Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled Character Traits

Date: 28 Apr 2002


Re your question below:

> But weren't the majority of noir directors ex-pat
> Europeans?

Some were. Some weren't. Some American-born directors who were movers and shakers in film noir include John Huston, Edward Dmytryk (actually he was born in Canada, but that's still the North American continent), Ted Tetzloff, Richard Fleischer, and Anthony Mann.

They may have been influenced, directly or indrectly, by things like German expressionism (certainly such German-born noir directors as Fritz Lang or Robert Siodmak were; in fact, I think Lang is often credited as the inventor of German expressionism), but mainly they were trying to make tight, gritty crime movies in an inexpensive way that LOOKED expensive.

There's a great story about Edward Dmytryk lecturing a bunch of college kids during the '70s. He figures they all want to hear about the Hollywood blacklist, so he's surprised when one of them raises his hand and asks him about something called film noir.

"Film noir?" he says. "What the hell is film noir?"

"Well," says the college kid, "you should know. You invented it."

Up to then Dmytryk, who was a professional filmmaker, not a naval-contemplating film theorist, had never heard the term.


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