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Determining genre


ElCid
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Since this has become an issue, what classifies a movie as Film Noir vs. gangster, mystery, drama, etc.  IMO, there are plenty of movies made in the 40's and 50's which are mystery or drama, but many refer to them as Noir.  My wife refers to all "mystery" movies of the 30's-50's as "gangster" movies, but I don't.

Could also ask what differentiates them from police procedurals, detective, crime, etc.

What about comments re: a specific movie or an actor in a specific movies, shouldn't that be under Films and Filmmakers?

Is there a specific forum if comment is about one individual?  Are actors, Filmmakers?

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Yes, actors (especially actor-producers, actor-writers and actor-directors) are filmmakers-- they're all filmmakers. Technically, even an extra in a movie is a filmmaker because he or she is involved in the process of making a film. So threads about individual performers and technicians could easily go under the Films and Filmmakers forum. 

 

If you have questions about genre classification, look at the TCM schedule online where the genres are listed on the side. Or look up the title in question by using the TCM database. On each movie's page, there is a genre link on the left. Another idea is to look up genre on the IMDb.

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It would almost be better to say that, rather than call these films a genre call Noir a style/tool of film making used in certain film/plot sequences or for a films entirety in Crime, Thriller, and Suspense films, 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. 

 

Nobody originally ever started out making a Noir. Probably 80% of Noirs are Crime films with the rest Suspense and Thrillers, but there are some Western Noirs, Woman's Drama Noirs, and Historical Noirs.

 

Origins sited of the style are many, German Expressionism, French Poetic Realism, Horror Films, tabloid crime scene photography, and the blackout & budget restrictions forced upon the studios during WWII, see "Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir" by Sheri Chinen Biesen, for the latter.

 

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, 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? ;-)

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Since this has become an issue, what classifies a movie as Film Noir vs. gangster, mystery, drama, etc.  IMO, there are plenty of movies made in the 40's and 50's which are mystery or drama, but many refer to them as Noir.  My wife refers to all "mystery" movies of the 30's-50's as "gangster" movies, but I don't.

Could also ask what differentiates them from police procedurals, detective, crime, etc.

What about comments re: a specific movie or an actor in a specific movies, shouldn't that be under Films and Filmmakers?

Is there a specific forum if comment is about one individual?  Are actors, Filmmakers?

Is there a specific forum if comment is about one individual? 

 

This one, the General Discussions forum. Don't let one ............................ ruin it for the rest of us.

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Since this has become an issue, what classifies a movie as Film Noir vs. gangster, mystery, drama, etc.  IMO, there are plenty of movies made in the 40's and 50's which are mystery or drama, but many refer to them as Noir.  My wife refers to all "mystery" movies of the 30's-50's as "gangster" movies, but I don't.

Could also ask what differentiates them from police procedurals, detective, crime, etc.

What about comments re: a specific movie or an actor in a specific movies, shouldn't that be under Films and Filmmakers?

Is there a specific forum if comment is about one individual?  Are actors, Filmmakers?

 

If you're asking related to 'where should I place a topic',  first I wouldn't worry too much about that and I'll let those that do care address that. 

 

If you're asking about how to classic a movie to a genre;  well this is more art then science and the TCM list of genres can be questions.   e.g.  Pre-codes.   Technically these are movies released before the Production code was enforced in July 1934.  Well what about a western that was made in 1930?  If this a pre-code or western?  To me it is a western because I define a pre-code movie as being made before the Prouction code was enforced AND having content that the Production code didn't allow.  i.e. the movie has to have racy scenes (mostly sexual) to be a pre-code. 

 

As for crime, mystery and noir;  I provided a long write up about that in another thread and I'm not doing that again here!  (ha ha).

 

I do find CigarJoe's post interesting as it relates to noir,  but I do find it limiting since the focus is on the visual style and not on character development (which is what I focus on in that other write up).   But clearly both are part of what makes a noir a noir (IMO).

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If you're asking related to 'where should I place a topic',  first I wouldn't worry too much about that and I'll let those that do care address that. 

