Skip Nav

What Is Film Noir?

Essays on Film noir

❶At the same time, the main female character is usually the femme fatale type, dangerous, yet attractive, with whom the main male character tends to bond.

Collections of Essays

The Hardboiled World of Film Noir
You are here

Many of the films during the s and early s were propaganda-type films that were designed to cheer people's bleak outlook during the hard times of the Depression and World War II. It was beginning in the early s, that film noir , such as The Maltese Falcon and Laura , began to appear. The films of the s reflected the disillusionment felt in the country, especially with the soldiers returning home and women losing their jobs at the end of the war.

These films, such as The Blue Dahlia , where a sailor comes home to find his wife kissing another man and their son dead due to her drunkenness, showed the cynicism felt by some Americans. The second element was post-war realism. According to Schrader, post-war Americans wanted an authenticity that was lacking in earlier high-class melodramas. Americans wanted a harsh view of society from the perspective of everyday people on the streets. In addition, ordinary Americans were not as interested in seeing the studio built streets they had been watching since the s.

They wanted to be watching actors in actual locations, such as Norma Desmond's mansion which unfortunately was demolished in for the headquarters of the Getty Foundation and Joe Gillis' apartment in Sunset Boulevard. The third element was the German influence. During the s, especially after the rise of Nazism, many German and Eastern Europeans immigrated to the United States and helped influence the American film industry.

Their main influence in film noir is with aesthetics. They brought along expressionist lighting, which used artificial studio lighting to create shadows, oblique and vertical lines, and irregular light patterns. Finally, Schrader says that the fourth element was the hard-boiled tradition.

Cain wrote many books that were eventually turned into film noir. What these authors and films have in common is a cynical and bleak outlook with a tough main character. One of the best examples of a noir film coming from the hard-boiled tradition is Double Indemnity , the script was written by Raymond Chandler from James M. Cain's book of the same name.

While those four items should provide an overview of what constitutes film noir , it is a little difficult to judge whether a film belongs to the category of film noir based solely on those categories. So here are some characteristics that may help in identifying a noir do remember though that it is not necessary for a film to have all of the characteristics to be considered film noir.

Some of the great classics of film noir were adapted from s hard-boiled fiction. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, featured upper-class Europeans as the detectives and are set among manor houses and English country villages.

In contrast, hard-boiled fiction tends to have a tough, cynical detective in many stories, the detective is actually a private investigator , who lives in a dirty city.

Other features of hard-boiled fiction are that they are told mainly in narrative form, use slang, contain violence murder, corruption , and have sexual undertones. The Postman Always Rings Twice. An Anthology from the Silents Until Now edited by Phillip Lopate Schrader's important essay looks at film noir as a style within a historical moment rather than a genre.

He does a great job in describing the elements of film noir in order to make identifying such movies easier. The Philosophy of Film Noir by Robert Porfirio eBook Rather than focusing on the visual elements of film noir like many critics and historians, Porfirio and the many contributors look at the philosophy behind the films. They focus on disenchantment, morality, existentialism, and nihilism. It's a rather heavy read, but it is also very informative.

From early masterpieces like Double Indemnity and Kiss Me Deadly through to neo-noir classics such as Chinatown and LA Confidential, this book highlights all the groundbreaking noir movies. Somewhere in the Night: Story of a Love Affair. Cronaca di un amore is an Italian black and white drama film which was released in It was the first venture of the director Michelangelo Antonioni as a whole length feature film.

Before this the director Michelangelo Antonioni has been famous for different short films and he was also given the opportunity to direct a documentary about the internal works of an asylum but he abandoned this opportunity. Story of a Love Affair was his first narrative feature film Venturi, Philadelphia Story in His Romantic Comedy. Philadelphia Story In his romantic comedy adaptation of Philip Barry's Broadway play, director George Cukor allows Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart and Cary Grant to light up the screen and carry the movie without confusing the audience with camera tricks and editing.

