Film Noir & Moonlight

Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:14 pm

****Going through my Evernote files I stumbled upon some things I wrote years ago about the film noir elements in Moonlight. I thought it would be fun to resurrect some of those writings here in this thread. In some cases, I've edited them and cleaned them up a bit. Given how much stuff has been lost forever due to various forums closing and we never know what the future holds, I thought I would mention that you all have my permission to repost my noir postings elsewhere as long as I'm given credit. *****

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"I love the vampire genre and I love that we’ve been able to manipulate it a little bit while staying true to it. And I love that the show is done in a modern day film noir style." --Alex O'Loughlin in interview featured at http://www.pinkraygun.com/2007/09/26/on ... -part-four

"My basic approach in redefining classic vampire lore was to attempt to "noirify" the vampire mythology. I wanted to recreate the rules to reflect the themes you see repeated over and over in noir storytelling. This is why I had Mick take his blood with a needle, and sleep in a freezer to stave off his slow decay." Trevor Munson http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Vengeance-N ... +Vengeance

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Definition:
"Film noir," which can be translated to "black film" or "dark film" was a term that French critics applied to a group of crime films that hit the Hollywood screen just after World War II. The term "film noir" is more of a filmmaking style rather than a specific movie genre. "...since the label of [film noir] was retrospective (and French in origin), few, if any US filmmakers thought they were making film noirs; what they were making crime films, thrillers, mysteries, and romantic meledramas." [(The Rough Guide to Film Noir)

Film noir's Development:
"Classic film noir developed during and after World War II, taking advantage of the post-war ambience of anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion. These films reflected the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period, and counter-balanced the optimism of Hollywood's musicals and comedies. Fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia are readily evident in noir, reflecting the 'chilly' Cold War period when the threat of nuclear annihilation was ever-present. The criminal, violent, misogynistic, hard-boiled, or greedy perspectives of anti-heroes in film noir were a metaphoric symptom of society's evils, with a strong undercurrent of moral conflict, purposelessness and sense of injustice. There were rarely happy or optimistic endings in noirs." (http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html )

"Oftentimes, noir could also branch out into other genre-categories, such as thrillers (i.e., Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street (1953)), horror films, westerns (i.e. The Gunfighter (1950)), science-fiction (i.e., Kiss Me Deadly (1955)) and even film-noir tribute-parodies, spoofs or comedies (i.e., Peeper (1975), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)). It has been noted that a sub-category of film gris (or 'gray film') exists, according to writer Jon Tuska, meaning film noirs that have happy denouements." (http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html ) Noir has also influenced televsion shows, animation, anime, comic books (particularly Batman), video games, and musicals.

Time Line:
Classic era of film noir: 1940's-1950's

Postmodern or Post-Classical noir: A film movement after the classic era that incorporates various "noir's core thematic and stylic elements." (The Rough Guide to Film Noir)
Retro-noir: Noir films made after the classic era yet they are set in the classic noir period, such as LA Confidential (1997), Chinatown (1974), and The Black Dahlia (2006).
Neo-noir: Noir films made after the classic era and are set after the classic noir period.
Tech noir (also called future noir or cyber noir): Refers to films made after the classic era that are hybrids of noir and sci-fi. Usually these films are set in the future. These category includes films such as Blade Runner (1982), The Terminator (1984), Dark City (1998), The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2002), Minority Report (2002), and Children of Men (2006).
Psycho-Noir: This is a term that some writers/critics are using that refers to neo-noirs that feature delusionary or sociopathic lead characters. Examples include movies such as Fight Club (1999) and Blue Velvet (1986).

According to "The Rough Guide to Film Noir," Film noir's "content and stylistic trademarks" were influenced by:
-- "Hollywood gangster movies"
-- "German cinema of the Weimar years and French poetic realist films of the immediate prewar period"
--"A less direct impact was made by the cycle of horror movies produced by Universal Studios in the 1930's, which in turn were influenced by the gothic novels of the nineteenth century."
--However, "of all noir's most immediate influences, the hard-boiled detective fiction [also referred to as "pulp fiction"] of the 1930's and 40's had the greatest impact. Much of noir's subject matter, characters and general milieu derived from it, in particular from the work of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, David Goodis, W.R. Burnett and Cornell Woolrich."