 

If you're asking about how to classic a movie to a genre;  well this is more art then science and the TCM list of genres can be questions.   e.g.  Pre-codes.   Technically these are movies released before the Production code was enforced in July 1934.  Well what about a western that was made in 1930?  If this a pre-code or western?  To me it is a western because I define a pre-code movie as being made before the Prouction code was enforced AND having content that the Production code didn't allow.  i.e. the movie has to have racy scenes (mostly sexual) to be a pre-code. 

 

As for crime, mystery and noir;  I provided a long write up about that in another thread and I'm not doing that again here!  (ha ha).

 

I do find CigarJoe's post interesting as it relates to noir,  but I do find it limiting since the focus is on the visual style and not on character development (which is what I focus on in that other write up).   But clearly both are part of what makes a noir a noir (IMO).

If you're asking related to 'where should I place a topic',  first I wouldn't worry too much about that and I'll let those that do care address that. 

 

Not to worry, they will. 

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If you're asking related to 'where should I place a topic',  first I wouldn't worry too much about that and I'll let those that do care address that. 

 

Exactly. Like "posts that derail", we're free to place our posts where we wish - we just have to be willing to absorb a little lecturing and bossiness from a certain type of person.

 

Easy as cake.

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At first glance I thought this thread was titled "Determining Gender."

THAT thought or "glance" is easily worth 7 1/2 warning points.  Just remember that "gender" in today's modernity is simply a "political construct" with no biological basis. The word "gender" is so 19th century and so is completely irrelevant and out-of-date and fashion.  Probably the same can be said of "genre".  Let's be modern and even post-modern in our thinking.  "Gender" and "genre" are so revisionist and as such should be consigned to the ash heaps of never-ever-happened-history.

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Film Noir has become, at least in my myopic view, a form of film marketing to sell more DVDs.

 

It is as simple as that.

 

It was not originally that way but has been adopted by companies wanting to make more money.

 

If it is crime and B&W it is film noir.

 

Buy Buy Buy.

 

For those that want to look at the real film noir you have a relatively small amount that i would call true noir. I could name Night And The City as one of them. Somebody could come in and argue with me over that one ( as had been done) so it is not really a science but an art.

 

One that is definitely not film noir is Brute Force. Then some could come in and argue with me that it is.

 

In other words Film Noir is as shady as the movies, lol. How fitting really.

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Exactly. Like "posts that derail", we're free to place our posts where we wish - we just have to be willing to absorb a little lecturing and bossiness from a certain type of person.

 

Easy as cake.

we're free to place our posts where we wish 

 

You might think so, darkblue..................but you'd be wrong.

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It's a wasp's nest, but as I understand it film noir is a term the French invented to describe American crime films from the 1940s and 50s. They're in B&W, they use a lot of shadows and light-dark contrast, creating a dark atmosphere. Typical characters are the hard-boiled detective (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and the femme fatale (Gilda). Sometimes the story is told from the viewpoint of the criminals, e.g. two lovers planning to murder the husband (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice).

 

"Crime film" is a more general term; gangster films already existed in the 1930s (Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, Scarface). 

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It's a wasp's nest, but as I understand it film noir is a term the French invented to describe American crime films from the 1940s and 50s. They're in B&W, they use a lot of shadows and light-dark contrast, creating a dark atmosphere. Typical characters are the hard-boiled detective (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and the femme fatale (Gilda). Sometimes the story is told from the viewpoint of the criminals, e.g. two lovers planning to murder the husband (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice).

 

"Crime film" is a more general term; gangster films already existed in the 1930s (Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, Scarface). 

Good post, Cora. I love your avatar by the way!

 

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is one of the better MGM films in this category.

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It's a wasp's nest, but as I understand it film noir is a term the French invented to describe American crime films from the 1940s and 50s. They're in B&W, they use a lot of shadows and light-dark contrast, creating a dark atmosphere. Typical characters are the hard-boiled detective (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and the femme fatale (Gilda). Sometimes the story is told from the viewpoint of the criminals, e.g. two lovers planning to murder the husband (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice).

