mildred Pierce to My Name is Julia Ross, there is no weepy sense of satisfaction for the taking.

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