cover image Film Noir Style: The Killer 1940s

Film Noir Style: The Killer 1940s

Kimberly Truhler. GoodKnight, $45 (288p) ISBN 978-1-73227-359-7

In this sumptuously illustrated debut, fashion historian Truhler explores how film noir was shaped and enhanced by the role of the costume designer. Contextualizing the genre as an offshoot of German Expressionism that took root in WWII-era America, Truhler proposes that fashion in film inspired public fashion consumption and was in turn inspired by the reality of wartime rationing. The costume designers working in noir, many of whom began their careers in couture, defined the personalities of the genre’s typical characters, whether shady detectives like Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past or ladylike criminals including Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon, through starker, more severe costume design than was typical in Hollywood’s prewar offerings. From small details, such as Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads in her career-defining role as a strong-willed businesswoman in Mildred Pierce, to genre-defining looks such as the double-breasted khaki trench coat that Leah Rhodes gave to Humphrey Bogart for The Big Sleep, Truhler provides the reader with a great understanding of how costume choices can intersect with subject matter. Upon finishing this delightful history, film fans and fashion buffs will want to go on a classic movie binge. (Jan.)