Sunday, February 20, 2011

Noir, My Friend

It was the first genre I ever took to, speaking to me in a way that nothing else ever had.  What was it?   Was it the clever, little rejoinders?  The neat little twists and turns of many of the films’ plots?  Or was I nocturnal and liked the underworld, the seedier side of things? 

I ask all these questions but already know the answer.  I grew up in a Blue Velvet world.  The suburbs, small town, surrounded by smiling faces and happy people.  And I didn’t feel all that way inside, but it seemed that everyone else did, and that’s the way I needed to be, too.  

Most of the movies I was seeing were echoing this rampant optimism, as well.  But then I discovered film noir, and my first cinematic companion.  A filmed document that felt as unhinged and raw as many of my emotions inside.   It wasn’t until much later, of course, that I learned noir was mostly the product of disenfranchised Europeans who had fled their countries and come to Hollywood.

Rose-colored Hollywood must have felt exactly to them as my Blue Velvet world felt to me.  And their films expressed this chasm.  They told stories of a world when Hollywood was asleep.  Their stories were tough but with an honesty and truthfulness that seemed unique to American cinema.   

Noir might mean black or dark.  And film noir might not be the most upbeat tales to ever come out of our nation’s cinema.  But for me, and I think so many others, they were liberating, catharsis as truth, and will forever remain relevant as a result.

*This post is a part of the For the Love of Film (NoirBlogathon and Fundraiser for the Film Noir Foundation to help preserve our film heritage.  The Blogathon is hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren.  Please make your donation by clicking on the link below.  Thank you.


  1. Jeffrey I love the personal connection to the world of noir, which is more meaningful on a personal level than a straight film review. Your own experience with noir as everyone well knows has been formidable, and you've watched these on both sides of the pond. I do relate too with the BLUE VELVET suburbia!

  2. Sam, thanks so much for your wonderful comments. Always such a treat to have you here.