Beyond the Golden Age: Film Noir Since the ’50s – Bright Lights Film Journal


Here is an interesting look at the history of noir from writer C. Jerry Kutner. Though I don’t agree with some of what he says, a lot of what he says does make sense. He also talks about some films I have not seen yet and will be taking a look at.  Read the full article below and tell us some of your thoughts on his idea of noir:


“There is only Noir!” The Noir Vision To discuss the history of film noir since the ’50s is to fly in the face of conventional studies, which assume the “genre”[…]

Source: Beyond the Golden Age: Film Noir Since the ’50s – Bright Lights Film Journal

16 thoughts on “Beyond the Golden Age: Film Noir Since the ’50s – Bright Lights Film Journal

  1. Thanks for pointing me to this article. As you noted, it gives a listing of films that include a few I need to see. That said, it’s overview of noir definitions seems arrogantly written, stating everyone is wrong…but the author himself. He (and it was obvious that it’s written by a he — even before I checked his name) oversimplifies everything down to a narrow and uninformative list of titles just to prove the original noir cycle didn’t end in 1958. It’s conclusion, “noir continues to evolve” is superficial and boring. Did you find more to like in this reprint of a 1994 article?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like some of his points, especially that the classic film noir period did not end in 1958 after he shows so many great noir films were made in 1959 and 1960. His view of noir is very broad, even for my broad view of noir. This is partly what makes noir and film noir such an interesting subject, everybody has a different opinion and no one person is 100% correct or 100% wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You could look at it that way too. I’ve got another idea I’m kicking around

        We all know from the many and varied books written about Film Noir that the often quoted time frame that these films fit into is usually 1941 to 1958 some occasionally stretch to 1959. Who came came up with this initially, and why is it so strictly adhered too?

        The more Noirs I watch the more I’m questioning this. I’m beginning to come around to a different thought, and that is that Classic American Film Noir stretched from say 1940 to 1968 (1968 being the last general use of B&W film in production) here is the breakdown by year of Black & White Noirs (there may be a few more to add in, in that 1959 to 1968 stretch:

        1940 (5)
        1941 (11)
        1942 (5)
        1943 (5)
        1944 (18)
        1945 (22)
        1946 (42)
        1947 (53)
        1948 (43)
        1949 (52)
        1950 (57)
        1951 (39)
        1952 (26)
        1953 (21)
        1954 (26)
        1955 (20)
        1956 (19)
        1957 (12)
        1958 (7)
        1959 (7)
        1960 (2)
        1961 (5)
        1962 (6)
        1963 (1)
        1964 (4)
        1965 (3)
        1966 (2)
        1967 (2)
        1968 (1)

        I’m also thinking now that the Color Film Noirs within this 1940-1968 time frame were the first Neo Noirs so that the two sub genres of Crime film actually overlap. The catalyst for this new alignment is when I read a quote about Neo Noir that said that if the filmmakers made a conscience decision to film in black and white when color was the norm then it was an artistic decision and not one of necessity for budget purposes, Same the other way if B&W was the norm for low budget B Noirs then it was an artistic decision to film it color.

        The Color Film Noir (Neo Noir) the first 30 years (again there maybe a few more in these early years but they as a whole really up ticked in the 1980s and 1990’s):

        1945 (1)
        1947 (1)
        1948 (1)
        1953 (2)
        1955 (3)
        1956 (3)
        1958 (1)
        1966 (1)
        1967 (1)
        1969 (1)
        1970 (2)
        1971 (4)
        1972 (1)
        1973 (0)
        1974 (2)


  2. Although I disagree with Kutner on some of the examples he gives, in general I was shouting “hear, hear!” to just about every word he said. His assessment of noir as a continuous part of cinema since approximately Lang’s M is spot-on as far as I’m concerned, and is the philosophy behind my own noir book. I just wished I’d read Kutner’s article before writing that book, because he’s noted a couple of movies that I should probably have included.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree in that respect as well. Some of his examples seem to be a stretch. What films did he list that you feel should have been in your book, but didn’t make it?


      • Difficult question to answer. I took a copy of his article to go through checking with when I have a bit more time on my hands. At this distance in time it’s obviously hard for me to remember exactly what I did or didn’t include — quite often, on discovering movies I think I’ve missed, I go to make a note in the Master File and discover I did actually cover it, but have forgotten!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, hang on — I now remember one specific movie he mentions that I should probably have put in: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I swithered a long time over it, but eventually decided not to include. I still think that was the right decision so far as my own view of noir is concerned, but since then I’ve come across quite a few people who, like Kutner, think it’s part of the canon, and on those grounds it should probably be in there.