By using subtle camera techniques, Cukor introduces the main characters through action and relies on his star ensemble to paint the picture of their respective characters. The editing is fluid as well as the cinematography. Using such devices as off-screen dialogue, and cues, we follow Hepburn, a Philadelphia socialite as she attempts to marry another man, and avoid a tabloid hound. Cinematically, this is typical of the movies Hollywood was making in the s. Cukor interplays the style of writing within his camera directions so as to allow for an enjoyable…… [Read More].

Depiction of Two Films. Singing in the Rain vs. Sunset Boulevard Long before the self-reflexive, pastiche ethos of postmodernism that is popular today, films like "Singing in the Rain" and "Sunset Boulevard" used the medium of cinema to critique the false nature of Hollywood and to critique the medium of film itself. Both the films "Singing in the Rain" and "Sunset Boulevard" chronicle the rocky transition of Hollywood from a purely silent and image-based means of generating a creative pictorial reality to a talking and slightly more realistic version of 'real life.

Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Man ho Shot Liberty Valance and the Brilliance of John Ford John Ford's The Man ho Shot Liberty Valance , a classic western with a few film noir elements included, is elegiac in the sense that its narrative strategy is that of eulogistic remembrance by now-Senator Ransom Stoddard, of horse rancher Tom Doniphan, who once saved Stoddard's life and changed it much for the better, and who was the real man who shot Liberty Valance.

According to Robert Horton, "This may be the saddest estern ever made, closer to an elegy than an action movie, and as cleanly beautiful as its central symbol, the cactus rose" "Editorial Reviews". Upon Tom Doniphan's death in the small fictional town of Shinbone state unknown Ransom and Hallie Stoddard arrive back in town to pay their final respects to Doniphan who sacrificed so much of himself, and so much of his own future happiness,…… [Read More].

The focus of the essay will be to discuss such visual motifs as they are to found both in Strangers on a Train and in North by Northwest. Also, we will examine how Hitchcock use editing, performance, doubling and camera movement to cinematically create both suspense and irony in these films. Additionally, we will consider if the films reviewers of the period noticed these Hitchcockian devices.

First we need to define visual motif and what it meant for Hitchcock as a part of his entire filmatic theme's vision. By looking at the films, it is obvious to this author that Hitchcock used film noir in his crime dramas, particularly those that emphasized cynical attitudes with sexual motivations and connotations.

This is understandable as Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally seen as extending from the early…… [Read More]. Stanley Kubrick the Madness of. Strangelove, put him over the top" p. The learning curve was clearly sharp for Kubrick, and he took what he had learned in these earlier efforts and put this to good use during a period in American history when everyone was already ready to "duck and cover": According to Mcdouglas , Dr.

A Space Odyssey, and a Clockwork Orange were all later listed by the American Film Institute as being among the top one hundred American films of cinema's first century. In addition, "Each of these films provoked heated debate and each was a box-office success" Mcdouglas, , p.

The popular response to Kubrick's movie, , in particular, was the result of an…… [Read More]. Spade Walking Down to Examine a Murder. Spade walking down to examine a murder makes use of shadows as well as high black-white contrast in order to convey drama and suspense.

This is commonly referred to as the film noir lighting technique because it conveys a sense of mystery and danger. The lighting highlights the most extreme contours of the character's faces, but none of the moderating details such as texture or color.

This makes the facial expressions look much more dramatic than they would under normal lighting. The costumes are also very typical of the film noir genre.

Spade is wearing a black wool overcoat and a fedora and his counterpart from the police station is wearing the same outfit. This is a style of dress associated with detectives, who sometimes had to conceal their identity and not stand out. The overcoat conceals much of the person's figure and could conceal weapons or other objects.

