Monday, December 29, 2008

What is Film Noir?

A question whose answer is more complicated and subjective than would appear at first glance. Film Noir, like pornography, is difficult to define, but I know it when I see it. :)

While sparing the gentle reader and my typing fingers a lengthy discourse on the subject, for which, for those interested, I recommend the excellent wikipedia article on the subject, I think the genre can be characterized, if not defined by the following criteria, not all of which are necessarily present in a given film. You can't call these rules, since the exceptions outnumber the examples. They must be considered typical characteristics.

  • A dark, gloomy world view tinged with mistrust, cynicism, and a sense of the absurd.
  • Deliberate dramatic use of light and shadow.
  • Moral ambivalence of the major characters, who tend to come to a bad end.
  • Low or modestly budgeted - B movies either literally or in spirit.

An excellent example of mid-40s noir is Detour (1945), which cost $117,000 to make when the
average budget for a Hollywood feature was around $600,000. Even at that modest cost, it came in 30% over budget.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Life Image Archive

Those of you interested in classic movie images should check out the new feature of google images. It can be accessed by going to and entering a search term followed by the phrase "source:life" i.e. Ingrid Bergman source:life

The image above is the immortal Ingrid in the 1948 Film Arch of Triumph.

I have personally wasted, err, I mean invested many hours surfing the thousands of images available. Lotsa fun!

Getting Started

My goal in starting this blog is to share my love of vintage movie star photos. I have been collecting these photos, especially photos of Gloria Grahame, for many years. As I have time, I hope to start a Gloria Grahame photo archive, sharing the hundreds of Gloria photos I have collected over the years. Here's a quick one to get started.

Visit the Film Noir Photographs online store