Dark Hollywood: Film Noir in the Right Format

Dark shadows, black and white contrasts, dodgy types and a femme fatale the film noir has lost none of its fascination to this day. Classic films are being reissued, a new book takes stock.

“For more than a decade Hollywood functioned more as a nightmare factory than a dream factory,” writes film journalist Thomas Brandlmeier in his recently published study “Film Noir The Dress Rehearsal of Postmodernism”. When America entered the war and took a stand against Nazi Germany, the decade of film noir began. No coincidence. The cinema reacted to the times. Many films reflected the gloomy global political situation.

Film Noir: Mirroring the World in Crime

But the directors often only deal indirectly with world events in their works, as they could have done in war films or socially relevant dramas. They took a narrative detour. There were crime films and thrillers, detective stories and films about criminals and crimes in which the filmmakers in Hollywood reproduced current events more or less encrypted. In 123movies tv you can have the best of these films available now.

Thomas Brandlmeier: “The film noir takes up the fears of the time”

Two of these films have now also appeared on DVD, parts 24 and 25 of an extensive film library on film noir. With “Die Scarenhand” (“This Gun for Hire”) a film noir classic from 1942 is now back on the books, “The Big Steal” by Don Siegel, later known as Clint Eastwood’s in-house director , is more of a side work from 1949. Both films combine classic plot and style motifs of film noir.

Film historians have been arguing for half a century whether the term film noir stands for a genre of its own or just a style. Brandlmeier sums up this debate in his new book and also refers to the persistent interest shown by cinema experts all over the world in this particular subject: “After decades of discourse on the essence of film noir, many combatants are visibly exhausted.”

However, they cannot be completely exhausted, which Brandlmeier’s current book stands for, as do the numerous other publications on the subject, especially from recent times. Film noir, whether a genre variety or an aesthetic stylistic device, is still one of the most popular formats in cinema today. This is not least due to the many works by subsequent generations of directors who have dealt with film noir, as homages or variations of noir.

The scarred hand: contract killer and femme fatale

If you watch a film like Frank Tuttle’s “Die Scarhand” again today, you can very well understand numerous style and material features that Brandlmeier deals with. It is the story of the unscrupulous hitman Philip Raven (Alan Ladd), who himself becomes the hunted. A beautiful woman (in the classic femme fatale role: Veronica Lake) gets in his way and then what one knows from so many works of the genre takes place in front of the eyes of the audience: a labyrinthine plot, lots of shady protagonists appear on, the dissolving of all good and bad criteria (also with the main characters!), brutality and poetry in a very small space.

Nicolson