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 Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Quarterly, Reverse Shot, and other publications.

18 Results

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

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

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Paradise Found: Il Cinema Ritrovato
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.

Mistress of Ceremonies
Mistress of Ceremonies

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

By Imogen Sara Smith

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Corridor of Mirrors: The Eternal Return

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

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

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

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The Beautiful Crimes of Henri Decaë

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

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Fatal Women and the Fate of Women

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

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Beauty and the Beast: Ralph Meeker in Something Wild

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.

Lost and Found Cinema
Lost and Found Cinema

On a trip to the Library of Congress’s Mostly Lost workshop—affectionately known as “film-geek heaven”—Imogen Sara Smith joined early-cinema aficionados in uncovering treasures from the vaults.

Tough and Not-So-Tough Guys

Dark Passages

Tough and Not-So-Tough Guys

What defines noir acting? In her latest Dark Passages column, Imogen Sara Smith examines the stylistic variety in some of the genre’s most iconic male performances, including Burt Lancaster in The Killers and Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly.

Mildred Pierce: A Woman’s Work
Mildred Pierce: A Woman’s Work

Joan Crawford delivers one of her greatest performances in Michael Curtiz’s unsparing look at class, ambition, and the all-consuming intensity of maternal love.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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The Devil in the Details

Dark Passages

The Devil in the Details

To make the performance of a tedious, exacting, time-consuming task riveting to watch, it is only necessary for the activity to be illegal.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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Exile at Home

Dark Passages

Exile at Home

Imogen Sara Smith examines the tensions between tradition and modernity reflected in two silent crime films by Yasujiro Ozu and Tomu Uchida.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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Noir on the Range

Dark Passages

Noir on the Range

In her latest column, critic Imogen Sara Smith explores landmark moments in the intersection of noir and the western, including Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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What’s in a Name

Dark Passages

What’s in a Name

If you consider noir as a global phenomenon, then films like Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le moko (1937), Jean Renoir’s La bête humaine (1938), and Carné’s Port of Shadows (1938) may be the first full harvest of this bitter crop.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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Is The Red Shoes a Film Noir?

Dark Passages

Is The Red Shoes a Film Noir?

While considered to lie outside the highly policed boundaries of film noir, films like Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind and Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes nevertheless share many of noir’s stylistic and thematic tropes.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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In a Lonely Place: An Epitaph for Love
In a Lonely Place: An Epitaph for Love

Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place imbues the conventions of film noir with a subtle, tense vulnerability that lends a naturalistic weight to the film’s powerful emotional impact.


By Imogen Sara Smith

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Odd Man Out: Death and the City
Odd Man Out: Death and the City

Before he turned Vienna into a labyrinth of shadows with The Third Man, Carol Reed brought film noir to Belfast for this stylishly fatalistic tale of a man caught up in political violence.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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