Karlson the Objective of This. Debby plays the part of a kept-woman and is a cold creature and the paramour of Vince Stone played by Lee Marvin. Vince is Lagan's chief henchman in this film. In one scene Debby is thrilled to be an interruption of the boys at a poker game when she answers the phone and hands it to Vince who rudely tells her to leave the room Debby pauses in front of a mirror preening at her reflection giving an insight into her vain character and is only the first of many preening scenes on her part in the movie.

Scandal Sheet Scandal Sheet is a film noir thriller set at a sensation grabbing tabloid-style newspaper. It is based on the novel the Dark Page by Samuel Fuller, himself a major filmmaker.

In one of the shots which is a complex one shown is a lower East Side tenement from…… [Read More]. Art Costume and Scenery. Adapting The Kiss of the Spider oman to the cinema presented a unique challenge to filmmakers. The story is set in a jail cell, and largely takes the form of dialogue between two prisoners: Molina, a homosexual window dresser, and his cellmate, a fiery radical named Valentin. To pass the time, Molina tells his cellmate stories.

The dank, dark cell where the two men wear relatively minimalistic clothing is a stark contrast with the beautiful, melodramatic films that Molina narrates. Occasionally, some brightness will intrude into the jail, such as when Molina cooks for Valentin or when he puts a scarf around his head.

Molina may make an attempt at drag, but it is relatively minor given the tools at his disposal. Repo Men Is a. Science fiction and horror both offer narrative closure and "the restoration of the social order," as does Repo Men, only in this case the social order being preserved is completely amoral and evil Grant It does not end with the monster or alien menace defeated, like Independence Day, Star ars, Terminator or The ar of the orlds, but just a literal return to the 6 status quo and business as usual.

Repo Men is definitely not an adolescent or 'infantilized' film, with heavy reliance on special effects and light and magic shows, nor do the good guys win in the end -- insofar as there are any good guys at all. It has no real hope or comport to offer, and n this absolutely dehumanized world of the future that lacks redeeming features of any kind, Remy's fantasy existence might actually be preferable to 'reality'.

Thus the film is…… [Read More]. The Maltese Falcon in Novel. His affair with his partner's wife and his cowardly impulse to dispatch his secretary to inform her of her husband's death, along with a variety of decisions that reflect a serious moral ambivalence, illuminate a man with a black bird over his shoulder at all times.

And indeed, as the presence of the falcon comes to play a greater role in the driving action of the film, which is often conveyed in bursts of violence and murder, so too does Sam Spade's misfortune. His entanglements with law enforcement, gangland thugs and a murderous seductress, though perhaps karmic to some extent, seem inextricably to wind their way to Spade's doorstep under the supervision of the harbinger bird. A key distinction between the film and the novel comes less from what might be regarded as a narrative decision than a practical one.

The ending to the novel draws out somewhat longer, as…… [Read More]. Women in Film Noir Teaching is in many ways a solitary profession: A teacher in his or her own classroom spends hours in contact with students but often relatively little time talking to other teachers and educators.

Administrators are also in many ways isolated from the teachers. Perhaps because of this fact, the administrators interviewed for this project emphasized the personal importance of collaboration with other members of the professional and the necessity of providing support for each other. This section summarizes the findings of this research concerning how education professionals defined and evaluated different aspects of cooperation within the profession. Subject Population and Research Design This study was conducted at a kindergarten through eighth grade school in the district where I am employed.

I conducted six interviews with administrators who ranged in experience in administration from one to eight years. Five were women and five were former teachers in…… [Read More]. Oldboy an Analysis of Chan-Wook. Mise-en-scene As Gerald Mast states, "Details develop the film's emotional dynamics" , and these details are everywhere in the mise-en-scene.

The most important aspect of the mise-en-scene, of course, is the acting. Actors are the most obvious props -- and Oh Dae-su provides ample instances of buffoonery that keeps Oldboy from sinking into the mire of its own violence. Despite all the gore, the film harbors a gentleness and affection, thanks to the acting from Oh Dae-su and Mido.

