Woman in the background, man in front. She’s at a greater distance. At least there’s no physical contact. She’s always looking at him
Man behind woman: extremely close, grasping her upper body. A common visual element with differing dramatic valences.
Edgar G. Ulmer’s Poverty Row B movie Strange Illusion is probably the most Oedipal film noir ever made.
This might be the best scene in The Big Sleep.
We’re moving on from Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives but I wanted to suggest the the ways that text and the ad hoc genre of domestic noir intersect with the course as a whole.
As we said in class the home is often idealized as a space of intimacy and nurturance– a sanctuary from the stress and low-grade violence of the streets. This view of domesticity maps directly onto the well-established ideology of “separate spheres,” a gendered distinction between public and private that has historically coded the home as feminine and the world of business and politics as its masculine obverse. Yet you’ll recall that in the Manifesto Marx and Engels note one of the key characteristics of capitalist modernity is the tendency for market relations to permeate even the institution of the family. There is no real outside to the demands of capital– its compulsions to compete and exploit.
Here’s a sampling of films that can properly be called domestic noir. Several of them are available online.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
A Double Life (Cukor 1947) stars Ronald Coleman as Anthony John, a stage actor consumed by the role of Othello who slips into madness. Shelley Winters plays Pat Kroll, a slatternly waitress he comes to believe is Desdemona. This is a great story about doubling and division, a kind of Shakespearean noir.
This looks great: