What are the key characteristics of film noir?
If you watch BBC4 this weekend you’ll be sure to find out. The channel is not only showing six classic film noir movies over the course of the next two days, but the accompanying documentary The Rules of Film Noir, presented by film historian Matthew Sweet, will tell you everything you need to know.
Apparently the film noir genre is back in fashion. Read more about about that here.
In the meantime, here’s my personal film noir checklist:
1. The world of the film is corrupt.
2. The hero is a loner, often a loser too.
3. There’s an obligatory femme fatale.
4. There’s a voice over narration.
5. The film’s narrative has a complex twisty-turny structure, full of flashbacks.
6. The characters are constantly double crossing each other.
7. The external world of the movie features rainslicked mean streets and dark alleyways.
8. The internal world in the film is claustrophobic and imprisoning, often featuring shuttered windows and blinds resembling prison bars.
9. The camera is often low, so the characters seem menacing.
10. Shadows, smoke, flashing neon lights and grotesque imagery feature throughout.
BBC4’s film noir weekend starts today at 7.30pm and the line-up is as follows:
Farewell My Lovely at 7.30pm
The Rules of Film Noir at 9pm & 3.35am
The Lady of Shanghai at 10pm
The Big Combo at 11.25pm
Force of Evil at 1.50am
Build My Gallows High at 9pm
The Rules of Film Noir at 10.35pm
Stranger on the Third Floor at 11.30pm