Where the sea and the city meet, they corrupt each other. Around docks, the ocean’s margins are scummy with oil and floating garbage; the water corrodes hulls, encrusts pilings, and slimes steps. Ports cater to men who come in and out with the tide, offering them prostitutes, dives, and cheap hotels. Yet the waterfront, with its brawling sailors and squabbling gulls, also reeks of poetry. The air is saturated with moisture and melancholy; a farewell mood infiltrates everything like the salt air.
This environment is a natural breeding ground for film noir. “It’s funny how water, or rather its margins, always attracts you when you’re at a loss, don’t know what to do or where to go,” Cornell Woolrich writes in The Black Path of Fear. It also attracts those looking to dispose of a body (The Reckless Moment, Where the Sidewalk Ends), live outside the law (Pickup on South Street, Night and the City), flee the country (99 River Street), or just scrabble for an honest living in a dirty world (Edge of the City). In noir, even the beach is a place of angst, not relaxation (Woman on the Beach, Female on the Beach), and beach houses are not getaways but places where everything ends, badly (Criss Cross, Mildred Pierce, Kiss Me Deadly).
Hip-Hop’s Big-Screen Breakthrough
As the influence of the New York–born cultural movement began to spread across the country, cinema gave audiences a deeper sense of the sounds and styles that had emerged from it.
The Replacements: AI in the Movies
Over the past half-century of sci-fi cinema, the theme of artificial intelligence has foregrounded our anxieties about sex, reproduction, and labor in the modern world.
Elvis’s Adventures in Hollywood
Over the course of thirty-one feature films, one of the world’s most revered rock-and-roll icons developed a charismatic persona all his own—and created moments of surprising dramatic depth.
You have no items in your shopping cart