Film noir showcased hard-boiled men and dangerous femmes fatales, rain-slicked city streets, pools of inky darkness cut by shards of light, and, occasionally, jazz. Jazz served as a shorthand for the seduction and risks of the mean streets in early film noir. As working jazz musicians... began to compose the scores for and appear in noir films of the 1950s, black musicians found a unique way of asserting their right to participate fully in American life.Jazz and Cocktails explores the use of jazz in film noir, from its early function as a signifier of danger, sexuality, and otherness to the complex role it plays in film scores in which jazz invites the spectator into the narrative while simultaneously transcending the film and reminding viewers of the world outside the movie theater. Jans B. Wager looks at the work of jazz composers such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Chico Hamilton, and John Lewis as she analyzes films including Sweet Smell of Success, Elevator to the Gallows, Anatomy of a Murder, Odds Against Tomorrow, and considers the neonoir American Hustle. Wager demonstrates how the evolving role of jazz in film noir reflected cultural changes instigated by black social activism during and after World War II and altered Hollywood representations of race and music.
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