I was rereading David N. Meyer's A Girl and a Gun last night (this is a good guide to Films Noir) and came upon this paraphrase from Alain Silver's Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style:
"Noir is not based on any preexisting notions of American heroism or narrative. Unlike the Western, Noir has no real-world precursers in mythology, history, or social fact.
Noir debuted new (and enduring) ideas of heroism and villainy, and offered new moral solutions, or proof that none existed.... "
Following this , Westerns may employ Noir elements but can not be Noir.
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