Thursday, May 11, 2006

Paul Schrader's 1971 Notes on Film Noir

Paul Schrader’s 1971 essay “Notes on Film Noir” in all its sappy, naive glory, with typos by me.  

In 1946, French critics, seeing the American films they had missed during the war, noticed the new mood of cynicism, pessimism and darkness which had crept into the American cinema. The darkening stain was most evident in routine crime thrillers, but was also apparent in prestigious melodramas.

The French cineastes soon realized they had seen only the tip of the iceberg: As the years went by, Hollywood lighting grew darker, characters more corrupt, themes more fatalistic and the tone more hopeless. By 1949, American movies were in the throes of their deepest and most creative funk. Never before had films dared to take such a harsh, uncomplimentary look at American life, and they would not dare to do so again for twenty years.

Hollywood’s film noir has recently bgecome the subject of renewed interest among moviegoers and critics. The fascination film noir holds for today’s young filmgoers and film students refelcts recent trends in American cinema: American movies are again taking a look at the underside of the American character, but comapred to such relentlessly cynical films noir as Kiss Me Deadly or Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, the new self-hate cinema of Easy Rider and Medium Cool seems naive and romanntic. As the current political mood hardens, filmgoes and filmmakers will find the film noir fo the late Forties increasingly attractive. The Forties may be the Seventies what the Thirdtie were to the sixties.

Film noir is equally interesting to critics. It offers writers a cache of excelent , little=known films (film noir is oddly both one of Hollywood’s best periods and least known), and gives auteur-weary critics an opportunity to aply themselvse to the newer questions of classification and transdirectorial style. After all, what is film noir?

Film noir is not a genre (as Raymond Durgnat has helpfully pointed out over the objections of Higham and Greenberg’s Hollywood in the Forties). It is not defined, as are the western and gangster gnres, by conventions of setting and fonclifct, but rather by the more subtle qualities of tone and mood. It is a film “noir” as opposed to the possible variants of film gray or film off-white.

Film noir is also a specific period of film history, like German Expressionism or the French New Wave. In general, film noir refers to those Hollywood films of the Forties and early Fifties which portrayed the world of dark, slick city streets, crime and corruption.

Film noir is an extremely unwieldy period. It hars back to many prefious periods: Warners’ Thirties ganster filsm, the French “poetic realism” of Carne and Duvivier, Sternbergian melodrama and fatehrst back, German Expressionist crime films (Lang’s Maubse cycle). Film noir can stretch at its outer limits from the Maltese Falcon (1941) to Touch of Evil (1958) and most every dramatic Hollywood film from 1941 to 1953 contains some noir elements. There are also foreign offshoots of film noirs such as The Third Man, Breathless adn Le Doulos.

Almost every critic has his own definition of film noir and personal list of film titles and dates to back it up. Personal and descriptive definitions, however, can get a bit sticky. A film of urban night life is not necesarsarily a film noir, and a film moir need not necessarily concern crime and corruption. Since film noir is defined by tone rather than genre, it is almost impossible to argue one critic’s description definition against another’s How many noir elements does it take to make a film noir noir?

Rather than haggle definitions, I would rather attempt to reduce film noir to its primary colors (all shades of black) those cultureal and stylistic elements to which any definition must return.

At the risk of sounding like Arthur Knight, I would sugest that there were four conditions in Hollywood in the Forties which brought about film noir. (The danger of Knight’s Livlieset Art methoid is taht it makes film history less a matter of structural analysis and more a case of artistic and social forces magically interacting and coalescing). Each of the following four catalytic elements, however, can define the film noir, the distinctly noir tonality draws from each of these elements.

War and postwar disillusionment.  The acute downer which hit the U.S. after the Second World War was, in fact, a delayed reaction to the Thirties. Allthrough the Depression, movies were needed to keep oeple’s spirits up, and for the most part, they did. The crime films of this period were Horatio Algerish and socially conscious. Toward the end of the Thirties, a darker crime film began to appear (You Only Live Once, the Roaring Twenties0 and, were it not for the War, film noir would have been at full steam by the early Forties.

The need to produce Allied propaganda abroad and promote patriotism at home blunted the fledling moves toward a dark cinema and the film noir thrashed about in the studio system, not quite able to come into full prominence. During the War the first uniquely film noir appeard: The Maltest Falcon, the Glass Key, This Gun for Hire, Laura, but these films lacked the distinctly noir bite the end of the war would bring.