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According to "The Rough Guide to Film Noir" by Alexander Ballinger and Danny Graydon, a typical classic film noir's storyline:
--"revolves around a doomed relationship set against the backdrop of a criminal and inverterately corrupt world."
--"The male character (a cop, private eye, war veteran, hoodlum, government operative, down-at-the heel lowlife) is caught between two women."
-- One woman is "dutiful, responsible, devoted if unexciting."
-- The other woman is "a femme fatale-- sexually alluring, linked to the underworld, unreliable and duplicitious in the extreme."
-- "The male character makes a choice (or circumstances make the choice for him) and events spiral from there, inevitably to a tragic end."
-- "The protagonists occupy a world that is dark and malign."
-- Characters often feel trapped by feelings of guilt, fear, and paranoia.
-- Characters are "often overwhelmed by the power and consequences of uncontrollable sexual desire."

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According to http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html, "The females in film noir were either of two types (or archetypes) - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women; or femme fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women."

"The femme fatale would often be counterpointed by what film theorist Janey Place would call 'the rejuvenating redeemer'-- a woman strongly identified with traditional family values, status quo, and stability. This rejuvenating redeemer provides the film noir hero with a chance for redemption, though it is often unattainable due to the hero's own tragic flaws." (Source: Palmetto Movie Review by Anthony Leong at http://www.mediacircus.net/palmetto.html )

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Marvin Rush (Moonlight's Director of photography) also talks about film noir and its relationship with Moonlight in the following Voices of Kyrpton audio interview:
http://revver.com/video/621327/vfk-inte ... rvin-rush/

From Wikpedia we also learn about some of the other common aspects of classic film noir:
Crime, usually murder, is an element of almost all film noirs; in addition to standard-issue greed, jealousy is frequently the criminal motivation. A crime investigation—by a private eye, a police detective (sometimes acting alone), or a concerned amateur—is the most prevalent, but far from dominant, basic plot. In other common plots the protagonists are implicated in heists or con games, or in murderous conspiracies often involving adulterous affairs. False suspicions and accusations of crime are frequent plot elements, as are betrayals and double-crosses. Amnesia is far more common in film noir than in real life, and cigarette smoking can seem virtually mandatory.

The characteristic heroes of noir are described by many critics as "alienated"; in the words of Silver and Ward, "filled with existential bitterness." Certain archetypal characters appear in many film noirs—hardboiled detectives, femmes fatales, corrupt policemen, jealous husbands, intrepid claims adjusters, and down-and-out writers. As can be observed in many movies of an overtly neo-noir nature, the private eye and the femme fatale are the character types with which film noir has come to be most identified, but only a minority of movies now regarded as classic noir feature either. For example, of the nineteen National Film Registry noirs, in only four does the star play a private eye: The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, and Kiss Me Deadly. Just two others readily qualify as detective stories: Laura and Touch of Evil.

Film noir is often associated with an urban setting, and a few cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, in particular—are the location of many of the classic films. In the eyes of many critics, the city is presented in noir as a "labyrinth" or "maze." Bars, lounges, nightclubs, and gambling dens are frequently the scene of action. The climaxes of a substantial number of film noirs take place in visually complex, often industrial settings, such as refineries, factories, trainyards, power plants—most famously the explosive conclusion of White Heat. In the popular (and, frequently enough, critical) imagination, in noir it is always night and it always rains.


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Other important elements:
--"In terms of narrative, the best noirs routinely display sophistication, experimentation and innovation, with the most common narrative modes being the first-person voice-over, the use of flashbacks and multiple viewpoints." Ballinger and Grayden go on to state that "...noir narratives frequently possess a dream-like quality, in which objects and events are imbued with a supercharaged and forbidding aura."
--"A defining film noir characteristic (notably absent from many pseudo-noirs of modern times) is fatalism. One small misstep, such as a petty crime, minor evasion - even a ‘white lie’ - sends our doomed protagonist, typically an ‘ordinary Joe’ American male, into a quicksand of obliteration made only more intractable by his futile attempts to escape. A ‘spiderweb of deceit’ is how it’s often described. This is what happens in the noir underworld, but it tells us something of ordinary peoples’ attitudes and expectations. That such minor transgressions could lead to such out-of-control punishments suggests an air of hysteria, even moral panic." (http://www.bighousefilm.com/noir_intro.htm)

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Visual cues common to film noir include:
-- city environment
-- night-time
-- dark streets
-- rain
-- neon signs or bright lights
-- smoke
-- stark light/dark contrasts (faces may be partially or fully obscured by
darkness)
-- dramatic shadows
-- low-angle shots
--Dutch angles. These are "often used to portray the psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed. A Dutch angle is achieved by tilting the camera off to the side so that the shot is composed with the horizon at an angle to the bottom of the frame." (Wikipedia)
-- the use of wide-angle lenses
-- characters or objects may appear distorted or seen from unconventional vantage points (such as reflected in mirrors or through frosted glass)

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Acording to Ballinger and Graydon, "Film noir's foremorst visual signature lies in the way the films are lit; high-contrast lightings accentuates deep, enveloping shadows, while a sense of skewed reality and instability is created by the use of odd angels and wide shots." The visual style of Moonlight takes a lot from film noir, particularly the use of unusual camera angles and a lot of shots with horizontal and vertical lines (blinds.)

