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.
Jans B. Wager coordinates cinema studies and is a professor of English and literature at Utah Valley University. Her previous books are Dames in the Driver’s Seat: Rereading Film Noir and Dangerous Dames: Women and Representation in the Weimar Street Film and Film Noir.
There is no other book like this one. It makes a strong contribution to film music studies but will also be of interest to specialists in jazz studies, cinema studies, and American studies. And because Jans Wager has an engaging prose style, it is ideal for buffs.
~Krin Gabbard, Columbia University, author of Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus
Wager works at the intersection of film soundtrack studies and racial analyses of cinema to offer an account of the way film noir deploys jazz to further its often racially fraught designs…[a] painstaking study [with] insights into noir soundscapes.
~African American Review
Acknowledgments Permissions Introduction: Nostalgia for the Lush Life
Chapter 1: Pie Eye’s Juke Joint: Jazz and Its Interpretations Chapter 2: The Porters and Waiters Club: Jazz, Movies, and Ogden Chapter 3: Studio Jazz from Harlem to Acapulco Chapter 4: The Blue Gardenia, Club Pigalle, and Daniel’s: Charting the Alienation Effect in Film Noir Chapter 5: From Elysium to Robards, from Real to Reel Chapter 6: A Paris Bar where Miles Innovates Chapter 7: "All the Very Gay Places": Ellington and Strayhorn Swing in Northern Michigan Chapter 8: Cannoy’s Club: “All Men Are Evil” Chapter 9: “Jeep’s Blues” and Jazz Today
Notes Bibliography Index
Stay connected for our latest books and special offers.
We live in an information-rich world. As a publisher of international scope, the University of Texas Press serves the University of Texas at Austin community, the people of Texas, and knowledge seekers around the globe by identifying the most valuable and relevant information and publishing it in books, journals, and digital media that educate students; advance scholarship in the humanities and social sciences; and deepen humanity’s understanding of history, current events, contemporary culture, and the natural environment.