Film Noir Studies
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A dark city street bathed in shadows. A seedy office with “Investigations” stenciled on the door. A winding road along the ocean cliffs. An isolated house on the outskirts of town. The scenes of film noir are all disturbingly familiar, as are the archetypal characters: the hard-boiled detective, the dangerously alluring femme fatale, and the well-heeled villain surrounded by gun-toting thugs. But even so, it is the visual style – canted camera angles, deep-focus shots, high-contrast lighting – and ultimately subversive message that are the hallmarks of classic film noir.

Yet, in spite of its recognizable elements, this deeply complex film genre – yes, it is a genre – has been the source of much discussion since it appeared in the early 1940s, later giving rise to modern neo-noir and tech-noir and forever changing the face of American cinema. Today, movie buffs attend film noir festivals, colleges offer courses on the subject, and critics argue whether the latest film is a noir or something just a bit different. The topic is as vibrant and intriguing now as it was 70 years ago.

Film Noir Studies found its own origins in a college course and a long-time fascination with old black-and-white movies. Its purpose is to continue the discussion about film noir – perhaps even fueling the fascination with the topic – by focusing on the classic noir films of the 1940s and ‘50s. The site is also intended to be an important resource for film students, professors, and movie buffs, alike.

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