Film Noir 1940-1960 Classic Era
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Films Covered Include:
Diabolique (English title is "The Fiends," which no one uses; everyone uses French title)
Elevator to the Gallows (French title is "Ascenseur Pour l'échafaud")
In a Lonely Place
Night of the Hunter
Postman Always Rings Twice (Lana Turner, John Garfield)
Purple Noon (French Title is "Plein Soleil")
Shadow of a Doubt
Shoot the Piano Player (French Title is "Tirez sur le pianiste")
Strangers on a Train
Woman in the Window
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The following are text excerpts from the presentation:
BULLET POINTS ON FILM NOIR:
~French phrase for black film or dark film.
~stylish Hollywood crime dramas with cynical attitudes and sexually ~motivated characters.
~classical film noir period: early 1940s - late 1950s.
~low-key black-and-white style.
~roots in German Expressionism.
~derives from the American hardboiled crime fiction that emerged in the 1930s.
~term film noir, was not recognized by the American film industry of its own era.
~film noir term came into usage in the 1970s.
~encompasses a range of plots and characters with the sometime use of private eyes and police detectives.
~although these films were originally American productions, they became international, with the French New Wave getting the ball rolling.
~films released after the classical era often share the same attributes as the classical.
~sometimes the term neo-noir is used to describe a film noir of contemporary times.
BULLET POINTS ON ART INFLUENCE UPON FILM NOIR
~artistic movement of German Expressionism, 1910s - 1920s, was the primary art influence.
~many artists, both Jewish and non-Jewish, had to flee Germany as Hitler and the Nazis formed.
~if they were not Jewish, it was because they were classed as "degenerates."
~Hollywood benefitted enormously from this because these film artists all left for America, as did painters and artists of every medium.
~emigres included the early noir figures of Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, and Michael Curtiz.
~the emigres showed Hollywood a dramatic shadowed lighting style.
~expressing how one felt in one’s art was the key aspect to German Expressionism so a psychologically expressive approach arrived in Hollywood too.
BULLET POINTS ON LITERARY SOURCE for FILM NOIR
~came from hardboiled school of American detective and crime fiction.
~Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler were the earliest literary sources.
~in the 1940s, Cornell Woolrich was the most prolific author. Thirteen film noir movies were made from his work.
~ W. R. Burnett was a crucial literary source for the gangster based film noir. Seven film noir movies during the classic era came from his work.
BULLET POINTS ON DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF FILM NOIR:
Often centered on women of questionable virtue with the following being the standard bearers:
~Double Indemnity, Barbara Stanwyck's femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson (#1)
~Gilda with Rita Hayworth
~The Postman Always Rings Twice with Lana Turner
~The Killers with Ava Gardner
~Out of the Past with Jane Greer
Hollywood Production Code was in effect with these constraints:
~no film character could literally get away with murder
~no film character could be seen sharing a bed with anyone but a spouse
~as long as the film noir movies obeyed those two rules, they were otherwise given very risqué plot elements and dialogue that other films were not allowed.
Film Noir movies were not considered the studios’ major features so everyone who worked on them was given an unprecedented amount of freedom, which allowed:
~writers, directors, cinematographers, and other craftsmen were free from big-picture constraints.
~more visual experimentation was allowed.
~Expressionism artistic sensibility was used which was not used on big films.
~a semi-documentary style was allowed to emerge
~ flashbacks were allowed whereas they were avoided in the big films