The term of “Film Noir” (literally “black film”) was invented by French film critics after the World War II, in 1946. The first critic who used this term was the French film critic Nino Frank. This kind of movie can be define as “a type of a crime film featuring cynical maleovolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music”.
Films noirs are often characterized by a male antihero, a femme fatale (“a very attractive woman who causes trouble or unhappiness for the men who becomes involved with her”), a murder and a lot of cigarette smoke! The Film noirs are captivating, glamorous, full of thrill, mystery and suspens. Some more recent movies payed a tribute to the Film noir like “Body heat” and “LA confidential”.
“M” directed by Fritz Lang in 1931 and starring Peter Lorre. “When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. They catch Hans Beckert (peter Lorre), an unknow killer of girls and judge him. Peter Lorre delivers an amazing performance. It is an outstanding movie.
“Rebecca” directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 and starring Joan Fontaine, George Sanders and Judith Anderson. “A self-conscious bride (Joan Fontaine) is tormented by the memory of her husband’s dead first wife.” Judith Anderson is terrifying as the governess Mrs. Danvers. Very devoted to the first Maxim de Winter’s wife (Rebecca), she is very hostile toward the new wife (played by Joan Fontaine).
“Double indemnity” directed by Billy Wilder in 1944 and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. “An insurance representative (Fred MacMurray) lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator’s suspicions.” Barbara Stanwyck is poisonous and unforegettable. I love the opening scene in which the “hero” (Fred MacMurray) confesses his crime on the phone. He prononces the famous sentence “I killed him for the money and for a woman. And i didn’t get the money and i didn’t get the woman”. It is a strong and surprising scene.
“Laura” directed in 1944 by Otto Preminger and starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. “A police detective (Dana Andrews) falls in love with the woman (Gene Tierney) whose murder he is investigating.” Gene Tierney is breathtaking beautiful and mysterious.
“Gilda” directed by Charles Vidorin in 1946 and starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. “A small-time gambler (Glenn Ford) hired to work in a Buenos Aires casino learns that his ex-lover (Rita Hayworth) is married to his employer”. Rita Hayworth is wonderful and unforgettable as Gilda. The famous scene in which she sings “Put the blame on me” wearing a satin strapless black gown is myhique.
“The big sleep” directed by Howard Hawks in 1946 and starring by Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. “Private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by a rich family to find out and stop the youngest daughter, Carmen, from being blackmailed about her gambling debts.” The couple Bogart-Bacall is mythique and unforgettable. Lauren Bacall had an unbelievable class and was charismatic as well as Humphrey Bogart. I like particulary a scene in which Lauren Bacall sings.
“The Lady from Shanghai” directed by Orson Welles in 1947 and starring himself, Everett Sloane (Elsa Bannister’s husband) and Rita Hayworth. “Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister (Rita Hayworth), seaman Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.” Rita Hayworth is an outstanding Femme fatale : she is glamorous, mysterious and troubling. And she is blonde in this movie! Orson Welles wanted Rita Hayworth to cut her hair and becomes blond for the movie. It was a scandal! Rita Hayworth was the most famous ginger red of Hollywood. The scene with funhouse mirrors is one of the best film scene ever. It is splendid, powerful and disturbing. This final scene is brilliant and remarkable.
“The third man” directed by Carol Reed in 1949 and starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. Pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). The light and photo are magnificent.
“Whirlpool” directed by Otto Preminger in 1950 and starring Gene Tierney and Richard Comte. “A woman (Gene Tierney) secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.” Gene Tierney is perfect in the role of a lost and neurotic woman ; it is a real psychological thriller.
“Niagara” directed by Henry Hathaway in 1953 and starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten. “Polly and Ray Cutler (Peters and Max Showalter) are a young couple who are honeymooning at Niagara Falls. They meet Rose and George Loomis (Monroe and Cotten), a couple on the brink of break up. Shortly after, Rose announce to the Cutler the disparition of her husband but she has the bad surprise to discover at the morgue it is the body of her lover”. Marilyn is incredibly seductive and a real Femme fatale in this movie. In addition, there is a real suspense and the actors are great especially Joseph Cotten and off course Marilyn Monroe.
“The killers” directed by Robert Siodmak in 1954 and starring Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster. “Two professional killers invade a small town and kill a gas station attendant, Ole Swede Anderson (Burt Lancaster), who’s expecting them. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case and uncovers a complex tale of treachery and crime, all linked with gorgeous, mysterious Kitty (Ava Gardner).” Ava Garder is a memorable Femme fatale ; the couple formed by her and Burt Lancaster is flamboyant. Besides, the black gown worn by Ava Gardner and designed by Vera West is splendid.
“The night of the hunter” directed by Charles Laughton in 1955 and starring Robert Mitchum. “A religious fanatic (Robert Mitchum) marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he’d stolen in a robbery.” Robert Mitchum is extraordinary as a cruel and evil man who is able to do anything for money, even hurt children. There is a amazing and scary scene, in which the children try to escape from him by taking a boat on the river.
“Les diaboliques” directed by Henri-Georges Cluzot in 1955 and starring Simone Signoret, Paul Meurice and Vera Clouzot. “The wife (Vera Clouzot) of a cruel headmaster (Paul Meurice) and his mistress (Simone Signoret) conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two wome.” This film is outstanding and memorable. In addition, there is a suspense and a twist.
“Touch of evil” directed by Orson Welles in 1958 and starring Janet Leigh, Charlton Heston, Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles. “In a border town, the investigation of a murder opposes Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), a high-ranking police officer to the Police captain Hank Quinland (Orson Welles). Orson Welles is physically unrecognizable and is ready to do what it takes to defend his own interests.
“L.A. confidential” directed by Curtis Hanson in 1997 and starring Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger and Russel Crowe. “As corruption grows in 1950s in Los Angeles, three policemen (Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce) investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.”
“Body heat“directed by Lawrence Kasdan in 1998 and starring Kathleen Turner and William hurt. “In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman (Kathleen Turner) convinces her lover (William Hurt), a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband (Richard Crenna)”. Katheen Turner is poisonous and seductive. There is a real suspense until the end !
There are great videos paying tribute to Films noirs and Femmes Fatales :
Sources : http://www.merriam-webster.com/ ; http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html ; http://www.imdb.com/ ; https://www.tumblr.com/ ; https://fr.pinterest.com/ ; lazlokovaks.blogspot.com ; thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com ; hyperallergic.com ; giphy.com/fanpop.com ; bettesmovieblog.blogspot.comhttps://www.youtube.com/ and quotesgram.com