Welcome Richard Lingeman (The Nation) and Host Richard Kreitner (The Nation) (Twitter @richardkreitner)

The Noir Forties: The American People From Victory To Cold War

In 1970, in the middle of the Vietnam War, Richard Lingeman published Don’t You Know There’s a War On?: The American Home Front, 1941-1945, a social history that sifted through that era’s cultural detritus—films, books, music, politics—for evidence of what it was like to be in America in wartime. In the wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, the only remote antecedent of which was the Japanese attack on a Hawaiian naval base in December 1941, Lingeman found himself noticing parallels between what he was seeing in the U.S. at that time and his childhood years during the war. Ten years ago next month, the book was reissued.

Lingeman’s new book, The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War, is essentially a sequel to that earlier volume, using similarly extensive cultural analysis to evoke the heady atmosphere of America in the 1940s: a potent mixture of optimism and despair, affluence and poverty, confidence and fear, idealism and paranoia. Echoing other observers’ descriptions of the period in question—“the age of anxiety,” “the age of doubt,” “postwar blues,” triumphalist despair,” “the biggest hangover in history”—Lingeman writes that “these moods and emotions were the mass psychological subsoil in which sprouted the nation’s politics and culture at the time.”

If Lingeman, a longtime senior editor at The Nation, found similarities between the early 1940s and the years after 9/11, it does not take a stretch of the imagination to assume there may be some parallels between the years after World War II and the years ahead of us right now, as the wars in Iraq and now Afghanistan begin to finally wind down to an indecisive, belated close. Lingeman doesn’t pursue such inquiries in The Noir Forties, but they are just below the surface of his well-crafted and exceptionally well-researched—and surprisingly personal—new book.

Though Lingeman does an excellent job of defending the thesis behind his title—a topic which we’ll explore in our discussion today—the book is about much more than film noir. It can perhaps be summed up as an extended meditation on Raymond Chandler’s quip that “the story of our time is not the war nor atomic energy but the marriage of an idealist to a gangster and how their home life and children turned out.” We are those children and The Noir Forties goes a long way towards documenting our family history.

Please join me in welcoming Richard Lingeman to the FDL Book Salon.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

92 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Richard Lingeman, The Noir Forties: The American People From Victory To Cold War”

BevW March 17th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Richard, Ricky, Welcome to the Lake.

Ricky, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 1:59 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

here i am

dakine01 March 17th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Richard and Richard and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon (since I am also a Richard, always glad to see that others aren’t Dicks – buh dap bump)

Richard L., I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but would you care to speculate as to why so much literature and movies and such went to such dark themes and Noir after the war? Was it a reaction to all the darkness of the war and the Depression or had folks just gotten so used to things being dark that it was difficult to break out?

Bringing things up to present day and the parallels with 9/11, why do you think people have gotten so fearful today? I never perceived noir as being particularly fearful in the darkness myself

(For what it’s worth, I look at Hammett as the start of a lot of the noir genre but that’s just me)

Elliott March 17th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Welcome to the Lake
fascinating premise for a book

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Hi everyone–welcome to the FDL Book Salon for Richard Lingeman’s The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War.

Let’s start at the beginning, Richard: The Noir Forties, though almost entirely a cultural and political history of the years from just after World War II to the early 1950s, is bookended by a highly personal memoir of your time as an intelligence officer in Japan in the mid-50s. How are your experiences in Japan related to the broader topic, and what role did they have in motivating you to write this book?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:06 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

I believe those years immediately after WWII‚1945-50—were crucial watershed yars. It was a period of transition, change, uncertainty. Of course there were joyful homecomings. But people were very worried there’d be another Depression–the war had taken us out of the last one but now it was over. Also, I think there was much overhang of grief from the war in which we lost 400,000 young men. People were still working through that And there was anxiety newly minted about the Soviets once our allies and also about the bomb. All those contributed to film noir, along with sortof the death of WWII idealism and hopes for peace.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to Elliott @ 4

I found it a fascinating time. An I also got to watch a lot of film noirs what we call “research” in the trade.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Can you say a little about about the effect of the end of war on the culture of the time? You write in the book a bit about the unprecedented return of 15 million veterans, and how that sort of injected the idea of death into an otherwise generally jubilant and valedictory mood of the times. Was film noir the fruit of those seeds?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I put my own experiences in the book because I felt they were connected to that crucial time. In other words, in 1950 the Korean War started and then the cold war and then my generation faced the draft. I ended up in the counter intelligence corps—a cold warrior so to speak. And thus I got caught up in all the loyalty-security troubles of the times–the beginning of mccarthyism, the loyalty oaths the background investigations. All that stemmed from the anticommunism of the late 40s and I wanted to understnad the roots of the cold war which traced back almost to VJ Day in America, where my book starts.
So I call my book “a memoir in t˙e form of history.”

