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Between Midnight and Dawn:

Midcentury Noir and Crime Film Posters

from the Collections of Mark Fertig and Eddie Muller

March 2 - April 11, 2015

Film noir flourished in Hollywood throughout the 1940s and 1950s, owing to a perfect storm of cultural, political, and industry-specific forces, including the disillusionment and pessimism lingering from the Great Depression; the popularity of hardboiled writers such as Hammett, Chandler, and Cain; the disconcerting wartime experience of the American fighting man and his difficulty readjusting to domestic life; a new generation of independent, professional, and dissatisfied women; the public’s fascination with Freudian analysis; Cold War fears of the atomic bomb and perceived threats of domestic communism; the suspect veracity of the American Dream; and urbanization brought on by war production, followed by the rise of suburbia and runaway materialism.

Within the movie industry, additional circumstances fostered the development of film noir, including the deterioration of the studio system and an increased need for low-cost or “B” pictures; advances in film processing and portable camera equipment; a war-weakened production code; the demands of more sophisticated ticket-buyers; and most importantly, the arrival in Hollywood from ravaged Europe of a cohort of extraordinarily gifted but cynical filmmakers. The posters offer insight not only into Hollywood movie marketing techniques, but also into the gun-waving, cigarette-smoking, fedora-wearing, loot-grabbing, back-stabbing, car-crashing, legs-showing, bare-knuckled glorious iconography of the film noir style.

- Mark Fertig

Exhibition curator Mark Fertig is associate professor of graphic design and chair of the art department at Susquehanna University. Eddie Muller is a novelist, filmmaker, historian, and Turner Classic Movies host.


Please note that the gallery will be open by appointment only during the University's spring break, March 16-21, and will be closed Saturday, March 14 and 21. Call 315-229-5522 or email Carole Mathey to schedule a visit.