1. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I myself see a big, indeed a profound difference between the hardboiled literature and film of the 30s and early 40s, which was prompted by the hard times of the Depression, and the deeper existential bleakness of the post-war noir cycle, which I think can only be explained by the experience of global war and the atom bomb.

    The influence of European artists and styles and attitudes, while important, can’t explain why noir played so well and so long in Peoria. It reflected something new in the collective American psyche.

  2. Disenchantment or Disillusionment?

    The recent debate here on the origins of film noir with Lloydville led me to review some of the writing on film noir. Under the paragraph heading, The Cinema of the Disenchanted, the Encyclopedia Britannica Daily in the entry for film noir, says:

    “The darkness of these films reflected the disenchantment of the times. Pessimism and disillusionment became increasingly present in the American psyche during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the world war that followed. After the war, factors such as an unstable peacetime economy, McCarthyism, and the looming threat of atomic warfare manifested themselves in a collective sense of uncertainty. The corrupt and claustrophobic world of film noir embodied these fears. Several examples of film noir, such as Dmytryk’s Cornered (1945), George Marshall’s The Blue Dahlia (1946), Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse (1947), and John Cromwell’s Dead Reckoning (1947), share the common storyline of a war veteran who returns home to find that the way of life for which he has been fighting no longer exists. In its place is the America of film noir: modernized, heartless, coldly efficient, and blasé about matters such as political corruption and organized crime.”

    Could it be that the returning vets’ disillusionment is rooted in the realisation that there has been no change: that a life that never existed before the war still doesn’t exist despite the suffering and the sacrifice?

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