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The sets commonly used in film noir:
--"Story locations were often in murky and dark streets, dimly-lit and low-rent apartments and hotel rooms of big cities, or abandoned warehouses." (http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html)
--"Film noir is often associated with an urban setting, and a few cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, in particular—are the location of many of the classic films. In the eyes of many critics, the city is presented in noir as a 'labyrinth' or 'maze.'"(Wikpedia)
--"Bars, lounges, nightclubs, and gambling dens are frequently the scene of action." (Wikpedia)
-- "The climaxes of a substantial number of film noirs take place in visually complex, often industrial settings, such as refineries, factories, trainyards, power plants—most famously the explosive conclusion of White Heat." (Wikpedia)

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According to "The Rough Guide To Film Noir" the sets often provide an atmosphere of:
-- claustrophobia (alleyways)
-- sleaziness (nightclubs)
-- paranoia (deserted docks)
-- temptation (opulent apartments)

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"Film noir films (mostly shot in gloomy grays, blacks and whites) thematically showed the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love, and they emphasized the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience. An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion that anything can go wrong, dingy realism, futility, fatalism, defeat and entrapment were stylized characteristics of film noir. The protagonists in film noir were normally driven by their past or by human weakness to repeat former mistakes." (http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html)

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Please note that my main sources for this information are several websites (including Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_noir ) and the book "The Rough Guide to Film Noir, by Alexander Ballinger and Danny Graydon
You can learn more about this book by visiting: http://www.amazon.com/Rough-Guide-Film- ... 1843534746 Speaking of Amazon, they also has a great film noir forum with lots of great discussions about various noir topics at http://www.amazon.com/forum/film%20noir ... JGCOL1U9TM
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:16 pm

Coraline - Moonlight's Femme Fatale

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"When Ron Koslow and I were talking about ideas, I mentioned to Ron the first book is called Angel of Vengeance and in it the character saves this little girl from his wife, and it’s the thing that forces him – in a Of Mice and Men moment – to realize that his wife is a monster and she has to be destroyed, because she’s going to continue to do this. It’s what sets him on his moral trajectory. I was thinking that in the second novel it was revealed that he was kind of looking over this girl from a distance and maybe intervened at times when there was danger in her life, but she never knew about him beyond the fact that he was a mysterious man who saved her as a child. But as an adult they had some sort of realization and romance. I told Ron about that and we realized that Coraline could not be a regular love interest because she’s so dark and femme fatale-like. He said, “I think that could be the basis of the show.” - Trevor Munson via http://www.earthsmightiest.com/fansites ... ws/?a=7774

According to Wikipedia, "A femme fatale (plural: femmes fatales) is an alluring and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetypal character of literature and art." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femme_fatale

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"The phrase is French for "fatal (or "deadly") woman." A femme fatale tries to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure. Typically, she is exceptionally well-endowed with these qualities. In some situations, she uses lying or coercion rather than charm." I don't think it is coincidence that there have been so many french references in regards to Coraline and then there is her Fleur De Lis tattoo, among other things.

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"Her ability to entrance and hypnotize her male victim was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural, hence the most prosaic femme fatale today is still described as having a power akin to an enchantress, vampire, female monster or demon. The ideas involved are closely tied to fears of the female witch." (Just look at the way Mick is taken in my Coraline in the flashbacks and how he looks at her. Just as Mick is entering the bathroom he looks as if he is almost hypnotized.)

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"Although typically villainous, femmes fatales have also appeared as antiheroines in some stories, and some even repent and become heroines by the end of the tale." (Could this end up as Coraline's fate? I have to wonder about Trevor's comments about the writers rethinking Coraline's role.)

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"In social life, the femme fatale tortures her lover in an asymmetrical relationship, denying confirmation of her affection. She usually drives him to the point of obsession and exhaustion so that he is incapable of making rational decisions." (We saw a perfect example of this in the chair-throwing Mick scene.)

