Double Indemnity.


I am presenting a paper at Inter[sections]: A Conference on Architecture, City and Cinema this morning. It has been taking place at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto and the complete programme for the event is available here.

My paper is called “Darkened Spaces: The Urban and the Domestic in American Film Noir”. Here is the abstract:

Urban and domestic spaces are at the core of the American film noir developed in the 1940s and 50s. The connection between such spaces and noir cannot be considered only as motivational (an association between city and crime) or protective (a separation between home and violence). The context of this genre must be considered more largely as the real as well as the imaginary universe in which its characters live. Studying films such as Double Indemnity (1944) and Gilda (1946) reveals an archaeology of film noir as an account of American spatial culture and simultaneously an imagination of it. This paper analyses the urban and domestic dimensions of these movies by briefly addressing four major topics and their connections: territory, city, habitat, and home. What emerges is a sociology of this cinema through the linking of various times and places with the darkness and restlessness of a nightmare. American noir was produced in a period of US history governed by fear. The wounds left by the Great Depression were fresh and communism was seen as a permanent menace.