The term film noir was coined by French film critics to designate the movie genre that suddenly appeared in 1941 (and quickly disappeared in 1960). These films captured the atmosphere of pessimism, cynicism, and distrust of everyone that reigned in America during the Second World War, and later the Cold War.
This is perhaps the most masculine genre in the world, and although it has existed for nearly two decades, it has managed to generate several dozen masterpieces and has influenced the cinema so far. Today we will talk about the best movies of this genre that covered the topic of love – from Hitchcock to Kubrick.
1. Shadow of a Doubt
Hitchcock’s chamber thriller about a criminal case in the American outback was filmed according to all the laws of the genre that has not yet been fully formed – a distant relative arriving at the provincial inhabitants who turned out to be a maniac. The cheerful niece is instantly fascinated by the antisocial uncle, but, having learned the truth, enters into a confrontation with him. The plot of the film was based on the real story of serial killer Earl Leonard Nelson, which only added Shadows of Doubt to irrational horror: Hitchcock is still one of the few directors who can really scare. This is a great movie to watch on a date, but what about a gift to start a date off? Here are some trendy eco-friendly gifts for your girlfriend.
2. Double Indemnity
The unpredictable story of the insurance agent Walter Neff, exploited by the fatal blonde – agreeing to stage the suicide of her husband, he gets into an unpleasant story with an inevitably bloody ending. In many ways, it was Double Indemnity that formed the genre of the film noir, highlighting all of its signature features – the brutal murder of a man who got into trouble, the fatal beauty, and machine-gun dialogues.
3. Mildred Pierce
An exemplary noir about the investigation into the murder of a dishonest businessman, of which three are suspected at once: wife Mildred Pierce, her ex-husband and her business partner – each of them had clear motives for committing a crime. During the night, the case will be opened, and the killer will be, as usual, the most harmless. For the role of Mildred, actress Joan Crawford earned an Oscar, and the film itself recently became the basis for the series with Kate Winslet – also, by the way, excellent.
The owner of a large casino saves the life of a petty crook, subsequently making friends with him. Everything goes down the drain when, from the next trip, the rich man brings a new wife – the beautiful Gilda. The presence of a femme fatale is one of the main conditions of the genre, and the plot of the Gilda is completely implicated in it: Rita Hayworth in the role of a fatal woman, because of which moral principles, friendship, and many innocent human lives collapse. Rita eventually became one of the main “noir” actresses, her popularity was so great that the atomic bomb was named in honor of her heroine.
5. The Lady from Shanghai
Orson Welles’ masterpiece, criticized at first, received its final recognition much later, firmly entrenched in the ranks of film classics. The story of a simple guy saving a stunning blonde from bandits who turned out to be the wife of a famous lawyer. Having agreed to work on the rich man’s yacht, he immediately faces two problems: firstly, the blonde obviously prefers him to the crippled spouse, and secondly, he agreed to help the lawyer’s partner to stage his death – this naturally will not end in good. “The Lady from Shanghai” is an example of the genre with a dashing combination of suspense, love affair and psychologically authentic images. The famous scene in the mirror room forever entered the history of cinema.
6. Sunset Boulevard
Billy Wilder’s production noir about a ruined screenwriter meeting a fading Hollywood actress: having offered to rewrite the obviously hopeless script, she keeps it at home, gradually losing touch with reality. Wilder did not hesitate to take the viewer not so much on plot intrigue as on tragic predetermination – at the beginning of the film, the viewer is shown the corpse of the protagonist floating in the water.
7. Touch of Evil
One of the last classic noirs – the prefix “neo” has already been attributed to all followers. In a small town on the US-Mexican border, terrible things happen: The Mexican policeman turns into a crazy avenger, his wife is raped and pumped up with drugs, and the American detective does not disdain anything to increase detection. The visual frenzy of Wells films has reached its peak here: the contrasting monochrome, fuzzy lines and close-ups of the villains’ faces give the impression of hell being relocated to the earth. A separate bonus is Marlene Dietrich as a gypsy fortune teller and Janet Lee, who two years later starred in Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”