In public, in the early days of the project, Capote stuck to this line. Focusing on the killers and their victims gave his narrative a texture and a shape — and some extraordinary pace. The experience of reading the book is still vertiginous. Actually, he composed In Cold Blood in brief, self-contained sections, linking them like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
In the process, Capote began to exploit classic literary crime techniques to heighten the suspense. Several critics have noted the quasi-cinematic style of the first two sections of the novel The Last to See Them Alive and Persons Unknown , and the urgent inter-cutting between the Clutters and their killers. Fox used to say that his author was for a long time rather lost in Kansas, wondering what on earth he had got himself into, and how he was going to fashion a narrative. I stayed there and kept researching it and researching it and got very friendly with the various authorities and the detectives on the case.
But I never knew whether it was going to be interesting or not. Capote fretted to Fox that he was getting nowhere. What if they never caught the killers? Was the projected book just a wild goose chase? But then, by chance, Smith and Hickock were apprehended for a different crime, interrogated and charged. Once the story began to gather speed, Capote found a new set of worries. An A-level feature all the way, the film's commercial success and seven Oscar nominations made it probably the most influential of the early noirs.
The prevalence of the private eye as a lead character declined in film noir of the s, a period during which several critics describe the form as becoming more focused on extreme psychologies and more exaggerated in general. As described by Paul Schrader , " Robert Aldrich 's teasing direction carries noir to its sleaziest and most perversely erotic. Hammer overturns the underworld in search of the 'great whatsit' [which] turns out to be—joke of jokes—an exploding atomic bomb. They regard true film noir as belonging to a temporally and geographically limited cycle or period, treating subsequent films that evoke the classics as fundamentally different due to general shifts in filmmaking style and latter-day awareness of noir as a historical source for allusion.
While the inceptive noir, Stranger on the Third Floor , was a B picture directed by a virtual unknown, many of the film noirs still remembered were A-list productions by well-known film makers. Opinion is divided on the noir status of several Alfred Hitchcock thrillers from the era; at least four qualify by consensus: Shadow of a Doubt , Notorious , Strangers on a Train and The Wrong Man In a Lonely Place was Nicholas Ray 's breakthrough; his other noirs include his debut, They Live by Night and On Dangerous Ground , noted for their unusually sympathetic treatment of characters alienated from the social mainstream.
Orson Welles had notorious problems with financing but his three film noirs were well budgeted: The Lady from Shanghai received top-level, "prestige" backing, while The Stranger , his most conventional film and Touch of Evil , an unmistakably personal work, were funded at levels lower but still commensurate with headlining releases. Lang's follow-up, Scarlet Street , was one of the few classic noirs to be officially censored: filled with erotic innuendo, it was temporarily banned in Milwaukee, Atlanta and New York State.
Most of the Hollywood films considered to be classic noirs fall into the category of the " B movie ". Jacques Tourneur had made over thirty Hollywood Bs a few now highly regarded, most forgotten before directing the A-level Out of the Past , described by scholar Robert Ottoson as "the ne plus ultra of forties film noir". Monogram created Allied Artists in the late s to focus on this sort of production. Robert Wise Born to Kill , The Set-Up  and Anthony Mann T-Men  and Raw Deal  each made a series of impressive intermediates, many of them noirs, before graduating to steady work on big-budget productions.
Mann did some of his most celebrated work with cinematographer John Alton , a specialist in what James Naremore called "hypnotic moments of light-in-darkness". It was released, like other Mann-Alton noirs, by the small Eagle-Lion company; it was the inspiration for the Dragnet series, which debuted on radio in and television in The former—whose screenplay was written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo , disguised by a front—features a bank hold-up sequence shown in an unbroken take of over three minutes that was influential. Edgar G. Ulmer spent most of his Hollywood career working at B studios and once in a while on projects that achieved intermediate status; for the most part, on unmistakable Bs.
In , while at PRC, he directed a noir cult classic, Detour. A number of low- and modestly-budgeted noirs were made by independent, often actor-owned, companies contracting with larger studios for distribution. Serving as producer, writer, director and top-billed performer, Hugo Haas made films like Pickup and The Other Woman It was in this way that accomplished noir actress Ida Lupino established herself as the sole female director in Hollywood during the late s and much of the s. She does not appear in the best-known film she directed, The Hitch-Hiker , developed by her company, The Filmakers, with support and distribution by RKO.
Of the others, one was a small-studio release: Detour. One was an independent distributed by MGM , the industry leader: Force of Evil , directed by Abraham Polonsky and starring John Garfield , both of whom were blacklisted in the s. Perhaps no director better displayed that spirit than the German-born Robert Siodmak , who had already made a score of films before his arrival in Hollywood. Working mostly on A features, he made eight films now regarded as classic-era film noirs a figure matched only by Lang and Mann.
Criss Cross , with Lancaster again the lead, exemplifies how Siodmak brought the virtues of the B-movie to the A noir. In addition to the relatively looser constraints on character and message at lower budgets, the nature of B production lent itself to the noir style for economic reasons: dim lighting saved on electricity and helped cloak cheap sets mist and smoke also served the cause ; night shooting was often compelled by hurried production schedules; plots with obscure motivations and intriguingly elliptical transitions were sometimes the consequence of hastily written scripts, of which there was not always enough time or money to shoot every scene.
In Criss Cross , Siodmak achieved these effects with purpose, wrapping them around Yvonne De Carlo , playing the most understandable of femme fatales; Dan Duryea , in one of his many charismatic villain roles; and Lancaster as an ordinary laborer turned armed robber, doomed by a romantic obsession. Some critics regard classic film noir as a cycle exclusive to the United States; Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, for example, argue, "With the Western, film noir shares the distinction of being an indigenous American form During the classic period, there were many films produced in Europe, particularly in France, that share elements of style, theme, and sensibility with American film noirs and may themselves be included in the genre's canon.
