A manifest affiliation with noir traditions—which, by its nature, allows different sorts of commentary on them to be inferred—can also provide the basis for explicit critiques of those traditions. Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, it features one of Bogart's most famous characters, but in iconoclastic fashion: Philip Marlowe, the prototypical hardboiled detective, is replayed as a hapless misfit, almost laughably out of touch with contemporary mores and morality.
Criss Cross (1949): A Quintessential Film Noir
The " blaxploitation " film Shaft , wherein Richard Roundtree plays the titular African-American private eye, John Shaft , takes conventions from classic noir. The most acclaimed of the neo-noirs of the era was director Roman Polanski 's Chinatown. Where Polanski and Towne raised noir to a black apogee by turning rearward, director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader brought the noir attitude crashing into the present day with Taxi Driver , a crackling, bloody-minded gloss on bicentennial America. Some of the strongest s noirs, in fact, were unwinking remakes of the classics, "neo" mostly by default: the heartbreaking Thieves Like Us , directed by Altman from the same source as Ray's They Live by Night , and Farewell, My Lovely , the Chandler tale made classically as Murder, My Sweet , remade here with Robert Mitchum in his last notable noir role.
Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell, archetypal modern femme fatale, in the smash box-office hit Basic Instinct Her diabolic nature is underscored by an "extra-lurid visual code", as in the notorious interrogation scene. The turn of the decade brought Scorsese's black-and-white Raging Bull cowritten by Schrader ; an acknowledged masterpiece—the American Film Institute ranks it as the greatest American film of the s and the fourth greatest of all time—it is also a retreat, telling a story of a boxer's moral self-destruction that recalls in both theme and visual ambience noir dramas such as Body and Soul and Champion The mainstreaming of neo-noir is evident in such films as Black Widow , Shattered , and Final Analysis Among big-budget auteurs, Michael Mann has worked frequently in a neo-noir mode, with such films as Thief and Heat and the TV series Miami Vice —89 and Crime Story — Mann's output exemplifies a primary strain of neo-noir, in which classic themes and tropes are revisited in a contemporary setting with an up-to-date visual style and rock - or hip hop —based musical soundtrack.
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Confidential , based on the James Ellroy novel, demonstrates an opposite tendency—the deliberately retro film noir; its tale of corrupt cops and femmes fatales is seemingly lifted straight from a film of , the year in which it is set. Working generally with much smaller budgets, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have created one of the most extensive film oeuvres influenced by classic noir, with films such as Blood Simple and Fargo , considered by some a supreme work in the neo-noir mode. The Twin Peaks cycle, both TV series —91 and film, Fire Walk with Me , puts a detective plot through a succession of bizarre spasms.
Burroughs novel. Perhaps no American neo-noirs better reflect the classic noir A-movie-with-a-B-movie-soul than those of director-writer Quentin Tarantino ;  neo-noirs of his such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction display a relentlessly self-reflexive, sometimes tongue-in-cheek sensibility, similar to the work of the New Wave directors and the Coens. The British miniseries The Singing Detective , written by Dennis Potter , tells the story of a mystery writer named Philip Marlow; widely considered one of the finest neo-noirs in any medium, some critics rank it among the greatest television productions of all time.
The Coens referenced the noir tradition again with The Man Who Wasn't There ; a black-and-white crime melodrama set in , it features a scene apparently staged to mirror the one from Out of the Past pictured above. Lynch's Mulholland Drive continued in his characteristic vein, making the classic noir setting of Los Angeles the venue for a noir-inflected psychological jigsaw puzzle. British-born director Christopher Nolan 's black-and-white debut, Following , was an overt homage to classic noir.
Problems of definition
During the new century's first decade, he was one of the leading Hollywood directors of neo-noir with the acclaimed Memento and the remake of Insomnia The film plays with an awareness not only of classic noir but also of neo-noir reflexivity itself. With ultra-violent films such as Sympathy for Mr.
Vengeance and Thirst , Park Chan-wook of South Korea has been the most prominent director outside of the United States to work regularly in a noir mode in the new millennium. This film is adapted from the comic book of the same name originally created by cartoonist Will Eisner. Similarly, graphic novels provide the basis for Road to Perdition , directed by Sam Mendes , and A History of Violence , directed by David Cronenberg ; the latter was voted best film of the year in the annual Village Voice poll. The television series Veronica Mars —07 also brought a youth-oriented twist to film noir.
Examples of this sort of generic crossover have been dubbed teen noir. Like many classic noirs, the film is set in a version of Los Angeles where it constantly rains. In the post-classic era, a significant trend in noir crossovers has involved science fiction.
Film Noir | 4 Star Films
In Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville , Lemmy Caution is the name of the old-school private eye in the city of tomorrow. The Groundstar Conspiracy centers on another implacable investigator and an amnesiac named Welles. Soylent Green , the first major American example, portrays a dystopian, near-future world via a self-evidently noir detection plot; starring Charlton Heston the lead in Touch of Evil , it also features classic noir standbys Joseph Cotten, Edward G.
Robinson, and Whit Bissell. The cynical and stylish perspective of classic film noir had a formative effect on the cyberpunk genre of science fiction that emerged in the early s; the film most directly influential on cyberpunk was Blade Runner , directed by Ridley Scott , which pays evocative homage to the classic noir mode  Scott subsequently directed the poignant noir crime melodrama Someone to Watch Over Me .
