RE: RARA-AVIS: Noir Horror?

From: Bill Hagen (
Date: 07 Feb 2000

Anthony Dauer writes,
>Thing to consider ... noir in the visual arts isn't the same as noir in the
>hard-boiled literary sense.

Quite accurate, I'd say, up to a point. From my limited knowledge of film history, I believe the noir "style" is traced back through horror films to the larger category of expressionism, the art/design/theater/film style which attempted to objectify the subjective, producing odd imagery and shadowy sets in such silent films as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and
"Metropolis." Later, with better equipment, film makers were able to sculpt the subjective from more realistic (but carefully chosen) sets, through lighting and camera angles. In the best films, the style presented a world or a vision.

Insofar as noir projects the inner world of morally problematic characters, it seems to me there is some interesection between good psychological horror pieces and hard-boiled noir--especially in those cases where the focus is on the criminal mind.

Nice irony, BTW, is that newer film noir often has to work hard to get the darkness--especially after Hitchcock taught us that the worst things happen in bright places.

As I reread this, I realize that the later at night I write, the more opinionated I become.


Bill Hagen

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