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.

25 Results

Bitter Harvest

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

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Look Back in Rapture: Il Cinema Ritrovato
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

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Swing Time: Heaven Can’t Wait
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

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Shooting Stars
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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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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.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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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.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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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.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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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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