July 20, 2016
The murder. The femme fatale. The doomed relationship.
Even if you’ve never actually seen a film noir film, their key cinematic elements have gone on to permeate all forms of entertainment, especially American media. Contrary to popular belief, the term “noir” in the name is not a reference to the black-and-white style of the films. Rather, these films were categorised according to their pessimistic, menacing tones and themes. Throw in a little bit of murder-mystery, and you get one of the most iconic film genres of all time. We listed down five of them to get you started:
Double Indemnity (1944)
If you want a frank, straightforward introduction into film noir, this is it. Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity is probably one of the most quintessential films of the genre, featuring all the great cinematic hallmarks – it’s hard to pick a favourite scene, but the blocking of the characters in the hallway is one of the most brilliant shots of all time. Brief spoiler alert, though: the trailer pretty much sums up the entire film, so proceed with caution.
Woman On The Run (1950)
Taking a bold twist on the notion of the femme fatale, the plot of Woman On The Run may seem pretty simple, but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable films to come out of the genre. While it’s definitely a little more unheard of, we honestly can’t imagine why: Ann Sheridan’s Eleanor is sassy, intelligent, and the prime example of a heroine. Plus, there’s a perfect balance between the drama and the mystery. We honestly can’t think of anything not to like about this one.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Yet another great from Billy Wilder, this film pushes the “film noir” genre out of the standard metropolitan neighbourhood and into the spotlight…quite literally. The story, instead, takes a rather meta turn by exploring the greed and fame of Hollywood through the eyes of – of course – a young screenwriter trying to make it big. If there was ever a film deserving of the label “classic”, this is it.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
It’s hard to make a list about the iconic films of yesteryear without mentioning anything by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, Hitchcock presents us with two (potential) villains – although let’s face it, when it comes to film noir, there are hardly any heroes – who are both looking to make major changes in their lives…if you will. Once again, the trailer tends to spoil the story a bit; you’ve been warned.
You know anything with the Coen brothers’ names on them is going to be good, so it’s no wonder that this film even served as the inspiration for a whole TV show of the same name after its release. While it’s a little different from the others on this list – considered a “neo noir” film rather than “film noir” due to its more modern themes and concepts – it’s still one of the best “homages” to the era. Also, you know, Steve Buscemi.
Featured Image: Woman On The Run (Trailer) (YouTube)