By the 1970s, film noir had achieved a certain cachet within critical circles and among younger aspiring film-makers, such as Paul Schrader, who relished both the rich ambiguity of the noir style and the kudos that visual references to that moment of cinema history could bring. The establishment of what might be called an American ‘art’ cinema with its own auteurs can also be traced from this period. Film-makers who were to become star directors, such as Scorsese and Coppola, borrowed freely from both European art cinema traditions and from the genres and styles of classical Hollywood. Remakes of noir classics, both artful and artless, have appeared throughout the 1970s, into the 1980s and beyond. A number of film-makers have also made extensive and diverse use of noir imagery, noir plots and noir cinematography. Further, as Frank Krutnik argues, there is also a distinctive commercial logic involved in this process:

The problematic identity of film noir serves to intensify its highly bankable and ‘seductive’ mystique: when a new film is labelled ‘noir’ this serves as

a promise of quality, that the film in question is more than just a thriller. (Krutnick 1991:16)

Marketing a new release with reference to noir elements and antecedents now serves as industry shorthand for an arthouse ‘quality’, often combined with eroticism. Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat (1980), a steamy drama of murder and fraud, could be understood as an homage to, or as plagiarism of, various The Postman Always Rings Twice derivatives including Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944). Contemporary reviews and those greeting its reissue in 1992 framed it precisely in this way, with the opening of Richard Corliss’ review (‘It is 1946: It is 1981’) an indicative example.2 Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner coupled anxieties about human identity in relation to technology (anxieties characteristic of science fiction) with an imagined future Los Angeles visualised in terms of the shadows and rain-lashed streets of 1940s’ noir. Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (1980), as well as making pointed gestures in the direction of such American movies as Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) in the Richard Gere character’s methodical destruction of his apartment, figured some of the visual devices associated with noir (light falling through venetian blinds, for example), coupled with a plot that had the hero spiralling downwards in a conspiratorial world of secrets and sexuality.3 And it was Schrader in his incarnation as critic who had written, in a 1972 article published in Film Comment, of the richness of the noir style for conveying the anxiety and paranoia of a particular cultural moment. Referring in that context to the immediate post-war period, the particular constellation of elements orchestrated in American Gigolo could be taken to signal the uncertainties of masculine identity at the beginning of the decade.4 And though publicity stills emphasised the stylised quality associated with the noir style, it can be argued that Body Heat nonetheless displays distinctly contemporary concerns.