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Film Noir Essay

1817 words - 8 pages

Film Noir
A Culture of Seductive Crime

Somewhere along a dark alley in the shattered shadowy streets of Hollywood a part of history lies in the tragically neglected culture known as “Film Noir.” An introduction similar to any number of introductions found in any Noir themed novel or film’s initial dawning. Aristocrat or plebeian does not come into account in this culture; those who are iconic to the startup have come from many different backgrounds and even belong to many different cultures. Film Noir culture is undoubtedly a culture that can share its members concurrently with indiscriminate amounts of other cultures. Film Noir is more than just pessimistic crime dramas starring ...view middle of the document...

Regardless of its determined start and finish there were over 300 films released which were considered a part of the genre.
One of the most notable features of these films is the way noir brandishes style. While filmed in black and white, during much of its run it showed women how to dress; how to wield provocation as a weapon. Film noir was big on empowering female characters depicting them not only as devious but capable with an emphasis on sexuality. Clothing was suitable to the time period in which every film had costume designers that made the usual pre-shaped enclosures that is seen in American sportswear today. Women would wear garments that were pre-shaped and covered the torso and arms anywhere from the mid upper arm down to the wrist, there was also the combination type of pre-shaped that suspended from their wastes down to either below their knee or down to the ground in the way that a typical gown would.
Men wore traditional western wear such as suits and trench coats much of the time, as they were most often depicting detectives or other types of business affiliated men. There was some ideology practiced being that they would wear costumes and sometimes even masks during films to convey the message they were trying to get across with artistic expression. The clothing was also made in darker colors as was most fabricated items due to the fabric restrictions because of war times which also portrayed a more dramatic feel to the film. This darkness to the clothing along with the dark lighting of the films gave all the looks a more striking effect.
For economic purposes it was important to focus the market towards women as it was a crucial time to build their confidence. Helen Hanson in “Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film” states “A conviction in the advertising industry and in Hollywood, that women led purchase decision making, which included entertainment choices. This is particularly key in considering Hollywood’s gendered address and its relationship to the production and marketing to women.
What made film noir so great for is it showed women how to work around the clothing restrictions and fabric rations of the time and have a distinct style beyond just modesty. In an article found on www.filmnoirstudies they say, “The quintessential femme fatale of film noir uses her sexual attractiveness and ruthless cunning to manipulate men in order to gain power, independence, money, or all three at once. She rejects the conventional roles of devoted wife and loving mother that mainstream society prescribes for women.” There are many women who would be considered iconic in their culture, but some of the most marked ones are Gene Tierney, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford. At the beginning of film noir Joan Crawford’s career was stagnant and other actresses like Bette Davis were more sought out, in fact, in Joan Crawford’s first film noir the director did not even want her as the leading lady. The...

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