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cigarjoe

A True Noir Genre

30 posts in this topic

Updated list (added Dead Reckoning & The Crooked Way):


*The Big Combo*

*Crime Wave*

*Raw Deal*

*The Asphalt Jungle*

*He Walked By Night*

*Criss Cross*

*The Narrow Margin*

*Night And The City*

*Crossfire*

*Red Light*

*They Live By Night*

*Where Danger Lives*

*The Set Up*

*The Phantom Lady*

*Scarlett Street*

*Detour*

*The Window*

*99 River Street*

*Killers Kiss*

*The Killers*

*Double Indemnity*

*T Men*

*The Killing*

*Dead Reckoning*

*The Crooked Way*

*The Crooked Way* (1949) one word WOW This Film is a gem. Alton's cinematography is extremely dark and claustrophobic and fits the subject matter well, a feast for Noir sore eyes with a nice juxtaposition of studio set & seedy location shots that make a fine example of the noir aesthetic.


Since I started this thread I've read *Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir* by Sheri Chinen Biesen (Oct 19, 2005), and its given me some new insight into what I'm trying to quantify. I suggest everyone read it. Some quotes from the book below.


A number of elements all came together into what The New York Times tagged the "red meat crime cycle" (before French critics coined the term Film Noir) at the onset of WWII. "The PCA' s lapses in code enforcement, the Office of Censorship banning "un-American" Hollywood gangsters but condoning of depictions of war related atrocities, and the Office of War Information's regulation of screen stories depicting the combat front or domestic home front to promote the war effort---all of these developments complicated WWII censorship and encouraged hard-boiled film adaptations that initially reformed gangsters and promoted patriotic crime." Pictures were filmed with "tremendous studio rationing of lighting, electricity, film stock, and set materials" in an uncharacteristically dark urban Los Angeles basin in response to wartime blackouts.


The first Noir where all of the elements came together was *Double Indemnity*, and along with other wartime productions such as *The Phantom Lady* and, *Murder My Sweet* represented some of the most expressionistic, stylistically black phase of film noir (what I'm calling the *Hard Core Noirs*). "The noir aesthetic evolved from the wartime constraints on film making practices. Brooding, often brutal realism was conveyed in low lit images recycled sets (disguised by shadows, smoke, artificial fog, and rain), tarped studio back lots, or enclosed sound stages.


In the post war period film makers redefined noir realism having more flexibility in location shooting and lighting. Wartime Noir created a psychological atmosphere that in many ways marked a response to an increasingly realistic and understandable anxiety---about war, shortages, changing gender roles, and "a world gone mad"---that was distinctive from the later postwar paranoia about the bomb, the cold war, HUAC, and the blacklist which was more intrinsic to the late 40's and 50's Noir pictures." (lighter grayer or *Films Gris*, *Soft Core Noir*)


And you can see this in the films. Wilder's *Double Indemnity* is darker in visual style than 1950's *Sunset Boulevard*, Fritz Langs *Ministry of Fear* and *Scarlett Street* are darker than *The Big Heat* (1953). But there are some exceptions Aldrich's *Kiss Me Deadly*(1955) and Lewis' *The Big Combo*(1955) are pretty dark, but the general trend outlined in the book is distinctive and sort of explains the reason for the range in the pallet of Films Noir.


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Hard Core List to Date added Edge of Doom, The Dark Corner, Where The Sidewalk Ends Kiss Me Deadly and Sudden Fear:

 

*The Big Combo*

*Crime Wave*

*Raw Deal*

*The Asphalt Jungle*

*He Walked By Night*

*Criss Cross*

*The Narrow Margin*

*Night And The City*

*Crossfire*

*Red Light*

*They Live By Night*

*Where Danger Lives*

*The Set Up*

*The Phantom Lady*

*Scarlett Street*

*Detour*

*The Window*

*99 River Street*

*Killers Kiss*

*The Killers*

*Double Indemnity*

*T Men*

*The Killing*

*Dead Reckoning*

*The Crooked Way*

*Edge of Doom*

*The Dark Corner*

*Where The Sidewalk Ends*

*Kiss Me Deadly*

*Sudden Fear*

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Feb 19, 2012 10:48 PM

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There was a post about a newspaper article on another thread that called *Casablanca* a film noir. *Casablanca* is first & foremost a unrequited love story, that is what hits me over the head as its emphasis, not obsessed and alienated characters who are in a vortex beyond their control. And it is lit and filmed in pretty standard Hollywood style, rather than with typical noir stylistics. Yea it had some fog at the end but that was standard procedure to disguise that fact that they were on a sound stage rather than at an actual airport location. Compare *Casablanca* to *The Big Combo*, yea the endings are somewhat similarly shot, both end at airports in the fog, but the *Big Combo* is NOIR all the way from the get go.