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Film noir in the words of one of the French critics who named it (yes Americans invented film noir and the French discovered it)—this critic said “film noir is a film about death.”And also saturated with fear, anxiety, dread. Even at the time of the first films noir like Double Indemnity (1944) the reviewers were saying this is something new on screen a preoccupation with death and violence. Only not the phoney kind in Hollywood war propaganda films

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Who do you see as the main driving force behind the turn of our policy toward the Soviet Union during this time from ally to cold war villain ?

Must confess that there are more than a few here that see the Democratic party and Harry Truman in this role with the ouster of Henry Wallace as VP. Myself included.

RevBev March 17th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Would you please talk about the American response to our dropping the bombs? It seems to be we always get the success/ended the war picture without much thought to the killing and devastation.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Also I would add with all the homecoming veterans in the audience the Hollywood war films were laughed at. Films noir–being about death and murder were more reflective of he violence of the time without the Hollywood phoniness.

Phoenix Woman March 17th, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hello, Richards! Welcome to the Lake!

One thing I, as a person who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, found interesting about the book was its documenting the fact that the “greatest generation” mythology didn’t kick in until well after the war’s end; for many years after the end of the war, the “psychopathic veteran” was a movie staple.

Contrary to the nonsense pushed by the right wing, it would seem that Vietnam and World War II vets had very similar postwar experiences — and the massive ambivalence both sets of veterans engendered in the population at large was not confined to a specific part of the populace. (The big myth favored by the right wing, of course, is that the hippies and lefties were the only people picking on the returning Vietnam veterans, when in fact the hippies may have done the least amount of picking on veterans; they at least weren’t the ones quietly refusing to give them jobs. There wouldn’t have been the need for the “Don’t forget – hire the vet!” slogan if vets weren’t being treated as pariahs by many potential bosses.)

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 11

No single driving force, though there were high-up people in the military even before the war was over saying: “The Russians are bext.” And then around 1948 people high up in government like Defense Secy Forresal started war scares to whip up sentiment for arms spending. Truman, who’d been against increased defense spending went along with that. Then came the Korean war and the MI complex was born—or reborn.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 11

I’m very glad you brought up Wallace–once Richard answers your question, I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the recent dust-up related to Wallace, which as an exchange in the New York Review of Books between Sean Wilentz on the one hand and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick on the other. Wilentz had argued that Stone and Kuznick, in their recent book and Showtime series, vastly overstate Wallace’s popularity in 1944, as well as FDR’s support for keeping him on the ticket that year. They also, Wilentz argues, downplay both the Communist influence on his campaign and the importance of that influence in assessing what his campaign meant and what a Wallace victory would have looked like. Stone and Kuznick, as far as I can tell, see in history what they want to see–which is an angelic Wallace and a devilish Truman. Which is true, but only to a point.

I’d love to hear Richard’s thoughts on this subject, and anyone who read the exchange in the Review, which is here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/mar/21/untold-history-exchange/?pagination=false

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 14

I agree with much of that. We Americans are kind of hypocritical about our treatment of vets—”honoring their service” but not providing adequate help. Of course the great GI Bill after WWII came drm teh New Deal and it was some success. But WWII vets often felt shunned and had trouble communicating with the home folks.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I should state, by the way, that Richard devotes much attention in the book to Wallace, and brings him out as both a unique political figure of the time but also one whose struggles to navigate the highly complex waters of postwar liberalism were representative of the time.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 11

Oh yes, as for Wallace. Simply put I examined his 1948 “peace campaign” as a bona fide anti-cold war voice. I wanted to understand it. it had weaknesses, but he wa a sincere man and was tring to have an honest debate on whether we wanted a cold war or not. But it never came about.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Why didn’t it come about? Who was trying to avoid such a conversation? And bringing things back to culture, how was all of this evident in the film, movies, etc., of the late 40s?

