Film noir is a genre possessing a rather vague physical description. This is due to the fact that it is hard to formulate words for a specific feeling that is generated. Generally, it can be characterized as having a dark, mysterious plot, often involving a narrator, femme fatale and obvious sexual tension. When these elements are combined artfully, it creates an atmosphere that is filled with suspense, drama and emotion. The men and women who star in these films, often bring the depths of their characters to life, showing the flaws that exist within human nature.
Ava Gardner can be considered one of the quintessential femme fatales of classic cinema. She was undeniably gorgeous, and could turn her charms on even the toughest of men. Coupled with Burt Lancaster in 1946, they created a memorable noir entitled, “The Killers.” It is a movie based off of Ernest Hemingway’s book, but it is brought to life through the on screen tension present between these two powerful actors. It begins with the death of “The Swede,” and follows a series of flashbacks enabling the viewer to relive the events that resulted in this crime.
Double Indemnity is another landmark film noir. Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray costar in this tale of doomed lovers. Edward G. Robinson also appears in this film, depicting that the truth about “gut-feelings” are often never wrong. It is artfully directed by none other than Billy Wilder. Essentially, it is a tale of how lust can be mistaken for love, and how those feelings can lead people to take actions they never deemed possible.
Another intriguing film couple were Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum. They along with a young Kirk Douglas in “Out of the Past.” This film is a perfect example of one fact that remains ever true: one cannot outrun their past.
“Sunset Boulevard,” is another film that seems to stand out among the rest of the genre. It includes the classic silent film star Gloria Swanson and William Holden. He depicts a struggling writer who is taken in with the thought of being a kept man when he stumbles across the residence of Gloria Swanson. However, when he tries to break free from the arrangement, he finds it more difficult than he initially imagined. In some ways, the film depicts certain aspects of Swanson’s real life.
“A woman doesn’t care how a guy makes a living, just how he makes love.”