Even the villain provides a handsome face and charming smile -- and an affable voice; even he is hard not to like, as he plays cat and mouse with Oh Dae-su. The low-key lighting also helps provide the audience with the emotional connection necessary for the kind of mystery the film attempts to be. Scenes are shrouded in darkness -- such as when the heroes find themselves working in the Internet…… [Read More].

Press on Globalization and Its. Not only does this benefit them as a port destination, but the influx of trade goes through Taiwan with the majority of manufactured goods of the Pacific region flowing through their ports. Since Taiwan has a favorable relationship with the Western states, it has been able to absorb the growth of the East Asian region and serve as an effective broker for traffic of goods.

Thus it plays a central role within the region as a broker between lesser developed nations and the developed super powers. Not only does Taiwan hold an enviable position within global trade, but it also has developed its internal capacity to become a manufacturing force.

Taiwan has focused its industries on two key developments, high end technology products including semi-conductors and high end technology product development. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is the world's largest independent semiconductor foundry. As a joint venture through subsidized state…… [Read More]. Book in a Quick Look. A convergence of fraud, murder, and incest Chinatown is the film noir directed by Roman Polanski. A modernized interpretation of classic film noir, Chinatown stars Jack Nicholson as J.

Chinatown, though released in , is set in Los Angeles during the s and not only revolves around a murder, incest, and a conspiracy to control the water supply in the city, but is also one of the few films to make reference to the California ater ars.

In the film, J. Gittes is a private detective that has been hired by a woman impersonating Evelyn Mulwray who claims that she wants to hire Gittes to perform marital surveillance on her…… [Read More]. Landscape as Replacement of the Mulvey Female. Landscape as Replacement of the Mulvey Female in "The Searchers" In her famous essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey posits that men in Hollywood cinema, responding to demands of the ruling ideology, "cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification.

John Ford's "The Searchers" is interesting for its alternating and sometimes simultaneous adherence to and subversion of Mulvey's observation and theory. On the one hand, his directorial camera lingers over men far more than women, allowing the audience to derive pleasure from male characters. On the other, it may be argued that the landscape itself has female characteristics, suggesting that the est as Ford depicts it, is the…… [Read More].

American Children Walk Into a. Hopefully, regardless of what happens in the rest of the communication world and media, such magazines either in print, electronic or digital form will continue to amaze children. It is recognized that youths need to deal with the problems that are facing them, and living in a fantasy world is not helpful. However, do they ever have a time to "chill" as they say it?

However, the Twilight Vampire Series is really not the answer to this. It has, what is said, little "redeeming value. The best bet is finding a book that offers imagination, education and entertainment. Dual in the Sun by. The New York Times Silk, reported that Reagan's "unruffled demeanor" immediately after being seriously wounded, along with his "jokes to his wife and the medics" all helped to "turn fear into rising respect for Mr. Reagan himself," journalist Leonard Silk reports.

A "growing number of Americans decided that they had elected themselves a…… [Read More]. Christopher Nolan Technique the British-Born. Nolan's Dark Knight deals directly with the idea of a hero's control over his world by pitting the emblem of anarchy the Joker against Batman a mythological hero, supported by technology that borders on the totalitarian.

Nolan questions the degree of power that someone like Batman should possess and whether or not he actually possesses it. Much of the film is spent analyzing this philosophical query, with Batman's tech-support man Lucius Fox even weighing in with his two cents.

Regardless of the film, Nolan inserts the same preoccupations again and again. For example, in the Prestige, Nolan advances the speculations of philosopher Martin Heidegger by examining the illusion of time with a nonlinear narrative: According to the logic set forth by the Prestige, the idea of time as linear…… [Read More]. Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett's detective novel The Maltese Falcon has become an iconic text in American literature, not just as the source of the classic film noir starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, but in itself as a work of fiction that exemplifies the twentieth century's new "hard-boiled" style of American detective fiction that in the end would be associated particularly with Hammett but also with other detective and crime novelists whose work would provide the textual basis for the remarkable visual phenomenon of s noir Raymond Chandler, James M.

