Haunting landscapes in “female gothic” thriller films: From alfred hitchcock to orson welles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The treacherous iconography of Gothic landscapes was a recurring visual motif in “female Gothic” thriller films inspired by roman noir literature. Alfred Hitchcock’s and Orson Welles’s haunting female Gothic suspense thrillers reimagined perilous landscapes on screen in evocative chiaroscuro film noir style. French critics praised Hollywood film noir as “black film” or “dark cinema” in shadowy crime films that influenced the shrouded cinematic landscapes in female Gothic screen thrillers. The evolution and innovation of Gothic landscapes reflected social, historical, technological, and cultural changes across evolving eras with the onset-and eventual end-of World War II in shifting from prewar to wartime to postwar production and reception contexts, as well as across artistic genres. This chapter examines the dangerous haunted landscapes in atmospheric female Gothic thriller film adaptations, in traditional Gothics such as William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights (1939), Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn (1939), and Orson Welles’s design and production of Jane Eyre (1944), while also investigating how the Gothic is adapted to film and the twentieth century in 1940s noir cinema such as Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946); Welles’s The Stranger (1946); and Joseph H. Lewis’s My Name is Julia Ross (1945). Most significantly, these latter four refashioned expressionistic Gothic landscapes to articulate wartime and postwar cultural anxieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGothic Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Eras, Changing Cultures, Changing Anxieties
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319331652
ISBN (Print)9783319331645
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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