As soon as the War was over, however, American films became markedly more sardonic—and there was a boom in the crime film. For fifteen years the pressures agains American’s amelioristic cinema had been building up and given the freedom, audiences and artists were not eager to take a less otpimsitic view of things. The disillusionment many soldiers small businessmen and houseive/factory employees felt in returning to a peacetime economy was directly mirrored in the sordidness of the urgan crime film.

This imemdiate postwar disillusionment was directly demonstrated in films like Cornered, the Blue Dahlia, Dead Reckoning and Ride the pink Horse, in which a serivdeman returns from the war to find his sweetheard unfaithful or daed, or his business partner cheating him, or the whole society something less than worth fighting for. The war continues, but not the antagonism turns with a new viciousness toward the American society itself.

postwar realism: Shortly after the War every film-producing country had a resurgence of realism. In American it first took the form of fiolms by such producers as Louise de Rochemont (House in 92nd Street, Call Northside 777) and Mark Hellinger (The Killers, Brute Force) and directors like Henry Hathaway and Jules Dassin. “Every scene was filmed on the actual location depicted,” the 1947 de Rocemont-Hjathaway Kiss of Death produly procalimed. Even after de Rochemont’s particular “Maart of Time” authenticity fell from vogue, realistic exteriors remained a permanent fixture of film noir.

The realistic movement also suited America’s postwar mood; the public’s desire for a more honest and harsh view of American would not be satisfied by the same studio streets they had been watching for a dozen years. The postwar realstic trend succeeded in beraking film noir away from the domain of the high-class melodrama, placing it where it more properly belonged, in the streets with everyday people. In retrospect, the pre de-Rochemont film noir looks definitely tamer than the postwar realistic films. The studio look of films like The Big Sleep and The Mask of Dimitrios blunts their sting, making them seem more polite and conventional in contrast to their later, mor realistic counterparts.

The German Influence. Hollywood played host to an influx of German pxpatriates in the Twenties and Thirties and these filmmakrs and technicians had, for the most part, integrated themselves into the American film esbalishment. Hollywood never experienced the “Germanization” some civic-minded natives feared and there is a danger of overmphasizing th eGerman influence in Holywood.

But when, in the alst Forties, Hollywood decided to paint it black, there were no greater masters of chiaroscuro than the Germans. The influence of expressionist lighting has always been just beneath the surface of Hollywood films and it is not surprising in film noir to find it pursting to find a larger number of German and East Europeans working in film noir.

First Lang, Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Franz Waxman, Otto Preminger, John Brhm, Anatole Litvak, Karl Kfruend, Max Ophuls, John Alton, Douglas Sir, Fred Zinnemann, William Dieterle, Max Steiner, Edgar G. Ulmer, Curtis Bernhardt, Rudolph Mate.

On the surface the German expressionsit influence; with its reliance on artificial studio lighting, seems incompatible with postwar realism, with its harsh unadorned exteriors, but it is the unique quality of film noir that it was able to weld seemingly contradictory elements into a unfirom style. The best noir technicians simply madke all the world a sound stage, directing unnatural an dexpressionistic lighting onto realistic settings. In films like Union Station, They Live by Night, The killers is an uneasy exhiliratingt combination of realism and expressionism.

Perhaps the greatest master of noir was Hungarian born John Alton, an expressionist cinematographer who could relight Tiems Square at noon if necessary. No cinematographer better adapted the old expressionst techniques to the new desire for realism and his black and white photography in such gritty film noir as T-Men, Raw Deal, I the Jury the Big Comb equals that of such German expressinst masters as Fritz Wagner and Karl Freund.

The Hardboiled tradition. Another stylistic influence waiting int he wings was the hardboiled school of writers. In the Thirties, authors such as Ernest Himginway, Dahsiell Hammett, Raymond Chanlder, James M. Cain, Horace McCoya nd John O’Hara crated the “tough,” cyunical way of acting and thinking which separated one from the world of everyday emotions0—romanticism with a protective shell. The hardboiled writiers had their roots in pulp fiction or journalism and their protagonists lived out a narcisstic, defeatist code. The hardboiled her was, in reality, a soft egg comparied to his existential counterpart (Camus is said to have based The Stranger on McCoy). But he was a good deal tougher than anything American fiction had seen.

