An Introductory Look at the Film Noir Genre

Robyn Remington

November 8, 2022

Film noir is a style of the film made with an underlying cynicism. After World War II, America was disillusioned, and cynicism crept onto the silver screen. Instead of unique sets and heroic cowboys, noir movies featured dark city streets and morally ambiguous private eyes. This style of filmmaking also used expressionistic shadows instead of the Technicolor haze. Noir films don’t follow a strict checklist, but they’re always dark and often striking with a striking chiaroscuro.

The postman always rings twice.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic film noir. It is based on a novel by James M. Cain, and its violent and erotic plot is central to the hard-boiled novel/film noir tradition in American popular culture. The story features a morally ambiguous hero who becomes swayed by a powerful sexual attraction to a femme fatale. The novel’s central theme is an obsession with love, and the film noir adaptation was an easy transition.

 This 1946 film is based on a crime novel by James M. Cain and stars a sexy leading cast. The film also features a tight script and a tense direction.

The Big Heat Film Noir

While the movie follows many classic film noir tropes, it is also a bleak crime thriller. Its expressionistic style reflects the various personalities of the central characters. The sparse screenplay by Sidney Boehm was inspired by a fictional novel by William P. McGivern. The title hints at a world where lawlessness is rampant and legal authorities cannot enforce the order.

Film critic Manny Farber was one of the first to praise The Big Heat. He praised the film’s “awesome” style and deemed it “better than many of Lang’s more ambitious efforts.” Lang was a well-known visual but felt that special effects and elaborate visuals were unnecessary to make a film.

Citizen Kane

Film noir is a genre of film that evokes a specific mood and is generally inspired by themes of moral crisis or uncertainty. Characters are often morally ambiguous, and the film’s plot typically revolves around a single major conflict. 

Film noir is one of the most popular forms of contemporary American filmmaking. Despite its popularity, relatively few people in the United States knew what film noir was until recent years. Let’s take a look at its history and critical films.

The Big Sleep Film Noir

The Big Sleep is a taut thriller and film noir classic from the Golden Age. Starring Bogart and Bacall, it is difficult to unravel the storyline and stands up to repeated viewings. However, its twisted plot is engaging, mentally exhausting, and inspires a heady feeling of exhilaration.

In the words of Roger Ebert, “The Big Sleep is a detective story about the process of criminal investigation.” It is a classic private-eye tale, with a hapless private investigator, blackmail, murder, and romantic entanglements. Despite its many faults, The Big Sleep is an enjoyable introduction to film noir.

The film opens with two silhouetted figures against a gray backdrop, one of them smoking. Then, we learn that both men have their reasons for smoking.

The Big Chill

“The Big Chill” is an excellent introduction to film noir and offers many questions. First, it introduces you to a whole host of new character types. We learn about the character of Alex, played by William Hurt, who deals with illegal drugs. And we get answers to some questions about our personality and the nature of suicide. And it’s got a great soundtrack!

The film features an ensemble cast, and its music plays a large part in setting the mood. The story follows a group of college friends reunited for the funeral of a familiar friend. During the time spent together, they each have to re-evaluate their lives. The film stars Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, and Glenn Close, who portray many emotions.