In certain cases, the interrelationship with Hollywood noir is obvious: American-born director Jules Dassin moved to France in the early s as a result of the Hollywood blacklist , and made one of the most famous French film noirs, Rififi Scholar Andrew Spicer argues that British film noir evidences a greater debt to French poetic realism than to the expressionistic American mode of noir. Blackout ; Before leaving for France, Jules Dassin had been obliged by political pressure to shoot his last English-language film of the classic noir period in Great Britain: Night and the City Though it was conceived in the United States and was not only directed by an American but also stars two American actors— Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney —it is technically a UK production, financed by 20th Century-Fox 's British subsidiary.
Elsewhere, Italian director Luchino Visconti adapted Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice as Ossessione , regarded both as one of the great noirs and a seminal film in the development of neorealism. Others simply share narrative elements and a version of the hardboiled sensibility associated with classic noir, such as Castle of Sand ; Japan , Insomnia ; Norway , Croupier ; UK , and Blind Shaft ; China.
The neo-noir film genre developed mid-way into the Cold War. This cinematological trend reflected much of the cynicism and the possibility of nuclear annihilation of the era. This new genre introduced innovations that were not available with the earlier noir films. The violence was also more potent. While it is hard to draw a line between some of the noir films of the early s such as Blast of Silence and Cape Fear and the noirs of the late s, new trends emerged in the post-classic era.
The Manchurian Candidate , directed by John Frankenheimer , Shock Corridor , directed by Samuel Fuller , and Brainstorm , directed by experienced noir character actor William Conrad , all treat the theme of mental dispossession within stylistic and tonal frameworks derived from classic film noir. Incidents that occurred during the war as well as those post-war, functioned as an inspiration for a "Cold War Noir" subgenre.
In a different vein, films began to appear that self-consciously acknowledged the conventions of classic film noir as historical archetypes to be revived, rejected, or reimagined. These efforts typify what came to be known as neo-noir. Pakula 's Klute directed films that knowingly related themselves to the original film noirs, inviting audiences in on the game. 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. 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.
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 or as affectionately called "neon 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.
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 Coen brothers make reference to 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 one from Out of the Past.
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.
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.
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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. 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". In the post-classic era, a significant trend in noir crossovers has involved science fiction.
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. Science fiction, noir, and anime are brought together in the Japanese films of 90s Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence , both directed by Mamoru Oshii. The film Ex Machina puts an understated film noir spin on the Frankenstein mythos, with the sentient android Ava as a potential femme fatale , her creator Nathan embodying the abusive husband or father trope, and her would-be rescuer Caleb as a "clueless drifter" enthralled by Ava.
Film noir has been parodied many times in many manners. In , Danny Kaye starred in what appears to be the first intentional film noir parody, Wonder Man. 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 noir classic Double Indemnity and neo-noir Basic Instinct.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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Latter-day noir has been in the forefront of structural experimentation in popular cinema, as exemplified by such films as Pulp Fiction , Fight Club , and Memento. Crime, usually murder, is an element of almost all film noirs; in addition to standard-issue greed, jealousy is frequently the criminal motivation. A crime investigation—by a private eye, a police detective sometimes acting alone , or a concerned amateur—is the most prevalent, but far from dominant, basic plot.
In other common plots the protagonists are implicated in heists or con games , or in murderous conspiracies often involving adulterous affairs. False suspicions and accusations of crime are frequent plot elements, as are betrayals and double-crosses. According to J. David Slocum, "protagonists assume the literal identities of dead men in nearly fifteen percent of all noir. Film noirs tend to revolve around heroes who are more flawed and morally questionable than the norm, often fall guys of one sort or another.
The characteristic protagonists of noir are described by many critics as " alienated ";  in the words of Silver and Ward, "filled with existential bitterness". Among characters of every stripe, cigarette smoking is rampant. There is usually an element of drug or alcohol use, particularly as part of the detective's method to solving the crime, as an example the character of Mike Hammer in the film Kiss Me Deadly who walks into a bar saying "Give me a double bourbon, and leave the bottle". Chaumeton and Borde have argued that film noir grew out of the "literature of drugs and alcohol".
Film noir is often associated with an urban setting, and a few cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, in particular—are the location of many of the classic films. In the eyes of many critics, the city is presented in noir as a "labyrinth" or "maze". The climaxes of a substantial number of film noirs take place in visually complex, often industrial settings, such as refineries, factories, trainyards, power plants—most famously the explosive conclusion of White Heat , set at a chemical plant.
A substantial trend within latter-day noir—dubbed "film soleil" by critic D. Holm —heads in precisely the opposite direction, with tales of deception, seduction, and corruption exploiting bright, sun-baked settings, stereotypically the desert or open water, to searing effect. But I never knew whether it was going to be interesting or not. Capote fretted to Fox that he was getting nowhere. What if they never caught the killers?
Was the projected book just a wild goose chase? But then, by chance, Smith and Hickock were apprehended for a different crime, interrogated and charged.
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Once the story began to gather speed, Capote found a new set of worries. What if the killers would not co-operate? Or speak to him? To animate the middle and closing sections of the book Answer and The Corner , he had to establish a dialogue with Hickock and Smith. Being Capote, this became both intimate and obsessive. This relationship, especially with Perry Smith, inspired the later charge that he had somehow coldly waited for the hanging, as a suitably moving climax. This accusation surfaced first in the Observer in a row between Capote and the critic Ken Tynan after his review of In Cold Blood implied that Capote wanted an execution.
Capote always rebutted this. Random House published In Cold Blood early in , after a four-part serialisation the previous September in the New Yorker , whose editor, William Shawn, had first commissioned Capote.