German Expressionism

German Expressionism as a movement in the arts flourished in the 1920s, strongly associated with the disillusionment of the post-WWI era. It contrasted itself to the reigning canons of realism and impressionism and, instead, focused on subjective emotional experience, alienation and violence of modern city life. Artists like Wassily Kandinsky, George Grosz, and Oskar Kokoschka, … Continue reading German Expressionism

High Sierra (film), Treasure of the Sierra Madre & “Desert Noir”

High Sierra (1941) is often described as a “heist” film, but it is actually part of a broader incorporation of the American West into film noir.       The West, especially in its arid parts, has long been the scene of American myth-making, some of it inspired by actual history.   The general theme of popular narratives … Continue reading High Sierra (film), Treasure of the Sierra Madre & “Desert Noir”

The Maltese Falcon (novel & film)

The Maltese Falcon (1930) is probably America's greatest detective novel: it was recognized as such when published, and critics continue to affirm its importance. It defines the American conception of the private eye, Sam Spade, of the femme fatale, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and of the hard-boiled style. It is an eerie prognosticator of the personal and … Continue reading The Maltese Falcon (novel & film)