and movies seriously, and I still am.rnWhat we call “film noir” was in effectrnmade for those veterans to watch; in fact,rnit was, often enough, about veterans returningrnto a corrupted civilian life.rnOf course, they didn’t (we didn’t) callrnit “film noir” then. They called it goodrnstuff. You recognized it for its refusal ofrnsmarm, its gritty exception to the slick,rneven feminized corporatism inundatingrnAmerica which would be perfected laterrnon in Bill Clinton’s public weeping.rnWhat we call “film noir” were some ofrnthe jewels among the cheap pictures.rnThey got no respect except from thernthousands who loved them.rnIn a sense, film noir meant men’srnmovies. They were violent and bleakrnand grim and people died at the end.rnThe dark melodrama was where tragedyrnwent to die. The femme fatale was familiar,rnnot so much as a come-on but asrnan agent of doom related to Clytemnestrarnand Lady Macbeth. (Lady Macbeth’srnbrilliant aplomb in handling embarrassmentrnin the banquet scene makesrnher the Miss Manners, if not the MartharnStewart, of her day.) To the veterans (asrnto all alert citizens) it did not seemrnstrange to see a man pulling a .38 out ofrnhis jacket, nor did it seem bizarre tornthink that the “establishment” was corrupt,rnwired by the mob. The veteransrnhad been required to kill for peace, andrnthen to shut up and not expose all thernlies when they got home.rnSo much for the audience. The makersrnof the films noirs were from everywhere,rnmany of them European craftsmenrnsuch as John Alton of Hungary whornwas the greatest cinematographer of filmrnnoir. The sensibility of the films was precipitatedrnbv the tough guy writers of thern30’s, and in Faulkner and Hemingway inrnthe 20’s. The French, responding first tornthe film noir cycle, gave it its name, makingrnsome of us feel a bit like the fellow inrnMoliere who learned that he had beenrnspeaking prose all his life. Merci beaucoup,rnmes amis.rnAll of which brings us to the immediaternoccasion, Nicholas Christopher’s newrnbook on film noir. He begins with arnmemory of a Parisian theater in 1973,rnwatching Out of the Past (1947), one ofrnthe greatest of its kind. Analyzing thatrnfilm and appreciating its subversive darknessrnand outrageous form leads himrnthrough the cycle of film noir and on to arnlate neo-noir such as The Usual Suspectsrn(1995).rnNicholas Christopher is a poet and arnnovelist who knows what it means to followrna vision, to dwell on an image. Hernnever backs off from tracing the implicationsrnof film noir, relating the dark visionsrnto recent American history, thernpostwar boom, the Bomb, the Cold War,rnMcCarthyism, and all the rest of them.rnHis most striking virtue, I think, is hisrnpassionate response to provocative material,rnhis openness to cinematic experience.rnHe manages to deal with the filmsrnin an informed voice, but without arnprofessorial tone. He excels at conveyingrnthe outrageousness of what he describes,rnincisively defamiliarizing what we rememberrnall too well, and what still playsrnroutinely on cable.rnSometimes there are flaws in his emphases,rnor slight errors or other problems.rnSuch as the exasperating sentencefragment/rnparagraph.rnBut otherwise Somewhere in the Nightrnis exciting, informative, and, I think, thernbest introduction to its topic. The otherrnessential books on film noir are academicrnand encyclopedic, serving anotherrnpurpose. Silver and Ward’s Film Noir: AnrnEncyclopedic Reference to the AmericanrnStyle (1979; third edition 1992) andrnSpenser Selby’s Dark City: The Film Noirrn(1984) are the best of the others, if yourndiscount Borde and Chaumenton’srnPanorama du Film Noir Americain (J94i-rn53) (1955).rnNeed I add that on that putative shelfrnthere ought also to be a host of those indispensablernfilms that remain America’srngifts to the world? Some of the film noirsrnrank with the greatest productions ofrnworld cinema. Double Indemnity (1944),rnGilda (1946), The Killers (1946). Out ofrnthe Past (1947), Criss Cross (1949),rnD.O.A. (1950), Gun Crazy (1950),rnStrangers on a Train (1951), Kiss MernDeadly (1955). Touch of Evil (1958), andrnprobably 50 more, plus perhaps ten outstandingrnneo-noirs in the last 30 years,rnare all films that everyone should know.rnOnce seen they cannot be forgotten, norrncan their icons. Richard Widmark,rnRobert Mitchum, Dan Duryca, ElisharnCook, Jr., and all the rest of the usual suspectsrnconstitute what we can now see—rnwhat Christopher helps us to see—as arnpantheon of the modern imagination.rnAfter all, the hero had always died andrngone to Hell, but never before so insistentlyrnto get out of the other hell that isrnthe postwar American city.rnJ.O. Tate is a professor of English atrnDowlmg College on Long Island.rnThe Stance Of Atlas by Peter F.rnErickson examines thernphilosophy of Ayn Rand.rnAyn Rand’s major teachings arernconsidered in detail. In addition tornthis, special attention is given to thernrelation of her philosophy ofrnObjectivism to Einstein’s theory ofrnrelativity and also to DialecticalrnMaterialism (the intellectual basis ofrnMarxism).rnAyn Rand’s rejection of collectivismrnis not disputed. Her position on thernefficacy of reason remains—also herrnacceptance of freewill.rnAyn Rand’s epistemological andrnmetaphysical teachings are subjectedrnto extensive criticism. Her attempt tornsolve the problem of universals isrnshown to be a failure. Tfie Stance OfrnAtlas actually provides the correctrnsolution. She believed, incorrectly,rnthat Objectivism has the key tornanswering the problem of induction.rnThe Stance Of Atlas shows that thisrnproblem was basically solved by arnforgotten English logician early in thisrncentury. Contrary to Rand’srnObjectivism, it is established thatrnreason is open to the possibility ofrnGod’s existence.rnAyn Rand’s attempt to found a newrnmorality is shown to be less than whatrnshe took it to be. The defense ofrnfractional reserve banking made byrnAlan Greenspan in Rand’s book onrncapitalism is refuted. Other importantrnissues are discussed.rnConsiderably less relativistic thanrnObjectivism, The Stance Of Atlas isrnalso implicitly more individualistic.rn364 pages, including index.rnPaperback.rnPRICE: $19.95+ $4.00 for postagernand handling.rnCHECKS, MONEY ORDERS,rnCREDIT CARDS (Visa, Master,rnAmex).rnTOLL FREE: 1-888-492-2001.rnOR MAIL TO:rnHERAKLES PRESS, INC.rnP.O. BOX 8725rnAUGUST 1997/33rnrnrn