Dark Corners is devoted to the study of “film noir”. It derives from work I undertook in the 1990s with David Cornwell. Amongst the many characteristics he and I shared were two particularly relevant to the enterprise. First, we could both reasonably be regarded as fans of American films noirs of the 1940s and 1950s. Secondly we were both psychologists who tried to study all aspects of human behavior employing the principles of scientific investigation. Accordingly we found much of what was written about film noir unsatisfactory. There seemed to be no agreed definition of film noir or indeed agreement on which films were “noirs”. We set out to develop a more scientific approach to these films than had been attempted previously. We presented papers at five conferences and although the audiences, who were largely from backgrounds in the arts and humanities, appeared interested and responded in a friendly fashion, we did not succeed to persuading any of them to adopt our approach. David and I put the study of film noir aside and moved on to other subjects.
This website has been created to allow me to return to this old interest, in the hope that the approach which David Cornwell and I adopted can be expanded and re-evaluated. The natural kick-off point seemed to be the only paper we published in print earlier, Defining Film Noir. Some expansions on that paper which we presented only orally before are also included. It is anticipated that further expansions will be added. Since some time has passed since our earlier investigations, it seems appropriate to ask whether what we did still stands up.