From Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade to Jake Gittes, private eyes have made for some of the most memorable characters in cinema. We often view these detectives as lone wolves who confront and try to make sense of a violent and chaotic modern world. Bran Nicol challenges this stereotype in The Private Eye and offers a fresh take on this iconic character and the film noir genre. Nicol traces the history of private eye movies from the influential film noirs of the 1940s to 1970s neonoir cinema, whose slow and brilliant decline gave way to the fading of detectives into movie mythology today. Analyzing a number of classic films—including The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and The Long Goodbye—he reveals that while these movies are ostensibly thrillers, they are actually occupied by issues of work and love. The private eye is not a romantic hero, Nicol argues, but a figure who investigates the concealments of others at the expense of his own private life. Combining a lucid introduction to an underexplored tradition in movie history with a new approach to the detective in film, this book casts new light on the private worlds of the private eye.