 

"Crime film" is a more general term; gangster films already existed in the 1930s (Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, Scarface). 

 

I agree with your wasp's nest comment but here is something I posted on the noir at night thread related to your post.   My focus on noir is both on the visual style as well as what is in the minds of the characters in a noir.

 

To me the key is what motivates the characters.     The concept of a complex protagonist with an existential awareness of his or her situation.   Of course there are movies from other genres that have a similar narrative and visual preoccupation as film noir.

 

In a standard gangster film the gangster has a demented idealism.   Rocco, Tom in Little Caesar,  Scarface;  these guys never really had doubts about themselves.   In a noir the gangster are compelled to contemplate their own destruction.

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Thanks to all who have attempted to educate me on Film Noir.  Doubt I will ever fully understand it and will have to rely on you experts out there-when it becomes important.

Regardless, I like noir, crime, gangster, mystery, whatever you call them.

Actually, to me the Film Noir forum should be about discussing Film Noir as a genre (not gender, ha!) or different aspects of it.  Specific movies could be discussed in General Discussions, just like the multitude of other movies that are discussed here.  Let's all members be exposed to the topic.  

Just my opinion.

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Thanks to all who have attempted to educate me on Film Noir.  Doubt I will ever fully understand it and will have to rely on you experts out there-when it becomes important.

Regardless, I like noir, crime, gangster, mystery, whatever you call them.

Actually, to me the Film Noir forum should be about discussing Film Noir as a genre (not gender, ha!) or different aspects of it.  Specific movies could be discussed in General Discussions, just like the multitude of other movies that are discussed here.  Let's all members be exposed to the topic.  

Just my opinion.

Specific movies could be discussed in General Discussions, just like the multitude of other movies that are discussed here.  Let's all members be exposed to the topic.  

 

Quite right, TheCid. Excellent point.

 

Not only are other movies discussed here, but other topics are discussed here as well. The poster in particular is quite prolific on opening up threads that have less to do with anything than the poor little noir threads, which were causing no problem here whatsoever. I can't remember his topics ever being the object of thread expatriation.

 

That's why this forum has been designated as the General Discussion forum. You as well as I have seen posts and threads with only a minimal attachment to movies go on and on and on and on, with no complaints offered up to the moderators. Remember when we thought this was the place one could freely speak their minds?

 

Apparently that has changed. 

 

I'd still like to see someone explain why one poster convinced the moderators to do his bidding. I'm guessing it was a power issue. 

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I know this what makes something noir discussion seems to have segued into jokingly an orientation discussion; but I wanted to add my two cents. 

 

Gangster films, in my opinion, are usually the ones with the guy who pretty much thinks he's invincible.  He runs his big racket, whether it be bootlegging, gambling, or what not.  He has a hot streak and ends up being gunned down by someone he's wronged along the way, the police or someone else.  Gangster films usually feature violence, police chases, and the like.  Usually the main characters are part of some crime syndicate--whether or not they're known gangsters or gangsters who are fronting as a respectable business.  Usually, in the gangster films, the main characters are known criminals and they carry on with their illegal crimes.  After the production code went into place, most of the gangsters met their eventual downfall.

 

I would argue that gangster films and film noir could sometimes overlap with one another.  For me, film noir usually has a certain overall aesthetic and mood.  Many film noirs use lighting and shadow to their advantage to convey character traits and plot foreshadowing.  I've also noticed that film noirs tend to have very dramatic scores.  There are film noir cliches, like the private eye, femme fatale and the main character's narration of the plot.  Often times, the main characters in film noirs are trying to avenge something that has happened to them or someone close to them.  I always think of a film noir as being a grittier romance or dramatic film. 

 

I think that gangster films and film noirs could overlap in that often times, the main characters are not sympathetic.  Often times, the characters in the gangster films are clearly criminals and the film noir characters are either former criminals or do something illegal during the course of the film (e.g. Double Indemnity).  The audience shouldn't be rooting for these characters to get away with the crime, beat the police, etc; but they do-- because the gangster, the murderous private eye and femme fatale are showcased as the heroes of the story. 

