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The Big Megillah

Over the last year, I have developed a passion for Film Noir. It all started about 8 months ago when I was working on a project that saw me researching the history of prop graphic design. I began visually sifting through Fritz Laing's 'Laura,' looking for a certain whiskey bottle label design. While doing so, I was struck by the overall photography of the film and decided to watch it in earnest, from beginning to end. I was immediately enamored by the tone of the work and it led me to other movies made in the 40s and 50s - gems such as 'Double Indemnity', 'The Big Sleep' and 'The Killers', among many others. As with many of my obsessions, this led delving into the roots of the genre. German Expression, for example, was a huge influence on the esthetic chiaroscuro and the off-kilter camera angles of this uniquely American genre. Moreover, it was the 'hard-boiled' school of crime literature - prevalent in the pulp magazines of the early 20th century - that provided Hollywood with many of the dark and down-at-heel narratives. When writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain began to create shadowy and lugubrious worlds wherein no one was to be trusted, everyone had a hidden agenda; a landscape of hellish alleyways behind neon-lit nightclubs, smoke-filled police interrogation rooms; of spartan, grubby flop-houses run by nosy, blackmailing landlords. This latest illustration was born of my recent literary excursions.

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