"During the film noir era of the 1940s and 1950s, the femme fatale flourished in American cinema. One of the most famous is the cabaret singer portrayed by Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946), who sexually manipulates her husband and his best friend. Another quintessential noir femme fatale is Phyllis Dietrichson (played by Barbara Stanwyck), who seduces a hapless insurance salesman and persuades him to kill her husband in Double Indemnity (1944). Other American cultural examples of such a deadly woman are in espionage thrillers and juvenile adventure comic strips, such as The Spirit, by Will Eisner, and Terry and the Pirates, by Milton Caniff. Today, she remains the key character in films such as Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct."

"Despite usually being portrayed in religion as symbolic of corruption and moral turpitude to justify societal misogyny, in contemporary times the femme fatale is symbolic of women of free will and unrestrained passion. She survives as heroine and anti-heroine, in Nikita and Moulin Rouge!, and video games and comic books. Elektra, a character from Marvel Comics, Catwoman from the Batman stories, and EVA from Metal Gear Solid 3. The woman ninja (the Kunoichi) is legendary for being a trained seductress and a martial artist. The protagonists of the American television program Desperate Housewives use sexual allure to get what and whom they want. A modern example of the archetypal femme fatale is Xenia Onatopp, the character from Goldeneye who seduced men and then murdered them by crushing them between her thighs."

Here's a 2 great article about women and the Femme Fatal in Film Noir:
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/noir/np05ff.html
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/noir/pp-all.html


Want to watch some other terrific femme fatales in action? Here is a list of 10 of the very best femme fatales in film noir (classic and neo-noir) from "The Rough Guide To Film Noir" by ALexander Ballinger and Danny Graydon

1. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) in Double Indemnity (1944)
2. Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth) in The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
3. Kathie Moffatt (Jane Greer) in Out of the Past (1947)
4. Anna Dundee (Yvonne DeCarlo) in Criss Cross (1949)
5. Kitty March (Joan Bennett) in Scarlet Street (1946)
6. Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner) in The Killers (1946)
7. Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) in Body Heat (1981)
8. Bridget Gregory/Wendy Kroy (Linda Fiorentino) in The Last Seduction (1994)
9. Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) in Laura (1944)
10. Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) in The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Over at Amazon.com mirasreviews has compiled a list of film noir's that have "fabulous" femme fatales:
http://www.amazon.com/Fabulous-Femmes-F ... _1_rsrscs0

1. The Maltese Falcon
2. Double Indemnity
3. Detour
4. Scarlet Street
5. The Killers
6. The Postman Always Rings Twice
7. Out of the Past
8. Dead Reckoning
9. Nightmare Alley
10. The Lady from Shanghai
11. Too Late for Tears
12. Criss Cross
13. Murder, My Sweet
14. White Heat
15. Gun Crazy
16. Niagara
17. Body Heat
18. The Grifters
19. Basic Instinct
20. The Last Seduction
21. Bound

At Noircon 2008, several podcasts were recorded there. On Day 3, they discussed the femme fatale and homme fatale. To give it a listen just visit this page.
http://outofthepast.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=328252

If you enjoy this podcast you can learn more about the Noir podcasts of Clute and Edwards by visiting http://www.noircast.net
You can also subscribe to their podcast via iTunes.

Noircon 2008: The Official Podcast Day 3: Wise Guys and Femmes Fatale
Wise guys and femmes fatale form the central focus of these next panel discussions from Noircon 2008. In the first half of the podcast, Clute and Edwards talk with authors George Anastasia and Anthony Bruno. Anastasia and Bruno are two seasoned mob-watchers who uncover life on the mean streets-Philly style. Based on their Noircon panel, Wise Guy Noir, they give us an inside look into the Godfathers and Goodfellas of Philadelphia.

In the second half, Clute and Edwards lead a lively roundtable discussion on the femme fatale with four authors who have strong female characters at the center of their novels: Megan Abbott, Christa Faust, Vicki Hendricks, and Jonathan Santlofer. The discussion touches on many different aspects of the femme fatale and the homme fatale (fatal man).

