Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Film Noir-great films to see

If you love film and have an interest in its history you should know about film Noir; a special sort of film that is dark, shot in black and white, strong values which may be about terrorism, espionage, crime and mystery and with language that is direct, hard hitting and full of sarcastic humor. Some of the great actors and directors of the 1940s and 50s starred in these films. See the link and read the bios of these great films.


Film noir was a genre (or, some prefer, a cycle of films) that thrived predominantly in Hollywood crime films in the early post World War II years, as men were returning from the military to their lives at home, and these films express the anxiety that many men felt about being displaced as workers, boyfriends, husbands and fathers during wartime. This anxiety is expressed in film noir as a sense of disorientation, confusion and distrust, as well as a sense of entrapment in a nightmare world that has gone out of control.

The protagonists of these film are men who are often in love with and yet betrayed by beautiful women and they often face the choice between a fair haired ‘good’ woman and a dark haired, sultry ‘femme fatale’ who is likely to lead them astray down the wrong path (which is the path that they take, for the most part). Most of the early film noir from the 1940’s are told in flashback with voice over and are shot with many night scenes featuring high contrast lighting, dark shadows and odd camera angles. 

By the 1950’s, ‘hard boiled’ detectives like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe were replaced by more unpredictable, violent figures like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and the stories became more widely varied in terms of theme and location, reflecting looser codes and conventions.

By the late 1950’s the cycle had come to an end, and most films after that time are considered ‘neo-noir’ films, as opposed to full blown legitimate Film Noir. Here are the 30 essential Film Noir from the original period that you need to watch.

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