Film noir facts for kids
Two silhouetted figures in The Big Combo (1955). The film's cinematographer was John Alton, the creator of many of film noir's stylized images.
|Years active||early 1920s – late 1950s|
French poetic realism,
American hardboiled fiction,
Art Deco (scenography)
|Influenced||French New Wave, Neo-noir|
Film noir is a term used to describe crime drama movies from Hollywood that are often focused on crime, and corruption.
Film noir movies were mostly made from the early 1940s to the late 1950s in the United States, and they were usually filmed in black-and-white. The term "film noir" comes from the French term for "black film" or "dark film". Film noir movies include many different genres of movies, such as gangster movies, police movies, and detective movies.
Film noir movies were often filmed so that there were many dark shadows in the movie, even on characters' faces. The Hollywood film noir movies were influenced by German film directors such as Fritz Lang, who used dramatic lighting techniques. Another influence on film noir movies was 1930s French books or movies about heroes who would die at the end of the story or stories with sad endings. Film noir movies were also influenced by crime fiction, such as the detective and crime stories by Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler.
Examples of film noir movies and actors
Some important film noir movies are: Stranger on the Third Floor (1940); The Maltese Falcon (1941) Double Indemnity (1944) The Big Sleep (1946) The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946); Key Largo (1948), and Touch of Evil (1958).
The important actors from Hollywood film noir movies were Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Lorre.
Images for kids
Marlene Dietrich, an actress frequently called upon to play a femme fatale.
The October 1934 issue of Black Mask featured the first appearance of the detective character whom Raymond Chandler developed into the famous Philip Marlowe.
Out of the Past (1947) directed by Jacques Tourneur, features many of the genre's hallmarks: a cynical private detective as the protagonist, a femme fatale, multiple flashbacks with voiceover narration, dramatically shadowed photography, and a fatalistic mood leavened with provocative banter. Pictured are noir icons Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.
A scene from In a Lonely Place (1950), directed by Nicholas Ray and based on a novel by noir fiction writer Dorothy B. Hughes. Two of noir's defining actors, Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart, portray star-crossed lovers in the film.
Rita Hayworth in the trailer for The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Stray Dog (1949), directed and cowritten by Akira Kurosawa, contains many cinematographic and narrative elements associated with classic American film noir.
As car thief Michel Poiccard, a.k.a. Laszlo Kovacs, Jean-Paul Belmondo in À bout de souffle (Breathless; 1960). Poiccard reveres and styles himself after Humphrey Bogart's screen persona. Here he imitates a characteristic Bogart gesture, one of the film's motifs.
Harrison Ford as detective Rick Deckard in Blade Runner (1982). Like many classic noirs, the film is set in a version of Los Angeles where it constantly rains. The steam in the foreground is a familiar noir trope, while the "bluish-smoky exterior" updates the black-and-white mode.
Some consider Vertigo (1958) a noir on the basis of plot and tone and various motifs, but it has a modernist graphic design typical of the 1950s and a more modern set design, which would remove it from the category of film noir. Others say the combination of color and the specificity of director Alfred Hitchcock's vision exclude it from the category.
Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster were two of the most prolific stars of classic noir. The complex structure of Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) involves a real-time framing story, multiple narrators, and flashbacks within flashbacks.
|Mary the Jewess|