 

In regard to film noirs versus mystery films.  While both genres typically feature mysteries that need to be solved; often times, the mystery films seem less serious than the film noirs.  Usually the mystery films feature private eyes, detectives, police, amateur detectives, etc. trying to solve a mystery.  Films like The Thin Man series, Charade and Footsteps in the Dark fit the bill.  These films often feature clues strewn throughout the film.  Often at the end, all the clues are recalled and pieced together to point to the culprit and solve the mystery. 

 

I would also argue that the mystery genre also overlaps with the film noir genre.  During and after WWII, the film noir genre really took off.  The mystery films took on a darker tone and featured more cynical characters than seen previously.  Many of the lead characters in the film noirs are cynics, un-trusting of anyone. 

 

I can see where the OP's confusion lies; the gangster, film noir and mystery genres are very similar and possess overlapping traits.  I have read it argued that "film noir" isn't an official genre, but rather a label given to movies featuring specific characteristics.  I see that even TCM doesn't use the film noir label.  On today's schedule for example, Laura is classified as a "Suspense" film.  I would also argue that some other film noirs might be labeled as "crime" films or "dramas."

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I agree with both jamesjazzguitar & speedracer5, I personally just key more on the visual aspects of Noir , but with the visual you must have the story aspects also, its a double deal , the obsessed or alienated individual trapped in a world out of their control, is a very important component of Noir, even more so with Neo Noirs where the visual component is quite often minimal or completely missing in action. 

 

Classic Noir has a wide range visually, say on one hand a film like The Maltese Falcon with the strong story components but comparatively light on the visuals, while on the other, I Wake Up Screaming has both the strong story components and the visuals.

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I agree with both jamesjazzguitar & speedracer5, I personally just key more on the visual aspects of Noir , but with the visual you must have the story aspects also, its a double deal , the obsessed or alienated individual trapped in a world out of their control, is a very important component of Noir, even more so with Neo Noirs where the visual component is quite often minimal or completely missing in action. 

 

Classic Noir has a wide range visually, say on one hand a film like The Maltese Falcon with the strong story components but comparatively light on the visuals, while on the other, I Wake Up Screaming has both the strong story components and the visuals.

Spot on. I think the best noirs - Decoy didn't capture this, btw - have the viewpoint of the individual looking out, trying to solve a problem or righting a wrong. Some of my favorites accomplish this masterfully.

 

Lady In The Lake, of course, has us looking through the eyes of the protagonist the entire time. That musta been a bear to film. I especially like - imagine being in the audience! - when we see Robert Montgomery for the first time in the mirror. Audrey Totter was a perfect dame to his Marlowe.

 

Murder My Sweet and Impact are two other films that best define the genre, for me. There are lots more, of course.

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I agree with both jamesjazzguitar & speedracer5, I personally just key more on the visual aspects of Noir , but with the visual you must have the story aspects also, its a double deal , the obsessed or alienated individual trapped in a world out of their control, is a very important component of Noir, even more so with Neo Noirs where the visual component is quite often minimal or completely missing in action. 

 

Classic Noir has a wide range visually, say on one hand a film like The Maltese Falcon with the strong story components but comparatively light on the visuals, while on the other, I Wake Up Screaming has both the strong story components and the visuals.

 

I agree about 'its a double deal'.   MovieMadness provided a good example with  Night And The City.   This movie has a very strong visual and character \ storyline noir vibe.   But I don't focus on if a film is a 'true' noir since to me that is limiting.    

 

As you noted some films are strong in one aspect but not in the other.   e.g some people say a noir can't be a color film.   From the visual POV I get that but a film like Leave Her to Heaven has the character \ storyline of a noir since the Tierney character is obsessed with her late father and now her husband and the death scene with Danny is chilling.

 

Even a film like Out of the Past,  which many say is the noir of noirs doesn't have a strong visual noir aspect.   e.g. all the outdoor scenes but the scenes in SF fit the noir visual and the storyline and characters are pure noir.     

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