Dark-minded Othellos, mobster Macbeths
Film noir, gangster, gangster noir
in Cowboy Hamlets and zombie Romeos
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The chapter discusses the common debates concerning the film noir as a genre, and, based on the clearly recognisable core elements of the group, argues for the practical applicability of the label, placing it within the context of the thriller and the gangster genre, both of which show considerable overlaps with noir. After the examination of two classic examples of 1940s film noir, both displaying a central interest in male psychology, anxiety and crime, the second half of the chapter looks at post-war gangster films, one from the 1950s, another from 1990, a significant moment in the revival of the gangster genre. The visuality of these films continues to bear clear traces of the noir, but the increased role of violence, together with the protagonists’ changed moral stance, mark them as different from the earlier products. The final example comes from the twenty-first century, an indie neo-noir production, which employs the generic elements of the police drama as well as the gangster film. The range of films examined in the chapter offer convincing proof both for the continued influence of the gangster and noir formulas, and for their ability to adapt to the given socio-historical context.

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