For more information about Noircon, visit the official conference website at http://www.noircon.com
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:17 pm

Mick - Moonlight's Film Noir Hero

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Common characteristics of the Film Noir Hero:

"Men are the ostensible heroes of most films noir. They are conventionally the protagonists, but there is seldom anything 'heroic' about them... The noir protagonist is alienated from a combustible, hostile world, driven by obsessions transcending morality and causality... The obsessive noir protagonist is drawn into a destiny he cannot escape; he is impelled toward his fate by exterior forces beyond his power and interior forces beyond his control." - Jeremy Butler, "Miami Vice: The Legacy of Film Noir"

“I feel like things could unwind quickly for Mick,” he says. “It’s like watching an alcoholic come off the wagon and hit a bar for a night then wake up in a pool of sorrow and get back on the wagon. I can see something like that for Mick with his vampire desires and urges. He’s been experiencing this for 60 years and every day he gets up and suppresses that urge. Everyday he’s a reluctant vampire and controls this monster within him and pursues other monsters, which in his mind’s eye helps detach him from the monster he truly is.” - Alex from http://www.pinkraygun.com/2007/09/26/on ... part-four/

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-- "The protagonists occupy a world that is dark and malign."
-- The sterotypical film noir hero is the “hard-boiled detective" but he can have a range of other occupations: cop, private eye, reporter, war veteran, hoodlum, government agent, drifter, teacher, criminal, or even be just a guy who is down on his luck.
-- "The male character makes a choice (or circumstances make the choice for him) and events spiral from there, inevitably to a tragic end."
-- The hero often finds himself caught between two women. One is usually the "good girl" type while the other is the "bad girl" (the femme fatale).
(Source: The Rough Guide to Film Noir" by Alexander Ballinger and Danny Graydon)

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"The femme fatale would often be counterpointed by what film theorist Janey Place would call 'the rejuvenating redeemer'-- a woman strongly identified with traditional family values, status quo, and stability. This rejuvenating redeemer provides the film noir hero with a chance for redemption, though it is often unattainable due to the hero's own tragic flaws." (Source: Palmetto Movie Review by Anthony Leong at http://www.mediacircus.net/palmetto.html )

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-- The hero is often seen as cynical, bitter, disillusioned, bitter, tarnished, obsessive, brooding, and/or alienated.
--The hero may feel trapped by feelings of guilt, fear, hopelessness, and paranoia.
--"The heroes of noir generally share certain qualities, such as moral ambiguity, a fatalistic outlook, and alienation from society. They also exhibit an existential acceptance of random, arbitrary occurrences as being the determining factors in life."
--"The weakest of [noir heroes] exhibit an abundance of tragic flaws, often including an uncontrollable lust for duplicitous women."
--"The ethics that these characters espouse are often borne more of personal code than true concern for their fellow man. For example, Humphrey Bogart (the actor perhaps most associated with the genre) as private eye Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon is emotionally indifferent to the murder of his partner and avenges his death primarily because 'when one of your organization gets killed, it's bad business to let the killer get away with it.' "
(Source: Britannica Online at http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-235588/film-noir )

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The character of Phillip Marlowe, however, "added a sense of humor to the character of the hard-boiled detective and actually integrated this quality into his personal code. In doing so, he made the detective a much more human and less severe character than Sam Spade had been, and, paradoxically perhaps, added a second line of defense against the viciousness of his world. More important, Marlowe added the quality of redemption that Chandler felt to be necessary '[i]n everything that can be called art.' Marlowe is not only loyal to his client and his profession, he also is able to sacrifice himself and actually rise above the level of his 'messy business' for the sake of a greater good — often for a client toward whom he feels genuine compassion or even protectiveness." ( http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/noir/hb-all.html )

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The character of Mick St. John, who is a World War II veteran as well as a vampire, was modeled after this very detective. Trevor Munson talks about his vampire private eye's origins in the November 2007 issue of Starlog and states that "I had written a few other things that I was not too wild about, and I wanted to write something that I really like," [Trevor] Munson explains, "I was reading lots of Raymond Chandler, and I thought it would be cool to come up with a premise about a bloodsucking Philip Marlowe-type character."

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As Robert Towne, the screenwriter of "Chinatown" and the writer/director of "Tequila Sunrise puts it, "The noir hero is essentially someone who is born under a black cloud, who has some character deficiency and is drawn to a dark fate, who is deeply self-destructive and meets a girl who is rotten and says to him, 'Let's be rotten together.' " ( http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... wanted=all )

"Uncomfortable in the real world, [classic] noir heroes were constantly mulling the mistakes of the past or the possibilities for the future, spilling their guts in voice-over narration. When it came time to make a choice about how to live, they usually made the wrong one." ( http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... wanted=all )

Film Noir and the Hard-Boiled Detective Hero
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/noir/hb-all.html

