The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War
"The book is at its best when it hews close to Lingeman's enlightening central thesis; he excels at portraying the uncertain postwar mood and the way that films noir were uniquely able to capture that mood. (Even if accidentally: Lingeman explains that the dark lighting and use of smoke and mirrors characteristic of the genre were deployed out of necessity to disguise the cheap props and shabby sets that resulted from wartime’s material shortages.) "Fictional war films seemed phony because they competed with the real war in magazine and newsreels," he writes, "while in the hard-boiled crime films death was more real because it was shown in an unidealized, unheroic way." Many of the violent crime films, like the 1946 classic The Blue Dahlia, featured veterans and reflected the country's conflicting feelings toward the men who'd fought the fight: gratitude, but also guilt over what they had sacrificed, resentment over the claims they were making on society, fear that they were ticking time bombs capable of resorting to the violent acts they'd been trained to commit during wartime."