Noir meets reality

Film Noir- Andrew Spicer Book research Report ( Philip Hampson)

Film Noir as a production cycle


As a production cycle one can discern three phases of film noir’s development: uncertain beginnings (1940-3), a major burst of energy (1944-52), and a longer period of fragmentation and decline (1952-9). The ‘major phase’ was consequent upon the success of Double indemnity, Laura and Murder, My sweet all released in 1944, which sparked a host of similar productions.”

{This quote talks about the success of film noir and its decline. By the 1960’s Noir films had declined in popularity, after big successes in the 1940s such as Double indemnity Noir films had a huge boost in popularity. After several more successful films the Noir style started to decline and mostly phased out.}

Figure 1 shows the number of noir films released by the 3 most popular film noir production companies in the 1940s-1960s. As you can see from 1940-1950 more and more film Noirs were released, but from 1951-1959 the production of film noirs rapidly declined.


(Figure 1. Table of film noir releases 1940-1959)

“The relatively high figures for Columbia, Warner Bros, and especially RKO, are an indication that noir was particularly attractive to cost-conscious production companies. The motto of RKOs head of production Charles Koerner was ‘ Showmanship in place of Genius’ and he favoured the production of inexpensive black and white thrillers.”

{Noir films could be made cheaply so production companies were able to produce multiple films per year as they made a high profit in return. The Quote ‘Showmanship in place of Genius’ I believe states that films had become more about being showy, than being about talent and rich story telling.}

“It was a system designed to ensure volume production- around 500 films per year on average- and consistent quality. This required an hierarchical labor force where the creative skills of directors, scriptwriters and cinematographers were subordinated to close control by the producer who used the carefully budgeted shooting script as the ‘Blueprint’ for the film and viewed the daily rushes as a from of ‘quality control’ to ensure that the film was of sufficient technical quality (‘ production values’) to maintain or enhance the studio’s reputation. The producer was responsible to the studio executives who, in turn, had to respond to the directives of the new your offices, which measured production targets and budgets against box-office returns and the advice of their marketing staff”

{During wartime a system was put in place to ensure films were still produced. It was (and in some ways still is) the producer’s job to ensure the quality of the film would boost the reputation of the Production Company or studio.  But they had to work to a tight budget and make sure everything worked perfectly, this meant they had to restrict the writers and directors of productions. This is still part of a producer’s job as well, and I feel that my work as producer has had to deal with issues like this. }

“In this view, film noir’s central preoccupations are ‘ claustrophobia, paranoia, despair and nihilism’. Its alienated protagonists, trapped in dark cities, expose the underside of American life. These existentialist themes mingled with ones drawn from a popularized Freudianism: schizophrenia, psychosis and disturbed sexually.”

{This is some of the key themes in noir narratives. I feel that Johnny Noir has several of these themes, including paranoia, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, despair and more. I aim to get some of these themes into my comic story as well.}



First published:2002

Pearson Education limited

London/ Essex


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