It is hard to get a sense, for a contemporary reader, of the scope of Hammett's achievement here, because so many of his effects which were aesthetically radical at the time have now become so entirely assimilated by our own sensibility that Hammett's originality is best realized in comparison to the Victorian detective fiction that he replaced. Madison, Teaneck, London Prigge, Ted. The American Film Noir, Twayne: New York and London Rhodes, Steve.

On the Internet at http: Last retrieved on October 22, 2. Last retrieved on October 22, 3. Characteristics of Film Noir. Last retrieved on October 22, Work Cited "On the Waterfront. Works Cited Bronfen, Elisabeth. Outside History, but Historically so. Film Noir View Full Essay. A Panorama of American Film Noir: City Lights Books, Producers Releasing Corporation, A Panorama of American Film Noir Andy and Larry Wachowski.

Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, The Legacy of Film Noir. Works Cited Behar, Ruth. Of the International Institute 5 2 , Winter Character and Style in Postmodern Neo-Noir. Accessed 24 June The image and the voice in the film with spoken narration. Quarterly Review of Film Studies 8 4: The Analysis of Film. Roman Polanski's Chinatown , a later film noir classic, for example, features swimming pools; mysterious trickles of water; a reservoir, etc. In Possessed, Pauline, also a villain of sorts Louise's tormenter drowns herself.

Film noir often frequently contains a "femme fatale," such as the female main characters in The Maltese Falcon; The Big Sleep; and Chinatown.

The femme fatale is a beautiful and seductive woman. She seldom actually kills anyone, although she may be involved in a plot to kill someone, or may otherwise contribute toward another person's usually a man's death.

In Possessed, Louise's character is an odd a twist on the "femme fatale" stereotype, in that she is, quite literally, the person fatal to David, when she shoots and kills David in the end. All in all, Curtis Bernhardt's film Possessed is neither a pure woman's film nor a pure example of film noir, but instead contains elements of each. If it is a woman's film, a woman's film, it is a twisted and ironic example of that, since its main female character is not one with which female or any viewers can identify, and her circumstances are atypical of most women's.

However, the film does possess elements of unrequited love; of a woman alone facing difficulties, and of a love triangle: Possessed contains some, but not all key elements of film noir; including images of darkness; shadows, or haze; stark lighting; unusual camera angles; stark, washed-out appearances, and the element of water in connection with death.

The Rough Guide to Film Noir. Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City. The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice. Los Angeles city, California QuickLinks.

The History of an Idea. Art as Film View Full Essay. Works Cited Fuller, Graham. Visible Ink Publishing, Detroit, Retrieved April 24, from: The Cinema of Martin Scorsese. Women in Film View Full Essay. Associated University Presses, Film Theory View Full Essay. Towards a New Realism in Black Cinema. African-American Review, 27 4 , -- Black American Literature Forum: Black Film Issue, 25 2 , -- South End Press, Boston. Signs, 30 1 , -- Works Cited Lewis, Jon.

The New American Cinema. Works Cited Bazin, Andre. What is Cinema, Vol. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Accessed 26 November Bibliography "German Expressionism in Film.

A Short History of the Movies. Accessed 8 April Visual Style in Contemporary Hollywood Film. McGraw-Hill Companies; 5th edition August 5, Works Cited Ciment, Michel. Faber and Faber, Destruction of the Reader in Nabokov's Lolita. Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring. The Night of the Hunter. Works Cited Ebert, Roger. Accessed on February 2, at: Holt Rineheart and Winston, References As retrieved from Illusions of Immortality: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.

Notes on Five Italian Films. Hollywood Quarterly, 5 4 , -- The lack of realism in the Hollywood machine is also evident in "Singing in the Rain," as in "Sunset Boulevard. He is talking of his childhood as it meshes with his cultivated screen persona -- however the viewer is shown flashbacks of what the star's real life growing up was like.