When the movies of the Forties turned to the American “tough” moral understrata, the hardboiiled school was waiting with preset conventions of heroes, minor charactesr, plots, dialogue and themes. Like the German expatriates, the hardboiled writers had a style made to order for film noir and in turn they influence noir screrenwriting as much as the German influence noir cinmatography.

The most hardboiled of Hollywold’s writers was Raymond chandler himself, whose script of Double Indeminty (from a James M. Cain story) was the best written and most charactieristicaly noir of the period. Double Indemnity was the first film which played film noir for what it essentialyw as: smalltime, unredeemed, unheroic. It made a break from the romanitc noir cinma of the later Mildred Pierce and The Big Sleep.

{in its final stages, however, film noir adapted and then bypassed the hardboiled school. Manic, nuerotic post-1948 films such as Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, D.O.A. Where the Sidwlk Ends, White Heat and the Big Heat are all post-hardboiled; the air in these regions was even too thin for oldtime cynics like Chandler].

Stylistics: There is not yet a study of the stylistics of film noir and the task is certainly too large to be attempted here. Like all film movements, film noir drew upon a reservoir of film technicuqes and given the time one could correlate its techniques, tehmes and causal elements into a stylistic schema. For the present, however, I’d like to point out some of film noir’s recurring teniques.

  • The majority of scenes are lit at night. Gangsters sit in the offices at midday with shades pulled adn the ligths off. Ceiling ligths are hung low and floor lamps are seldom more than five feet high. One always has the suspicion that if the lights were all suddenly flipped on the characters would shriek and srink from the scene like Count Dracula at sunrise.

  • As in German expressionism, oblique and vertical lines are preferred to horizonatal. Obliquity adheres to the choreography of the city and is in direct opposition to the horizonal American tradition of Griffith and Ford. Oblique lines tend to splinter a screen, making it restless and unstable. Light enters the dingy rooms of film onir in such odd shapes—jagged trapezois, obtuse triangles, vertial slits—that one suspects the windows were cut out with a pen knife. No character cna speak authoritatively from a space which is being continually cut into ribbons of light. The Anthony Mann/John Alton T-Men is the most dramatic but far from the only example of oblique noir chorteography.

  • The actors and setting are often given equal lighting emphasis. An actor is foften hiddein in the realistic tableau of the city at night, and more obviously his face is often blocked out by shadow as he speaks. These shadow effecsta re unlike the famous Warnger Brothers lighting of the Thirteis in which the central character was accentuated by a heavy shadow; in film onir, the central character is likely to be standing in the shadow. When the environment is given an equal or graeter weight than the actor it, of course, creates a fatalistic, hopeless mood. There is noth8ing the protagonist can do; the city will outlast and negate even his best efforts.

  • Compositional tension is preffered to physical action. A typical film noir would rather move the scene cinematographically around the actor than have the actor control the scene by physical action. The beating of Robert Ryan in The Set-up, the gunning down of Farley Granger in They Live by Night, the execution of the taxi driver in The Enforcer and of Brian Donlevy in the Big Combo are all marked yb measured packing, restrained anger and oppressive compsitiosn, and seem much sloer to the film onir spirit than the rat-tat-tat and screeching tires of Scarface twenty years before or the violent, expressive actions of Underworld U.S.A. ten years later.

  • There seems to be an almost Freudian attachment to water. The empty noir streets are almost always glistening with fresh evening rain (*even in Los Angele) and the rainfall tends ot increase in direct proportion to the drama. Docks and piers are second only to alleyways as the most popular rendezvous poitns.

  • There is a love of romantic narration. In such films as The Postman Always Rings Twice, Laura, Double Indemnith, The Lady From Shanghai, Out of the Past and Sunset Bouelvard, the narrration creates a mood of temps perdu. An irretrievable pas, a prederermined fate and an all-envelooping hopelessness. In out of the Past, Robert Mitchum relates his history with such pathetic relish that it is obvious ther eis no hope for any future: one can only take pleasure in reliving a doomed past.

  • A complex chronological order is frequently used to reinforce the feelings of hopelessnessa dn lost time. Such films as The Enforcer, The Killers, Mildred Pierce, The Dark Pask, Chicago Deadline, Out of the Past and the Killing use a convoluted time sequence to imerse the viewer in a time-disoriented but highly styled world. The manipualation of time whether slight or complex, is often used to reinforce a noir princple: the how is always more important than the what.

