• Film Noir was a popular style of
filmography which peaked in 1940’s and
• The genre takes origins from across Europe,
particularly in the filming styles, but the
archetypal detective, cops and robbers plot
lines were added by America.
• The name ‘Film Noir’ derives from the black and
white visual style of the genre.
• Film Noir plots can vary from normal civilians
being lured to crime, or has been boxers fighting
the law, but Film Noir resonates most strongly
with detective dramas, with cynical undertones
and subtle nods to sex.
• The Genre has further developed into the modern
sub-genre of ‘Neo Noir’, modern interpretations of
the Film Noir genre of the 1940’s.
• Humphrey Bogart is arguably the most famous
Film Noir actor.
- Film Noir is famed for it’s black and white style.
- Aside from colour, directors used low key
lighting, and simplistic techniques to create light
and dark contrasting shades on the screen.
- This is symbolised most well with shadows, and
the connotes the ideas of good and bad sides to
• The use of light and shadow meant that often
actors bodies and faces could become submerged
completely in dark shadow – something rare in
Hollywood at the time.
• There are numerous lighting and shadow
techniques that have become strong conventions
and to some extent cliches within film noir, these
include the use of blinds to create shadowed lines
• Film Noir also made use of smoke as a special
effect, as black and white camera’s of the day
could pick this up.
• Most Film Noir plots revolve around crime,
whether crime syndication, murder,
gambling – mainly motivated by jealousy
• Misguided information leading detectives
on trails looking for criminals, and often
becoming victims and tragic hero’s
themselves are clear conventions.
• Film Noir is generally associated with urban
settings in America. New York, San Francisco and
Chicago have all been featured – though no city
features as much as Los Angeles.
• Most indoor settings revolve around bars, lounges,
and even speakeasies depending on the settings of
the films. These are where large amounts of action
• Often Film Noir is set at night.
• Main Character: - most often a Police Detective, hard on
his luck and facing some sort of personal struggle, whether
it be crime, relationships or alcoholism.
• Female lead: - many Film Noir’s have a young attractive
actress playing a female character. She can be an aid to the
main or carry a double identity – perhaps a femme fatale.
• Villains: - there are always villains in Film Noir. Directors
do well to distinguish them as different through mise-en-
• Bourgeoisie: - The main detective can often have to
answer to a police force ‘above him’. They can instruct
him what to do, but often can seem out of touch with