Really, this gentleman was born poor and spent most of his days hoofing away, learning his trade dancing for pennies in saloons. The reality generated by the studio system is highlighted through this juxtaposition of flashback and present, also called the Kuleshov effect whereby a viewer associates apparently disconnected shot -- the dancing young boy becomes Kelly early on in the viewer's mind, although this side of the matinee idol is not immediately seen in the film.

The fact that this popular actor's even lovelier female co-star has a coarse voice incommensurate with her blonde confection-like appearance adds to the humor generated by the falseness of the film industry. But when sound comes to film, the only way to save the trashy costume drama the studio is attempting to enforce upon the public is to make it a movie musical, thus taking the matinee idol back to the truth of the early dancing and singing roots of his career.

The cinematographer's choice to contrast the black and white jumpiness of the 'fake film' made over the course of "Singing in the Rain" with the reality of Technicolor underlines this theme of how talking films, even musicals, are more realistic than were the silent visions of far-off exotic glamour and locations. Moreover, because his female co-star's speaking and singing voice is so dreadful, the woman's must be dubbed. The actress assuming the woman's true voice assumes the career of the star of the silent screen, the far more talented and 'real' perky up-and-comer played by Debbie Reynolds, who admits that yes, she reads "some" of the fan magazines, but is still authentic in her willingness to sacrifice for her costars to make the film work.

There is no such hope for truth in film in "Sunset Boulevard. It is set in an age where screenwriters were blacklisted for a whisper of communist connections, not a time of innovation, as was the 's setting of "Singing in the Rain. Retrieved May 28, , from: With John Wayne and Vera Miles. Works Cited "Film Noir. The Making of a Reputiation. University of Chicago Press, Film, horror and the body fantastic. Film and the American left: A history of narrative film. A narrative and stylistic analysis.

Phil Karlson [Online available at http: Works Cited Canby, Vincent. The Science Fiction Film Reader. The Cybercultures Reader, Second Edition. Urban Dystopia and Science Fiction Cinema. Works Cited Axmaker, Sean. The End of Development. Polity Press, , p. Works Cited Evans, R. Accessed 5 November Works Cited Buscombe, Edward. Indiana University Press, Patricia Evans, Indiana University Press, Quoted and cited text appears without page numbers at http: Throughoutthis paper, the essay will be cited by author only.

Unfortunately, most young adult books have hit rock bottom, dealing with death, abuse, divorce, sexuality and all the other topics that these youth are bombarded with day after day. Miranda's bestest friend Sal stops talking to her he is beat up by Marcus. Marcus then challenges Miranda with arguments about her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and finds flaws in L'Engle's time-travel narrative.

Next, Miranda starts receiving notes from someone who seems to know the future. This is a book that can be enjoyed by readers and nonreaders alike and can be utilized in a variety of different ways for book reports.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Free film noir papers, essays, and research papers.

Privacy FAQs

"High Heels on Web Pavement: Film Noir and the Femme Fatale" by Michael Mills. No Place for a Woman: The Family in Film Noir and Other Essays by John Blaser.

About Our Ads

May 04,  · Free Essays from Bartleby | intention of this essay is to discuss the romantic notion of a film director who has etched their own cinematic vision into the. Film noir was an important innovation of cinema that had a lasting influence on both cinema past and present and the motion picture industry as a whole. The answer to this seemingly simple question, of what is film noir? is actually particularly complex. In answering it I must analyse many /5(9).

Cookie Info

The Film noir is one of the most popular assignments among students' documents. If you are stuck with writing or missing ideas, scroll down and find inspiration in the best samples. Film noir is quite a rare and popular topic for writing an essay, but it . Collections of Essays Below is a list of collections of critical essays and articles written about film noir and available in the UNC library system. Each book's call number is hypertext linked to its record in the UNC Libraries online catalog.