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Interesting that you would bring that up. Since after watching the PBS series on The WAR, more than a few of the interviews with the WWII vets mentioned that those at home did not want to hear about what they went through and a lot of VETS did not want to talk about their experience.

I keep thinking of The Best Years of Their Lives and that one with Spencer Tracy…Bad Day at Black Rock.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Asd for the Oliver Stone brouhaha over Wallace. Well, I think there’s a lot of truth in his film. Wallace was actually following through on FDR’s policy of talking with the Soviets rather than shunning them. That was replaced by “get tough.” And then rearmament. Of course the Soviets gave us a lot of provocation. But in the end haven’t we come out where Wallace said we should be: Peaceful coexistence?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

People weren’t interested in a debate. They’d made up their minds—following what the govt told them—that You can’t talk to the Soviets.” Wallace was shut up by Red baiting. Yes, he was cooperating with American Communists, but he said Ho can I run a peace campaign if I kick out anyone who’s a communist?

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

There were (and still are) a lot of very rich people who where scared shit pants of communism and socialism here. And for good reason, to my mind.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

As a silly aside, don’t forget that we have Guy Noir trying to solve the mysteries of life.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:38 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 21

“Best Years of Our Lives” which I discuss in my book was a fine film and it did honestly depict k a lot of vets problems. It’s ever been thus. People at home are tired of war, don’t want to hear about it and don’t know what to say if they are told about the horrors of war.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Double post…sorry.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:41 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 24

I too find myself far more sympathetic to what some have called the anti-anti-communists than the anti-communists, but I have the pleasure of knowing such a commitment has been redeemed by history, by 1989, etc. But when one thinks harder about it, it’s not so obvious to me that in 1948 an American presidential candidate should have willingly let his campaign be managed and staffed by a group of people for whom the accusation of “dual loyalty” may have even been an overestimation of their allegiance to the United States.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 24

Socialism” and “”Commnism” were used interchangeably. When the Brits went Socialist in 1945, kicking out Winnie, conswervatives were fearfjul that the New Dealers would do the same here. Not a chance of course. But crying ‘communist” has a long political history going back to the Heart papers int eh 30s and then the GOP in 1944 used it against FDR’ Foruth Term campaign.

“Best Years of Our Lives” which I discuss in my book was a fine film and it did honestly depict k a lot of vets problems. It’s ever been thus. People at home are tired of war, don’t want to hear about it and don’t know what to say if they are told about the horrors of war.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

One of the things that I hear both on FDL and in personal conversations is “my _____ (fill in the blank) never wants/wanted to talk about his experiences in WWII/Viet Nam.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Richard, what do you think are some especially insightful cultural artifacts from time, in film noir or anywhere else, for thinking about the combination of idealism and paranoia, etc., that marked the age? What are some of your favorites?

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

People at home are tired of war, don’t want to hear about it and don’t know what to say if they are told about the horrors of war.

This I think was not a good thing. If they had heard about it more, maybe they would not have gone along with those that came after.

A more hones communication may have helped to change our view….or not.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

that wasn’t very smart I agree. But he got to depend on them ringing doorbells, getting his name on state ballots. the CP wasn’t illegal. Finally, as I said, he was running a peace campaign and if he started kicking off the communists he would have ought into the geenneral hysteria. HOWEVER< the CP people USED WAllace I don't think kindly of that.

Teddy Partridge March 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Thank you for writing this book, which I am finding very entertaining and informative. I agree it’s a “lost half-decade” if you will, because people tend to sequence end-of-WW2-then-Ike-is-president. But there were tremendous foundational decisions made during this time, particularly around our National Security State.

I was specifically taken by the worries in Washington that the end of WW2, and Americans’ great relief and “return to bed” afterwards, presented a danger. Of course, Americans really haven’t been to bed since, because the opportunity for never-ending war was seized, right then, and has never been relinquished.

What forces did you find were brought to bear to begin the never-ending war, and where did these originate? How much of a holdover, or resurgence, were they from the early thirties industrialists’ desire to ‘stop Roosevelt?’

