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The Maltese Falcon to Body of Lies: Spies, Noirs, and Trust

Robert von Hallberg

Film noir is by definition dark, but not, this book argues, desperate. Examining twenty-eight great noir films from the earliest examples of the genre, including The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and Out of the Past, to such twenty-first-century spy films as The Good Shepherd, Syriana, and The Bourne Ultimatum, this study explores the representations of trust and commitment that noir and spy films propose. Through thorough examination, von Hallberg provides insights into the cultural history of film and our cinematic experience with the concept of trust.


Robert von Hallberg is a professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of five books, most recently Lyric Powers.


“Von Hallberg contributes to noir knowledge with this cogent analysis of trust among film noir characters. . . . The volume is well written, and its analyses are intriguing.”



6.125 x 9.25 in. 232 pages 80 halftones