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By David Cochran

B-movies, crime novels, technological know-how fiction- all of those different types of mass media got here into their very own within the Nineteen Fifties. pushed aside by way of critics as dehumanizing to either writer and viewers, those genres unflinchingly uncovered the depths of yankee existence at a time while it was once no longer politically right to take action. David Cochran info how, on the peak of the chilly warfare, ten writers and filmmakers challenged such social pieties because the superiority of American democracy, the benevolence of unfastened company, and the sanctity of the suburban relatives. Rod Serling's The Twilight sector similar tales of sufferers of mammoth, faceless bureaucratic powers. Jim Thompson's The Grifters portrayed the ravages of capitalism on these on the backside of the social ladder. Patricia Highsmith's The proficient Mr. Ripley featured an amoral con guy who infiltrated the privileged classification and wreaked havoc as soon as there. All of those artists helped to set the degree for the Sixties counterculture's problem to the status quo. In doing so, they blurred the traces among "high" and "low" artwork.

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Extra info for America Noir: Underground Writers and Filmmakers of the Postwar Era

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And yet this universe is also marked by a mordant humor, and the one potential saving grace is the recognition of that humor. Repeatedly in Thompson's fiction, characters face the grim and brutal reality of life's absurdity, which they find so terrible that the only possible response is hysterical laughter. And while this laughter is occasionally cathartic, as in the Big Spring story, at other times it signals either resignation in the face of the tragic fate that befalls most Thompson characters, or else a further descent into madness.

In turn, such developments gave rise to an underground culture that flourished in several forms. Forging the Consensus In the immediate aftermath of the war, a wide range of options, both political and cultural, lay open before Americans. 4 In other words, such political actions as conducting the Cold War or passing the Taft-Hartley Bill were neither preordained nor carried out in a fit of Page 3 absent-mindedness, but they resulted from struggles in which the dominant political and economic classes sought to assert their control and narrow the range of options available.

In the process, each read parts of the manuscript in various forms, but more fundamentally, the entire project would not have been possible without my being able to think aloud and test my conclusions on this brilliant and opinionated bunch. Angie Calcaterra, my gentlest critic and best friend, always believed in the project and knew instinctively when to push me to work on it and when to take me away from it. The book would not have been possible without her loving support. Page xi PREFACE MAPPING THE UNDERGROUND CULTURE Nevertheless it is clear that such persons as the writer of these notes not only may, but positively must, exist in our society, when we consider the circumstances in the midst of which our society is born.

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