Film Noir (literally 'black film or cinema') was coined by French film critics (first by Nino Frank in 1946) who noticed the trend of how 'dark', downbeat and black the looks and themes were of many American crime and detective films released in France to theatres following the war, such as The Maltese Falcon (1941), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), and Laura (1944). A wide range of films reflected the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period, and counter-balanced the optimism of Hollywood's musicals and comedies. Fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia are readily evident in noir, reflecting the 'chilly' Cold War period when the threat of nuclear annihilation was ever-present. The criminal, violent, misogynistic, hard-boiled, or greedy perspectives of anti-heroes in film noir were a metaphoric symptom of society's evils, with a strong undercurrent of moral conflict, purposelessness and sense of injustice. There were rarely happy or optimistic endings in noirs.
Here is their list of Film Noir films:
The females in film noir were either of two types (or archetypes) - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women; or femmes fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women.
See this site's special tribute to Greatest Femmes Fatales in Classic Film Noir
Film Noir links
Roger Ebert's guide to Film Noir
RULES OF THE 1940'S AND 50'S OF AMERICAN FILM NOIR. BBC DOCUMENTARY.
The Basics of Lighting for Film Noir
three point lighting and some of the tools for shooting Film Noir
Watch Mojo.com top 10 film noir list:
"experts fail to agree on a standard definition for the genre, we're limiting our choices to gritty, cynical thrillers and crime dramas from the early-'40s to late-'50s that are shot in black-and-white."