David Cronenberg's Crash , an adaptation of the speculative novel by J. Ballard , has been described as a "film noir in bruise tones". The Thirteenth Floor , like Blade Runner , is an explicit homage to classic noir, in this case involving speculations about virtual reality. The Animatrix , based on The Matrix trilogy, contains an anime short film in classic noir style titled "A Detective Story" which takes place within the story of the trilogy.
The film Ex Machina puts a film noir spin on the Frankenstein mythos, with the femme fatale sentient android Ava manipulating outsider Caleb to perform a crime against her creator Nathan. Film noir has been parodied many times, in many manners. In , Deanna Durbin was the singing lead in the comedic noir Lady on a Train , which makes fun of Woolrich-brand wistful miserablism. Bob Hope inaugurated the private-eye noir parody with My Favorite Brunette , playing a baby-photographer who is mistaken for an ironfisted detective.
Carl Reiner 's black-and-white Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid appropriates clips of classic noirs for a farcical pastiche , while his Fatal Instinct sends up noirs both classic Double Indemnity and neo Basic Instinct. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man. Noir parodies come in darker tones as well.
Murder by Contract , directed by Irving Lerner , is a deadpan joke on noir, with a denouement as bleak as any of the films it kids. Taxi Driver caustically deconstructs the "dark" crime film, taking it to an absurd extreme and then offering a conclusion that manages to mock every possible anticipated ending—triumphant, tragic, artfully ambivalent—while being each, all at once. In other media, the television series Sledge Hammer!
Sesame Street —curr. Garrison Keillor 's radio program A Prairie Home Companion features the recurring character Guy Noir , a hardboiled detective whose adventures always wander into farce Guy also appears in the Altman-directed film based on Keillor's show. Firesign Theatre 's Nick Danger has trod the same not-so-mean streets, both on radio and in comedy albums. Cartoons such as Garfield's Babes and Bullets and comic strip characters such as Tracer Bullet of Calvin and Hobbes have parodied both film noir and the kindred hardboiled tradition—one of the sources from which film noir sprang and which it now overshadows.
Some consider Vertigo a noir on the basis of plot and tone and various motifs, but Vertigo does not have an Art Deco set, has a modernist Graphic Design typical of the s and a more modern set design, the Vertigo poster was made by Saul Bass  , something that would remove it from the category of Film noir.
Others say the combination of color and the specificity of director Alfred Hitchcock 's vision exclude it from the category. In their original canon of film noir, Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton identified twenty-two Hollywood films released between and as core examples; they listed another fifty-nine American films from the period as significantly related to the field of noir. For instance, The Night of the Hunter , starring Robert Mitchum in an acclaimed performance, is treated as a film noir by some critics, but not by others. To support their categorization of certain films as noirs and their rejection of others, many critics refer to a set of elements they see as marking examples of the mode.
The question of what constitutes the set of noir's identifying characteristics is a fundamental source of controversy. For instance, critics tend to define the model film noir as having a tragic or bleak conclusion,  but many acknowledged classics of the genre have clearly happy endings e.
Others, observing that there is actually considerable stylistic variety among noirs, instead emphasize plot and character type. Still others focus on mood and attitude. No survey of classic noir's identifying characteristics can therefore be considered definitive. In the s and s, critics have increasingly turned their attention to that diverse field of films called neo-noir; once again, there is even less consensus about the defining attributes of such films made outside the classic period.
Shadows of window blinds fall upon private eye Jake Gittes, performed by Jack Nicholson , in Chinatown Characters' faces may be partially or wholly obscured by darkness—a relative rarity in conventional Hollywood filmmaking. While black-and-white cinematography is considered by many to be one of the essential attributes of classic noir, the color films Leave Her to Heaven and Niagara are routinely included in noir filmographies, while Slightly Scarlet , Party Girl , and Vertigo are classified as noir by varying numbers of critics.
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Film noir is also known for its use of low-angle , wide-angle , and skewed, or Dutch angle shots. Other devices of disorientation relatively common in film noir include shots of people reflected in one or more mirrors, shots through curved or frosted glass or other distorting objects such as during the strangulation scene in Strangers on a Train , and special effects sequences of a sometimes bizarre nature. Night-for-night shooting, as opposed to the Hollywood norm of day-for-night , was often employed. In an analysis of the visual approach of Kiss Me Deadly , a late and self-consciously stylized example of classic noir, critic Alain Silver describes how cinematographic choices emphasize the story's themes and mood.
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In one scene, the characters, seen through a "confusion of angular shapes", thus appear "caught in a tangible vortex or enclosed in a trap. Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster were two of the most prolific stars of classic noir. The complex structure of Sorry, Wrong Number involves a real-time framing story, multiple narrators , and flashbacks within flashbacks. Film noirs tend to have unusually convoluted story lines, frequently involving flashbacks and other editing techniques that disrupt and sometimes obscure the narrative sequence.
Framing the entire primary narrative as a flashback is also a standard device. Voiceover narration, sometimes used as a structuring device, came to be seen as a noir hallmark; while classic noir is generally associated with first-person narration i. Bold experiments in cinematic storytelling were sometimes attempted during the classic era: Lady in the Lake , for example, is shot entirely from the point of view of protagonist Philip Marlowe; the face of star and director Robert Montgomery is seen only in mirrors.
In their different ways, both Sunset Boulevard and D.