Themes: Raymond Durgnat has delineated the themes of film noir in an excellent article in the British Cinema magainze *(the failmy tree of film noire, August 1970) and it would be foolish for me  to attempt to redo his thorough workin this short space. Durgnat divides film noir into eleven thematic categories and although one might criticiaee zome of his specific groupings, eh does cover the whole gamt of noir production (thematically categorizing over 300 films).

In each of Durgnat’s noir themese (whether Black Widow, kilers-on-the, run, dopplegangers) one finds that the upwardly mobile forces of the Thirties have halted, frontierism has turned to paranoise and lcaustrophibiua. The smalltime ganster has now made it big and stis in the mayor’s chair, the private eye has quit the police force in disgust and the young heroine, sick of going along for the ride, is taking others for a ride.

Durgnat, however, does not touch upon what is perhaps the overriding noir theme: a passion for the past and present but also a fear of the future. The noir hero dreads to look ahead but intstead tirs to survive by the day and if uncessuful at that he retreats to the past. Thus film noir’s techniques emphaisze loss, nostaligia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity, then subjerge these self-=doubts in mannerism and styule. In such a world style becomes paramoutn; it is all that separates one from meaninglessness. Chandler described this fundamental noir theme when he dsecribed his own fictional world: “It isnot a very fragrant world but it is the world you live in and certain writers with tough minds and a cool spirit of detachemtn can make very interesting patterns out of it.”

Film noir can be subdivided into three broad phases. The first, the wartime period 1941-46 approximately, was the phase of the privaet eye and lone wolf, of Chandler, Hammett and Greene, of Bogart and Bacall, Ladd and Lake, classy directors like Curtiz and Garnett, studio sets and ingeneral more talk than action. The stuiod look of this period was reflected in such pectures as the Malese Falcon, Casabalnce, Gaslight, This Gun for Hire, the Lodges, the Woman in the Window, Mildred Pierce,m Spellbound, Teh Big Sleep, Laura, the Lost wEekend, the Strange Love of Martha Ivers to Have and Have Not, Fallen Angel, Gilda, Murder My Swtt, the Postman Always Rings Twice, Dark Waters, Scarlet Street, So Dark the Night, the Glass Key, the Mask of Dimitrios and The Dark Mirror.

The Wilder/ Chandler Double Indemnity provided a bridge to the postwar phase of film noir. The unflinching noir vision of Double Indemnith came as a shock in 1944 and the film was alsmot blocked by the combined efforts of Parmoutn, the Hays office and star Fred MacMurry [That sounds like total bullshit to me, LRH] Three years alter, whoever, Dobule Indemnitys were dropping off the studio assembly line.

The second phase was the psotwar realistic period from 1945-49 (the dates overlap and so do the films; these are all approxmiate phases for which threre are many exepctions). These films tended mroe toward the problems of crime in the streets, political corruption and police routine. Less romantic heroes like Ricahrd Conte, Burt Lancaster and Charles McGraw were more suited to this period, as were proletarian directors like Hathaway, Dassin and Kazan. The realistic urban look of this pahse is seen in such films as The House in 92nd Street, The Killers, Raw Deal, Acto of Violence, Union Station, Kiss of Death, Johnny O’Clock, Force of Evil, Dead Reckoning, Ride tghe Pink Horse, Dark Passage, Cry of the City, the Set-up, T-Men, Call Northside 7, Brute Force, t/he Big Clock, Theives Highway, Ruthelss, Pitfall, Boomerang! And the Naked City.

The third and final phase of iflm noir from 1949-53, was the period of psychotic actio and suicidal impulsse,. The noir horer, seemingly under the weight of ten eyars of despair, started to go bananas. The pyschotic killer who in the first period [had] been a subject worthy of study (Olivia de Havilland in The Dark Mirror) in the second a fringe threat (Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death) now became the active protagonist (aJames Cagney in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye). There were no ex uses given for the psychopathy in Gun Crazy0—it was just “crazy.” James Cagney made a neurotic comeback and his instabiility was matched by that of younger actors like Robert Ryan and lee Marvin. This was the phase of the “B” noir film, and of psychoanalytically inclied directors like Ray and Walsh. The forces of personal disintegration are reflected in such films as White Heat, Gun Crazy, D.O.A., Caught, They Live by Night, Where the Sidwalk Edns, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, Detective Story, in a Lonely Place, I the Jury Ace in the Hole, Panic in the Streets,the Big Heat, On Dangerous Ground and Sunset Boulevard.

