Author Spotlight

Imogen Sara Smith

Imogen Sara Smith is the author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City and Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy. Her writing has appeared in Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Reverse Shot, and other publications.

34 Results
High Sierra: Crashing Out

In Raoul Walsh’s elegy for the Depression-era archetype of the noble outlaw, Humphrey Bogart plays an old-fashioned desperado who has outlived his time.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Now Voyageurs: Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021

In the thirty-fifth edition of the Italian festival dedicated to restored films, an eclectic lineup underscores the transportive physicality of cinema after a long year stuck at home.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Dancing in the Dark

A powerful motif in film noir from around the world, dance is by turns a tool of seduction, a source of humiliation, and a symbol of the pleasures and risks of spectatorship.

By Imogen Sara Smith

When Hollywood Was a Writers’ Town: A Conversation with Philippe Garnier

In this sprawling interview, the veteran French journalist recounts the long, eccentric research journey behind his newly translated portrait of the writers who fueled American cinema in the thirties and forties.

By Imogen Sara Smith

People and Places of Scoundrels & Spitballers

Tinseltown’s golden age comes to life in this supplemental guide to our conversation with journalist Philippe Garnier.

By Imogen Sara Smith

The Cameraman: Man with a Movie Camera

Buster Keaton struggled with higher-ups at MGM while making his last great film, which the studio would later hold up as a model of a perfectly constructed comedy.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Stepping Out: On Watching Women Walk

A pedestrian activity becomes a radical vision in Elevator to the Gallows, La notte, Vagabond, and other films that follow their female stars on foot.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Hotel Noir

From the squalid to the generic, cheap hotels serve as a quintessential habitat for the lonely, transitory people in crime cinema.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

On the Waterfront

Pessimism, melancholy, and corruption come in with the tide in the greatest seaside noirs, including classics by Josef von Sternberg, Ingmar Bergman, and Marcel Carné.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Bitter Harvest

Three noirs from 1949 plough up the dark underbelly of agriculture, exploring the corrupt system that puts food on our tables.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Look Back in Rapture: Il Cinema Ritrovato

Bologna’s annual celebration of classic movies is a site of endless discovery, inspiring new ways of thinking about our nostalgia for cinema’s past.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Swing Time: Heaven Can’t Wait

In their most sublime collaboration, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers perfected a seamless blend of song, dance, and swooning romance.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Shooting Stars

With the help of MGM’s most ingenious photographers, screen goddesses like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford made the still portrait a key part of their artistry.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Least Wanted—Film Noir’s Character Actors: Harry Morgan

In Frank Borzage’s Southern Gothic noir Moonrise, the actor captures a heartbreaking mixture of love and fear with his deeply empathetic (and very brief) portrayal of a deaf-mute.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Least Wanted—Film Noir’s Character Actors: Wallace Ford

A haven for aging Hollywood actors, film noir had plenty of room for performers like Wallace Ford, who brought a hard-scrabble energy to the roles of has-beens and losers.

By Imogen Sara Smith

The Birth of a Quiet Radical: John M. Stahl’s Silent Films

Long thought lost or unavailable, John M. Stahl’s early films highlight his mastery of melodrama, combining elegant framing with explosive emotions and a commitment to exploring women’s experience.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Least Wanted—Film Noir’s Character Actors: Thelma Ritter

Supporting roles bring potent flavor to classic Hollywood’s darkest genre. In the first installment of a series, Imogen Sara Smith pays tribute to the queen of character actors: Thelma Ritter.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Paradise Found: Il Cinema Ritrovato

An annual destination for cinephiles from around the world, this film festival in Bologna is a magical place to discover the richness of cinema’s past.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Mistress of Ceremonies

Marlene Dietrich’s sexually authoritative, coolly insolent persona was the product of meticulous screen craft.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Deep Dives

Corridor of Mirrors: The Eternal Return

Building on a rich lineage of gothic fairy tales and noirish melodramas, this lavishly stylized curio has an ominous beauty all its own.

By Imogen Sara Smith

One Scene

The Sun on Their Faces: One Scene from People on Sunday

One of the most memorable sequences in the silent classic People on Sunday explores the experience of being photographed and the tension between still and moving images.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

The Beautiful Crimes of Henri Decaë

In her latest column, critic Imogen Sara Smith explains how cinematographer Henri Decaë brought a risk-taking spirit and seductive allure to some of the most iconic French crime films.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Dark Passages

Fatal Women and the Fate of Women

What is the defining characteristic of the femme fatale? Critic Imogen Sara Smith explores the range of this film noir archetype through a handful of classic performances.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Performances

Beauty and the Beast: Ralph Meeker in Something Wild

Known for playing sexy noir toughs, Ralph Meeker underwent a startling transformation as the anguished, slovenly male lead in Jack Garfein’s psychological drama.

By Imogen Sara Smith