The History of Film Noir Essay

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The History of Film Noir

Film Noir literally means ‘Black Film’. This term was first coined by French film critic Nino Frank, who noticed a trend in the darkness of themes in many American films that constituted wartime cinema.

Classic film noir developed during the 1940’s during and after World War two, taking advantage of the post war zeitgeist of anxiety, pessimism and suspicion. Mistrust, fear, paranoia, and bleakness is obvious in noir, it reflects the cold war period when the threat of nuclear annihilation was ever present.

The categorisation of noir is very difficult to propose, The term ‘Film Noir’ was not recognised in the industry or by the audiences in the 1940’s, for example it
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The classic characteristics of a Male personality in a film noir is moody, melancholy, cynical and hard hearted. He will almost always fall for the heartless, double crossing, mysterious and manipulative ‘Femme Fatal’

He will also be involved with the other classic noir characters including : petty criminals, sociopaths, gangsters, villains and the innocent ‘girl next door’ character.

Some of the first film noirs are as follows

Ÿ Maltese Falcon (1941)

Ÿ Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Ÿ Double Indemnity (1944)

Ÿ Laura (1944)

Ÿ The Woman In The Window (1944)

When Kathie Moffett (Greer) shoots her admirer, Whit Sterling (Douglas), a big time gambler, and absconds with $40,000 of his money, Sterling hires a private detective Jeff Bailey (Mitchum) to find her. Bailey leaves New York and catches up with Kathie in Mexico. Kathie denies taking the money and after falling for her charms, Bailey notifies Sterling that he could not find her.

The film has a fair amount of double crossing Bailey double crossing Stirling and Kathie double crossing both men. She is the classic ‘Femme Fatal’

I have decided on a ten minute scene in which Jeff Bailey meets Kathie Moffett for the first time.

The scene begins with a voice over from Bailey, he tells us (the audience) that he will wait in a café until he finds her. The café he chooses
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