This third phase is the cream of the film noir period. Somecrtiics may prefer the early “gray” meldrama,s others the postwar “street” films, but film noir’s final phase was the most aesthetically and socioligcally piercing. After ten years of setaedily shedding romatnic conventions the later noir films finally got down to the root causes of the priod: the loss of public honor, hoeric conventiosn, personal integrity and finally psychic stability. The thrid phaase films were panifuilly self-aware. They seemed to know whtey stood at the ned of a long tradition based on dsepair and disintegration and did not shy away from the fact. The best and charateristicaly noir films—Gun Crazy,White Heat, Out of the Past, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, D.O.A., They Live by Night and the Big Heat—stand at thend of the period and are the results of self-awareness. The third phase is rife with end of the line noir heroies. The Big Heat and Where the Sidwalk Ends are the last stops for the urban cop. Ace in the Hole for the newspaperman, the Victor Saville-produced Spillane series (I the Jury, the Long Wait, Kiss Me Deadly) for the private eye. Sunset Boulevard forthe Black Widow, White Heat and Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye for the gangster. D.O.A. for the John Doe American.

Appropriately, the amsterpeice of film noir was a straggler, Kiss Me Deadly, produced in 1955. Its time delay gives it a sense of detachment and thhoroughgoing seediness—it stands at thene do fa long sleazy tradition. The private eye hero, Mike Hammer, undergoes the final stages of degratation. He is a smallt-eim “bedroom dick<’ and maeks no qualms about it beacuse the world around him isn’t much better. Ralph Meeker, in his best prformances, plays Hammer, a midget among dwarfs. Ropbert Aldrich’s teasing direction carries noir to its sleaziest and most preversely erotic. Hammer overturns the underworld in search of the “great whatsit” and when he finally finds it, it turns out to be—joke of jokes—an exploding atomic bomb. The inhumanity and meaningless of the hero are small matters in a world in which The Bomb has the final say.

By the middle Fifteis film noir ahd ground to a halt. There were a few notable straggles, Kiss Me Deadly, the Lewis/Alton The Big Combo and film noir’s epitaph, Touch of Evil, but for the most pasrt a new style of crime film had become popular.

AS the rise of McCarthy and Eisenhower demonstrated, Americans were eager to see a more biourgeois view of themselves. Crime had to move to the suburbs. The criminal put on a gray flannel suit and the footsore cop was repalced by the “mobile unit” careening down the expressway. Any attempt at social criticism had to be claoekd inludicrous affirmations of the American way of life. Techinically, television, with its demand for full lgithitng and close-ups gradually undercut the German infleunce and color cinmatograph way, of course, the final blow to the “noir” look.

New directors like Siegel, Fleisher, Karlson and Fuler and TV shows like Dragnet, M-Squad, Lineup and Highway Patrol stepped in to create the new crime drama. This transition can be seen in Samuel Fuller’s 1953 Pickup on South Street, a film which blends the black look with the Red scare. The waterfront scenes with Ricahrd Widmark adn Jean Peters are in the best noir tradition but a lter dynamic fight in the subway marks Fuler as a directr who would be better suited to the crime school of the middle and late Fifteis.

Film noir was an immensely creeative period==probably the msot creative in Hollywood’s history-at least if this creativity is measured not by its peaks but by its medial level of artistriy. Picked at random, a film noir is likely to be a better made film than a randomly selected silent comedy, meusical, western and so on [oh what fatuous crap—LRH] (A Joseph H. Lewis “B” film noir is better than Lewis “B” western for example). Take ans a whole period film noir achieve an usually high level of artistry. [and we don’t have to feel guilty for “slumming,” eh? LRH]

Film noir seemed to bring out the best in everyone: directors, cameramen, screenwritesrs, actors. Again and again, a film noir will make the high point on an artist’s career graph. Some directors, for example, did their best work in film noir (Stuart Heisler, Robert Siodmak, Gordon Douglas, Deward Dmytryk, John Brahm, John Cromwell, Raoul Walsh, Henry Hathaway) other directors began in film noir and it seems to me never regained their original heights (Oto Priminger, Rudoplph Mate, Nichaolas Ray, Robert Wise, Jules Dassin, Ricahrd Fleischer, John Huston, Andrew de Toth and Robert Aldrich) and other directorw sho made gerat films in other molds also made great film noir (Orson Welles, Max Ophusls, Fritz Lang,Elia Kaza, Howard Hawks, Robert Rossen, Anthony Mann, Joseph Losey,Aflred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick). Whether ornot one agrees with this particular schema, its message is irrefutable: film noir was good for practiallye very director’s career (two interesting exceptiosn to prove the case are King Vidor and Jean Renoir).

