Film

The Vitality of Film Noir

Film noir (literally “black cinema”) is one of the most durable traditions to come from 1940s Hollywood. Never precisely defined—the term was coined by French critics to describe the dark films coming from America just after the war—the style and mood can be found in westerns (Pursued, Ramrod), private-eye movies (The Big Sleep, The Killers), the woman’s picture (Mildred Pierce), the crime thriller (Double Indemnity) and even some musicals. The early noirs owed a great deal to German expressionism, with its low-key lighting and shadows that so impressed the French in the 1940s, but even then there were noirs such…

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