Film Noir is a specific sub-genre of films made in the Golden Age of Hollywood that, through the use of sharp black and white cinematography, tackled dark and existential stories through the point of view of a (usually) cynical, nihilistic lead character with shady motives. Film Noirs also introduced the idea of the ‘Femme Fatale’, a woman who uses her sexuality to lure in the protagonist to a world of danger, usually consisting of blackmail and double-crosses.
Central figures in film noirs usually tend to be private investigators, criminals, or innocent men who have been framed or drug into dangerous situations. There were flourishes of film noir tendencies in films dating back to the 20s, but it wasn’t really until the 40s when the genre took shape and started becoming a staple of American cinema.
Film noirs influence is still seen today in what we now call ‘Neo-noir films'. It also went on to inspire and influence some of the big movements we’ve already discussed such as the French New Wave and the New Hollywood!
Here’s a brief look at some of the important film noirs of the 40s and 50s that both helped define and re-define the genre!