 

It would almost be better to say that, rather than call these existing films a genre call Noir a style/tool of film making used in certain film/plot sequences or for a films entirety that was used to conveyed claustrophobia, alienation, obsession, and events spiraling out of control, that came to fruition in the roughly the period of the last two and a half decades of B&W film.

 

Then you can say we have this Film Noir Style that can have two opposite poles one would be Films de la nuit, Films of the night, or Films de la nuit éternelle, Films of the eternal night (the Hard Core), the opposite would be Films Soleil, films of the sun, those sun baked, filled with light Noirs, then all the rest would fit in the spectrum in between being various shades of grey or Films Gris. No?

;-)

 

 

Its still messy no matter how you slice it. In Biesen's book Blackout: WWII and the origins of Film Noir, its interesting to note that before there was a label "Film Noir" the New York Times called these series of films "The Red Meat Crime Cycle" emphasizing their hard boiled "crime" angle.

 

 

Hard Core List to Date added *Armored Car Robbery*

 

 

*The Big Combo*

*Crime Wave*

*Raw Deal*

*The Asphalt Jungle*

*He Walked By Night*

*Criss Cross*

*The Narrow Margin*

*Night And The City*

*Crossfire*

*Red Light*

*They Live By Night*

*Where Danger Lives*

*The Set Up*

*The Phantom Lady*

*Scarlett Street*

*Detour*

*The Window*

*99 River Street*

*Killers Kiss*

*The Killers*

*Double Indemnity*

*T Men*

*The Killing*

*Dead Reckoning*

*The Crooked Way*

*Edge of Doom*

*The Dark Corner*

*Where The Sidewalk Ends*

*Kiss Me Deadly*

*Sudden Fear*

*Armored Car Robbery*

 

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Mar 7, 2012 9:45 PM

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Mar 7, 2012 9:46 PM

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Mar 7, 2012 9:47 PM

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_Alphabetical & updated List_

 

*Armored Car Robbery*

*The Asphalt Jungle*

*The Big Combo*

*Black Angel*

*Crime Wave*

*Criss Cross*

*The Crooked Way*

*Crossfire*

*The Dark Corner*

*Dead Reckoning*

*Detour*

*Double Indemnity*

*Edge of Doom*

*Fallen Angel*

*He Walked By Night*

*Killers Kiss*

*The Killers*

*The Killing*

*Kiss Me Deadly*

*The Narrow Margin*

*Night And The City*

*99 River Street*

*The Phantom Lady*

*Raw Deal*

*Red Light*

*Scarlett Street*

*The Strange Lives of Martha Ivers*

*Sudden Fear*

*Storm Warming*

*T Men*

*The Set Up*

*They Live By Night*

*They Made me a Fugitive*

*Touch Of Evil*

*Where Danger Lives*

*Where The Sidewalk Ends*

*The Window*

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Jun 9, 2012 3:55 PM

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*Armored Car Robbery*

*The Asphalt Jungle*

*The Big Combo*

*Black Angel*

*The City That Never Sleeps*

*Crime Wave*

*Criss Cross*

*The Crooked Way*

*Crossfire*

*The Dark Corner*

*Dead Reckoning*

*Desperate*

*Detour*

*Double Indemnity*

*Edge of Doom*

*Fallen Angel*

*He Walked By Night*

*Killers Kiss*

*The Killers*

*The Killing*

*Kiss Me Deadly*

*The Narrow Margin*

*Night And The City*

*99 River Street*

*The Phantom Lady*

*Raw Deal*

*Red Light*

*Scarlett Street*

*The Strange Lives of Martha Ivers*

*Sudden Fear*

*Storm Warming*

*T Men*

*The Set Up*

*They Live By Night*

*They Made me a Fugitive*

*Touch Of Evil*

*Where Danger Lives*

*Where The Sidewalk Ends*

*The Window*

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