Books and Movies Reviews

Film Noir

What were some of the elements of film noir in the 1940's and 50's and can they be seen as symptomatic of cultural anxieties?
Film noir is a French label on the American film phenomenon. It wasn't until Post-war France that they could see many American films. The French observed the relationship between American movies in the forties and literature called "roman noir", which means dark literature and film noir means black film. The term was not used very much in production and only French critics used it during the noir era. Now the term is used universally but it is still a very much debated topic. Some film critics like Higham, Greenberg and Paul Kerr refer to film noir as a genre, which is classified by its generic conventions and expectations the films arouse. For example film critic; Foster Hirsh indicates that titles in themselves of film noirs can be a "generic identification", which can predict the narrative and fulfil what might be expected of film noir like, violence, crime and sexuality (NB 1.a).However many problems arise, for example genres normally span over periods rather than be influenced by them, as film noir is closely associated with 1940's Hollywood.Film producer; John Hausman predicted that film noir "would be seen by future generations as the most emblematic films of post-war period"(NB 1.b). Richard Maltby also argued the ideas of film noir are a contribution to the insight "to the cultural obsessions of America in the 1940's(NB 1.b)". Noir also breaks the generic conventions, as other films classed as genres can be noir films also; like noir musicals, noir gangster films, noir comedy or noir horror.
Schrader however puts emphasis on film noir as a visual style.. He says film noir is characterised by "mood" and "tone"(1.c). Watching film noirs, I have noticed some elements which they all have in common. One of the techni…


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