Another quote from Trevor (this one is from http://www.examiner.com/article/intervi ... art-1-of-4):
"For a long time I wanted to write about vampires. Somewhere in the reading of “Dracula” and a [Raymond] Chandler novel back to back, I thought these were two [books] that I love and realized they might make a good blend. I had this idea of this guy who was turned into a vampire, a hard boiled product of his time and very much a man of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Now we catch up to him in modern day Los Angeles, and it’s like he’s not able to get back into step with modern day because [his vampirism] sort of almost froze him in time. It allowed me to bring a very noir character into the modern world."
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:29 pm

*****More Film Norish stuff. I've edited some of this due to lost images and took out some conversations with others.*****

The more I go through Moonlight screencaps, the more images I notice which are film noir inspired. One of the top visual cues of film noir that I see present in Moonlight is scenes which include horizontal and vertical bars. Not only does this venetian blind effect look stylish but I think that they are used symbolically, to give us a feeling of the characters being trapped or limited in some way by their present circumstances. To show the light (the truth) and the dark (what is hidden).

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One of the top visual cues of film noir that I see present in Moonlight is scenes which include horizontal and vertical bars. Not only does this venetian blind effect look stylish but I think that they are used symbolically, to give us a feeling of the characters being trapped or limited in some way by their present circumstances. To show the light (the truth) and the dark (what is hidden).

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Moonlight also encorporates other Film Noir visual cues including (but not limited to):
-- The lines/bars/repetitive pattern
-- The closed/abandoned/industrial setting
-- Neon lights, bright lights, or candles which highlight the dark and the light
-- Unusual camera angles/placement
-- Deep-focus camera shots (some times one object will be in focus while another will be out of focus)
-- High-contrast lighting
-- The seedy/temptation setting
-- A lot of shadows (often cast over people)
-- May appear to be filmed in black and white
-- Rainy streets
-- Smoke, mist, or fog

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From http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html"]http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html:
"Film noir films were marked visually by expressionistic lighting, deep-focus or depth of field camera work, disorienting visual schemes, jarring editing or juxtaposition of elements, ominous shadows, skewed camera angles (usually vertical or diagonal rather than horizontal), circling cigarette smoke, existential sensibilities, and unbalanced or moody compositions. Settings were often interiors with low-key (or single-source) lighting, venetian-blinded windows and rooms, and dark, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances."

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Not only do I think that screen/blinds are symbolic of the walls that Mick has put up (and that there are cracks in those walls thanks to Beth!), but that the blinds/screen are yet another film noir element that is being incorporated. (Which makes sense when you look at Moonlight origins and the inspiration for Mick.)

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From http://www.filmsite.org/filmnoir.html:
"Film noir films were marked visually by expressionistic lighting, deep-focus or depth of field camera work, disorienting visual schemes, jarring editing or juxtaposition of elements, ominous shadows, skewed camera angles (usually vertical or diagonal rather than horizontal), circling cigarette smoke, existential sensibilities, and unbalanced or moody compositions. Settings were often interiors with low-key (or single-source) lighting, venetian-blinded windows and rooms, and dark, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances."

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I love the unusual angles. Note how the crime scene tape is a bar/line and I love the contrast of light and dark.

Even mick's ceiling has horizontal and vertical line pattern. The bars give the impression of being confined or trapped, especially in these shots. Not only are there bars in this scene, but the area actually looks abandoned and industrial in nature. Plus, the lightning and color scene almost looks like it is in black and white.

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Other norish pics ....

The lines/bars/repetitive pattern
The closed/abandoned setting.
The neon lights which highlight the dark and the light.
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Unusual camera placement, feels like you are right there.
The fingers look like bars and the closing doors "frame" Audrey and Beth in.
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The seedy/temptation setting -- common in noir. The strong use of red is symbolic of blood as well as lust.
Repetitive line pattern on walls.
Glowing candles
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:38 pm

Film noir is coming out of the shadows
A cinematic genre that emerged in 1940s America is enjoying a resurgence – but what exactly is film noir? Will Lawrence lists the key ingredients

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... noir23.xml

A gloomy palette
The classical age of film noir lasted from 1941-58, taking root in a country at war before blossoming in the uncertainty that followed. It adopted a visual style defined by low-key lighting, chiaroscuro effects and extreme camera angles.

The use of darkness and shadow, while encouraged by hard-up studios pushing directors to cut costs, was inspired primarily by German Expressionism. Stanley Kubrick's 1956 classic The Killing is a perfect example, casting layers of abstract shadow across the actors' faces, and plunging almost every background into darkness.

