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Film Noir. By: Bryan & Alex. Background Info. FIlm Noir literally means "black film or cinema" It was first called that by a french film critic Nino Frank in 1946, who noticed how 'dark' and downbeat and black the American crime and detective movies looked.

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film noir

Film Noir

By: Bryan & Alex

background info
Background Info
  • FIlm Noir literally means "black film or cinema"
  • It was first called that by a french film critic Nino Frank in 1946, who noticed how 'dark' and downbeat and black the American crime and detective movies looked.
  • All the darkness reflected the time period which was post World War II and early Cold War. The tensions were high and there was a lot of mistrust, loss of innocence, fear, and paranoia all over the air.
  • Classic Film Noir movies were made during and after World War II, taking advantage of anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion.
  • The Protagonists in film noir
  • Conflicted hard-boiled * detectives or private eyes
    • cops
    • gangsters
    • government agents
    • lone wolves
    • socio-paths
    • killers
    • crooks
    • war veterans
    • politicians
    • petty criminals
    • murderers
    • Plain "Joes"
  • The Protagonist is usually morally ambiguous, low-lifes from the dark and gloomy underworld of violent crime and corruption. Characteristics :
    • Cynical
    • Tarnished
    • Obsessive(sexual or otherwise)
    • Brooding
    • Menacing
    • Sinister
    • Sardonic
    • Disillusioned
    • Frightened
    • Insecure loner (usually male)
    • Struggling to survive
    • Ultimately losing
  • The story lines were often non-linear and twisting. The stories were very complex and maze-like and convoluted.
  • The story is usually told with a foreboding background music.
  • Often told in flashback or a series of flashbacks.
  • Amnesia suffered by the protagonist is a plot device often used.
  • Also the lost of innocence by falling under temptation or being framed.
style of film noir
Style of Film Noir
  • It is usually shot in gloomy grays, blacks, and whites, this was done to show the inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love.
  • They emphasizes the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark, sadistic sides of the human experience.
  • Camera tactics:
    • expressionistic lighting
    • deep focus or depth of field camera work
    • disorienting visual schemes
    • jarring editing
    • skewed camera angles(usually vertical or diagonal rather than horizontal
  • Interior settings:
    • with a single source of lighting, venetian-blinded windows, dark rooms, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances
  • Exterior settings:
    • urban night scenes with deep shadows, wet asphalt, dark alleyways, rain-slicked streets, flashing neon lights, and low lighting.
  • Story Locations:
    • murky and dark streets,dimly lit and low rent apartments and hotel rooms of big cities, or abandoned warehouses
cross over noirs
Cross over Noirs
  • The term film noir also been more widely applied to other categories of films. Some of the most interesting film noir derivatives were the film noir westerns of the 1950s:
    • Pursued(1947)
    • The Gunfighter(1950)
    • High noon(1952)
    • The Halliday Brand (1957)
derivatives of film noir
Derivatives of Film Noir


  • Thrillers- Pickup on South Street
  • Animation- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Horror FIlms- Angel Heart
  • Westerns- Man of the West
  • Gangster-Crime Films- Road to Perdition
  • Science-Fiction- Kiss Me Deadly
  • Superhero Action Films- Tim Burton's Batman
rebecca 1940
Rebecca 1940

Directed by: Alfred HItchcock

Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and George Sanders

Plot: When a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, she finds the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants.

the night of the hunter 1955
The Night of the Hunter 1955

Directed by: Charles Laughton

Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lilian Gish

Plot: A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid 10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

chinatown 197
Chinatown 197.

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston

Plot: An Los Angeles private detective investigates an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water in the 1940s.

blade runner 1982
Blade Runner 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young

Plot: Deckard, a Blade Runner, has to track down and terminate four replicants (clones) who hijacked a ship in space and have returned to earth seeking their maker. Takes place in futuristic Los Angeles, circa 2019.

pulp fiction 1994
Pulp Fiction 1994

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurnman

Plot: The lives of two mob hit men, boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.