New York Noir - Crime Photos From The Daily News Archive

New York Noir is a collection of photographs taken during the Film Noir period of the 20th Century. As the subtitle says, these photos concern crime. As a book of pictures, New York Noir is interesting enough, but it is when you look at it as a time capsule to how tabloid newspapers used to be that it really becomes fascinating. Through the photographs and the captions that accompanied them when they were printed, we can learn that it used to be perfectly fine to show dead bodies in newspapers, and that no effort was made to disguise police brutality (my favourite here was two shots of a criminal, one as he was being taken in and the other after he'd been 'questioned', looking a bit more lumpier in the face). Some of the headlines too are not quite what you'd expect nowadays, for instance, accompanying a shot of a murdered man is the headline 'Benny Latrino Gets The Message'.

The pictures themselves are also captivating - perhaps it is the black-and-white, or the fact that they are not as crisp and sharp as modern-day equivalents - and it can be easily done just turning the pages to look at long-gone people from the past. I didn't particularly care much for the introduction (far too much guff on 'art') and the first written section (too boring, given the subject, I want to see bodies, not text), but that's not what anyone buys a book like this for. Like the tabloids said themselves in their early days: crime sells.


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