      • On the other hand, as I say, quite a few folk disagree with us.

        There are also the remakes. I could just about make the case for the Abel Ferrara one — as strong a case as for the original, anyway — but I’m not so sure about the first remake and the most recent, dreadful one seems to me to smack of noir not at all.


    • Hi John, there were a few omissions in your book, I don’t think, if I remember right, that you listed Mister Buddwing (1966). I can’t remember if you listed The Wrong Man (1993) or not, a lot of lists miss that one also.


      • Thanks for the info! I didn’t get either of those. I actually have a copy of The Wrong Man, and can’t now remember why I omitted it from the book; I’ve dug it out for inclusion at some point on Noirish. And I’m getting a copy of Mister Buddwing through the library (I hope) for similar purposes.


  3. He names a bunch I wouldn’t include (see NIPOs below) and misses a lot too.

    A thought to throw into the equation of what makes a Noir/Neo Noir is an individual internal factor. It’s subjectivity. Noir is in all of us. Think of us all as having an internal tuning fork, these tuning forks are forged by our life experiences which are all unique. When we watch these films their degree of Noir-ness resonates with us differently, so we either “tune” to them or we don’t. The amount of “tuning” (I’m appropriating this term from the Neo Noir Dark City (1998)) to certain films will vary between us all also

    I more visually oriented if the film doesn’t have the Noir stylistics it’s a NIPO (Noir In Plot Only) Here is my personal list of Visual Noir/Neo Noir from 1961 onwards:

    Blast Of Silence (1961)

    Underworld USA (1961)

    Something Wild (1961)

    Cape Fear (1962)

    Experiment In Terror (1962)

    Satan in High Heels (1962)

    The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

    Shock Corridor (1962)

    Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)

    The Naked Kiss (1964)

    The Pawnbroker (1964)

    The Glass Cage (1964)

    Angel’s Flight (1965)

    Brainstorm (1965)

    Once A Thief (1965)

    Harper (1966)

    Aroused (1966)

    Mr. Buddwing (1966)

    In Cold Blood (1967)

    The Incident (1967)

    In The Heat Of The Night (1967)

    The Pick-Up (1968)

    Marlowe (1969)

    The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

    Darker Than Amber (1970)

    Shaft (1971)

    Across 110th Street (1971)

    The Getaway (1971)

    Get Carter (1971)

    Hickey & Boggs (1972)

    Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

    The Nickel Ride (1974)

    The Drowning Pool (1975)

    Farewell My Lovely (1975)

    Night Moves (1975)

    Taxi Driver (1976)

    Dressed to Kill (1980)

    Union City (1980)

    Body Heat (1981)

    Thief (1981)

    Blade Runner (1982)

    Hammett (1982)

    Blood Simple (1984)

    Tightrope (1984)

    To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

    Blue Velvet (1986)

    Angel Heart (1987)

    Frantic (1988)

    Kill Me Again (1989)

    The Grifters (1990)

    The Kill-Off (1990)

    The Hot Spot (1990)

    Wild At Heart (1990)

    Impulse (1990)

    Dick Tracy (1990)

    Delicatessen (1991)

    Delusion (1991)

    Reservoir Dogs (1992)

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

    Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)

    True Romance (1993)

    The Wrong Man (1993)

    The Last Seduction (1994)

    Pulp Fiction (1994)

    Natural Born Killers (1994)

    Blink (1994)

    Se7en (1995)

    Fargo (1996)

    Mulholland Falls (1996)

    Hit Me (1996)

    Jackie Brown (1997)

    L.A. Confidential (1997)

    Lost Highway (1997)

    This World, Then the Fireworks (1997)

    Dark City (1998)

    A Simple Plan (1998)

    The Big Lebowski (1998)

    Payback (1999)

    Night Train (1999)

    The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

    Mulholland Drive (2001)

    Sin City (2005)

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

    No Country For Old Men (2007)

    Dark Country (2009)

    The Killer Inside Me (2010)

    Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)


      • There may be more of these post 1960 Visually stylistic Noir’s, I add more candidates as I read various lists and acquire the films. But there are a lot of duds too, a recent big dud was Against All Odds (1984) the remake of Out of the Past. When I was using Ward & Ursini’s The Film Noir Encyclopedia Neo Noir list (about 140 + – titles) I found that I agreed with about a third, disagreed with a third, and haven’t seen a third.

        On Noirsville my blog I just reviewed The Incident 1967 which Ward & Ursini miss in their Neo Noir List, there’s others.


  4. Hi John, there were a few omissions in your book, I don’t think, if I remember right, that you listed Mister Buddwing (1966). I can’t remember if you listed The Wrong Man (1993) or not, a lot of lists miss that one also.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s