RARA-AVIS: Re: A Mathematical Answer to What Films are Noir

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 06 Aug 2007


Re your question below:

"Are there any films from in the classic period that were shot in color? I can't think of any."

I can't think of any either. In fact, particularly during that classic period, the available color technology had the effect of making the films so well-lighted that the atmospherics were completely changed and crime films, despite having similar themes, plots, and characters to those films generally regarded as noir, just couldn't quite get that noir feel.

A good example is HOUSE OF BAMBOO, a wide-screen Technicolor epic about an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal organization. It's a scene-for-scene, sometimes line-for-line, remake of an earlier film, THE STREET WITH NO NAME, which was filmed in B&W, and is unquestionably a film noir.

Another is the 1954 feature-length version of DRAGNET.
 Though the TV series at that time had the same kind of noir-ish, B&W photographic effects, has been described as "film noir in miniature," the film, though as shadowy as color cinematography could get at that time, just can't quite get the same dark and sinister atmosphere.

By nothing more than the simple use of color, exactly the same story becomes non-noir because of the loss of the atmospheric qualities possible in B&W.

BTW, other post-TOUCH OF EVIL noir candidates that might be considered: UNDERWORLD U.S.A. (1960), HELL IS A CITY (1960), EXPERIMENT IN TERROR (1962), THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1964), and IN COLD BLOOD


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