Along the way, Lingeman discusses dozens of films, asserting: “Films noir . . . reflected the personal anxieties of the late forties. They vacuumed up the psychological detritus swirling in the air, the velleities [fancies], secret wishes, criminal thoughts, unspoken fears, dream images of the times.” As a fellow member of the noirist generation, I am in sympathy with this framework, even if Lingeman’s bridge from the personal to the cultural to the macro is not always clear. Still, the undertone of blackness fits well a time that few can remember with nostalgia.


James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.