Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall

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9780801865619: Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall

"Tourneur was a great director, fully deserving of the thoroughly researched and perceptive treatment he receives from Chris Fujiwara."―Martin Scorsese

As the director of Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and Night of the Demon, Jacques Tourneur crafted three horror classics which, decades later, have lost none of their power to frighten audiences. And his 1947 film Out of the Past is still acknowledged as the quintessential film noir. Yet Tourneur himself remains underappreciated and his contribution to cinema history neglected. Many of his films, however, reveal a fluid artistry absent from the routine studio fare of the era. Working in a variety of genres, from Westerns ( Canyon Passage) and spy films ( Berlin Express) to swashbucklers ( The Flame and the Arrow) and melodramas ( Experiment Perilous), Tourneur imposed a personal cinematic vision that emphasized uncertainty and ambiguity.

In Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall, the first in-depth exploration of Tourneur's career, Chris Fujiwara offers a detailed film-by-film analysis of the director's four French films, his 20 MGM shorts, and his 29 studio productions, as well as his work in television. As Fujiwara shows, mystery, sensuality, and a deliberately restrained expressionism were the hallmarks of Tourneur's style, which frequently overcame the difficult circumstances in which he worked. Informative and immensely readable, this book provides an insightful and comprehensive study of an important and unjustly forgotten director.

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About the Author:

Chris Fujiwara is a freelance writer whose work frequently appears in Hermenaut and the Boston Phoenix. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Review:

Fujiwara has at last provided a much needed critical study of the director whose consistent atmospheric style is noticeable to those familiar with his work... A long overdue journey into the labyrinth of Tourneur's films, and has shed some invaluable light on this auteur of darkness.

(Ronald W. Wilson Film-Philosophy)

Jacques Tourneur has long been a favorite of horror fans, French critics, and a few sensible American observers like Manny Farber... Fans who have wished to better understand Tourneur have had to cobble together a biography, production histories, and analysis from widely scattered sources― obscure academic journals like Film and Psychoanalysis, zines like FilmFax and Photon, French-language studies for those who can read them, and one of the several books devoted to Val Lewton. The Edinburgh Film Festival issued an anthology of essays in English devoted entirely to Tourneur, but that book was aimed squarely at academics. It's Chris Fujiwara's book, which straddles the academic and popular, that will likely be the standard reference in English for the foreseeable future... A worthy, well-written and -researched tribute to an auteur who deserves a higher ranking than Sarris, and too many other critics, has given him.

(Gary Morris Bright Lights Film Journal)

Masterful... Fujiwara's comprehensive study of Tourneur's entire output, rather than a few well-known films, provides a necessary antidote to the perception that the 'gentility' of Tourneur's films often mitigated their dramatic impact... The strength of Fujiwara's study, other than his comprehensive analysis of each feature film, resides in an ability to reveal consistent stylistic and thematic patterns from seemingly discrete scenes in different genres... Fujiwara's book is a perceptive study of a great director.

(Geoff Mayer Screening the Past)

Chris Fujiwara, one of our most perceptive writers about film, has put together a critical study of a great but somewhat obscure American director... Fujiwara's book will serve as an excellent guide for anyone who wishes to explore Tourneur's unique work. Furthermore, Martin Scorsese has provided a heartfelt and insightful foreword. The Cinema of Nightfall is essential reading for true movie lovers.

(Bob Stephens San Francisco Examiner Magazine)

Chris Fujiwara has researched what must have been a very difficult topic assiduously and written it well; his book is both a biography and a critical appreciation, with emphasis on the latter. Tourneur is long overdue for both parts of the equation.

(Scott Eyman Palm Beach Post)

Even seasoned film buffs sometimes confuse the role of producer Val Lewton with that of director Jacques Tourneur. But it was Tourneur who actually directed such classics of horror and noir crime drama as Cat People, Night of the Demon, I Walked with a Zombie, Out of the Past, and a variety of other sometimes neglected small classics... The story of why he's not exactly a household word, even now, is treated fairly and fascinatingly in film historian/critic Chris Fujiwara's The Cinema of Nightfall... Fujiwara appears to know his subject matter exhaustively... [A] necessary addition to the reference shelf of anyone seriously interested in the best of what the cinema of the fantastic can accomplish.

(Edward Bryant Locus)

Chris Fujiwara succeeds in arguing that Tourneur was an auteur of note... [A] brisk, elegant book... Tourneur has spent too long on the verge of undeserved obscurity, thankfully negated by this scholarly, impeccably researched reappraisal.

(Ian Grey Baltimore City Paper)

An estimable combination of consummate research and keen critical judgment. It's also the first book study ever of the 'cult' filmmaker.

(Gerald Peary Boston Phoenix)

Fujiwara's scholarly but immensely readable tone offers a fascinating account of the Cat People auter's life, work, and unique approach to filmmaking.

(VideoScope)

A valuable examination of one of Hollywood's most neglected talents.

(Film Review)

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Fujiwara, Chris
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Chris Fujiwara, Martin Scorsese (Foreword)
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