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The use of “communist” goes back to post WWI. Remember the “Red Scare” and all of the anger and fear of the Soviets after 1917. We actually sent troops to fight the Red Army in Russia.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 30

We personally and as a country and culture prefer to view our rules ion a positive light. Rather that the reality of what we have done.

Soothes ore precious little egos, don’t you know.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Right I think that is the element that Wilentz was especially trying to draw attention to, and which Stone/Kuznick were uncomfortable addressing, at best. There is much ground between asking a presidential candidate to not make alliances with certain elements and advocating those elements be criminalized. This of course has very contemporary implications. Wallace is a fascinating figure. You talk in the book about this, but what do you make of his later renunciation of much of what he had earlier stood for? Again, Wilentz accuses Stone and Kuznick of skipping over this, but it seems eminent relevant to assessing his legacy.

joelmael March 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

RE, Sorry I haven’t read your book but am curious if your CIC experience gave you any insight re the G. David Schine controversy.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I think of movements like World Federalism, which now sem quaintly naive but were then taken seriously, even in Congress. The point is a lto of peopel (like my father, like me) were trying to say No more wars. But… no

I also like the pre-rock iand roll songs like “Let the Good times Roll” which were faster, sexier than the standard Tin Pan Alley glop of the times (which I used to ting) and I believe Abstract Expressionism, to move into the high arts was very much a part of that time.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 32

I agree absolutely

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 35

Scared the crap out of those at the top. At the bottom not so much.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

In the book you give an account of the kind of strident social criticism that was generally not far from the surface of film noir. How was that evident? Who was putting it there? And how is it related to the eventual decline of film noir just as the cold war was heating up, both at home and abroad?

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 2:52 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 41

I think that is still true.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thank you.
I don’t don’t believe in conspiracies, but there was an aggressive anti-communist, preventive war element in the military and the National Security apparatus, most paranoid people Like James Forrestal.
But there was pressure from industry to revive defense contracts which were regarded as a kind of cash cow guaranteeing economic stability.
The aircraft industry in California was dying after the war and so there was pressure to revive it, which indeed happened as the Korean War started.
A lot of people simply hated communism which was a portmaneau word for Stalin, the Soviet union and the Communist Party USA.
Who could like Stalin a tyrant worse than Hitler

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I was thinking fo the wave of what for want of a better term could be called “social problem films’ that came out after the war. “Crossfire” is an example of the type. Produced by idealistic iberal Dore Schary. Attacking anti-Semitism (other films attacked racism). This was part of the postwar idealism on the left.
In Hollywood this was soon shot down by the UAC investigations of 19 47.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Who could like Stalin a tyrant worse than Hitler

Not even the Soviets after he died. Khrushchev vilified Stalin a great deal and tried to undo the damage he had done.

caleb36 March 17th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

In a macro sense, do you consider that the period from World War II to the Korean War belongs to the period before it (the New Deal years and World War II) or to the 1950s era which followed it? Or is it an era which stands apart from either?

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Let’s talk a bit about death. What are some of the characteristics of Americans’ relation to death in the early atomic era, as evidenced in film noir and other cultural artifacts?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
In response to joelmael @ 38

Not sure of teh connection with Schine, who was Roy Cohen’s sidekick on JOe McCarthy’s committee. There was perhaps a similar mind set in that Cohn and Schine wanted to, say, toss out all the “communist” books in the US Information Agency’s libraries–meaning books by vauely liberal authors, perhaps Sinclair Lewis or Theodore Dreiser. That is, when you startCommuinst hunting you look for “tendencies” and views that you consider like those of Communists.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I have read a number of accounts by industry owners that had said if not for the cold war contracts, they would have gone belly up. A number of electronics firms did when the these contracts were canceled in the 1970s and even late 1960s.

tejanarusa March 17th, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I’ve only gotten a start on your book, but the whole premise is intriguing. and I admit the title really caught my eye on the library shelf.

So glad to hear you include “The Best Years of Their Lives.”

