Rooted in German cinema and labelled by the French, film noir (dark film) is one of America’s most stylish and enduring cultural exports. Themes of sexual obsession, moral and political corruption prevail in the dystopian cityscapes it’s doomed characters inhabit. MacGuffin-hunting, hardboiled detectives emerge from the rain-drenched gloom and narrate with detached indifference as cruel villains, sultry femmes fatales, and hapless victims succumb to their fatal flaws.
Sound familiar ? That’s because when post-WWII paranoia drove American cinema to the dark side, it chimed with audiences the world over and has continued to do so ever since. With four outstanding classics in our Autumn 2018 season, BAFTA nominee Paul Kousoulides, introduces each film and explains why despite the pessimism, ubiquity, impenetrable plots, endless parodies and recent gamification, Film Noir shines brighter than ever.
Tonight’s film is The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946, Cert PG) – The stuff of legends with Bogart and Bacall in their most celebrated pairing. Helmed by Howard Hawks and penned by Raymond Chandler, get the skinny on how the genre’s centrepiece turned pulp fiction into Hollywood gold.