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Film Noir  They Shot Dark Pictures, Didn't They?

 
 
 

 
 
  "Film noir is not a genre....It is not defined, as are the western and gangster genres, by conventions of setting and conflict, but rather by the more subtle qualities of tone and mood. It is a film "noir," as opposed to the possible variants of film gray and off white." - Paul Schrader, Notes on Film Noir, Film Comment, 1972  
     
 

"Film Noir is a historical, stylistic and thematic trend that took place primarily, but not exclusively, within the generic complex of the American crime film of the forties and fifties. The term was first introduced by French cinéaste Nino Frank in 1946. For many years it was known only to the French, who seemed to be the only ones equipped (critically or otherwise) to grapple with its definition and/or historical implications." - Spencer Selby (Dark City: The Film Noir; 1984)

 
     
  "Film Noir is the flip side of the all-American success story. It's about people who realize that following the program will never get them what they crave. So they cross the line, commit a crime and reap the consequences. Or, they're tales about seemingly innocent people tortured by paranoia and ass-kicked by Fate. Either way, they depict a world that's merciless and unforgiving." - Eddie Muller  
     
   
     
  Introduction:  
  "I killed him for money — and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman." - from Double Indemnity (1944)  
  You only need to take a quick glance at our Recommended Viewing section to comprehend the fact that film noir is pretty much our favourite film style/genre. They really did shoot dark pictures, and how. The finest American filmmakers (including many ex-Europeans) of the 40's and 50's all got involved and created a composite world of gloom and doom, a world where ordinary Joe's had no chance against a fancy looking dame or a twist of fate. Where urban decay was magnified onto the screen (in glorious black-and-white) like never before, or arguably since. Cigarette-smoke-filled rooms and rotten city streets carried the immoral stench of a post-World War urban milieu gone horribly wrong. Sure, there were many happy endings (often studio-enforced), but normally only after the 'hero' protagonist(s) had been subjected to extreme passages of emotional and/or physical unpleasantness. These characters may sometimes smile and caress just before the end credits, but you know deep down, thanks to the awful happenings that have transpired on-screen, that they will be scarred for life, and thus - one could surmise - no 'real' happy ending.  
  The film noir style (particularly American, and particularly from 1940 to 1959) makes our celluloid hearts beat faster than any other (sorry to the Western, and sorry to the French New Wave). With this in mind, and despite the fact that there are already countless informative websites and web articles dedicated to film noir, we still felt it was time to put together our own little resource.  
     
     
     
  Main Section:  
  250 Quintessential Noir Films (1940 to 1964)  
  Contains 248 American, plus 2 Non-American-produced noir films involving Orson Welles.  
  Based on our research, these are the 250 most cited films noir in film history (well, at least the film history that we have come across).  
  In other words, these noir films aren't necessarily the best (although they would be very close to it), they are simply the films that have most often been cited as noir in publications and across the world-wide-web.  
 
  50 Key Noir Filmmakers  
  Based on our research, these are the 50 directors whose films have most often been cited as noir.  
     
     
     
  Further Listings:  
  More American Noir Films and/or Films with Noir Elements from 1940 to 1964  
  Non-American Noir Films from 1940-1964  
  Noir Precursors (Pre-1940)  
  Neo-Noir / Modern Noir (Post-1964)  
  Full listing of all films cited: Alphabetical  Chronological  By Director  
 
  Links:  
  We point you towards some handy film noir web resources.  
  Sources:  
  Take a look at the lists we used to compile Film Noir: They Shot Dark Pictures, Didn't They?  
 
  LISTS OF BESTS: You can now simply check-off what movies you've seen on either the 1,000 Greatest Films listing, the 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films listing, or the 250 Quintessential Noir Films listing, and this handy website will do the rest for you.  
  1,000 Greatest Films Checklist  
  21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films Checklist  
  250 Quintessential Noir Films Checklist  
     
  "I was just getting ready to take my tie off, wondering if I should hang myself with it." - from His Kind of Woman (1951)  
 
     
 
 

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