Film Noir – 280 Posters
Noir has possibly been the most impactful genre* in the history of cinema. It’s a thread that runs from the German Expressionism of the 1920s through to studio-era Hollywood of the 1940s and 50s, then spreading across the world from Mexico to Japan, shaping emerging genres and movements such as Nouvelle Vague (France) and social realism (Britain) in the 1950s and 60s, before a mini-revival in US cinema in the 1970s and a triumphant return, through neo-noir and homages to noir proper from the 80s onwards. Noir has become a cinematic language, a filmic and cultural code, shared by every major auteur across the world. From Kurosawa and Truffaut to Scorsese and Lynch, from Tarantino and Fincher to Almodovar and to recent revivals of comic book superheroes (Batman Begins etc), the impact of noir on popular culture has been immense. I would argue – perhaps controversially – that even the Indiana Jones and James Bond franchises are firmly rooted in certain noir conventions and aesthetics.
This is a modest attempt to collate the posters of some of the most important and indicative examples of the pre-noir, classic noir and neo-noir eras – 280 movies in total. The evolution of the art and design of these posters tells a story on its own. The precise milestones and cut-off points in the history of noir are as debatable as the movies that can be classed as such, but in the interest of simplicity I have divided this collage into four reasonably coherent periods. The films in each period are presented in rough chronological order. I have tried to use original posters only (not DVD covers) and only posters of good quality/high res, as much as possible.
This collage is not meant to be exhaustive – feel free to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page – I may incorporate these in future editions of this feature. The main sources I consulted for the selection of the films are: (a) the brilliant tribute on film noir by the Greek magazine ΣΙΝΕΜΑ (issue 239); (b) Philip Kemp’s Cinema: the Whole Story (Thames and Hudson); (c) Tim Dirk’s amazing filmsite (which features an incredible page with the title screen of almost every classic film noir) and (d) Wikipedia. Ultimately though this is my own highly subjective selection based on my personal perspective and preferences.
This tribute also includes a few noir books, immersive theatre shows and selected soundtracks. Enjoy.
*(is it a genre? is it a style? is it a set of rules or themes? a set of techniques? I’ll let you ponder that while browsing through the posters…)
The Origins: Proto-Noir (1920-1939)
The Canon: Classic Noir (1940-1959)
The Legacy: International and Post-Noir (1960-1983)
The Revival: Homages and Neo-Noir (1984-)
The best anthology is the Noir Series by Akashic Books – new and classic noir stories in more than 80 cities around the world
by Roman Gerodimos
1st edition: May 2016