I suppose the blacklisting of some of the best screenwriters came after the period you cover in your book?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
In response to caleb36 @ 47

I believe it was a combination. That is a strong anti-New Deal counter attack rose up after the war, after FDR’s death, and the country entered a conservative era (though Truman ran successfully on the FDair Deal and extension of the New Deal in ’489). But the fifties with the anticommunist, Mccarthyism panics was to some extent the era of conformity that we say it was, though it also saw the rise of dissident cultural movments like the Beats.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I think the best description I heard so far was from a European that said “Americans seem to think death is optional.”

I did a diary on this subject on another blog a few years ago. That Americans try to hide from it and/or pretend it can be put off or something.

Look at how if occurs these days. In a hospital or hospice while drugged up.

Did not use to be that way. Up tile the late 1940s, it was something everyone faced from their earliest days. In the family and towns etc.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:05 pm
In response to tejanarusa @ 51

Yes. Briefly I argue——and I’m reflecting film scholars—that there was a postwar creative ferment, of which the films noir and the “social problem pictures’ were part. Then ame HUAC and the blacklist , which enforced a political and creative conformity on Hollywood. Also there industry was worried about slumping box office and made more “entertainment pictures.

Kevin Gosztola March 17th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Found the second chapter of your book where you use D.O.A. (and other films) to explore what it was like for soldiers coming home from war intriguing. I also enjoyed your insight into films that were made with subtle messages or stories crafted by directors/writers/actors etc to comment on the effects of the blacklist in Hollywood.

Wondering if you have a brief remark to share on Hollywood turning to police procedurals over film noir during the blacklist and how the point of view shifted to that of the authorities. This was a shift by Hollywood executives/producers, not because moviegoers questioned content of noir films? And were there any films that you know of where directors/writers intended them to be noir films and were met with pressure to make them as a police procedural?

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

While we’re on the topic of the New Deal I was wondering whether Richard or anyone else has yet read Ira Katznelson’s new book, Fear Itself. He’s largely talking about the South and how Southern Democratic politicians both put a real break on FDR’s more activist plans and enabled the things that did in the end get done. He also looks at the New Deal from an international lens, as an attempt to justify democracy at a time when it seemed seriously doomed.

Phoenix Woman March 17th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 35

Yes. The Soviet Union never invaded and attacked the United States with armed troops. The United States, however, attacked the Soviet Union in a joint effort with the other European powers — something that’s left out of most American schoolbook texts.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 57

Yep.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

WEll, Sigmund Freud in his great essay “Thoughts on Death in Wartime” (he had 3 sons in World War I on the German side. He said that the ubiquity of death in wartime, treading about it, the mass deaths—and even though our news was censored we were exposed on the homefront to death. It was communicated. And as Freud said, the spectacle of those deaths makes us drop the cultural blocks that keep us in denial about death, and to think perhaps abut our own mortality. And it’s true Americans tend to cosmeticize death. But that’s a big subject.

joelmael March 17th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I thought that McCarthy tried to get Schine assigned to the CIC and that was part of the “improper influence”

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I don’t thing the Film Noir actually died as such, but transferred to science fiction.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I’ll show my film ignorance here, but, to me, the Clint Eastwood films, both the westerns and the Dirty Harrys were an outgrowth of the film noir. They were changed of course, but I felt that they were connected.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:14 pm
In response to Kevin Gosztola @ 55

Some scholarly studies have shown that the film noir wave was more or less followed by police procedurals. In the classic noirs the cops were often corrupt, or at least flawed—humans. think of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe like Farewell My Lovely, but others as well. But as noir’s existential, anti-authority point of view became suspect, it was phased out and a new kind of crime film came in. starting with , say, The Naked City.” Which I’d call a film noir but was basically a film for strong law and order (the city was a jungle full of predatory beasts). Before the city was kind of a setting for fears but then it became a symbol of the breakdown of law and order and the need for strong cops. That was the trend in the police procedura.s
Idon’t know of any that were changed in the making but there may have been.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:14 pm
In response to joelmael @ 60

That may well be. I don’t recall but it sounds plausib.e

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 62

All of the films and TV Rod Serling did as well. Nearly all of which were very dark. The Day The Earth Stood Still which ends with an ultimatum. Join us or you planet become space debris. Can’t get much darker than that.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 57

You’re probably right. Also, television programs probably started to take some of that genre. Perhaps Twilight Zone.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 57

