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Extra resources for Entertainment Weekly (18 January 2013)
The creators of The Maltese Falcon and the even more influential Double Indemnity could not possibly have been aware that their efforts would result in a new type of crime film, but that cannot be said of the creators of the multitudes of films spawned in the 1940s and 1950s by these two originals. I am not speaking of noir elements in other genres but of crime films that belong to this genre. 13 Were the sheer numbers of imitators not enough to convince us of an awareness that goes beyond the fuzzy notions of trend or zeitgeist, we can see such consciousness in contemporary parodies.
So the genre persists, but not the style. Visually, neo-noirs differ because they are filmed in color and favor brightness over chiaroscuro. Rather than the city at night, the favorite image of a dangerous wasteland has switched to the desert. The Great Basin of Nevada, the Salt Flats of Utah, and particularly the Coachella Valley between Palm Springs and Indio and northward to Las Vegas have all served well, as has semi-arid Los Angeles itself. That locale just east of the San Bernadino Pass which contains all the windmills has proven almost irresistible.
Neale himself cites two superb examples, an article in Variety (March 3, 1947) that speaks of the “murderous ladies cycle,” and another in The Spectator (December 2, 1947) that notices the new Hollywood Freudianism. In 1945 Lloyd Shearer wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine that begins: Of late there has been a trend in Hollywood toward the wholesale production of a lusty, hardboiled, gut and gore crime stories, all fashioned on a theme with a combination of plausibly motivated murder and studded with high-powered Freudian implication.