"a movie that is marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, menace, and cynical characters; "film noir was applied by French critics to describe American thriller or detective films in the 1940s"
I taught a film noir class sometime ago at WAM-- maybe it was a winter class, but for some reason I tend to gravitate towards FILM NOIR style films in the winter and it gets me through the winter doldrums.
One of the best parts of the class was that it got me to watch dozens of films in preparation in an effort to determine just what exactly is FILM NOIR and then discussing and debating whether something we had watched qualified during class discussions.
In my opinion, to qualify a film must feature;
1. Generally release between 1945-1955
2. Features a flawed protagonist who may or may not be in over his head.
3. A FEMME FATALE-- a sultry female character who lures our hero into trouble.
4. A pessimistic aura to the film.
5. Dark cinematography, heavy on shadows.
6. An interesting supporting cast.
7. Some kind of twist to the story.
8. Psychological element.
9. A dreamlike or nightmarish quality to certain elements of the story.
That's a lot of criteria to cram into a film, but the best of the best manage to do it. A lot of what is considered FILM NOIR is actually CRIME NOIR-- which is a different genre with some similar attributes, but it lacks much of the needed ingredients.
Over the next few days I'm going to go through some films that I'd recommend for various reasons, most of which are either considered or genuine film noirs.
These are also valuable visual tools for any aspiring comic book artist, since the cinematography and the storytelling are usually top notch.
TOMORROW: THE Film Noir film.