Film noir, one of the most intriguing yet difficult to define terms in cinema history, is usually associated with a series of darkly seductive Hollywood thrillers from the 1940s and 50s - shadowy, black-and-white pictures about private eyes, femme fatales, outlaw lovers, criminal heists, corrupt police, and doomed or endangered outsiders. But as this VSI demonstrates, film noir actually predates the 1940s and has never been confined to Hollywood. International in scope, its various manifestations have spread across generic categories, attracted the interest of the world's great directors, and continue to appear even today.
In this Very Short Introduction James Naremore shows how the term film noir originated in in French literary and film criticism, and how later uses of the term travelled abroad, changing its implications. In the process, he comments on classic examples of the films and explores important aspects of their history: their critical reception, their major literary sources, their methods of dealing with censorship and budgets, their social and cultural politics, their variety of styles, and their future in a world of digital media and video streaming.
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