Monday, June 01, 2009

My Formal Foray into Film Noir

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.


miss kelly said...

You're back to blogging! Congratulations!

Um, in terms of film noir, PLEASE watch The Third Man. Graham Greene + Orson Welles + post-War Vienna = excellence.

Hansonius said...

I plan on watching that film. Have you seen A Touch of Evil? Orson Welles directs and stars in. Charlton Heston plays a Mexican. Great movie.