A brooding hero
Nurtured in a harsh climate, noir heroes are almost always alienated from society: tortured souls, riddled with angst, who chart a course through humanity's murkier, often criminal, waters. "I feel all dead inside," says the ex-convict lead in 1946's The Dark Corner. The protagonists in noir, whether male or female, are regularly brought low by the spectre of their dark past or doomed by their passionate pursuit of a future full of money, power or love.

A femme fatale
In many noirs, the male character (often a cop, gumshoe, war veteran, reporter or criminal) is presented with the femme fatale, a fiendishly attractive yet diabolically dishonest woman who leads him into danger. It is the man's failure to recognise or accept her flaws that destroys him.

Described as films of trust and betrayal, noirs have produced countless temptresses, although few can equal the chilling blend of beauty and brutality achieved by Jane Greer in Out of the Past (1947).

Hard-boiled action
Just as filmmakers wallowed in the gloom of the post-war years, so too did writers, many of whom took advantage of the advent of the paperback to bring a cavalcade of battered and bitter heroes to the pages of popular novels. Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M Cain and Cornell Woolrich wrote tough-man fiction where unflinching heroes delivered moral judgment – accompanied by slick, macho one-liners – to the especially nasty denizens of a corrupt underworld.

Hollywood turned to these novels for source material. The crisp dialogue of The Maltese Falcon, for example, written by Hammett in 1930 and filmed in 1941 by John Huston with Humphrey Bogart in the lead, has seen the movie become an artefact of popular culture.

A glimpse beneath the skin
Film noir often takes a subjective stance, allowing the viewer to "put themselves under the skin" of the male lead, according to German director Fritz Lang, whose 1933 Expressionist masterpiece, M, was remade as an even more disturbing American noir in 1951. Noir succeeds by giving visual access to the protagonists' psychological nightmares, in which they may well shift from aggressor to victim, or from hunted to hunter.

A political undertone
In post-war America, the oppressive restriction of McCarthyism and the threat of nuclear war prompted the paranoia that pervades the noir cycle. The fear of the bomb, and the injustice of McCarthy's reign, is reflected in the unease of the hero in classic noirs such as Night and the City (1950), and Kiss Me Deadly (1955).


Here is James Greenberg's list of YOU KNOW IT'S NOIR IF . . .
* Someone is drinking black coffee in a roadhouse.
* A neon sign blinks on and off, perhaps with one letter missing.
* Everyone is wearing hats.
* A ceiling fan slowly revolves, even in the dead of winter.
* A hero spills his guts in voice-over narration.
* People smoke unfiltered cigarettes; ashtrays overflow.
* There's a hard-bitten dame named Velma.
* A guy drinks whisky (straight) in a barroom during the day.
* A woman smokes, drinks and sings -- all at the same time.
* Streets are wet and glistening, even when there's no trace of rain.
* A muted trumpet moans plaintively in the night.
* Everyone wears trenchcoats, and men have pocket handkerchiefs.
* A body lies face down in a pool of blood.
* Tabloid headlines scream about a crime wave.
* Shadows stretch the length of an alley.
* Venetian blinds etch striped shadows across people, and on walls.
* Faces are seen in shadowy close-ups.
* Scenes dissolve in foggy fade-outs.
* Street lamps cast pockets of light.
* A character emotes in front of a mirror.
* Light shines through a winding wooden staircase.
* Oblique camera angles make the world appear to be tilting.
* The movie seems to be in black and white -- even if it's in color.--
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:41 pm

A current TV show that has incorporated a lot of film noir elements is Beauty and The Beast.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby allegrita » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:38 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for preserving this wonderful resource, twilightdew! I had thought it was gone forever, and I'm absolutely thrilled that you've brought it back to us! I'm heading off for my typical family visiting thing that I do most Saturdays, but I'm looking forward to settling down and revisiting this wonderful subject. And I hope very much that it stimulates a new discussion here, because Moonlight's noir look was one of the things that first attracted me to the series--and really made it stand out from other shows.

Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this information with us!! :ghug:
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby jmc » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:33 pm

:hearts: Thank you, twilightdew.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby r1015bill » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:04 am

I've briefly scanned these materials and hadn't really thought what makes "noir" before. Thanks for bringing this to us, twilightdew.

I did start thinking about if anyone has switched genders in a noir movie or tv show. Has anyone made anything where a woman is the flawed heroine caught between two men: a good, dutiful if unexciting one and an "homme fatale"? I'd love to hear others' thoughts.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:46 am

r1015bill wrote:I've briefly scanned these materials and hadn't really thought what makes "noir" before. Thanks for bringing this to us, twilightdew.

