Film Noir

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‘Ernie was at the rehearsals. And so was Mr. de Grot, who did the sets. I recall seeing Ernie’s copy of the script and it was filled with notations and diagrams. I asked him if these were for special lights and he said, “No, they’re for special shadows.” Now that threw me. I was a little apprehensive. I was used to the look of Metro, where everything, including the war pictures, was filmed in blazing white lights. Even if a person was dying there was no darkness. But when I saw the rushes of Mildred Pierce I realized what Ernie was doing. The shadows and half-lights, the way the sets were lit, together with the unusual angles of the camera, added considerably to the psychology of my character and to the mood and psychology of the film. And that, my dear, is film noir.’

Joan Crawford Papers, Billy Rose Collection, Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts.

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