Because I kept hearing film noir discussed on Mars Hill Audio Journal, I decided that I needed to watch some examples of the genre. And so far I have watched two: Double Indemnity and The Big Sleep.
I started with Double Indemnity because Mars Hill played an excerpt that intrigued me: the narrator's speech about meeting his femme fatale with the smell of honeysuckles in the air. Murder, he tells us, can smell like honeysuckle.
I followed up with Bogart's The Big Sleep because it was available on Netflix for immediate streaming; plus, the title intrigued me. Bogart is always good, and I enjoyed him in this.
But so that I wouldn't proceed totally ignorant, I turned for guidance to a documentary, Bringing Darkness to Light. It interviews writers, directors, cinematographers, etc. in order to answer the question, "What is film noir?" None had an indisputable definition; indeed, one man argued that all the supposed elements of film noir could be found in Casablanca, which is not, though, within the genre. Slippery thing, film noir.
I will watch more of these films noir and attempt to articulate what I perceive those elements to be. I will also try to say which films are good, which are bad, and my reasons for thinking so.