I did start thinking about if anyone has switched genders in a noir movie or tv show. Has anyone made anything where a woman is the flawed heroine caught between two men: a good, dutiful if unexciting one and an "homme fatale"? I'd love to hear others' thoughts.


I think that James Bond fits the bill as a homme fatale.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby Marigold » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:54 am

Wow! What a fabulous, informative resource! Thanks so much, twilightdew. :notworthy: :hearts: :rose:

I've started reading this thread, and I'll be back to read the rest. :reading: I'd love to have a discussion about this. :type:
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby wpgrace » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:48 pm

Totally AWESOME to see this again!!!!

ANd...sigh... totally points out how much better the first 12 were to the Final Four. For me, anyway.
The noir elements really elevated this show. I like vampires, but the combination was perfect, and the casting was perfect. Mick, Cora, Beth, and Josef were excellent for their archetypes.

I really think this show might've made it if it was marketed a bit differently (more emphasis on the noir, which made the show much cooler for adults than Twi), given time to hit the vamp boom, and just allowed to naturally grow. And if the Final Four would've been more modeled after the originals. Those made me sigh a bit. They were so... not the real Moonlight.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby twilightdew » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:00 pm

Trevor and Ron really were creative and clever in their use of it and how they infused into so much of the writing and visual shots. I think that the noir really complimented and blended well with Moonlight's unique vampire mythology, Mick and Beth's "Beauty and the Beast" love story, Josef's snark, and the detective/crime story lines.

wpgrace wrote:Totally AWESOME to see this again!!!!

ANd...sigh... totally points out how much better the first 12 were to the Final Four. For me, anyway.
The noir elements really elevated this show. I like vampires, but the combination was perfect, and the casting was perfect. Mick, Cora, Beth, and Josef were excellent for their archetypes.

I really think this show might've made it if it was marketed a bit differently (more emphasis on the noir, which made the show much cooler for adults than Twi), given time to hit the vamp boom, and just allowed to naturally grow. And if the Final Four would've been more modeled after the originals. Those made me sigh a bit. They were so... not the real Moonlight.


Yes, the lack of noir in the last four episodes was really a bummer. Moonlight felt off without its signature noir elements and it wasn't until they were missing that I really understood how much it contributed to Moonlight's cool and edgy style. I think that in many ways Moonlight, from vampires to noir, was far ahead of its time. And maybe you're right, if CBS had emphasized the noir and the crime-of-the-week aspect more in their marketing, it would have encouraged more of the mainstream, older audience (particularly those who watch CBS shows) to give it a try. And once the vampire craze picked up (and basically anyone who had picked up a Twilight book knew, for better or worse, that it would) then the vampire aspect could have been highlighted in promos, ads, commercials, etc. But the bottom line is that I think too much was expected all at once and there wasn't enough faith and patience.

Oh, and here is another thing that I posted elsewhere long ago about Mick's voice overs:

"The contemplative and confessional first-person voice over narration (including the use of flashbacks) is an important stylistic element of Film Noir and I personally think that it is really an important touch for a show that has so many other connections to film noir. Plus, I love hearing Mick's voice! I believe that the voice overs allow us an intimate look into Mick's inner thoughts and feelings. When we, as the viewer, hear Mick's voice there is a sense that he is talking to us personally and that helps us identify with him as well as feel a special connection with him. In some cases I think that the voice over lets the audience in on information that would be incredibly difficult or awkward to introduce using another method. For instance, Mick's VO in LFF was crucial to understanding what Mick was really thinking when he was telling Beth something completely different."

I totally love the use of voice overs in Moonlight and now I find myself more aware of voice overs in TV shows. In fact, I tend to like shows that use them heavily. For instance, Burn Notice just wouldn't be the same without them and neither would Veronica Mars (a show I discovered only a few years ago!).
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby r1015bill » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:49 pm

And it really sticks out when a show that normally doesn't use voice overs adds them.

While not noir, Dr. Who had a few episodes with voice overs at the beginning and end (Amy in the "The Power of Three" and the unnamed western girl in "A Town Called Mercy"). It really set the tone and helped explain a few things.
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Re: Film Noir & Moonlight

Postby Fleur de Lisa » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:27 pm

Twilightdew--thanks so much for compiling and posting all of this information. I've slowly been going through it and reading and it's fascinating.

Now I am looking for noir elements in other shows I watch!
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