Yes, I didn’t learn that until college and even then it was not really given any context or deconstruction.

tejanarusa March 17th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Funny you should mention “Fear Itself.” I just got it from my library, first to check it out. Glanced through enough to see the germs of his thesis about the South.
I foresee no tv in my future as I read both these fascinating historical analyses.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 62

I don’t disagree. i think of the 1945-50 films noir as the “true” films noir–arbitarily maybe. Then there are the “post noir noirs” like Pulp Fiction and many others. Basically the first wave films noir were crime films, involving murder and death but not “detective stories” or “murder mysteries.” They were about unmotivated cruelty and violence at times, reflecting wartime.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Interesting view. Using fantasy to deal with the preceding realities.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:19 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 65

I owe you one. You really beat me to it.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to tejanarusa @ 68

Ah well that might be just as well then. As katznelson himself acknowledges, writing a new book about the New Deal is almost an impossible task, but he seems to provide a genuinely new way of thinking about the new deal in both a domestic and international sense, and for that I think he will reap real rewards. Another interesting if less monumental book on the new deal is coming out later this spring, City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York, by Mason Williams.

tejanarusa March 17th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

This is really interesting. I had never thought about noir films compared to police procedurals in that way before.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:21 pm
In response to cmaukonen @ 65

Yes the Day the Earth Stood still was one of the early science fiction films that were at first at least parables of survival, inspired by fears of the Bomb and WWII. They called for World Govt. Later we learned to lvoe the bomb so to speak. Sicience fiction in the fifties became more conformist and anticommunist.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Would A Clockwork Orange fit in there somewhere?

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Yes some good studies of the New Deal coming out. And of course the GOP today is still trying to roll back the New Deal.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 75

Anthony Burgess is English though they had a noir tradition. But
Clockwork Orange’ almost sui generis, a mix of sci fi, noir and orwell. maybe

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

So Richard as we’re kind of pulling into the last lap of the discussion here I’d like to bring things to the slightly higher philosophical level you end on–back where you started, in Japan.

“Awareness is all”–the last words of the book. Could you put a little meat on those bones, especially for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading your book? What were you saying there?

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

And don’t forget Forbidden Planet. I kind of Sci Fi version of The Tempest. A condemnation of science gone berserk. The Krell having destroyed themselves with their technology and forgetting that they are still part primitive in their desires.

BearCountry March 17th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I want to thank everyone for this great discussion, esp. the host Richard and the author Richard.

joelmael March 17th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I cannot say it’s a fact but as a buck private at Ft Holabird in 1954 I was privy to the amusement of my barracks mates at McCarthy’s denial of trying to influence the army’s assignment of Schine.

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:33 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 80

Well it’s been my pleasure–hope it’s been enjoyable and informative. Thanks for participating.

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:34 pm
In response to BearCountry @ 80

Yes. Same here. We need more people to delve deeply into the motivations behind our history to really understand how we got to where we are and how to move beyond it.

BevW March 17th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Richard, any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

Richard Kreitner March 17th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Alright well either we’re about to receive the greatest philosophical text of our time or it looks like this conversation might be drawing to a close. I just want to thank everyone for their participation and comments: I highly, highly recommend picking up The Noir Forties at a physical bookstore near you. Thanks all!

BevW March 17th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Richard, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and film noir.

Richard, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Richard Lingeman’s website and book

Richard Kreitner’s website and Twitter

Thanks all, Have a great week.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

thanks, Firedoglake people for your kind attention.
Richard

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I was only saying that as a young man I was not sufficiently AWARE, of the times, of the issues. So the simple message is: we are citizens of a sometime democracy and we have to stay awake, say on the qui vive to keep it that way. the most antidemocratic thing our govt does is to send us out to be killed. So just make sure there is a good reason to die for your country.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 3:55 pm
In response to joelmael @ 81

Hey were your there. I was there then

cmaukonen March 17th, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Few of us were Richard. Few of us were……

joelmael March 17th, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I was there summer of 54 thru March of 56. Small post but I don’t remember your name. I worked under the post AG, post morning report clerk, not part of CIC per se.

Richard Lingeman March 17th, 2013 at 5:26 pm
In response to joelmael @ 91

I was at the CIC school so that’s why we didn’t meet I guess.

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