Film Noir: a Genre Built on Stereotypes

Fallout New Vegas is Noir

In recent years, Film Noir has been a source of inspiration for a broad range of media. In the 40s and 50s, this was a skewed way of looking at culture at the time, which, in part, sprang from cliche-stuffed pulp fiction. These days, it’s a way of throwing a very stylised set of restrictions at a media, and possibly even retrojecting it into the era. Nevertheless, it remains very popular. For example, films like LA Confidential, Sin City and The Spirit all borrow heavily from the genre.

Sin City was one big homage to the genre

Hell, even The Incredibles takes cues from the genre. A lot of the early action happens at night. There are stake-outs, police radios, mysterious ‘dames’, over-the-hill government types, a lot of the action happens in alleyways, yada, yada, yada.

The Incredibles definitely had shades of noir

This may help with the whole Art Deco old-fashioned thing they have going on, but the reality is, the ‘modern’ Incredibles live in a relatively current world. Sure, one where tablets seem futuristic, but not so far into the past that the 40s and 50s would be a relevant time period for Elastigirl or Incrediboy.

In games as well, noir has seen a resurgence. Fair enough, ‘LA Noire’ was always going to be a straight homage to the genre, but even the Fallout series has characters like ‘The Lonesome Drifter’, ‘The Mysterious Stranger’, any number of hookers-with-hearts-of-gold, and so on. The series was built on the premise that the Fallout universe had diverged from ours in the 50s, and the music (and that Art Deco style), among other things, never changed.

A still from the newly announced Fallout 4

Film Noir is absolutely still having a big impact on popular culture. Perhaps this is thanks to its simplicity. Yes, the tropes been been overused to the point they have been cliches. But now that is helpful. When we come across a character called ‘The Lonesome Drifter’, we know what to expect. So when those expectations are subverted, things get interesting.

East Meets West: The Bizarre Mash-ups That Are Rewriting History

the good, the bad, the weird

This blog is about two films in particular: ‘The Man With The Iron Fists’, and ‘The Good, The Bad, And The Weird’. You should see them both!

So, yeah: the era and location are wooly at best, and some of it is just silly. But it’s pretty fun nonetheless.

More of a re-imagining of an old classic, but carried out with more style than I realised the Korean film industry had.

And really, I just wanted to draw attention to both of them. ‘The Man With The Iron Fists’ had a straight-to-DVD sequel, which came out earlier in the year. It looks roughly the same level of ridiculous, but with none of the big names. ‘The Good, The Bad, And The Weird’, to the best of my knowledge, was left as a one-off. I guess they didn’t want things to get too… weird.

One is a Korean film, set in China, playing on tropes from Westerns. The other is an American film set (allegedly) in China, playing on tropes from martial arts films. Of the two, I have a bit more time for ‘The Good, The Bad…’. It has a bit more polish, and both its comedy and its pathos are solid. ‘The Man With The Iron Fists’ is more of a vanity project. But, for all that, it is still a very fun one.

This kind of crossover is a great way to reinvigorate a market that has, in some ways, become quite stale with reboots and sequels. What I’d like to see next? How about a buddy cop movie set in medieval England?