Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes

Film Noir

(French: "Black Film" or "Dark Cinema")

Film Noir is a style or movement in American film-making of the mid-20th century, aspects of which recur as homage or parody even today.

Light-dark visuals, moral complexity, and convoluted plots of crime and passion resemble styles developed by the gothic novel but transferred to modern urban settings.

The title Out of the Past (1947, d. J. Tourneur) echoes the gothic by evoking a past sin or crime that must be resolved or put to rest.

Jane Greer (w/ Robert Mitchum) in Out of the Past as the Femme Fatale (French for "deadly woman") whose attractions compromise the hero's ethics. Besides light-dark chiaroscuro, two other visual signatures of film noir:
the cigarette (often w/ drinks)
the trench coat (detective's uniform)

(Web definitions)

A French phrase literally meaning "black film" that developed in the early 40s; refers to a genre of mostly black-and-white films that blossomed in the post-war era in American cinema, with bleak subject matter and a somber, downbeat tone; the plot (often a quest), low-key lighting often in ... 

A film / movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical or desperate characters 


the French word for "black film " A type of film, mainly produced in Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, which depicts "dark" themes 

genre of film, originally between 1940 and 1960, originating in the United States, employing heavy shadows and patterns of darkness, in which the protagonist dies, meets defeat, or achieves meaningless victory in the end. 

A French term (literally, “black film”) for a film set in a sordid urban atmosphere that deals with dark passions and violent crimes. 

French phrase meaning "black film"; refers to a genre of film whose subject matter bleak, usually an urban theme of corruption (eg, Orson Wells' Touch of Evil(1958), Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and LA Confidential (1998)) 

Dark, violent, urban, downbeat films, many of which were made in the 40's and 50's. 

American film tradition from the 1940's dealing with dark subject matter, urban locations and blunt, gritty dialogue. 

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" 

Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. ... 


Wikipedia list of films noir