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Arts & Culture

It Was A Dark Night In The City. Death Hung In The Air Like...

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder's 'Double Indemnity' (1944).

A hard-boiled private eye, a glamorous blond, and a hapless drifter all sit at a bar on the seamy side of town. It's night, the streets are wet, the shadows are long. They each nurse a drink to the notes of a mournful saxophone and a lonely piano. Smoke from the cigarettes swirls in the darkness.

We all know classic noir when we see it and hear it and read it; yet, we don't really know how to define the dark plots that expose humanity in all its moral ambiguity and loneliness.

Noir arrived in America with German emigres escaping the Nazis and fit well with the bleakness of Americans reeling from a depression, two world wars, and, later, the threat of nuclear annihilation. It continues to resonate and has transposed its style across genres. ?

This hour, a deeper look at noir -- then and now.


  • Amy Bloom - A novelist and the editor of New Haven Noir
  • Colin Harrison - The author, most recently, of You Belong To Me
  • Sheri Chinen Biesen - Professor of film history at Rowan University and the author of Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir and Music in the Shadows: Noir Musical Films

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe, Kevin MacDermott, Jonathan McNicol, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired January 24, 2018.

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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