Film noir seems to have been a creative relase for everyone invovled. It gave artists a chance to work with previosly forbidden thesems yet had conventions strong enough to protect the mediocre. Cinematographers were allowed to become highly mannered and actors were sheltered by the cinematorgaphers. Itw as not until years later that critics were able to disginsuish between great directors and great noir directors.

Film moir’s remarksable creativity makes its longtime neglect the more baffling. The French of course, have been students of the priod of rsome time (Borde and Chaumeton’s Panorama du Film Noir was publisehd in1955) but American crticis until recently have preferred the weastern, the musical or the gangster film to the film noir. Some of the reasons for this neglect are usperficial; otehrs strike to the heart of thenoir style. For a long time, film noir, with its emphasis on corruption and despire, was considerred an aberration of the Amrican character. The western, with its moral primitivism and the ganster film with its Horatio Alger values, were consdiered mor Aemrican than the film noir.

This prejudice was reinforced by the fact taht film noir was ideally suited to the low budget “:B”: film and many ofthe best nori films were “B” films. This odd sort of economic snobbery still lingers on in some critical circles: high-budget trash that is considered more worhty of attention than low-budget trash and to praise a “B”: film is somehow to slight (often intentionally) an “A” film.

Tehre has been a critical revival in the U.S. over the last tne years but film noir lost out on that too. The revivla was auteur (director) oriented and film noir wasn’t. Auteur criticism is intereste in how directors are different; film onir criticism is concerned with what they have in common.

The fundamentla reason for film noir’s neglect, however, is that theact that it depends more on choreopgrahy than sociology and American critics have always been slow on the uptake when it coems to visual style. Like its protagonists, film noir is more interested in style than theme, whereas Aemrican critics have been tradioanly more interseted in theme than style.

American film critics have always been sociologists first and scientsits second. Film is importnat as it realtes to large masses, and if a film goes awry it is often becasue the theme has been somehow “violated” by the style. Fil noir operates on opposite princples. The theme is hidden int he style and bogus themse are often haunted (“middle class values are best”) which contradit the style. Although I believe style determines the theme in every film it was easier for sociolgocial critics to discuss the themes of the western and gangster film apart from stylistic analysis than it was to do for film noir.

Not surprisngly it was the ganster film, not the film noir, which was canonized in the Partisan Reveiw in 1948 by Robert Warshow’s famous essay “The Ganster as Tragic Hero.” Although Warshow could be an aesthetic as well as a socioloical critic, in this case he was interestedi n the western and ganster film as “popular” art rather than as style. This socilogical orientation blinded Warshow as it has many subsuejquent critics to an aestheically more important developemtn in the ganster film—film noir.

The irony of this negled is that in retropsect the ganster films Warshow wrote about are inferior to film noir. The Thirties ganster was primarly a reflection of what was hpapening in the country and Warshow analhyzed htis. The film noir, althoouth it was also a sociologcial reflection, went furtehr than the ganster film. Twoard the end film noir was engaed in a life and dath strugle with the materials it reflecte; it tried to make Aemrica accept a moral vision of life abased on style. That very contradition—promitng style in acutlure which valued themes—forced film oir into artically invigorating twists and turns. Filmn noir attacked and interpreted its socioloical conditions and by the cloe of the noir period created a new artistic world whhich went beyond a simple sociolical reflection, a nightmarish world of Aemrcian mannerism which was far more a craetion than a reflection.

Because film noir was first of all a style because it workd out its ocnflicts vidually rather than thematically because it was aware of its own identity, ti was able to create artistic solutions to sociological problems Adn for these reasons films like Kiss Mea Deadly and Kiss Tomorrow Goodby and Gun Crazy can be works of art in a way that gangster films like Scarface Public Enemy and Little Caesar can never be.

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