Acting and Performance in Film Noir

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    By considering performance according to three particular modes – screen, diegetic, and social – this chapter establishes a framework through which to think about acting and performance in film noir and to determine what Richard de Cordova refers to as the “generic specificity of certain forms of performance.” It reveals how performance in noir interacts with these modes in revealing ways. I suggest that what is central to the generic specificity of noir performance is less a particular acting style than an emotion that is differently and variously enacted. ‘Angst’ and anxiety are repeatedly invoked in critical discussions of film noir as central to its sensibility and evident in its themes, storylines, and use of cinematic techniques. This chapter argues that the performance of angst is a key characteristic of film noir, found in the gestures, mannerisms and expressions of its leading men and women, evident in its characterizations and narratives, and demonstrated via its construction of gendered and social roles.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationA Companion to Film Noir
    EditorsAndrew Spicer, Helen Hanson
    Place of PublicationWest Sussex
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Print)9781444336276
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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